Infuriating Things

Sei Shonagon has been my companion for many years. She was an opinionated 11th century Japanese lady-in-waiting, and she wrote what has become the embodiment of Japanese classical prose, The Pillow Book. I’ve already written about this quirky collection and its author and quoted one of my favorite lyrical passages about things that make one’s heart beat faster. Reading her enchanting descriptions of dew on chrysanthemums, first plum blossoms or the color of incense smoke is an instant escape from my routine, and while the world of Sei Shonagon wasn’t a cherry blossom tinted fantasy—a woman’s life at court was one of ennui and seclusion—the genius of the writer is to make you think otherwise. “Delightful” is one of the most frequently used words throughout the book.

pillow book-tea

Lyricism and refinement aside,  I’m drawn to Sei Shonagon for a far earthier reason—her flaws. She complains about her fellow ladies-in-waiting. She whines about her lovers whose morning departure is not as elegant as she would like it to be. She can be a snob. She finds it unseemly that the snow falls on the houses of common people—“moonlight shining into such houses is also a great shame,” she adds. She has a dry sense of humor. She’s vulnerable and prone to bouts of melancholy. She’s merely human. Despite her living more than a thousand years ago, she doesn’t come across as a museum piece.

For all of her flaws, Sei Shonagon is aware of them and she doesn’t airbrush them out of her writing. Browse her list of rare things, and you will find “A person who is without a single quirk” included in it, along with “a pair of silver tweezers that can actually pull out hairs properly.” I can’t agree more on both.

To give you a glimpse into another side of Sei Shonagon, here are a few excerpts from her list of infuriating things. The carriages with squeaky wheels are the 11th century equivalent of cars with noisy mufflers. Yes, utterly annoying.

A guest who arrives when you have something urgent to do, and stays talking for ages.

It’s also quite disgusting to witness men getting noisy and boisterous in their cups, groping round inside their mouth with a finger or wiping their whiskers if they have them, and forcing the sake cup on others.

I also really hate the way some people go about envying others, bemoaning their own lot in life, demanding to be let in on every trivial little thing, being venomous about someone who won’t tell them what they want to know, and passing on their own dramatized version of some snippet of rumour they’ve heard, while making out that they knew it all along.

A dog that discovers a clandestine lover as he comes creeping in, and barks.

You’ve just settled sleepily into bed when a mosquito announces itself with that thin little wail, and starts flying round your face. It’s horrible how you can feel the soft wind of its tiny wings.

People who go about in a carriage with squeaky wheels are very irritating. It makes you wonder irately if they’re deaf.

Someone who butts in when you’re talking and smugly provides the ending herself. Indeed anyone who butts in, be they child or adult, is most infuriating.

And I hate people who don’t close a door that they’ve opened to go in or out.*

My infuriating thing of the day is the overpriced perfume brands. Actually, overpriced anything irritates me, especially if it comes with outlandish claims. I’ll make Sei Shonagon seem like quite a complacent person if you let me rant on.

And of course, fragrance companies that reformulate and then say with straight faces, “No, it’s the same as it used to be” are downright maddening.

Spotting a pile of Vogues and Bazaars on someone’s coffee table only to hear them stammer guiltily, “Oh, those are just frivolous things that I need to read time to time.” Oh, come on! A human doesn’t live by the history of western philosophy alone. Enjoy your glossies and whatever else you wish you read, watch, wear, and obviously don’t pass judgement on others based on their choices–a motto I try to follow. This one doesn’t so much infuriate me as make me sad. There is much societal bias against the so-called “feminine pursuits.”

Men who take up too much space on subway. This is my typical NYC pet peeve, but I’m happy to say that it doesn’t happen much around here.  Only occasionally, there would be a guy with artfully crossed legs, projecting in all directions.

Expensive fragrances that don’t last. I don’t mean colognes or splashes. A perfume should last more than 15 minutes. I don’t want to pay $200 for someone’s idea of minimalism.

Do feel free to share your little pet peeves, perfume related or not. It’s all in good fun, so let’s keep it light.

*Quoted from Meredith McKinney’s translation, p 27-29. The Pillow Book has several excellent translations, and two of my favorites are McKinney’s and Ivan Morris’s. Morris gives Sei Shonagon a more formal voice, while McKinney captures the bubbly, effervescent aspect of her writing.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Subscribe

280 Comments

  • Ari: Yes, yes! In keeping with Ms. Shonagon, I find your sassy side delightful! 😉

    My perfume pet peeve is “filler”- generic, boring perfumes in otherwise high-quality lines.

    Non-perfume? Movie theaters that don’t carry Sour Skittles. IT’S A CLASSIC, PEOPLE. August 12, 2015 at 7:20am Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 I tried to keep it in check. But just a little.

      Yes, those filler launches are annoying, especially since it’s possible to create interesting, easy-to-wear perfumes. Perfumers just need to be given time, and that many brands aren’t willing to accept. August 12, 2015 at 8:03am Reply

  • Michaela: Delightful. Oh, I know what she means with the mosquito, the unexpected guest (he may call on the phone today as well), people who butt in. The inappropriate bark is so funny. And I quite agree on your pet peeves especially perfumes that don’t last.
    My own pet peeves are too many to mention, I’m glad it’s not pathological 🙂 I’ll tell one anyway. People who talk while chewing their food, half-way to swallow it. The sound drives me mad. August 12, 2015 at 7:57am Reply

    • Victoria: Or flies! Flies are even worse. August 12, 2015 at 8:08am Reply

      • Michaela: Yes, really, they are noisier 🙂 August 12, 2015 at 8:19am Reply

    • Michaela: And people who take the mouse from my hand to show or explain something. August 12, 2015 at 8:18am Reply

      • Victoria: Without asking? That would annoy me too. But then again, I’m very protective of my computer in general. Too many files, documents and work related things are stored on it. August 12, 2015 at 8:24am Reply

    • Michaela: And people who are teasing you to guess their age, begging compliments. I find them rather amusing but sometimes they get really annoying.
      I have to stop! 🙂 August 12, 2015 at 8:33am Reply

      • Victoria: I have a related one, people who say “at our age” and then follow it with “can’t wear bright makeup, short skirts, keep hair long, party past midnight,” whatever. First of all, if one resigns oneself to some “grand old age” in mid 30s, then what’s one do further down the road? In general, I find the so-called rules and prescriptions just senseless. There are many women who have gorgeous long hair into their 80s and can rock red lipstick. August 12, 2015 at 8:46am Reply

        • Michaela: Right! 🙂 With good old common sense (many dear old ladies know too well what suits them) and optimistic attitude, age doesn’t matter. August 12, 2015 at 9:08am Reply

          • kayliz: Mum says: “being called a dear old lady”;)

            When we stroll round the shops on her visits to Germany, I try to avoid friendly shop assistants’ eyes. The risk these days is too great that they’ll start cooing. Mum is [insert your idea of v advanced years here, I’m not allowed to say], has youthfully bobbed hair, and must be all of four foot eight and a half.

            She now knows the German for “Aaaah, isn’t she cuuute”, and she’s not amused. August 12, 2015 at 9:33am Reply

            • Michaela: Hahahhaha, so funny.
              Don’t tell your ma, please 🙂 August 12, 2015 at 9:40am Reply

            • Victoria: I absolutely detest being called cute. And when you’re 5’3” like myself, you get that all the time. Cute should be reserved for babies and kittens. Describing women post puberty as cute is simply not right. I know that a lot of times people mean it as a compliment, but really… I so understand your mother’s feelings. August 12, 2015 at 10:08am Reply

              • Maria B: I’m your height, and I too detest being called cute. My husband is absolutely forbidden to do it; he used to do it all the time, but now he knows better. When someone says, “You’re so cute!” I want to punch him/her. I wouldn’t seem so cute then, would I? August 12, 2015 at 1:46pm Reply

                • Victoria: I give a stare that my husband calls “a stare of death.” August 12, 2015 at 3:19pm Reply

                  • Malmaison: My family refer to this phenomenon as my ‘Medusa stare’, occasionally shortened and turned into a verb eg “he ruined my punchline so I Medusa’d him”. I’m told it’s a terrifying thing! August 13, 2015 at 2:23am Reply

                    • Victoria: LOL! August 13, 2015 at 5:45am

                • Daisy: Your comment made me laugh out loud, Maria B! Actually, I think it would make a brilliant t-shirt: “I’m cute, till I punch you in face.” 🙂 August 13, 2015 at 5:45pm Reply

              • Austenfan: …and puppies! August 12, 2015 at 1:47pm Reply

              • Elisa: I’m with you on “cute.” I have no desire to be cute. Sultry and profound, yes 🙂 August 12, 2015 at 2:19pm Reply

                • Victoria: 🙂 Yeah, you try to rock that sultry and profound thing and then someone comes along and squeals “oh, aren’t you cute?” And I can only think, “well, thank you, I know it was well-intended, but bloody hell…” August 12, 2015 at 3:24pm Reply

              • Lavanya: Ha- I am around 5′ 3″ too.
                I was always one of the tallest in my class and then I hit puberty and kinda stopped growing. In college a friend actually said I was so cute that he wanted to put me in a suitcase..lol. I wasn’t annoyed but I hadn’t realized till them how ‘small’ I was- I had been so used to being tall…LOL It was quite an identity shift August 13, 2015 at 5:02pm Reply

                • Victoria: I was always the shortest one in my class (Ukrainians on the whole are quite tall), but I’m happy with my height. Mostly because it gave me a chance to do ballet. At the time, tall dancers had more difficulties getting accepted in companies. August 13, 2015 at 5:24pm Reply

                  • Lavanya: that’s an interesting point, V, about ballet. (and yes-I don’t have a problem with my height either..:-)) August 13, 2015 at 10:46pm Reply

                  • Austenfan: Dancers tend to be quite short don’t they? I always wondered whether that was just convention or that not being tall gives you an advantage as a dancer. Less length of limb to control perhaps? August 14, 2015 at 4:39am Reply

                    • Victoria: It depends on the company. The height ranges anywhere from 5’3″ to 5’8″. If you’re very tall or very short, you can still have a brilliant career, but you must be exceptional. Traditionally, shorter female dancers were preferred, because men used to be shorter too, so partnering someone who is towering over you is hard (plus, pointe shoes give at least 5-6 extra inches of height).

                      As for advantages, I don’t know. Yes, if you’re shorter, your center of balance is lower, and you might have more control during turns, but I’ve seen great technique among dancers of all heights. It all depends on schooling in the end. August 14, 2015 at 5:11am

          • Victoria: No, it really doesn’t. August 12, 2015 at 1:53pm Reply

            • kayliz: Especially puppies’ tummies. And their paws.

              (Victoria, I’m 5’3″ too. I’m sure my height was normal till I came to Germany.) August 12, 2015 at 8:24pm Reply

              • Victoria: For puppies’ tummies and paws (and tails!) I reserve all of my squeals. 🙂 What can compare in cuteness to the chow chow, huskee or golden retriever puppies? Maybe only British short hair kittens.

                My height is normal only in Japan and some parts of India. And then not around my husband’s family. They’re all very tall. August 13, 2015 at 3:19am Reply

                • kayliz: It’s an age thing too, I think. I’m a generation older than you… btw, I continually catch myself being surprised these days at e.g. four-year-olds with dummies, until I realise they’re actually very young toddlers. I wonder when/if children here will stop getting taller and taller.
                  Not really a peeve:) August 13, 2015 at 4:40am Reply

                  • Victoria: Not mine either. Healthier population in general must be the reason. My friend’s 5 year old will soon be taller than I am. August 13, 2015 at 4:54am Reply

                    • kayliz: I’d love to think that was creative exaggeration, but I can just picture it! August 13, 2015 at 5:17am

                    • Victoria: Some poetic license, but only some. 🙂 August 13, 2015 at 5:47am

                • Austenfan: Wirehaired Dachshund puppies! August 13, 2015 at 8:21am Reply

                  • Victoria: The squeals you’re hearing are mine. Browsing photos online! August 13, 2015 at 8:53am Reply

                    • Austenfan: Once you have finished squealing 🙂 maybe look up some wirehaired pointing griffon pups. Like dachshunds but bigger. August 14, 2015 at 4:40am

        • Johanob: Can we please mention Vero Kern right about now!Lol!Sorry for butting in,but Vero rocks “at her age”!Haha August 13, 2015 at 6:40pm Reply

          • Victoria: Inspiring on many levels! August 14, 2015 at 6:57am Reply

          • Austenfan: I’m guessing but I think Vero Kern is just great about being herself. And I agree, she is very inspiring! August 14, 2015 at 7:03am Reply

  • Kat: Oh, I love Sei Shonagon (must check out the Morris translation) and the poetry of the Heian court ladies who take a unique position in the history of literature. I highly recommend “The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by On no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu”.

    Ono no Komachi’s poems are incredibly sensual:

    My longing for you – too strong to keep within bounds.

    At least no one can blame me when I go to you at night along the road of dreams.

    Izumi Shikibu also writes a lot about heart-ache and had an ‘interesting’ (read scandalous love-life. She is not related to Murasaki Shikibu, Sei Shonagon’s ‘arch-enemy’ yet served the same empress as Murasaki (Shonagon served the competing empress – it was all quite cut-throat underneath the silk-robes.)

    I have so many pet-peeves but here’s a tiny perfume-related one: that Yardley isn’t selling their signature scents outside the UK- August 12, 2015 at 8:23am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve read Izumi Shikibu and Ono no Komachi too, and the imagery of that poetry is gorgeous. Thank you for bring them up. Heian court had some incredible women, and the way they expressed themselves given the limitations was fascinating. It’s ironic that the modern Japanese literature is based on “women’s hand” in hiragana, rather than in Chinese characters which were reserved exclusively for men. But of course, women like Sei Shonagon were well versed in both.

      I chuckled spotting a mention of Sei Shonagon in Murasaki Shikibu’s diary:

      “Sei Shonagon has the most extraordinary air of self-satisfaction. Yet, if we stop to examine those Chinese writings of hers that she so pretentiously scatters about the place, we find that they are full of imperfections. Someone who makes such an effort to be different from others is bound to fall in people’s esteem, and I can only think that her future will be a hard one. She is a gifted woman, to be sure. Yet, if one gives free rein to one’s emotions even under the most inappropriate circumstances, if one has to sample each interesting thing that comes along, people are bound to regard one as frivolous. And how can things turn out well for such a woman?” August 12, 2015 at 8:32am Reply

      • Kat: LOL! There was not much love lost between these two ladies. I know that other less-known ladies kept diaries too. Maybe one day one will show up that reports on their feud with a neutral voice?

        My favorite is Ono no Komachi. I like to call her ‘the lady who never apologized’. Probably not true but that’s certainly the impression I got from her poems. August 12, 2015 at 8:56am Reply

        • Victoria: You probably read The Gossamer Years. That one is so depressing. August 12, 2015 at 1:52pm Reply

    • Michaela: Kat, thank you for the recommendations! August 12, 2015 at 8:35am Reply

  • Cristina: I complain about stuff all the time but I loved this post so much I’m outtta material for a few minutes. August 12, 2015 at 8:27am Reply

  • rosarita: I need to look up Sei Shonagon! My perfume pet peeve is 100ml bottles as the only size available. Looking at you, Parfums d’Empire, and you’re one of my favorite lines! See also Montale and some Commes des Garcons. A non perfume pet peeve? I am one of those people that strangers talk to – I look like everybody’s mom or grandma – and loud, inescapable conversations alternately drive me nuts, or make me laugh. The things people tell a total stranger never ceases to amaze me. August 12, 2015 at 8:30am Reply

    • Kitty Van Halen: Rosarita, I second all of those! I tell people I don’t ride public transport, not because I think I’m above it, but because I’m suddenly someone’s priest at confessional. Do I have a look? What it is? August 12, 2015 at 1:19pm Reply

      • Daisy: I’m like you. I think I have a look too. Once on the subway, a stranger started telling me in great detail how her health problems meant she would never have children. I felt bad for her, but it was also so awkward. August 13, 2015 at 5:50pm Reply

        • Victoria: I was chuckling reading the comments, because you see, in Ukraine it’s totally normal to talk to strangers. Actually, talking is a national trait. Doesn’t matter to whom. Strangers are even better for deep, profound conversations. 🙂 I actually like these kind of encounters, because you learn so much about others, their quirks, things that they have on mind (yes, sometimes they’re odd, but that’s what makes humanity interesting.) As I was commenting earlier in this thread, I think that people just lack proper conversations, or maybe they are lonely and have nobody else to talk to. August 14, 2015 at 6:53am Reply

    • Victoria: Same here! I would never use up 100ml before perfume starts to lose its freshness. Even if I had only a couple of bottles, it would be impossible. So, it never feels like a good idea, and I opt for decants instead. August 12, 2015 at 1:52pm Reply

    • girasole: rosarita – I completely agree with both your perfume and non-perfume pet peeves. And some people seem to look down on splits and decants but what other choice is there if 100ml is the only option?

      As for being a person strangers talk to, I’ve had the same experience many times. I also always, always get asked for directions – no matter where I am. It even happens abroad in places where I wouldn’t imagine I could pass as a local. My husband teases me about it but fortunately I’ve gotten good at memorizing maps! August 12, 2015 at 4:08pm Reply

  • Tijana: I have added this book to my list, I must read it! Thank you!

    People commenting on someone else’s meal (with a rather negative curiosity in my case since I am a vegan). Growing up in Europe, I was taught this was a BIG no-no, but in North America it seems to be perfectly acceptable.

    Same issue with men in subway as you… Actually, quite a frequent occurrence in my city of late.

    People claiming they have perfume “allergies” in a situation when they just don’t LIKE someone’s fragrance.

    Limited-market fragrances. Just because I live in North America, it does not mean I like the North American mass-market fragrance preferences. And it does not mean I would not like or buy a fragrance “marketed” to Middle East or another region.

    🙂 August 12, 2015 at 9:40am Reply

    • Michaela: Perfume allergies claims remind me of pet allergies claims. Those people have similar reasons. August 12, 2015 at 9:43am Reply

    • Bonnie: I know exactly what you mean about mealtime comments, fellow vegan!! August 12, 2015 at 10:38am Reply

    • Kitty Van Halen: The perfume “allergy” infuriates me much of the time. There are legitimate complaints, but grrrr…. I had a past coworker who claimed that her previous addiction to meth had left her with a highly sensitive sense of smell, and therefore no one could wear perfume to work. Excuse me? WE have to suffer now because you did meth for 20 years? I think that’s called “consequence for your bad decisions.” August 12, 2015 at 1:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, the allergy thing needs to stop, not least because it detracts attention from people really suffer from severe allergies. August 12, 2015 at 2:08pm Reply

  • limegreen: What a great post! I, too, thought the annoyance at the mosquito and the dog too precious. If she had electricity, she would have added to people leaving the door open, those who leave lights on after they leave an empty room (one of my pet peeves). That and running the water faucet to shave or brush their teeth, especially in a drought. Or office buildings that leave their sprinkler timers on so that they water during the middle of the day at the height of heat (and in a drought). And dogowners who don’t scoop after their dogs and make all dogowners look bad.

    Well, that was good to “share”, thanks Victoria for this post!
    I agree with you about overpriced perfume brands (what you call aspirational pricing!), and rosarita’s pet peeve about only 100 ml sizes! I’ll add another — SAs who ask if you want to buy a perfume within seconds of spritzing it on your wrist and my nose is just on its way to smelling it! 🙂 August 12, 2015 at 9:48am Reply

    • Victoria: Her list is even longer, and she has many other lists in similar vein. It’ such a wonderful book, and I never get tired of reading it. Since I already know it by heart, pretty much, I mostly just open it on random page and read a bit over my morning tea.

      Yes, that’s annoying. You can’t make up your mind this quickly! August 12, 2015 at 2:14pm Reply

    • girasole: That’s a good one, limegreen. I also don’t appreciate getting ‘the look’ when I say I’d like to wait a while to see how a perfume develops. I understand they want to make a sale, (and that many people spritz and walk) but I don’t just want to purchase top notes! August 12, 2015 at 4:16pm Reply

      • limegreen: I haven’t even gotten to the top notes when some SAs ask! August 13, 2015 at 12:39am Reply

        • girasole: Yikes – talk about aggressive! That would drive me crazy, too. August 13, 2015 at 1:17pm Reply

        • Joy: Oh, and I hate it when they follow you around the floor continuing to try to make the sale. It is so aggressive. August 13, 2015 at 3:57pm Reply

          • limegreen: like having a shadow! August 14, 2015 at 3:51pm Reply

    • Daisy: Oh, I find that infuriating too! There is a department store here where they do that and then some SA’s do something even more infuriating: instead of asking if you want to buy it, they ask you HOW MANY do you want to buy. Seriously! August 13, 2015 at 5:54pm Reply

      • limegreen: How many?! 🙂
        Sometimes a SA will try to push the larger size on me because it’s a better “value.” August 14, 2015 at 9:49am Reply

        • Daisy: That, I’m okay with. Even if I don’t want the larger size. Asking me how many I want (and worse, even before I get the blotter up to my nose) just makes me wonder what their other customers are like! August 17, 2015 at 4:07pm Reply

  • Sandra: This Book is on my list

    My list of infuriating things;

    Riding the subway while I was pregnant last year (and I am now pregnant again) and nobody gets up to offer their seat to me. People are too busy blasting their music and trying to get to the next level of candy crush to notice my huge stomach in front of their face.

    -That NYC needs a Mariage Freres teas store

    -Shalimar Ode a la Vanille should be a permanent flanker.

    – maternity laws in the U.S. should be equal or better then most comparable countries.

    I will stop there.. August 12, 2015 at 9:56am Reply

    • solanace: Congratulations, Sandra, another perfumista on the way. So sweet. Wishing you all the best. August 12, 2015 at 11:32am Reply

      • Sandra: Thank you! We wanted another one- it happened very fast! Almost Irish twins ❤️️ August 12, 2015 at 2:17pm Reply

    • JoDee: I absolutely agree about the maternity laws in the U.S.! August 12, 2015 at 1:13pm Reply

    • Kitty Van Halen: Not just maternity leave, but all family medical leave. I just read that Netflix is now offering a full year of maternity/paternity leave to its employees. August 12, 2015 at 1:24pm Reply

      • Sandra: Sounds like a great place to work August 12, 2015 at 2:18pm Reply

      • Jackie: Yes, amazing! Another reason to like Netflix!!! They are setting a great example for other US companies! August 12, 2015 at 3:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, no! I’m so sad to hear that you weren’t given a seat. Basic courtesy that. August 12, 2015 at 2:16pm Reply

    • Jackie: Sandra, I couldn’t agree more about US maternity/parental leave! It’s quite shocking! (I’m Canadian) But I do wonder why you say they should be “better than” most comparable countries. Equal, yes, but why better?

      I also wholeheartedly agree about folks not giving up seats to pregnant women (or disabled, elderly people, etc). Also shocking. August 12, 2015 at 3:09pm Reply

      • Jackie: While Canada has excellent parental leave, however, it is prejudicial against adoptive parents. We get LESS time! (8 months vs a year!). Shocking!

        This is a topic beyond merely “irritating” though, so before I get all worked up (not V’s intention), I’ll leave it there! 😉 August 12, 2015 at 3:14pm Reply

        • Sandra: That is crazy- what’s the big deal about offering a few more months to adoptive parents August 12, 2015 at 4:21pm Reply

      • Sandra: I just think that now it’s worse then most countries- so it should be equal or better. Better being my unrealistic high standards.
        My husband is Canadian- he is shocked by how little time off is allowed here- and depending on the company- you may or may not get paid.
        However his brother who also left Canada – lives in the Netherlands- and his wife gets a mandatory 1 month off before her due date! I was so jealous when I heard that. August 12, 2015 at 4:20pm Reply

    • OperaFan: The lack of deference to pregnant women and elderly on public transport is on top of my list. That happened to me on the bus when I was (very) pregnant, and I routinely see people looking right through the elderly on the subway trains. At least make a half-hearted effort and offer to get up. Half the time they would politely refuse anyway. August 13, 2015 at 1:13pm Reply

  • Therése: Agree 100% on the 100 ml only perfume bottles!

    Other pet peeves include people who say they never read fiction because “It’s not real”, and people who assume that because I am a quiet and mildmannered person I have no opinions of my own (they find out they are wrong very quickly). August 12, 2015 at 10:08am Reply

    • Kitty Van Halen: Fiction– YES!!!! I’ve also, along those lines, had my SIL say snidely to me, “I don’t like science fiction (or fantasy), as you can’t learn anything from it. I prefer things that are real and human.” She also says this about movies. I guess fine, whatever, you have your opinions, but that’s really more of a preference, and unless someone asked, keep your judgments to yourself, lady!! August 12, 2015 at 1:26pm Reply

      • Therése: People have the craziest opinions about science fiction and fantasy. And then when you ask what they have read of those genres the answer is usually “nothing”.
        I have a colleague who is scared of reading science fiction “because it all becomes reality in a few years”. 🙂

        In general I find that a lot of non-fiction that people think of as 100 % truthful and accurate (like some biographies for example) are just badly researched fantasies. And I know some writers who use the cover of fiction to write the truest and most soul-baring litterature. So the “It’s not real”-comment annoys me like crazy. August 13, 2015 at 3:06am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that too. I can understand people not enjoying a particular style of literature, because of the language or something else, but I often encounter people like this when I mention whatever I’m reading and they interrupt and launch into a long monologue about why they dislike that book/genre/author. August 12, 2015 at 2:47pm Reply

      • nebbe: That gives me the urge to interrupt them back “Good for you. Excuse me while i return to this book I enjoy. ”

        Pause for a moment of challenging eye contact (optional). Return to book. August 12, 2015 at 3:50pm Reply

        • Kitty Van Halen: I’ve found “good for you” or “what a shame you feel that way” to be good all-purpose answers to annoying people… August 12, 2015 at 5:48pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, that’s a good rejoinder. I’m not very good at witty comebacks, so I usually just give a look and change the subject. August 13, 2015 at 2:58am Reply

      • Therése: Yes, the monolouge thing happens too often. Sometimes I suspect some people only ask so that they can get a chance to talk about themselves and their tastes … August 13, 2015 at 3:08am Reply

        • Victoria: I wonder if we just don’t get enough proper conversations with the way media is shaping our lives. I’ve noticed more and more how many people are poor listeners. At one point I’ve noticed that I myself started to interrupt more and had more difficulty concentrating on what the other person was saying, which made me disappointed for several reason. One, it’s just bad manners. Two, when you’re a researcher and a writer, listening is your number one skill. Third, because if you don’t interrupt, especially in the workplace, you never get a word in! Nothing can be done about the third, and I’ve learned to say “I haven’t yet finished”. As for myself, I pay attention and re-learn to concentrate. Actually, nothing helps as much with that as reading.

          On a related topic, I enjoyed reading this article:
          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/11089597/Douglas-Coupland-I-miss-my-pre-internet-brain.html August 13, 2015 at 3:38am Reply

          • Therése: Great article!

            I too have had to reel myself in in conversations when I have found myself interrupting. It’s embarrassing. And I think you are right about reading being a great way to relearn how to concentrate! August 13, 2015 at 1:01pm Reply

            • Victoria: Oh, and embroidery also does that for me. It’s a great way to concentrate, relax and make something beautiful (hopefully!) in the end. August 13, 2015 at 4:48pm Reply

              • Therése: Oh, I’ve been thinking lately that I want to learn a craft. Knitting, sewing my own clothes and embroidery are all crafts I am considering. August 14, 2015 at 2:36am Reply

                • Victoria: I can’t recommend it highly enough. One of the best things I’ve done for my mental health was to resume embroidering after a 10 year hiatus. 🙂 August 14, 2015 at 7:01am Reply

                  • Sofie: Well, in the same vein or at least with the same purpose I bought myself a colouring book for adults and some bright pens and pencils JUST FOR ME, and it’s a nice way to wind down in the evening without being connected to some sort of screen. Maybe it’s not really crafty but well, I really enjoy it :-). August 16, 2015 at 6:36am Reply

                    • Victoria: Those are hugely popular here too. Playing with colors–what can be more therapeutic. August 17, 2015 at 5:07am

        • limegreen: I think you have a great point! I find myself not bothering to respond completely to some questions as I’m not convinced they really want to hear what I have to say. So I often save my breath.
          I recently experienced this with being asked about my trip to Italy and with a few exceptions, I got tired of getting interrupted and ended up listening to their telling me about their various trips to Italy or wherever, like the UK! And these would not be recent so some stories I already heard. 🙂

          Victoria (or is it Virginia ), love the article you linked! 🙂 August 13, 2015 at 4:27am Reply

          • Victoria: I realized I could concentrate and be productive continuously really well in my garden hut at my grandmother’s. There was no internet there! 🙂 August 13, 2015 at 4:52am Reply

  • Emma: I agree with low-class guys in the subway, legs wide open acting like they deserve two seats and a half and probably think men who cross their legs are gay.
    I mostly Uber now in the City and take the bus, I hate hate hate the subway! And it’s disgusting.

    I hate the perfume industry today, mainstream AND niche, it’s commercial, unimaginative, expensive, conformist and boring.

    Plain Janes who don’t even want to be women anymore… you know those women in cheap shoes who walk like guys but they are straight, never wear perfume and makeup… no wonder so many guys turn to Russian and European women! August 12, 2015 at 10:21am Reply

    • Mer: A suggestion: when attempting to signal belonging to the upper-class, avoid disparaging the lower-class. An actual upper-class person doesn’t ever need to concern themselves with being confused with a lower-class person, what with the middle-class acting as a buffer. Thus disparaging the lower-class strongly signals middle-class, which is to be avoided by all classes.

      The same applies to signaling “feminity”, among others.

      Which reminds me! to stay on topic… first class wagons in Belgian trains. They so infuriate me! August 12, 2015 at 12:30pm Reply

      • Kitty Van Halen: I think I’m with you on the first two, unless I’m reading this wrong.

        There’s room in the world for all types. And I’m currently living at poverty level, so… August 12, 2015 at 1:29pm Reply

      • Emma: Our world today has become such a politically correct environment, it’s insane, I’m not surprised Trump is doing so well. Anyways, by low-class, I meant douchey, crass, uneducated guys not necessarily referring to social status.

        On femininity, well, Mademoiselle Chanel would be by your standards extremely politically INCORRECT!! August 12, 2015 at 2:34pm Reply

        • Mer: Freedom of speech also extends to the reactions to your opinions (and Mlle. Chanel’s – if you haven’t guessed by now, an argument from authority is not going to impress me). Crying “political correctness” is an attempt to have your cake and eat it, too.

          But then again, having double standards is such a time-honoured bourgeois tradition. August 12, 2015 at 5:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: Women judging other women based on looks. Why? August 12, 2015 at 2:50pm Reply

      • Jackie: Hear hear for women dressing down, women dressing up. Women doing whatever the hell they want! Comfortable shoes, uncomfortable shoes. Shaving, not shaving. Wearing makeup, not wearing makeup. etc. Personally, I am a strong feminist who loves makeup and perfume. This seems like a contradiction and does not “fit” with the style of most of my feminist friends! But they accept me, and I them! 🙂

        On the one hand, our society insists women be feminine, yet disparages what has been labeled “feminine” (and associated with women).

        Another name for this impossible conundrum is misogyny!

        Let us just be who we are and have fun with style and image if we want but not be defined and judged by it! August 12, 2015 at 3:23pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, I utterly fail to understand this. If someone wears a red lipstick and you don’t (or vice versa), why on earth does it even bother you? I have many friends who could care less about perfume, who think I’m charmingly eccentric for my elaborate skincare routines and a large perfume wardrobe, but they don’t lecture me and we accept each other the way we are.

          Well, that’s the thing. Our society expects women to conform to some vague norm of beauty and femininity. If you try too hard, you are judged. You don’t try, you are judged. You can never win. August 12, 2015 at 3:43pm Reply

        • Mer: Very well said. August 12, 2015 at 4:38pm Reply

  • Laura: You already got mine. People who look me straight in the face and say the perfume I have worn for 40+ years was not reformulated / “smells exactly the same as it always did” – especially when they haven’t been alive to know what it smelled like originally. Extremely expensive perfumes that don’t last as long as 40 year old sat-in-the-sunlight Coty drugstore colognes. Young and/or able-bodied people who don’t open/hold a door for elderly or disabled people. People who don’t even try to pretend to be scooping their dog’s poo while walking down my street. Perfume companies who completely reformulate/change a perfume and don’t just do everyone a favor and give it a unique name – and why does the same company change the names of it’s perfumes in a musical chair fashion? *coughDiorcough*. The phrase ‘old lady perfume’ used for anything someone’s grandmother (and Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, Ava Gardner etc) wore when young and hot. I can’t wait til their kids call La Vie Est Belle and Angel old lady perfume. I will laugh and laugh from my seat in the ninth circle of ..where ever I am going. August 12, 2015 at 10:29am Reply

    • CC: Laura please let me be your friend 🙂 August 12, 2015 at 12:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: The phrase “old lady perfume” really irritates me. It says little about a perfume in question. August 12, 2015 at 2:52pm Reply

      • Mer: It actually gets me itching to try the perfume 😀 it may sometimes be misleading, but most gems seem to be tossed in there at some point. August 14, 2015 at 5:45am Reply

  • Erica: The Pillow Book was my saving grace in my Classical Japanese Literature class in college! After having to go through The Tale of Genji (in a month; never read that book in a month, it will drive you insane), it was a nice palate cleanser!

    My pet peeve is people spelling my name wrong. I don’t mind so much when it is someone I don’t work with, or isn’t at my company. It drives me nuts however when co-workers spell my name wrong despite having my full name in my email address right above the email. There is just no excuse and it drives me up the wall. I think many times it may be autocorrect, but for crying out loud just check the email before sending. Especially when it’s people I see or work with on a daily basis.

    It’s silly and I never correct people because it’s just my name. But it is my name and when they spell it wrong their email goes to the bottom of my “to-do” list! August 12, 2015 at 10:34am Reply

    • Victoria: I also read them side by side, and while The Tale of Genji is a masterpiece, Sei Shonagon was a far better poet and her phrasing, descriptions, evocative ability are unrivaled. My visit to Kyoto was as much for her as for discovering the place itself.

      Name spelling would annoy me too. Mine rarely gets misspelled, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve been called Virginia or Veronica. August 12, 2015 at 2:57pm Reply

  • Bonnie: I abhor when sexism is tolerated, even celebrated. Lately in Canada, Toronto specifically, female journalists speaking into the mic on-air from the scene of a story are harassed by men walking by – usually young men, who shout out a very rude, very abuse phrase that I understand is all the rage amongst this age group. This week a female reporter from the CBC was actually kissed on the cheek by some lad while she was reporting live on air. But what really gets me is on all the talk shows, people are saying, “She should be flattered!” Uh, no…. August 12, 2015 at 10:44am Reply

    • Sandra: Agree! That is a huge NO! August 12, 2015 at 10:57am Reply

    • Kitty Van Halen: AMEN, BONNIE!!! August 12, 2015 at 1:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: This “she should be flattered” business makes my blood boil. When people you ordinarily think are reasonable, it’s so disappointing. August 12, 2015 at 2:58pm Reply

    • Katherine: I think “sexual harassment” is situational dependent. The same compliment from different people can come across differently – depending on how the recipient feels about the person giving the compliment. It’s a double standard I’m guilty of too! August 14, 2015 at 9:31pm Reply

      • Victoria: Sexual harassment by definition is abuse, crossing of the boundaries. Yes, of course, the same compliment from different people would come across differently–lovely from your friend and creepy from a stranger. I don’t see it as a double standard, though. And certainly, there are no shades of grey in Bonnie’s example of a female journalist being harassed on the street. Totally unacceptable. August 15, 2015 at 1:25am Reply

  • Awfulknitter: Perfume peeve: brands who don’t seem to give out samples – I mean, I don’t expect them to be flinging them at people, but if I’ve spent some time sampling a range and expressed an intelligent interest I’m a potential customer! Just a potential customer who’s trying to avoid blind buying…

    Other peeve: so many! Too many to count! Maybe it should be that I annoy myself for being so easily annoyed. But I’ll say that it’s bus drivers who don’t look for waiting passengers at stops (this happens to me quite regularly). August 12, 2015 at 10:58am Reply

    • Victoria: Samples are so easy to do. And the brand doesn’t even need to make carded samples. A store should simply do what Nordstrom does–have a drawer of empty sample vials and make little samples for customers. August 12, 2015 at 2:59pm Reply

      • Jackie: Nordstrom (at least the one in DT Seattle) even puts out baskets of empty vials and lets you make your own samples. My girls, husband and I have had so much fun with this!

        Many people rightly bemoan the economics and politics of the American dept store giant opening a store in Vancouver, but the Holt’s and Bay I mentioned above are going to be blown out of the water by Nordstom’s generous sampling program. (I have written to both stores head offices about this as I am wont to do!) I always buy perfume from Nordstrom, even the same as are available at our dept stores, because I get to TRY them first!

        Are you listening Bay and Holt’s? August 12, 2015 at 3:28pm Reply

        • Elizabeth: As a Canadian “Vancouverite” I can hardly wait for Holts to open! Now that the wonderful SA for Guerlain – at The Bay has gone, I feel no allegiance for their fragrance department.
          Poor customer service is a huge pet peeve of mine. August 12, 2015 at 7:29pm Reply

          • Elizabeth: Edit:

            Meant to type in Nordstrom earlier. We have had a Holts for years. Not too big on customer service there, either. Believe me, I would love to support Canadian businesses, especially small ones but when it comes to department stores, Nordstrom in Western states, are stellar. Their generosity in the fragrance department is legandary. August 12, 2015 at 8:39pm Reply

  • Tammy: Pet peeves:
    1. Men who think they are more intellectual than women.
    2. Dog poo on sidewalks.
    3. People who don’t return a message or call. People who don’t RSVP. People who cancel appointments at the last minute with no respect for my time.
    4. People who talk on cell phone while driving. People who text without looking where they are walking.
    5. People who point out my accent to me when I speak to them.
    6. People who point out my religion to me casually during mundanities.
    7. Flies. Fruit flies.

    Fragrance pet peeves:
    1. Sublime fragrances with low sillage and longevity. Eg Jo Malone Saffron Intense.
    2. Sublime fragrances which companies decide to discontinue: Dior Eau Noire, Tom Ford Fleur de Chine, Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie
    3. Spending four hours to distill lavender water, only to find that the fragrance has crept into my morning coffee cup. Having lavender coffee. Strangely pleasant. Tom Ford are you listening to me? August 12, 2015 at 11:31am Reply

    • spe: What???!!! Fleur de Chine is discontinued???!!!

      Nooooooooooooo…… August 12, 2015 at 1:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: Lavender coffee actually sounds wonderful! I’m going to add lavender water to my cup tomorrow. 🙂

      My husband is with you on fruit flies. Since I have been buying a lot of fruit, we have a small colony at home. August 12, 2015 at 3:02pm Reply

      • Jackie: I have discovered the CURE for fruit flies!!!! You know the ole’ wine or peaches in a jar with holes in top of cellophane on top? They get in but cannot get out?

        I read somewhere that apple cider vinegar works better, so did a side-by-side comparison. The next morning, the red wine had about 6 fruit flies in it, and the vinegar one had about 30! We have ZERO fruit fly problem since, where before we’d had an infestation! August 12, 2015 at 3:32pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you so much, Jackie. This was a brilliant advice. I tried it as soon as I read it with vinegar, and this morning a jar had lots inside. August 13, 2015 at 2:46am Reply

      • Austenfan: How charming, new pets 😉 August 13, 2015 at 4:26pm Reply

    • Reg: Yes, hang on, this is major news for me too. Fleur de Chine?! Please share some details. August 12, 2015 at 6:40pm Reply

      • Tammy: That’s what the sales rep at the Tom Ford counter at Bloomingdales told me last month. August 13, 2015 at 11:11am Reply

        • Reg: That is indeed infuriating. August 13, 2015 at 5:41pm Reply

        • Reg: Not that I didn’t believe you, but I had hopes that the sale rep got it wrong so I asked at the Tom Ford counter at the department store over here and the lady confirmed. Then I asked if Shanghai Lily would disappear too and she said there were “rumours”. But I think she wanted to trick me into buying there. Oh what a shame. August 15, 2015 at 6:11pm Reply

  • Rebecca: Perfume peeve: people telling me that they can’t wear perfume because they are allergic to all those nasty synthetic ingredients. While both synthetic and natural ingredients may cause allergies in some, this is galling because so many perfumes have suffered from restrictive allergen rules. Of course, there are people who are genuinely allergic so I wear fragrance in public with great restraint (and rarely vintage perfumes that might be more contentious) and I have learned to tell people that it is my shampoo that smells so nice… That seems to quell many objections. August 12, 2015 at 11:31am Reply

    • Victoria: Ah yes, the allergy to chemicals. Well, everything is a chemical, including water. Plants are true chemical factories. August 12, 2015 at 3:04pm Reply

    • Carolyn: Yes, and some of these very same people I know are often cleaning their houses, etc. with harsh, stinky chemically stuff that stinks even worse than I do. Well, can’t say that I really stink 🙂

      Seems it’s de rigueur to have scent allergies these days. Guess that’s a good way to keep people from randomly showing up at my house to visit me, eh? 🙂 August 12, 2015 at 6:29pm Reply

  • solanace: Thank you for your constant defense of feminine values and culture, Victoria. It means the world. My pet peeves

    1. Going to work with clothes that are too warm or too cold for the day.
    2. Uncomfortble shoes – I´ll take them off, darn it.
    3. Forgetting to take my book along, and having to look at the walls at the subway or while waiting for my lunch.
    4. Warm beer.
    5. Weak or fleeting perfumes. I want to be entertained.
    6. Lousy music played very loud on public spaces, like Michel Teló at a beautiful deserted beach – please, don´t google it.

    I could go on and on, lol… Not petty at all, but not polemic either are men who try to make romantic advances in a worplace. Ugh. August 12, 2015 at 11:47am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve spent all of my life in uncomfortable shoes–first, as a ballerina on a pro track, then in my 20s as an aspiring fashionista. Now, it’s Bloch ballet slippers, the street style, of course. They’re so comfortable! August 12, 2015 at 3:07pm Reply

    • noele: solanace, love your #1 and i will stand you on that one. you must live in san francisco? 🙂 August 13, 2015 at 3:05pm Reply

  • Marion: I live in Wyoming, so I have a whole different set of probkems.
    1) Stepping in fresh turkey poop in bare, feet. I love the wild turkeys, but I feed them, and then they expect it, and will look, with that one-eyed bird stare, through the window, while I’m eating.
    2) Wasps who scare away my beloved hummingbirds. I put 5 feeders up for hummers, not stingers… Hummingbirdso also recognize me, and follow me around if a feeder is empty. When I was gone, my husband reported that while he was working in the garage, a hummingbird came to him, hovered in front of his face, and glared. They glare. He immediately filled the feeders.

    I love where I live. I can avoid most annoying people, and wear the loudest perfumes I want. The horses don’t care. August 12, 2015 at 12:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: So sweet about hummingbirds! My MIL has a family too that feed on her flowers, and I get picture updates on regular basis. August 12, 2015 at 3:07pm Reply

  • CC: People who answer “yes” to an “or” question.
    Casual rudeness.
    The end of mending and other “resilient” crafts.
    Inane perfume marketing that is added onto scent, with name/bottle /ads as glaring afterthoughts.
    Overconfident stupidity – usual they go hand in hand. August 12, 2015 at 12:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, yes, it’s so sad to see resilient crafts disappear. A neighborhood where I usually stay in Paris had a lovely store nearby that specialized in starching. Now, it’s gone and instead some Berenice chain took its place. August 12, 2015 at 3:10pm Reply

      • CC: I feel blessed to live in a place where you still find shoes menders and even highly specialised leather cleaners, silk care etc, sprouting up rather than closing down. Potentially one of the very few positive side effects of the on-going recession. But here there is a culture of making things last. August 12, 2015 at 7:52pm Reply

        • Victoria: In Brussels it’s also much more common to find places like this. This is a good thing, since I often need to get my clothes altered, and I like that I can do it inexpensively at ateliers around my neighborhood. August 13, 2015 at 3:15am Reply

  • Normand: I DEFINITELY agree on the overpriced perfume. There is really no need for a perfume to cost over $150 and I’m being generous. As for the bottles, they do nothing for me.

    And I totally agree with the large sizes. I don’t want 100 mls so why should I pay for it?

    As for minimalism, I wonder if it’s an artistic statement or an accounting strategy. “Create a perfectly good perfume, the dilute. Repeat. And then dilute some more. It’s downright homeopathic!

    Great post!

    Normand August 12, 2015 at 12:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: Perfume is not macerated enough these days, which affects its lasting power. Everything is fast, fast, and faster, and that’s such a shame. August 12, 2015 at 3:10pm Reply

      • Mer: This raises questions! should the ingredients be macerated? the blend before adding alcohol? (sorry if I am ignorant here), or the finished product? if the latter, would time help these scents?

        So many questions, would this topic warrant a blog post? hint hint 😉 August 13, 2015 at 6:21am Reply

        • Victoria: A post on maceration? Sure! This way we can enshrine ourselves as geeks forever. 🙂

          But yes, maceration of the finished oil in alcohol before being stabilized (or sometimes after, to ensure no unwanted chemical reactions take place). It sounds like a subtle difference, but many perfumers say that it makes for a different effect. August 13, 2015 at 6:27am Reply

          • Mer: Great! :)) August 14, 2015 at 5:42am Reply

  • MJ: Perfume pet peeves: bad men’s aftershave in the elevator, SA’s who offer to spray me when I’ve just entered the store. SA’s who offer to spray me ever. SA’s who ask me what perfume I like. (I like so many styles such as Pink Sugar and L’Ombre dans L’Eau). Must stop now because so many things come to mind. I do hate the iPhone spell check and new “emoji” keyboard I didn’t ask for. Could they just have put a comma on the keyboard first page?? August 12, 2015 at 12:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: My iPhone’s Siri sounds like an annoyed guy. And half of the time he doesn’t ever understand me. I started to develop a complex about my accent, wondering if it’s really that thick, but Siri doesn’t understand my NA husband either. 🙂 August 12, 2015 at 3:12pm Reply

      • MJ: I call my iPhone “Sorry” instead of Siri. August 12, 2015 at 4:55pm Reply

  • Kitty Van Halen: Perfume pet peeves: at the moment, it’s the cheapening of perfume in general. I’ve been buying more and more vintage perfumes, and am amazed at how the quality of discontinued Dana scents (Bon Voyage and Voodoo, in particular, and if you come across them, snatch them up!) or vintage Emeraude compared to many current department store frags. The “cheap” scents of the past now surpass the supposed prestige brands of the present. Madness.

    My personal pet peeves as of late are mostly related to judgmental people. I feel like every day I learn something about someone I know that makes me like them a little less. People seem to have a lot of prejudice– be it sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, etc– that election time really brings out in droves. Maybe not so much as “pet peeve” as something that just makes me sad. Most of my silly pet peeves revolve around driving. I have a air freshener in my car (that oddly doesn’t have a smell) with an image of a snarling cat yelling, “Use your turn signal, jerkface!” August 12, 2015 at 1:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: True. Live and let live. I no longer read the comments section in most newspapers, because they make me feel as if I’m staring into the heart of darkness. August 12, 2015 at 3:15pm Reply

      • Jackie: Reading those comments is so distorting: it makes you feel the world is full of hatred. August 12, 2015 at 3:34pm Reply

        • Victoria: Yes. On some topics, they read as if they are not even from real people, but from PR agencies. August 13, 2015 at 2:47am Reply

  • tamuna: Victoria your article is very interesting and as I read the extract from her book complaining about everyday life’s irritating small things, I got glimpse, from the astrological point of view , about Jupiter’s recent arrival into the sign of Virgo, ” The Devil is in the detail” type of thing, this is perfect example of that, I notice more of that already :))) August 12, 2015 at 1:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: Fascinating! I know nothing about astrology, so I admire those who understand it and can ascertain such influences. August 12, 2015 at 3:16pm Reply

  • Claire: Sei Shonagon was amazing, catty and lyrical at the same time.
    Pet perfume peeves: Alleged perfume allergies (not real ones, obviously), being unable to source testers easily (no, I’m not going to blind buy, but thank you for offering me the opportunity to potentially waste 80 Euros or more!)
    SAs telling me a perfume I read about on a blog doesn’t actually exist or give me stories about perfume that we all know aren’t true.
    General pet peeve: people who claim that natural is better. Deadly Nightshade is natural, I still don’t want to eat it.
    Anyway, thanks for reminding me about Sei Shonagon, now I really want to go back and reread her. August 12, 2015 at 3:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hear, hear! Natural is not always better, and I really find the division of natural vs synthetic in perfumery is misleading and wrong.

      You’ve put the finger on it–catty and lyrical. She was such a character. August 12, 2015 at 3:27pm Reply

    • limegreen: Two months ago, I wrote an email to Hermès asking when Jour d’Hermes Gardenia was going to be released in the US, as it had already been launched in Europe. I was told no such perfume existed, that I was was thinking about the gardenia IN JdH.
      I was in disbelief that they did not know their own line. August 13, 2015 at 1:23am Reply

  • Jackie: Gosh, infuriating things?! Don’t get me started! 😉 I’m one of those people with permeable boundaries , easily irritated.

    I’m also a feminist constantly angry about sexism and misogyny, but this is supposed to stay light!

    But I have to say, BdJ is that place I visit as an escape and solace from all the irritants and furies of the world. I’ve mentioned before that I think Victoria’s positive voice and her supportive community makes the world a better place and, I hope, me a better person. 🙂

    Even a post on “infuriating things” is done with grace and good humour.

    Now, a few pet peeves.

    In Canada, perfume SA’s at the Bay and Holt’s work on commission and hound you to buy things before you even have a chance to really smell them…. because they’re so ungenerous with samples! (Thank goodness for one of the Sephoras that carries many more “niche” lines and a great independent perfume shop.)

    Gum-chewing.

    Mansplaining. (thank you, Jonathan Franzen!)

    Mansplaying. (I totally agree, Victoria. I recently politely asked a man in a movie theatre if he could please get his leg out of my space! He did, with an apology.)

    People who touch (with or without asking) or comment on my daughter’s Afro hair (we cannot leave the house ever without hair incidents). And people who double-take and then STARE at our mixed-race family! (and we live in a multicultural community!)

    People constantly telling me my daughters are pretty or beautiful (which they are, but c’mon, think people think!) They usually don’t even say it to them, but to me, as if they were inanimate objects!

    this is getting too serious….

    Back to the petty stuff:
    — like Solanace above, people who blast music (lousy or not) on the beach or at the park.

    — Store clerks who do not say “please” and “thank you.” Whatever happened to that? I have made it my personal mission to bring it back one shop interaction at a time. 😉

    — People who do not say please and thank you to store clerks.

    Thanks for the chance to sound off, Victoria! August 12, 2015 at 3:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: I loved reading your list, Jackie. Even our rose scented bubble exist in a real world with all of its irritants and sometimes having a chance to air out our thoughts on things trivial and serious is a good idea. At least, I think so.

      Double standards really get to me, and moving between countries really brings some inequalities and double standards in sharp relief. In different places they are different. Perhaps, this makes me more sensitive. Or perhaps just more irritated a lot of the time. 🙂 I haven’t figured it out.

      I’m getting fed up with people asking, “Oh, is your husband Arab/Georgian/Japanese/Korean/Italian/etc?” whenever they find out that I just speak or in the process of learning a different language. As if it’s not possible to learn just because you want to learn something new. I’m surprised how often this happens. August 12, 2015 at 3:36pm Reply

      • Jackie: Speaking of double-standards, you would probably not be asked this if you were a man.

        Yes, I couldn’t agree more: it’s good to air things out, and then get back to our beautiful “rose-scented bubble”! August 12, 2015 at 3:42pm Reply

        • Victoria: In Sei Shonagon’s own words, “If writing did not exist, what terrible depressions we should suffer!” August 12, 2015 at 3:48pm Reply

          • Jackie: So true! August 12, 2015 at 4:07pm Reply

  • Alicia: Major annoyances:
    People wanting to convert you to: atheism, different cults, veganism, variety of diets, and no use of fragrances of whatever type, including fragrant soaps. Most of these persons I have found in Berkeley, CA (where I have a home), a few in Latin America, and very few where I usuallyy live in Upstate NY.
    Other annoyances: holier-than-thous and know it-alls. Lack of politeness. Pedantry. The vulgarity of narcissists.
    Regarding fragrances: fleeting perfumes that I love, are expensive and last for less than 10 minutes. Heartbreaking case: Osmanthus Yunnan. Reviews and description of fragrances should mention their lasting power. Cave emptor! August 12, 2015 at 3:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: I should try to be better on mentioning the lasting power. I usually do, but sometimes I forget, unless a perfume really is fleeting. A note to self. August 12, 2015 at 3:37pm Reply

      • Alicia: Thank you, Victoria. Many of us will be very grateful. Not only we’ll continue to have your splendid guidance as to the scent, but also important advice for investment in full bottles. At the present prices of many of our favorite houses this is no minor point.
        Some day I’ll have to read these Japanese ladies, of whom I knnow nothing. You are an inspiration. August 12, 2015 at 5:57pm Reply

        • Victoria: Please do! The 11th century Japanese writing is such a rich source of beautiful images.
          And even much inspiration for my day-to-day life. Ladies describe at length the color combinations of each other’s robes, and it’s always giving me ideas to try pairings myself, like layering soft pink eye shadow over a purple one to get a wisteria like haze. August 13, 2015 at 3:06am Reply

          • Alicia: Promise I will. I’ve devoted myself to Western literature for so many years, and read very little of the Far Eastern one, except for a book that enchanted me, the Sakuntala.But that is from India, of course. August 13, 2015 at 9:55am Reply

            • Victoria: I also love The Dream of the Red Chamber, an 18th century Chinese novel. August 13, 2015 at 4:49pm Reply

              • limegreen: The best translation is the Penguin edition, called The Story of the Stone, translated by David Hawkes and John Minford.
                The details are amazing. There are wonderful floral concoctions, among other things. 🙂 August 13, 2015 at 6:39pm Reply

                • Victoria: Thank you! It’s on my kindle now. I read it a while ago when I stumbled it by chance at a Chicago Public Library (still one of my favorite libraries ever). I don’t remember who was the translator, and anyway, it’s time to re-read it. August 14, 2015 at 6:56am Reply

                  • limegreen: 120 chapters will take you a while. 🙂
                    I love the garden scenes the best. August 14, 2015 at 3:46pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I used to love watching the BBC series Grumpy Old Men and Grumpy Old Women. Very funny. August 12, 2015 at 4:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: The BBC series are the best, aren’t they! 🙂 August 13, 2015 at 2:59am Reply

      • Austenfan: Not all of it, but this series is quite fun. A lot of the interviewees are comedians or other people with a nice turn of phrase so it makes it very funny. August 13, 2015 at 3:56am Reply

        • Victoria: These days I pretty much only watch the Great British Bake Off on TV. I adore that show. August 13, 2015 at 4:13am Reply

          • Austenfan: I’ve never watched it, but I’ve seen Mary Berry in other things and she comes across really well. Hugh Jackman took a fancy to her when they were both guests on Graham Norton. It was very funny, and not in any way inappropriate (I hasten to add) August 13, 2015 at 5:25am Reply

            • Victoria: She’s wonderful. What I love about show is how nice everyone is. There is no drama, no back stabbing, no oversized personalities (that would be Top Chef). Just normal people with their own quirks and very nice, funny presenters. And lots of baking! August 13, 2015 at 5:50am Reply

  • Theresa: thanks, Victoria, for reminding us about Sei Shonagon! Since you wrote the last time about her, I have had a copy of The Pillow Book by my bed, and frequently dip into it in the few minutes I have before lights go out. It is fascinating glimpse into old Japan.

    I would like to recommend another diary to your readers – Francis Kilvert’s diary. He was an English clergyman who worked in rural Wales in the 1860s. You have to read the 3 volumes that are left (not the abbreviated one volume which leaves out many of the best bits) – his ability to recall and describe the most mundane incidents of rural life is amazing. He is interested in the local people and spends long times chatting with them and then records what they say about the old times. As you read thru the books, you get to know certain characters well – and when they die – some of consumption – it is heartbreaking. I’ve read the whole work at least 3 times in the last 5 years, and am thinking it is about time to re-immerse myself in his world. He has a weird fascination with little girls, which might be pedophilia, or could be just Victorian idolization of children. He is not a one-dimensional character by any means. August 12, 2015 at 5:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for a recommendation! Memoirs and diaries are among my favorite genres.

      And letters! Does anyone else like reading letters? They don’t even need to be written by famous people, and as long as the writer had a capacity for interesting observations, it’s such a great glimpse into another time. I feel a bit voyeuristic reading them, but that’s part of the thrill too. Correspondence between Flaubert and Colet is a must read for anyone who loves Madame Bovary. August 13, 2015 at 3:02am Reply

      • Aurora: Love, love, love reading letters. Read the correspondence of George Sand as a teenager, and yes, the letters to Flaubert were particularly good. Thank you so much, naking note to seek out Flaubert/Louise Colet.

        Perfume pet peeve: tops which don’t fit to the bottles, some of my favorite perfumes, Farnesiana for eg have that defect… now what image does this give Caron?

        Other thing that makes me fulminate: people not doing the recycling properly or worse not doing it all all, and throwing away good clothes instead of giving them to the charity shops. The thought that we leave all our rubbish for the next generations makes me sad. August 13, 2015 at 7:52am Reply

        • Victoria: I have no idea what Caron has done to its packaging. Whenever I see testers in stores, the caps are falling off. Not to mention, they look so cheap in plastic. The perfumes are still good, with some exceptions, but these tops drive me crazy.

          Yes, there are so many people in need, so it feels extra wasteful when clothes aren’t donated. August 13, 2015 at 3:06pm Reply

  • Mer: I’ll attempt to lighten up!

    Two of my annoyances that weren’t mentioned yet, I believe: having to inhale someone else’s smoke, and littering… ughh. People driving aggressively around pedestrians also riles me up (Brussels really is the worst in this regard).

    I’m a huge curmudgeon and can relate to much of what’s already mentioned 😀 August 12, 2015 at 6:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: And I tend to think of drivers in Brussels as being exquisitely polite, but then again, I’m comparing to Kyiv and NYC. August 13, 2015 at 3:09am Reply

      • Mer: Sometimes I wonder if we have parallel universe experiences of Brussels 🙂 I always thought people drove like maniacs in Barcelona, but then I experienced Brussels… and after your recommendation I must experience “better” still 😀 August 13, 2015 at 3:17am Reply

        • Victoria: I don’t drive, so maybe I just don’t get a chance to be irritated by things that would make a driver’s blood boil. August 13, 2015 at 3:26am Reply

          • Mer: I don’t drive either 🙂 but I find pedestrians (and bikes) are particularly vulnerable and I see frankly reckless behaviour around them (us!).

            Perhaps it’s because I am mainly in an area near a highway exit and the drivers still haven’t changed to “city mode”, but it is a bit scary. I regularly hear small crashes outside from my workstation, not to mention constant sudden-break screeches, and now and then finding a street lights or curb poles (?) flat on the ground. It is not reassuring. August 13, 2015 at 4:28am Reply

            • Victoria: My husband confirms, though, that Belgian drivers on the whole engage in some pretty reckless behavior. He observes it during his morning commute. August 13, 2015 at 4:57am Reply

              • Austenfan: I can confirm as well. It seems they shed all their customary politeness and good manners once they’re in their cars. German drivers tend to be much more disciplined. If one can generalise these things. August 13, 2015 at 5:23am Reply

              • Mer: Oh, does he take the highway? indeed, you see baffling behaviour in the highway (also in the Netherlands! at lower speeds, generally, but truly baffling).

                My boyfriend was amazed at how well people behaved in Spanish highways, somehow driving school or government campaigns have succeeded hammering home that at high speeds, you’ve got to be more careful. Driving in the city however is a whole different matter! He had to use the claxon for I think the first time in his life, hahah. (He’s so Flemish ;))

                My pet theory is that the driving environment can really affect how people drive, a very congested large city or highway (plenty of those in Belgium) seem to do bad things to people’s heads. August 13, 2015 at 5:36am Reply

                • Victoria: Yes, that would make sense! The way roads are organized definitely affects the way people approach driving. August 13, 2015 at 5:51am Reply

                  • Alicia: I taught for a few months at the University of Salerno, and did research at the Royal Library in Naples. Never thought that it could be such a dangerous adventure. Neapolitan drivers seem to think that red lights are not stop signs, but street decorations. August 14, 2015 at 3:51am Reply

                    • Victoria: Nothing frightens me as much as having to cross a road in such a place. But Naples would be worth the risk, if only for its food. August 14, 2015 at 7:03am

                    • limegreen: I loved being in Naples for the few days we were there. The food was completely worth it!
                      Did you ever shop for perfumes at Alla Violetta in the Vomero neighborhood? A pretty comprehensive collection and they were so nice. August 14, 2015 at 3:37pm

  • Petunia: My pet peeve is the negative rants about the USA on theses blogs. Since when has it become acceptable to critisize another’s homeland? In my opinion, it is a shocking display of bad manners. I was taught as a child that if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all. Perfume is a pleasure and a luxury. It is not a tragedy if someone wears sweet or synthetic perfume. Real tragedies are poverty, hunger, and hundreds of other issues. I would also like to point out that when I’ve read the annual lists of best selling frag’s both in America and elsewhere, I see many of the same fragrances on these lists, so I really don’t understand why we are portrayed in a negative light. I so enjoy reading these blogs after a long day but when I see these types of posts, they diminish my enjoyment. My other pet peeve is the same as Victoria’s…ridiculously priced perfumes that have no longevity. Unfortunately, paying more is not always an indication of quality. August 12, 2015 at 6:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: Since at least 60% of the readers and commenters here are Americans, and whenever I see someone criticizing something about the US, it’s invariably a fellow American. It’s their/our prerogative. I draw a line at tired stereotypes (but to be fair, this sort of this doesn’t happen here much; this thread excepted, we’re kind of mellow on rants). I dislike blanket stereotypes about any nation very much, positive or negative. Positive for their obscuring fine differences and nuances; negative for the fact that they’re only used to confirm one’s existing prejudices.

      That American consumers prefer sweet gourmands and buy them in greater quantity than Germans or Italians is a fact. I don’t see what’s tragic about it, though. 🙂 *she says as she sits in a cloud of Pink Sugar* August 13, 2015 at 2:44am Reply

  • Snuff curry: “There is much societal bias against the so-called “feminine pursuits.”

    Until enough men get in on the fun, and then the field becomes prestigious and women are pushed out and gas-lighted into believing they never took part. August 12, 2015 at 6:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: Which is why I dislike the trend of over-intellectualizing perfume. The last big perfume exhibit in the US really got to me. The perfume was divorced from its context, and what’s more, it was separated from the very reason for its existence–the body. I don’t want to sniff perfume out of some urinal-like object on the wall. I want to smell it on skin and to learn its story–what its creator was thinking, what ingredients they used, etc. August 13, 2015 at 3:14am Reply

      • Snuff curry: Ah, great point. Forgetting the consumers, focusing too heavily on Male Genius. Agreed. August 13, 2015 at 4:54pm Reply

      • Daisy: Hear, hear! August 13, 2015 at 6:05pm Reply

  • gretchen: So many of these peeves are my own personal irritants, as well. Cigarette smoke, loud, rude and brash voices in small spaces (often on phones), aggressively stupid, ignorant, and ill-mannered people, aggressive drivers, etc. My daughter says I have so many, it’s dangerous to get started as I won’t stop. For fragrances, I’d say my peeve is the “old lady” comment, or the strange ban on all fragrances, based on one person ruining it for others (whether by wearing so much that anyone in the vicinity truly DOES get a headache – rare, but it happens – or “allergies” that aren’t really allergies). August 12, 2015 at 8:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also don’t like second hand cigarette smoke. Our neighbors smoke a lot, and they have an infant. I see the father holding his child and smoking at the same time. Very disconcerting. August 13, 2015 at 3:21am Reply

  • Portia: This has been super fun Victoria.
    My peeve is people stealing food from my plate without asking or talking with their mouth full.
    Portia x August 12, 2015 at 9:07pm Reply

    • Victoria: I wouldn’t like that either! I’m more than happy to share my food, though. August 13, 2015 at 3:22am Reply

  • Andy: I’ve had a great time reading all these pet peeves, I share many of them. And since your original post on The Pillow Book, I’ve read the book and periodically revisit the pages just to read the passages and lists over again, it’s a great way to wind down or distract myself from something that’s bothering me–similarly, I’ve found it therapeutic to read these lists of frustrations, some of mine being:

    1) Drivers who don’t use turn signals–this one drives me crazy!

    2) Restaurants that try to be overly creative or innovative with every dish–I don’t want to be forced to analyze my meal, I just want to taste something satisfying and delicious!

    3) Those who receive compliments sheepishly, saying things like, “oh, you can’t mean this ugly old shirt” etc. I realize these responses can be culturally influenced too, but a simple “thank you” always seems perfectly adequate to me. August 13, 2015 at 12:58am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m over having a foam on my food. It’s been a craze of foaming around Europe, and even some low-key places would try to add a foam or two. It doesn’t look good, and it rarely adds anything.

      On the other hand, I’ve seen the best use of an aerator in Tallinn. They used it on the traditional semolina and cranberry mousse, which is light but still substantial, to make a pillowy, soft dessert. August 13, 2015 at 3:24am Reply

      • limegreen: Oh, but there’s a narrative that goes with the foam! (Wink wink) Locally sourced heritage organic something with a touch of exotic sounding something 🙂 August 13, 2015 at 4:52am Reply

        • Victoria: Hey, that’s the narrative that hooks me every time. 🙂 August 13, 2015 at 4:55am Reply

          • limegreen: The narrative is more substantive than the wisp of foam!

            Speaking of wisps, I saw the Hermès scented horse and rock you posted last holiday season. They made it here to the States, finally. The Nordstrom SAs were kind of tongue in cheek though in handing them to me and saying these are scented! I was unable to keep a straight face, especially holding and sniffing the rock. August 13, 2015 at 5:16am Reply

            • Victoria: I just cannot… scented paper for almost $100. I know that different people have different spending priorities, but something about this is just obscene. August 13, 2015 at 5:48am Reply

              • Tiffanie: I am several weeks behind in reading but could not resist taking a look at the comments regarding infuriating things.

                I have to comment regarding the Hermes scented origami horses. When I saw these I made my own using plain white paper and a spritz of fragrance. Ha! I learned to fold “le cheval qui saute” when I was a child. It is not often that origami comes in handy for saving money. 🙂 August 30, 2015 at 11:38pm Reply

                • Victoria: 🙂 Wonderful! I’m still in disbelief over these horses, or rather, the fact that someone would buy them. August 31, 2015 at 5:04am Reply

    • limegreen: Wouldn’t it be funny to say, yes, you really look great in ugly old shirts, it’s very you! 🙂
      Of course some people may not appreciate the humor. August 13, 2015 at 5:02am Reply

      • Michaela: I would! 🙂 August 13, 2015 at 7:22am Reply

      • limegreen: (This is in response to #3 on Andy’s list, not just a random remark ) August 13, 2015 at 8:15am Reply

        • Michaela: I thought so, and I find your idea very amusing. I wish I were brave enough to try it 🙂 August 13, 2015 at 9:42am Reply

          • limegreen: 🙂 August 13, 2015 at 4:36pm Reply

    • Katherine: You remind me about one of my pet peeves – when drivers let you make your turn first – and they have the right of way. I know – why is she complaining about being able to turn first? I’m peeved because it creates confusion and slows traffic – even though it’s done with the best intentions (to be polite). August 15, 2015 at 3:47pm Reply

  • Karima: Victoria (and everyone else who loves Sei Shonagon), have you heard of The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby,which is about the writer of The Tale of Genji? From Amazon (I am crap at describing things):

    In The Tale of Murasaki, Liza Dalby has created a breathtaking fictionalized narrative of the life of this timeless poet – a lonely girl who becomes such a compelling storyteller that she is invited to regale the empress with her tales. The Tale of Murasaki is the story of an enchanting time and an exotic place. Whether writing about mystical rice fields in the rainy mountains or the politics and intrigue of the royal court, Dalby breathes astonishing life into ancient Japan.

    I have read this book twice, it is so evocative and contains wonderful descriptions of fragrance, incense, color, and nature. It won’t be the last time… August 13, 2015 at 5:44am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t, but it sounds interesting. Thank you very much. I know that Liza Dalby studied to become a geisha in Kyoto and even wrote a book on the subject. August 13, 2015 at 5:52am Reply

  • FIguier: Great post – & nice to be reminded that the Pillow Book is much more than rhapsodies to beauty and refinement. I really need to go back and read it again – I have the Morris translation but am tempted now to also look up McKinney’s. And I hear you re. fashion magazines – certain of my relatives often make disparaging comments when they see me reading them, to the effect that they find it amazing that someone who enjoys Shakespeare (or insert whatever ‘highbrow’ author) could possibly want to waste money on or enjoy such drivel…

    I also sympathise with the cuteness thing & condescension towards petite women. Not that it affects me directly (I’m 5’10), but I used to go apoplectic seeing how men would talk to my small blonde sister as if she were some kind of cute pet. So condescending – I remember seeing her (tall, male) uni housemate *pat her on the head*!! August 13, 2015 at 7:45am Reply

    • Victoria: Since I read McKinney’s translation, it has become my favorite. That’s exactly how Sei Shonagon sounds in my head.

      There are so many things that annoy me in regards to the condescending treatment of women in general that I shouldn’t even say anything at all at this point. 🙂 One of the nice things about getting older and becoming more confident is learning to tell such rude people off if they cross the line. August 13, 2015 at 3:01pm Reply

      • Victoria: P.S. And on your first point, seriously, do those people who consider fashion to be drivel only spend their time reading, watching and pondering Big Serious Things? I doubt it. As my husband puts it really well, fashion magazines are no more “serious” than a book on economics; they just serve different purposes and exercise different parts of the brain. Actually, without being too facetious, coming up with the color combinations and understanding shape, etc. is quite a brain exercise! August 13, 2015 at 3:04pm Reply

        • Figuier: I really like your husband’s way of describing the difference between different genres – sums it up perfectly. And looking at expensive clothes is not just aspirational. I mean, fashion is mostly a theoretical, aesthetic interest for me, but I do like to think that years of perusing images of high-end designers in Vogue et al have taught me to recognise quality when I happen upon it in less exalted places (viz. M&S!). August 13, 2015 at 3:53pm Reply

          • Victoria: I like to think that it also helps to tune one’s eye for detail, style, and yes, quality. August 13, 2015 at 4:58pm Reply

  • Karen: My biggest pet peeve is people who use their cell phones while in bathrooms in stores, restaurants or other public places. I mean, come on – can you at least wait a few minutes to have that conversation? It’s really, really childish, but my response is to make really really loud “bathroom” noises while they chatter away in the next stall. My reasoning is that if you are using your phone in the bathroom, well then there might just be some bathroom noises!

    If we happen to be at the sink at the same time, I just look over, smile sweetly and then apply my lipstick (after hand washing of course!). And yes, I actually do this, I know it’s so immature and childish but it’s just so worth it.

    My other pet peeve is hornets or wasps who sting me when I am walking through a field intending no harm – but that’s just cause I have a hugely swollen sore foot with an ice pack on it right now from a sting I got yesterday! August 13, 2015 at 8:02am Reply

    • Victoria: LOL! I understand if it’s an emergency, but most of the time people talk about the most mundane things. While in the toilet doing their business. I don’t find it infuriating so much as plain odd.

      Sorry to hear about a sting! Please take care of it. August 13, 2015 at 3:08pm Reply

      • Karen: Yes odd may be a better way of describing it – and I’ve yet to hear any conversation that really and truly couldn’t wait! If someone was saying I’ll be right there! Or the medicine is in the top drawer! that would be totally different.

        And swelling is going down, now I have the itching to look forward to! August 13, 2015 at 4:39pm Reply

        • Victoria: Mosquitoes are the worst for me. But oddly enough, only mosquitoes in the US. I got bitten lots in Ukraine and nothing happened at all, the bite just vanished within a few days. August 13, 2015 at 5:00pm Reply

        • limegreen: Rest well, Karen! Calendula cream or lotion is great for that redness/itchiness. I love the stuff. August 14, 2015 at 3:41pm Reply

          • Karen: Thanks Limegreen! Foot is pretty much all better – I ended up going to our emergency health center as it was very swollen. I tend to have quite bad reactions, although fortunately nothing where my breathing is affected. August 17, 2015 at 6:54am Reply

  • Ashley A: Oh man, this was just delightful! One of my perfume pet peeves is people who think their way is the highway and don’t recognize that people can enjoy many different types of fragrance. I work in a fragrance store where we do custom blending and people often expect me to agree with them when they say they hate gourmands or fruity fragrances or roses or whatever, but I have a love of all of those! Everyone likes something different and that’s part of what makes fragrance fun.

    One of my non-perfume-related pet peeves happens more often than it should. I enjoy doing the crossword, and am pretty fast, and have a system that I use on each one. Often, men come up behind me (a woman has never done this to me) and will start trying to tell me the answers to the crossword. They just stand there looking over my shoulder reading the clues and trying to give me the answers! I’ve got it, thanks! August 13, 2015 at 12:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: This doesn’t make sense to me either. Enjoy whatever you want and let others have their fun.

      Your second point: Not just annoying; that’s down right rude. Unwanted advice is irritating. August 13, 2015 at 4:46pm Reply

  • noele: Thank you, Victoria, for another enlightening read. I’m planning to take The Pillow Book out of the library for a fun and historical read.

    Perfume pet peeves: That moment you’ve realized a perfume you searched long and far for has gone bad. Perfumes that bring back bittersweet memories of old lovers, sometimes on the street, without any permission at all!

    As for other pet peeves: I live in San Francisco, and am finding that I’m not tough enough even for city life here though this is where I grew up. What with the influx of the tech-obsessed, people mind their phones more than each other, more noticeably in public space and on the subway…I end up feeling quite bitter about it! Mansplaying is at the top of the pet peeve list, but also up there is ‘perfectly able person staring into smartphone while sitting in disabled preference seats.’ August 13, 2015 at 3:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t been in San Francisco for a while, but in the past it always struck me as a laid-back place, especially in comparison to NYC.

      But being glued to the phones might be universal. We were at the restaurant the other day, and we noticed a family of 4 all reading something on their phones throughout the whole dinner. August 13, 2015 at 4:55pm Reply

  • Julien: Mainstream perfumes are getting more expensive too, but that’s only an illusion.
    Sephora and co. have just given in in the trend of giving -20% all the time.
    They spam you every two weeks with a reason, or you can simply step in the shop with an empty bottle for the “-20% recycling bottle offer”.
    One time in a year they get thirsty for money and offer -30% if you buy 3 items. That’s when I snatch Lutens.

    It’s getting ridiculous. Let the bottle at 100€ for 100ml instead of 122€.

    The model business of mainstream perfumeshop were an issue even before. They lost big trials but the public opinion can’t care less. They agree together to set price high, thus foiling the competition without risk (because only selected outlet are authorized as seller by the brands). They put pressure on historic brands for higher margin.
    The secretive nature of the industry (producer, retailer) is outliving the legislation on free concurrence at the expense of the consumer.

    I go often testing in such store, but buy less there than I do on ebay or by the tester retailer on the flee market. I’m unfair, but *hey!* they are the ones who started playing “who’s the smartest?”.

    All in all, there are still high quality things for a low price at the right place. But it takes times and tastes to detect what and where. There are a lot of fake luxury goods regarding the price nowadays.

    What can get on my mood is thinking most people are not self-learned enough to tell things apart. I don’t like to see people tricked to stay dumb. Little good artisanal brand fail, and big monster brand survive. August 13, 2015 at 4:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: Completely agree with you! Taking a consumer for an idiot never works out well in the end. August 13, 2015 at 4:51pm Reply

  • Lavanya: Enjoyed this, V!

    One of my pet peeves is double standards/ hypocrisy. Also ideologues. As I love to say- I am intolerant of intolerance..:D

    I really get annoyed when people pass judgements on actions of others, when their own actions don’t seem consistent with their ‘pronouncements’. August 13, 2015 at 5:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, those too. Never fail to upset me. August 14, 2015 at 8:49am Reply

  • Daisy: I have never read Sei Shonagon, but I am adding her to my reading list now! Thank you for the recommendation and also for the great post. And the comments are so cathartic!

    As for peeves, I share many of the ones discussed in the previous comments. I will add one that does drive me nuts though: when strangers ask me what I am. A human being??? That is what I sputter on the inside, but I know that they are looking for my ethnic or racial identity. August 13, 2015 at 6:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: I know that one. “You look ethnic,” was a real life comment someone made. Umm, wth does that even mean? August 14, 2015 at 6:54am Reply

      • limegreen: Onions! 🙂
        A friend’s husband would comment “smells ethnic” whenever he smelled onions cooking in the kitchen. Made me wonder what people think the word actually means? August 14, 2015 at 3:44pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s really odd. Onions as an “ethnic” food?! August 15, 2015 at 1:54am Reply

          • limegreen: I’ve asked her what he means by it, and she had no idea, outside of the fact he likes onions. If I knew him better, I would “interview” him but I don’t. But I have found, anecdotally, that “ethnic” is not a well-understood word. I’m not sure if the media uses it consistently, and it’s fallen out of use here and there (in media), so there’s bound to be confusion? August 15, 2015 at 10:00am Reply

            • Victoria: I agree, the term is vague at best. August 15, 2015 at 10:08am Reply

          • limegreen: And I have lately wondered if some people use “ethnic” thinking it’s the proper way to refer to race or culture. (Still doesn’t explain the onions!) August 15, 2015 at 10:04am Reply

            • Victoria: I have a feeling that it has something to do with that. August 15, 2015 at 10:13am Reply

      • Daisy: I thought of this post the other day when I was at the market and someone told the stall owner that he looked ethnic and then asked him where was he from. “NEW JERSEY,” was his reply 🙂 August 17, 2015 at 4:14pm Reply

        • Victoria: A good response! The last time in NYC I was surprised how often I was asked where I was from. Not annoyed or negatively surprised, just was amused and wondered if my accent has gotten more pronounced since I’m not in the English speaking environment anymore.

          But the funniest was when I returned to Ukraine and discovered that I have an accent in both Ukrainian and Russian. At first, people thought I was French. Then I started getting “Polish”. Then I finally got “Western Ukrainian”. If I stayed a month longer, I might have finally nailed our native central Ukrainian accent. 🙂 August 18, 2015 at 3:51am Reply

  • Johanob: I love this post and all the comments.I mostly agree with what everyone said!My biggest perfume related pet peeve:when I don’t know how to pronounce a perfume’s name and some snooty sales assistant tries to give a french lesson right there and then.I mean really?Lol.I’ve begun to just dismiss them with “no I’m find I will ask you if I need assistance”Also:newly released perfumes:no tester in store or ANY sample??Ok,so how am I supposed to smell and decide whether I want to buy it or not?And I’m talking about the Chanel and Guerlain counters in South Africa specifically!My last one:the big retailers with their hot display counters and strobe lights.They are literally cooking the perfumes,both testers and new bottles and I refuse to buy from them.I once tested a Hermes that was close to hot water temperature!How ridiculous is that!!??OK thanks.I feel better. August 13, 2015 at 7:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: That’s such a bad practice. Perfume can withstand some fluctuations, but if it sits for days under hot lights, it will spoil for sure. August 14, 2015 at 6:57am Reply

  • CSG: The Pillow Book: I started it years ago and then put it away. I think I’d like it better now, with more world under my belt.
    As for pet peeves, I don’t really have a scent-related one; it’s all such a wonderland. But socks that lose their top elastic before they wear out drive me bonkers. August 13, 2015 at 8:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a book that’s best read in small bits and savored. But of course, not everyone might enjoy that kind of stream of consciousness prose and while there are events, they’re hardly dramatic ones (except the case of an imperial dog attacking an imperial cat). Still, for a moment of complete escape, nothing beats The Pillow Book for me. Or a Bollywood film, but that’s another kind of escape altogether. August 14, 2015 at 7:00am Reply

  • Natalie: Nothing is infuriating me at the moment. I am a little peeved that I have been looking for the Perseid meteor shower the last two nights here in the US northeast and haven’t seen it. I am feeling a lit let down that NASA promised this would be a great year to see this. Yes, I am a bit of a science nerd. I am hoping my neighbors don’t see me outside at midnight with my star app looking at the direction of the Perseus constellation waiting to see a meteor shower. August 14, 2015 at 1:38am Reply

    • Victoria: Keeping fingers crossed! August 14, 2015 at 7:01am Reply

  • Natalie: I spoke too soon. I went back out at 3am and there were a lot of beautiful shooting stars. It was worth staying up for. So I guess I have nothing to complain about. August 14, 2015 at 3:11am Reply

    • Victoria: Your world is perfect then. Enjoy the star shower. 🙂 August 14, 2015 at 7:02am Reply

  • Katherine: Political correctness gone awry. Emma is not alone in being fed up by political correctness. It seems like everyone is so touchy and reactions can be so vitriolic that many feel their freedom of speech has been snatched if they aren’t on the right team.

    Instead I think we should try to focus on being productive – changing things that are seriously wrong instead of fixating on semantics or people’s opinions. We expend way too much mental energy and attention on these things – when relatively speaking – they don’t get to the heart of most problems. A variety of opinions will always exist, and what a good thing – imagine everyone was wrong! In the end, though words are important too, actions speak louder than them.

    Embracing “cultural diversity” is also respecting people’s views on the world and their lifestyles – even those you don’t agree with. Valuing cultural diversity means allowing everyone to feel safe voicing their opinion. I’m not saying this approach works all of the time, because I’m not espousing hate speech and such. I just don’t think we should be so quick to judge semantics and criticize other people’s views – it can be perceived as a form of hate-mongering in itself.
    There are some pitfalls in this approach – and it can be hard to draw the line on when to criticize someone else’s views. But like everything else in life – there are no perfect solutions.

    Apologize Victoria – I was a little heavy and preachy. But thanks. My chest feels a little lighter! August 14, 2015 at 10:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m all for people thinking carefully what words they choose, because that’s the only way we can get our meaning across in an online discussion. At least, on this blog. Words have meaning and power, and a wrong word can hurt someone tremendously. Say whatever you want to say, disagree if you wish, but be respectful of others. In my 10 years of blogging I haven’t yet figured out another way to keep peace and harmony within a large, multicultural community like ours.
      By same token, and here I’m with you, keeping perspective and not letting our specific sensitivities get the best of us (ie, assume offence where none was intended) is a good idea too. It’s a fine balance, of course, but that’s what communication is about. August 15, 2015 at 1:51am Reply

      • katherine: Thanks again for your very thoughtful response. I agree we should be respectful in choosing our words – especially on a blog! But sometimes the facts alone are painful and the message is perceived as personal when it wasn’t intended that way. And if reactions weren’t so vitriolic (and personal) we might forge a way to listen to one another’s reasoning and find some common ground.

        That said – there’s a time and place for that – and I don’t think your wonderful blog is it! August 15, 2015 at 8:14am Reply

        • katherine: On second thought – maybe your blog is the place for finding common ground – just not on sensitive political topics. August 15, 2015 at 8:17am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you very much! Yes, I agree, listening and not to taking things too personally is very important. In blog as in life. 🙂 August 15, 2015 at 8:58am Reply

      • limegreen: Victoria, I think you have fostered on this blog a very special and caring community that embraces a harmonious co-existence of differences, ranging from perfume tastes to everything else. Whatever you have done and are doing is magical. It is not so easy what you have created here on BdJ, and I for one do not take it for granted.
        I can’t thank you enough. 🙂 August 15, 2015 at 10:15am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you so much! It means a lot to hear this, and thank you and all other readers who make this place what it is. It’s hard to avoid misunderstandings completely, because we all have our own quirks and sensitivities, but as long as we respect each other and listen, we can have some many great discussions. Even on things that annoy us. 🙂
          But seriously, I realized how much positive difference the community made for me over the past year when I was going through a very difficult personal phase. Just coming here to talk about perfume, books, food or other beautiful things was a huge boost. I probably mentioned it before, but I really am grateful. August 15, 2015 at 10:47am Reply

          • Katherine: Victoria – it’s so important that you find joy and comfort here as well as the rest of us. I hope it continues and propels you for many years to come. August 15, 2015 at 3:25pm Reply

            • Victoria: Yes, it’s very important, because my blog is not my work, it’s a hobby. If it suddenly became draining, it would be impossible for me to carry on. But I’ve been very lucky in meeting so many interesting, passionate people here, and that’s one of the main reasons I find so much enjoyment here. August 17, 2015 at 5:03am Reply

        • Katherine: I agree with you Limegreen. This IS is an exceptional web community – likely the direct result of Victoria’s nurturing and magical personal touch (as you so aptly put it). Victoria’s hand created an oasis of fun, relaxation, culture, and learning – a place you can laugh, cry and gripe. As I’ve said before – and my guess is I’m not the first – BdJ is a breath of fresh (perfumed) air! August 15, 2015 at 3:27pm Reply

          • Victoria: Thank you again! You’re really too kind. A big credit also goes to my wonderful co-writers, Elisa, Patricia, and Andy. 🙂 August 17, 2015 at 5:05am Reply

  • Julie: As the end of summer nears I am looking for a scent that takes me away…I don’t mean Calgon….to a place of forever vacation with serenity.
    Any thoughts out there?? August 15, 2015 at 6:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, so many choices! But first, what do you like? What kind of fragrance types are among your favorites? August 15, 2015 at 7:12am Reply

  • Jeannemarie: Completely unrelated to fragrance, my personal pet peeve would be people who respond with a “Do what?” instead of “pardon?” or “excuse me?” This co-worker responds “Do what?” whenever she doesn’t catch what someone has said. She must say it 100 times a day. Yes, I’M PEEVED! lol! August 15, 2015 at 12:45pm Reply

    • Victoria: 🙂 You’re making me feel nostalgic about a former colleague who used to do the same thing. I don’t remember it being annoying, but I just noticed it and associated the turn of phrase with her. August 17, 2015 at 4:58am Reply

  • Sofie: – Not loading the dishwasher the right way (e.g. MY way :-))
    – The #whatsyourexcuse? Boils my blood. Hey, congratulations on your achievements, absolutely (really!), but what’s it got to do with me? Why the need to compare? Live your life, do your thing and be proud of that, but why is it an issue if I haven’t mastered a degree while wrangling twins an building a house and working full time? Or don’t look like a bikini model while also having three kids under the age of four? It’s not really a need to compare as much as it is a way of saying ‘hey, look at me and my achievements!’ and it really is unnecessary!
    -People who disguise fat shaming as being worried about your health. There’s a lot of that going around on the net. Sure, obesity is a problem, nope, shaming isn’t the answer.
    -people who don’t answer when you pose them a question. I have a family member who does this if she’s uncomfortable withe the question or the answer, but hey, how about a simple ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ or ‘It’s really not your business’ or just something.
    – perfume wise : longevity of a lot of perfumes (yes Chanel Exclusifs, I’m looking at you!), price point (Exclusives every range really), silly sale techniques (needing a cream to enhance the Chanel Exclusifs, needing to buy several Jo Malones to layer, etc… Come on, at this price point I don’t want a ‘make your own perfume kit’ I want a full grown perfume that not only talks the talk but also walks the walk!), lack of sampling options outside the dedicated sites. Hooray to the houses who offer samples and sample sets! August 16, 2015 at 7:18am Reply

    • Victoria: So true. Everyone has a different way of reaching their goals. I had a professor who learned figure skating and even competed on a regional level when he was in his 40s. To each her own. August 17, 2015 at 5:13am Reply

What do you think?

From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Amanda M in Green Perfumes : Spring Inside You: Klaas, it sounds like a truly beautiful place! I’m Australian but my father was born in the Netherlands in Middleburg and emigrated to Australia when he was 12. I’ve never… February 23, 2020 at 5:14pm

  • Amanda M in Green Perfumes : Spring Inside You: Ooh good, hope you manage to secure one! Lovely galbunum deliciousness! 😊 February 23, 2020 at 5:11pm

  • Amanda M in Green Perfumes : Spring Inside You: I’ve read that the vintage versions have a golden/honey/amber appearance to the fragrance and the modern is more of a light green colour. I have the modern, well it’s about… February 23, 2020 at 5:10pm

  • Aurora in Recommend Me a Perfume : January 2020: Hello SC: Wait until the new recommend me a perfume arrives and repost your request, you will be able to get answers this way as this one has got quiet. February 23, 2020 at 12:28pm

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2020 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy