A Not-So-Secret Society

A couple days ago I was texting with a friend who has been having a rough time. Amongst the dialog, I expressed lots of niceties but one of the things I said to them was that I understood and have sometimes been in their place…

There usually comes a state of disbelief shortly after I say things like that… “but you’re awesome, beautiful, make wonderful art, you got a rad family, you just look so happy“.

You know the whole saying of “you don’t really know what people are going through unless you’ve been in their shoes”? Well let me tell you, that no amount of “looks happy” means that you are. We can fool ourselves with Facebook posts, happy photos, smiles and selfies and still feel like it isn’t enough. Well, here’s my truth: I haven’t been there. I AM there. I’m not gonna front, especially not about this.

I have spent a good portion of the past year in therapy, or as we say, “doing the work”. Why? Because there is always room to grow and learn, it’s not always a place for the severely broken. At least that’s why I started down the journey cause even though the light at the end of the hallway seems close, it always seems to keep moving away just as you think you’re about to get there. Kinda like that scene in Poltergeist except without the granny panties cause…. FUCK. THAT.

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I go and talk and hash and cry and holy shit has it been one of the most emotionally painful years of my life. So much salt has come from me that one would believe I am one with the sea.

Self discovery is a motherfucker, especially when you uncover all the dust and shit you pushed under the rug – some voluntarily, some not so much. And when you finally arrive to the sources of so many of your ails, well, there’s the lightbulb flash and explanation to so much. When you realize where the roots to those fucking seeds come from? Talk about an epic weed you can’t just pull from the garden.

So I say this without fear of stigma or being viewed as “less than”, or “broken” or “damaged”…

Hi, I am an anxious person. I fidget, I bite the print of my thumb, I twirl my hair or sometimes I hold onto things tighter than normal. I think too much about so many things to the point of exhaustion. Sometimes I don’t sleep well, sometimes it is all I want to do. I take a simple statement and break it down into multiple questions…. “what did they mean by that? OK? or ok? I wonder if they’re mad? Are they mad or am I reading into shit? What did I do wrong?”… On days where I am lucky, I wake up without feeling anvils on my chest and getting out of bed doesn’t feel like a chore. Then came the day where it sent me into an attack and I didn’t even know what was happening. Why do I feel like I can’t breathe? Scary, especially when it had never played out in that manner so you have no idea to even get off that ledge of uncool.

Truth be told, for someone as mouthy and open as I am, I have suffered about this in silence for quite some time. I don’t reveal myself nearly as much mainly because I seem to have a track record with “friends” who have taken me for granted or horribly misread me. Why drop the guard? Why invite people to your kingdom when they only want to visit and not make a home in you? Ya know?

Having anxiety brought out a fear in me that I have never felt. I am on the cusp of my 43rd birthday and having a myriad of medical things pop up sent me on the tailspin of questioning my own mortality. When you’re someone with an overactive mind? Well, enjoy that fucking ride. It’s terrifying. It led me to places I never thought I would be in, it made me mistrust so much, so many and my own self. I stopped feeling heard or like what I had to say wasn’t valid as much. So much so that I stepped outside of myself in hopes of feeling anything besides fear or over-analysis.

I am trying: To be self compassionate, self forgiving, self caring. To get it under control or sometimes, to not control one fuck of it and just let time play it all out the way it should. Stop looking back in order to be able to move forward, all while trying to be more present instead of looking into the way to distant future. Self care can be really hard! Even more when you’re always putting others ahead of your own needs. I catch myself doing it a lot, helping others see the worth in themselves. But that shit is a fucking drug, you’re the dealer and you can’t even dip into your own stash to do yourself a solid.

I’m so incredibly grateful for those very few I allowed in to see me, who met me half way with compassion, support, understanding, who let me wipe my tears on them. They aren’t many but they’ve listened, encouraged, told me shit I didn’t want to hear, spoke to me in ways I hadn’t been on the receiving end of in quite some time. My relationships and connections with my people are about as vital as water and oxygen. It’s a force I live and drive off of. And when you find that commonality, when you know someone has seen you in a place where you feel like you’re cracking or bursting at the seams and still loves you anyway? Shit, that’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow I am willing to go to voracious and gluttonous states for. That’s when the claws come out and you want to sink them in so deep. It’s those connections I hang onto because in doing so I am realizing that this place I am in isn’t just mine. It’s a hippie compound of humanity that I share and as of late it seems there are so many of us in this place of anxiousness. I am one of them and if you are too? Shit. Know you’re not alone in it. I am doing what I can to learn and accept that this is a part of who I am. Just know I see you, I hope you can see me too.

Under its eye.

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The moment arrives when you decide it’s time to drop some realness on Facebook. No music links, no regurgitated articles, no politics…. just some dirty, emotional realness. You type it out, edit and re-read it over and over and then you click submit. Then your internet connection happens to drop at that exact same moment. You know what happens next and in my case it was a series of expletives and annoyance at my inability to remember to copy and paste shit. One would think I would have learned that one by now. One would think.

In any event, considering I am trying to see the signs in next to everything these days, I decided maybe that was the universe telling me that maybe I just needed to sit on that one for a bit and come back at it with a different set of eyes. I really hate the whole “things happen for a reason” narrative though. It can be true mind you, but it has become so overused that it has lost its meaning. It’s cliche, trite and sometimes patronizing. Get out of here with that shit.

“Re-write it Ivonne, and make it better”

As usual life has taken on all kinds of shifts and in those shifts I have found places of silence and introspection but in turn I am also finding pockets where I have so much inside me that I can’t find enough places to put it. So much so that I feel like I am going to explode from this gamut of emotions that have been coursing their way through me. There has been a lot of crying. People associate tears with weakness and sadness but I am discovering that in my case, and maybe yours too, that saline projecting from one’s eyeballs is just one more way to release, to show that things really hit home or to be a demonstration of real, transparent vulnerability.

Mortality has been on my mind a lot and with it come the never ending lists of existential questions. The big ones we like to ignore from asking ourselves. Have I accomplished much? Could I be doing more? What could I be doing less of? If my time came, could I say I did it right or would I go with heaviness and regrets? See where I am going with this? Huge questions and it has been a heaviness that has lingered to the point of pushing me to the edge. This shit is scary and for people like me, whose brain can’t seem to stop overanalyzing and playing shit out in my head, it can make one downright salty. I am trying not be salty.

With that in mind, I am also feeling utterly full and grateful about so many things. I am working on new art for a 3 person show in Chicago this April. With it comes a lot of digging deep, challenging myself and just hoping that what I have to offer touches someone. I know it does and has but the insecure person in me loves to self sabotage. Working on that shit. But to get to grace the glorious black walls of Ars Memoria in the company of some utterly talented women just really keeps me humble that someone believes in me that much to ask me to be a part of it.

The other day I read this article that really fucked me up in the best of ways. It touched me in a form of personal validation and spoke to me a lot about who and how I am. I tend to be misread a lot so when you see something that not only validates how you navigate your own waters and in turn leaves you with “and it’s ok if you do” feeling? Mind blown. In turn it has sparked some really interesting conversations and allowed me to dig deeper into my own way of processing.

I will say that as of late I have had some really rewarding experiences and conversations with some of my nearest and dearest. Over the years I have watched my circle decrease in diameter and it has really left me in this smaller place where I am surrounded by less quantity and a hell of a lot more quality. My closest relationships are teaching me a lot about myself and in turn it has allowed me to grow by leaps and bounds in ways that have no measure. There’s a large dose of humanity when you try to be conscientious and selfless. The way I communicate is changing in a manner that is becoming this no holds barred freedom, where my truths roam like a herd of wild stallions with no fence. Operating from a place of truth, humanity and taking complete ownership of who I am, what I am, my feelings… even the really hard ones. The really dark ones – and you have no idea how many of those I have. In turn it is lifting anvils off my shoulders because I have surrounded myself with people who know me, play with me and are still more than willing to drink from me even if the edges of my cup are chipped, jagged and could make your lips bleed. Those who take me in and truly see me in ways that shape my flaws as perfection.

There’s this moment where one turns the corner and the eyes are a little more focused and you see things with far more perception and depth of field. A little more awake, in tune, but still looking for a lot of the answers – some of which I may never get. But that’s ok too. Getting there is part of the fun and lesson, even if it hurts like a motherfucker. (Ah shit, shuffle just brought up “Time” by Hans Zimmer while I type this…. here come the waterworks…) And in this turn you find yourself open hearted, seeing beauty in the most broken of things, falling in love with Everything and Everyone. Trying to stay in love with the world while I still have it. What a world it is. 

And that’s where I am.


Good Morning 42

Recently someone told me that 42 is the most perfect number in the galaxy, The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything. Here I was feeling all ancient sauce and then that gets dropped on me, kinda gives a number a whole new meaning when you look at it from that perspective. Ok then, apparently I have some serious shit to live up to.

It is no lie that the cobwebs have been growing on this here space. So much so, I have questioned as to why I continue to keep it. You’re probably thinking, “And of course, she resurrects it on her fucking birthday”. I know what this looks like, deal with it. Truth be told is this has fallen wayside to life. Like, actual LIFE. Everyone is talking about 2016 and what a raging shit show it has become. It truly has in many painful ways that I will not list here. No need to keep scratching an already broken record. But even then, I wish I could share in the sentiment entirely, but 2016 and most of 41 has been one of the most emotionally rewarding years of my life.

Moving back to San Diego really has done wonders for me, it was like reuniting with a lost love that you didn’t value enough and got a second chance to grow with again. I came back and fell into her sometimes too warm embrace, to be reminded of her grace and extension of opportunity, a place that I took for granted for so long. Every time I bear witness to her orchid colored sunsets, I just stop myself and let it serve as a reminder to be a little more grateful I get to revel in her once more.

It’s hard to look in the mirror and realize that the person staring back at you is so far removed from who she really should and could be. This was me and at the push, encouragement and support of some of the best people I have ever had the privilege to know, I decided it was time to do the work. We are always in a constant state of learning and growth and I never really realized just how true that was until I started peeling off the band aids to let the wounds dry out.

I’ve created beautiful, painfully cathartic artwork. The kind I look at and want to weep because I know the place it came from. Hell, the kind I wept over while making. This is something I have never experienced before: Not just making for the sake of making but using it as a real and very visceral outlet.

I’ve removed cinder blocks from my ankles in the form of toxic relationships with people. It’s so much easier to swim when you’re not tied to the bottom of the sea.

I confronted my fears, met, wept with and allowed myself to forgive someone who hurt me. I came at it from a place of truth, love, no expectations and exposed every fragment of my vulnerabilities to them. I am so glad I did because this process alone has been key in helping me see and understand more about myself than I thought I was capable of. And shit, I got one of my best friends back in the process.

I’m learning to establish boundaries, to not allow my feelings to be dismissed, to speak up and not hang on to things that made me feel wrong or that I don’t matter. The lid is so far off it makes me wonder why I didn’t do this sooner?

I stopped hiding behind my hair and cut the front of it right the fuck off. Like my friend Ginny said, “Welcome to THIS FACE motherfuckers”. It’s scary to alter one’s self especially when you’ve relied on a safe bet for a really long time. Most people change the outside in hopes of reinvention and oddly enough, I went the opposite direction: worked on the internality and changed the outside to reflect what was in there, somewhere. And no, I still don’t recognize myself in the mirror when I pass it but I’lll get there.

I’m working towards getting my house stronger, firmer and carrying myself with confidence. For reals. No fronts.

I know this sounds like a bunch of happy, hippie malarkey but honestly it hasn’t been that way. I have cried amounts that can fill a mason jar and they’ve all been the best of tears because they came from a place of vulnerability, honesty, support and love. I have been granted some of the most rewarding of human experiences with those who surround me. I just had to be open enough to listen and see. And fuck am I seeing…. with eyes that just got some damn lasik after being pretty damn blind.

It’s been hard and painful, but liberating and fucking incredible. I go into 42 with a lot of hope, strength and a lot of broken down walls. I’m pretty fucking proud of myself.

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On Truth

Chances are, if you’ve come in touch with me and shared a part of my life be it with love, friendship or interactions online, it is more than likely you could be part of my story. I exercise restraint and judgement mind you, but every connection and experience is a word and line.

Over the course of the past 15 years,  I have spent a great deal of time sharing my life online. It has brought me many wonderful, cathartic moments and connected me to some amazing people. I wrote here quite a bit and then I just didn’t. It’s not like it wasn’t within good reason – you know, 3 huge relocations in less than 5 years will do that to you, but it went past the change of location.

They say when things get the hardest or when major life events occur is when you realize who your friends really are. I saw it when I ended up in the hospital at a very young age, when I got married, when Reza was born, when we had to move away and the moves that followed. That saying is incredibly and painfully true. With time comes growth, evolution within ones self – Life Happens.

But somewhere along the lines things started to change. You never realize that things are changing until  you get to the point where they already have. Sometimes it takes days, months, sometimes it takes years for you to notice. You spend your time so focused on the forward and now, and the blindness of your love for a person tunes you out to the reality that they are pushing you away. So I got pushed away. All of a sudden I became one of those screws you put in your junk drawer, or the nostalgic broken toy on Andy’s shelf sitting around waiting to be played with and loved. Waiting for the day that never came and eventually would never come.

It’s an interesting situation to be put in the place of wanting answers you will never get. I don’t wish that on anyone. Lack of closure is a cancer that chips away at your soul if you let it and it is an incredibly hard pill, a giant horse sized antibiotic with no water. When the veil is lifted, when you see the ugly corpse bride underneath, you can’t un-see it anymore. I saw it and it is a cruel reality.

There comes a time where you realize that sometimes you are not put anywhere near the pedestal you give others. When you merge all of the puzzle pieces, times and scores only to realize you’re not even worth the fucking bronze medal when in your heart you’ve tried to be everything for gold. So this is where I am, trying to make peace within myself to move on. Trying to control the heartbreak of loss, the overwhelming sadness and anger when you’re made feel that what and who you are is so garbage worthy that you aren’t even worth an explanation or truth.

I have never lived my life in a manner of concealment. I have shared some amazing, glorious, painful and horrible truths about myself. My loves, passions, anger and shame. I’ve admitted I was wrong and I have apologized for it. I’ve celebrated my successes. I have welcomed you into my fold. I have poured out my words over coffee and tears on this screen or in conversation. I’ve lifted my shirt so you can see the scars. I have exposed my weaknesses and vulnerabilities. I’ve done it in private circles, with my nearest and dearest, and I’ve done it with complete and total strangers.  I believe in being honest and forthright, especially when people are asking the questions. And before I used to do it openly without no abandon, with calculation or risk and without the false sense of safety that comes with blocks and filters.

And then I stopped.

Sure, I may trip or even fall along the way – but don’t we all? The pain sets in, you get up, brush the dirt off your wound and move on.

But something changed….

And it wasn’t me.

It took me a long time to get to this point and honestly, it has taken a lot longer than it should have gone on. I currently am rummaging in the pile of my own ashes only slowly emerging into a better version of myself. I am doing the work and I am not doing it alone because I see and acknowledge the pillars that have stuck around to help hold up my house, not the fair-weathered wood with termites on the insides and only looks pretty from one angle.

I have nothing to hide because who I am and where I have been is a line in the book I am writing, a book I will continue to write till I take my last breath. No one can keep that from me. NO ONE.

I don’t want to become one of her blog entries”

You just did.

2015 was…

I don’t know how to really begin this post. I guess you could say I am doing things a little differently because not only have my posts become farther and farther spread apart, I just don’t have it in me to go through a years worth of photos and posts to try and regurgitate content for the sake of a recap.

From what I do recall, 2015 was a lot of things…

A year where for the first time in a great while I experienced another round of depression that I was thankful to be able to get a grip on.

A year where I got to watch our daughter turn some corners I wasn’t ready to watch her turn but nonetheless, we plug on with our path as parents to help steer and guide her into a healthy life full of confidence and honesty.

A  year where I moved forward with my artistic goals by leaps and bounds. I still have so much to learn but I am learning nonetheless. Slowly and steadily I work to accept my praises with grace and humility and my rejection with a smaller sense of devastation. It’s hard to take something so personal to you and put it out in the world to be met with criticism. Remember who you’re doing it for.

A year where I got to go back to Mexico on vacation. I got to rekindle, experience and reconnect with a vital part of my culture with my family by my side. I am incredibly grateful we were able to go.

A year where I have met some wonderful, incredible, talented, supportive people who I am fortunate enough to piece into my tribe. Some of the exchanges I have had over the past year have really helped broaden my horizons and pushed me into places I didn’t feel I had in me.

A year where I experienced and mourned the crushing loss of what I thought was meaningful friendship. I will never understand what I did or why I was cast aside, but one thing I do know: I cannot spend another year holding out hope for something that is headed toward burning out, a fire that was purposely extinguished. My heart and soul can’t take it anymore.

A year of so much good music, the never ending moments that I pair to a soundtrack that is my life.

A year of singing to 50’s music with Reza and driving Josh nuts with the things we enjoy and he eyerolls at.

A year where I am realizing there need to be changes to my parenting style and relationship with my daughter. Not because it’s bad, but because I know it has potential to go that way if I don’t learn to curb myself a little harder.

A year where I was sought out, believed in, loved and supported albeit through my creative endeavors, my words or my opinions. To those of you who were any of these things to me? Thank you, I noticed.

A year where I was confronted with the aging of my Parents, the inevitable progression of my Mother’s Alzheimers and heartache that comes with the preparation that one day she will no longer look at me with recognition.

A year where I chose to and will continue to embrace my truths. The good, the bad, the ugly…. and always working to recognize the latter and make the necessary changes in places that no longer serve or help me evolve.

A year I am ending on a note that involves so much emotional upheaval and change. Our lives come fill circle so very soon and I am very much looking forward to returning to our former home with a new set of eyes and renewed perspective.

And of course, yet another year filled with love and gratitude that I get to spend it with a person who sees, gets and makes me feel like the most loved person on Earth.

So yes, that is 2015. Not all of it is pretty but it is what it is. I am ready to see what the next year brings… one thing I do know, it’s going to be surrounded by wonderful settings, fantastic art, open arms, beautiful people I am so fortunate to know and it’s going to be on my fucking terms.
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on hallows eve

It’s October 21st and the month is almost gone. GONE. Already the loot is on clearance and I am being greeted by Rudolph and his jolly, beady eyes, in the aisles of my favorite stores. In October! AKA “what bullshit”.

Every year I send out a massive snail mail round of Hallow-greetings for all. The problem is I tend to do this thing where I bite off more than I can chew and half the month disappeared between Josh’s Mom coming to visit, planning Reza’s birthday, my getting sick, etc. My time management isn’t the best and I am sure you have noticed by your empty mailboxes, that this year hasn’t happened. I am sad to say that it isn’t going to.

I tend to be of a very giving nature. I love to bring moments of happy where I can via notes, parcels, details toward others. In doing so I seem to have neglected the one thing that should be getting the most attention besides my family: myself.

So I am calling it on the Halloween snail mail this year in an effort to get caught up on some overdue business and give to myself for a change. Save for responding to those very few who have initiated an exchange, I will reciprocate to them of course. But otherwise I just can’t do that to myself… it’s a lot of time and cash that I simply do not have.

Doesn’t mean I can’t do small little somethings, for example:

I had a small illustration giveaway hosted on my Instagram page which coincidentally went to one of the few people who sent me a Halloweeen card this year. I couldn’t be happier to see it going her way…

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And then there’s the Mystery Box which I will draw on Friday. I will still do little things here and there but they get posted where they get posted to keep it fair.

I dunno, I guess I find myself in a place where I am doing a lot of the trying/giving and in doing so I am also ignoring. I don’t like the way it is making me feel. And to only compile the matter I am desperately trying to find the well to saturate the creative draught that I seem to be in. All these plans/ideas in my head and I just cannot seem to bring myself to execution. If I do execute, it feels sub-par and just scratch it altogether. Don’t let my instagram feed or blog fool you. The creative part has been few and far between.

I would say “it’s not you, it’s me” but that is a lie. It’s both of us. Connections flounder without reciprocation and I can’t be the one who does it all. I think I can but ultimately, I too have days of bad, vulnerability and question. I spend a lot of time cultivating my friendships and lately I have been doing a lot of it whether it be calls, emails, texts. Not this bantering on Facebook threads bullshit either. As real as I can get considering most of my favorite peeps don’t live anywhere in my proximity.

Shit, this ended up being a little deeper than I wanted to dig but hey, you know I am not one to hold back when the opportunity presents itself.

So yeah, no Hallow-mail this year. Sorry but I am not sorry. I have some work to do.

checking in…

In the past couple of weeks I started noticing odd pains in my gut. It was pretty all of a sudden. About 3 weeks ago I decided it was time to bring to the attention of my doctor. After 2 visits, lab work on every bodily fluid possible and treatment plans, it was not getting better. Something IS NOT right.

I had a CT on Friday and hope to get some answers soon because the past three weeks have been awful. The stress of it all is certainly not helping my cause one bit. All I do know is I am ready to fix whatever is going on and move forward, there are so many things I want to and should be doing instead of feeling like someone is pushing on my ribs and am carrying around a 20 lb rock in my body.

So if you’ve noticed a decline in my presence, in whatever form you’re accustomed to, it’s because of this. I am not myself. I feel miserable, stressed and for lack of better words, I’m scared.

The Curio Cabinet: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

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The fragrance witches at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab have been hard at work again! They just unveiled a collection of fragrances inspired by Jim Jarmusch’s most recent film “Only Lovers Left Alive”.

The film tells a the tale of two fragile and sensitive vampires, Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton), who have been lovers for centuries. Both are cultured intellectuals with an all-embracing passion for music, literature and science, who have evolved to a level where they no longer kill for sustenance, but still retain their innate wildness. (synopsis by Sony Pictures)

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A hybrid of a dingy, moody soundtrack and beautifully created visual palette (hello Tom Hiddleston!), they pair it up with fragrance to create a sensory experience: visual, audio and olfactory.

The scents inspired by the film…

EVE – The Irish moss, yarrow, and hawthorn of the Iron Age Britons, ancient Rome’s omphacium and honey, myrrh and calamus from Egypt, the frankincense and damask roses of the Florentine Renaissance, white sandalwood from the Far East, Moroccan saffron and rose water, and a swirl of incense.

ADAM – His perfume also possesses the scent of the wood of his guitars, the rosin from his violin bow, the musty wool of neglected Oriental carpets, the plastic, metal, and magnetic tape of his reel-to-reel, the dust that permeates everything.

KIT – Mysore sandalwood, a tattered and patched 16th century waistcoat, ink stained, still scented with the marjoram and benzoin dry perfumes of his youth.

AVA – Sheer vanilla musk with tuberose, red mandarin, and the sweet poison of white almond.

IAN – Shaggy leather, sweet rum absolute, and patchouli

BLOOD POPSICLE – The scent of frozen Type O negative.

WOODEN BULLET – A .38 caliber bullet fashioned from cocobolo wood and brass.

CAFE MILLE ET UNE NUITS – Shisha and thick coffee brewed with cardamom pods, cinnamon, clove, black pepper, and nutmeg.

THE DIAMOND’S GONG – Ten billion-trillion-trillion-carats of glittering white musk, with cognac, tagetes, white champaca, Gum Arabic, and davana.

THE EDGE OF DOOM – Drops of spilled blood color the antiseptic, bland, plastic paleness of the fuselage, with violet leaf for longing, rosemary for reminiscences, and black opoponax for apprehension.

THE HOURGLASS – The white roses and orange blossoms of hope penetrating despairs black fog of opoponax, black myrrh, bruised violet, clove, funeral lily, and grief-struck carrot seed.

JUNE 23, 1868 – Moonflower, Nottingham catchfly, Casablanca lily, evening primrose, night-blooming cereus, Queen of the night, muted by the sepia tones of tonka, tobacco absolute, bourbon vanilla, and costus.

QUINTESSENCE OF DUST – Beeswax and smoke, yellowed paper and well-worn leather books, droplets of spilled ink, faded incense, blood-tinged salty tears, and the metal of the knife that skewers that illiterate zombie philistine’s portrait.

SHELLEY, BYRON, AND KEATS – Red roses and pale carnation with a drought of laudanum, smears of opium tar, a hint of absinthe, and mercury ointment.

SPOOKY ACTION AT A DISTANCE – Instantaneous correlated action between entangled partners: rose-infused sandalwood with violet leaf, frankincense, geranium rose, and a spark of elemi.

THERE’S WATER HERE – The wild glory of nature bursting through cement, metal, and urban despair, purified by the waters of Lake St. Clair.

The scents inspired by the soundtrack…

STREETS OF DETROIT – Black musk accord, Ethiopian myrrh, and motor oil.

FUNNEL OF LOVE – 17-year aged black patchouli, champaka flower, cardamom bud, green coriander, Haitian vetiver, red vegetal musk, black pepper, night-blooming jasmine, and leather.

DIAMOND STAR – Ambergris accord, guiac wood, white benzoin, immortelle, and Somalian myrrh.

IN TEMPLUM DEI – Oman frankincense, cistus labdanum, white sandalwood, liquidambar.

OUR HEARTS CONDEMN US – Kerelan teakwood, Bulgarian rose otto, Himalayan cedar, and oudh.

HAL – Saffron-infused bourbon vanilla, blackened honey, kashmir wood, Atlas cedar, ambrette seed, hay, and Egyptian jasmine absolute.

THIS IS YOUR WILDERNESS – Honeyed patchouli with cyprus, black pine and tobacco absolute.

If you are new to the BPAL madness, I will give you a heads up… don’t snooze and lose. A lot of their collections are limited edition (and these are) and sell out fast – your signature scent could be a click away, in a perfect little amber bottle, only for it to run out. There’s quite the cult following, let me tell you. And then you don’t buy them and will be on ebay, clutching at your heart and wallet like a sad bastard, like a lot of BPAL lovers are.

Get your fragrances directly from their website at www.blackphoenixalchemylab.com or go straight to the collection here.