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Movies of the Moment- Lady Bird

In the next installment of our film series is the exquisite coming of age story, Lady Bird. Written and directed by the brilliant Greta Gerwig, (who also wrote Frances Ha- one of my favorite independent movies of recent years) Lady Bird tells the story of a young woman in Sacramento dealing with trials of family, relationships and friendships during her final year of high school. The film takes place in 2002/2003, and the walk down early 2000s memory lane is but one of many wonderfully enjoyable things about this film.

Lady Bird, is, at its core, a movie about relationships. In the male-female relationship category, we are treated to a range of beautifully accurate snapshots of Lady Bird with the men in her life, whether the tender relationship between father and daughter, the fraught relationship of sister and brother, or the tortured relationships she has with her two boyfriends in the film (played exquisitely by Lucas Hedges and Timothy Chalamet). Pictured below, “nice” boyfriend Danny O’Neill with Lady Bird in one of my favorite scenes from the film.

But where the movie really shines is in the accuracy of the female relationships that it portrays- whether between Lady Bird and her best friend (the utterly delightful Beanie Feldstein, pictured below), or with her difficult mother, played to an absolute T by Laurie Metcalf. You can always tell the difference between a female and a male writer via the complexity and beauty of the female relationships, and this is where Gerwig really shines. Lady Bird is alternately cruel and imminently supportive of her best friend, and theirs is the love upon which the movie is built. It’s a great testament to female friendships, which don’t always get their due in film.

Her relationship with her mother, on the other hand, brought back memories of every squabble I ever had with my own mother as a teenager, as filtered through an even starker lens. As I stare down the impending birth of my own daughter, I’ve given a lot of thought to how I can nurture that relationship and correct for those inevitable differences of opinion. The excruciating part about watching Lady Bird and her mother’s relationship play out, from the vantage point of being both no longer a teenager and not yet a middle aged adult, is that one is left feeling tortured for both of them. And that is why Gerwig again is so brilliant- her characters are multi dimensional- at once cruel and selfish and at other turns nurturing and sympathetic.

All in, I couldn’t recommend Lady Bird highly enough. And in case you are wondering, my husband loved it just as much. It is a wonderfully written and directed film that does a remarkable job of conveying the teenage experience in a way that is delicate and humorous. I hope that she wins all of the awards for this one- and it goes without saying that I can’t wait to see what Gerwig does next.

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Scents & Sensibility

She sidled up next to me, trying on a harmless but inquisitive tone. “Did you just meet with the president of the company?” she asked.

I was taken aback; I had, in fact, just met with him, in my typical style- to share my observations about what was going wrong, as I saw it. Also in my typical style, I hadn’t shared this information with anyone.

“I did…,” I hesitated, then smiled. “How did you know?”

“Your PERFUME!” she beamed, having solved the case. “I walked into my meeting with him and immediately asked if he’d met with you. I could still smell your amazing perfume in his office!”

Stealth, I was not. Perhaps signature scents don’t mix well with going incognito. But my pride at her flattery superseded any concern about my meeting’s intention being known.


I come by my obsession with fragrance honestly – it’s in my blood. The National reports: “Throughout history, Arabs have used fragrance as a form of art, a symbol of reverence, and a token of beauty. In the 13th century the Sufi Arab mystic, Ibn Arabi, wrote in his masterpiece, Pearls of Wisdom, ‘of all the worldly goods, three things are dearest to my heart: perfume, women and prayer.”

The Arab world was instrumental to the evolution of the fragrance industry as we know it. It was Arab perfumers who developed the traditions and techniques that laid the foundation for the industry today. And one must only look so far as wardrobe to understand why this is; in a region where modest dressing is de riguer (and many in the gulf region wear abayas or dishdashes), the face and the scent become the focus. In fact, Emiratis- along with their Persian Gulf neighbors in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman, are the biggest spenders per capita on luxury perfume in the world- buying as much as 3 times as much perfume as their Western counterparts. As for my own country of origin, Syria, it was the birthplace of the Damask rose (the name refers to Damascus, Syria, where the flower is said to have originated).

All of which is to say that my affinity for fragrance runs deep, and my collection is a reflection of the places I’ve been and the memories I’ve made in them, At one point, another former colleague and I almost started a boutique perfumerie business here in NYC. While we never pursued that particular passion (aedes de Venustas and MiN New York have a great collection if you share our affinity), I wanted to share a smaller selection of my favorites with you today. Herewith, my Top Five.

Acqua di parma: Blu Mediterraneo – Mirto di Panarea

My husband says of all the perfumes I wear, this is his favorite, as it reminds him of our early days. Because of this, I made the decision to wear it on our wedding day, a sweet throwback to those times.

I first bought this scent years ago at the Neiman Marcus on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, and have since repurchased it a number of times.This perfume is a sea breeze, combining aromatic notes of myrtle and basil with lemon and bergamot, a hint of jasmine and rose, and a base of juniper, cedar wood and amber. It is fresh and evocative; a perfect summer scent, although I often wear it year round. This whole line is delicious- traditional, crisp, and beautiful.


Sospiro Collection: Allegro

The only word for this perfume is intoxicating. I discovered and purchased it in Dubai as it was originally released exclusively for the Middle East market by Xerjoff, and is only recently getting wider distribution.  The experience of wearing this scent begins with holding its bottle, a smooth velvet that is luxurious to the touch, but it is the scent inside that I am over the moon for. The scent opens with grapefruit and a light application of pink pepper, then gives way to a soft duet of lavendar and rose. Where the quality of this perfume comes through, though, is in the 3rd layer of fragrance, comprised of sandalwood, cashmere and a tiny bit of oud, an effect that perfume reviewers call “a woody fantasia.”

This fragrance is a definite splurge but I love to wear it for a special dinner or evening. It’s absolutely gorgeous and its depth is unsurpassed. Legend status.


Penhaligons:  Vaara

I also discovered this one in Dubai although Penhaligon’s is much more readily available in the US. I must have spent a full day at the Dubai Mall smelling every perfume, and came away with some definite winners. This one is also a departure for me as it is sweeter than most of my favorites, but it is so unique that I couldn’t leave it behind. Vaara is inspired by the Royal House of Marwar-Jodphur in Rajasthan, and started life as the passion of His Highness Gaj Singh II who wanted to reflect his family’s deep love and connection with Jodhpur. Later, perfumer Bertand Duchaufour’s journey to Jodhpur provided him with an abundance of inspiration for the fragrance and the end result, Vaara, was born. The perfume has head notes of quince, rosewater, carrot seed, and saffron, heart notes of moroccan rose, Bulgarian Rose, Freesia, Indian Magnolia, Peony and Iris, and base notes of honey, white musk, cedarwood, sandalwood, benzoin resin (<– note that I have no idea what this is) and tonka bean. Due to its sweetness, I think this scent is a great spring/fall choice (I generally save the heavy ouds for winter, and the crisp citruses for summer).


Jo Malone: Velvet Rose & Oud Cologne

This is the perfume that lurks in conference rooms and on shirt collars alike, so wield its power wisely. I bought this at the Jo Malone store on Bleecker street, near our old apartment. This is a gorgeous mix of dark damask rose, wrapped in smoky oud wood, then spiked with clove and decadent praline. Rich, textural and magnetic; and even my most masculine man friends have been known to spritz it on and comment on how incredibly it smells. On second thought, this might actually be a cologne, but I don’t subscribe to labels and nor should you.


Carthusia I Profumi di Capri: Mediterraneo

My mother is allergic to most perfumes and Carthusia is the only exception due to how natural it is; after she and my father returned from Capri they couldn’t stop raving about this boutique. Later, when we were in Capri on our honeymoon, we stopped by and I fell head over heels for Mediterraneo. It smelled like August in paradise, and I needed to bring back a piece of it with me so that I could always remember it. Based on an old recipe used at the Monastery of St. Giacomo, and reconfigured for Carthusia, it is bright and exuberant- an instant classic. The scent starts with tart, juicy lemons (which are in cartoonish abundance on the Amalfi coast), then journeys into crushed green tea leaves, lemon verbena, and a hint of lime peels. There are also vague hints of other fruits and florals and a distinctly, every so slightly soapy scent which is complete perfection on a summer day. Carthusia also makes intoxicating home fragrances and incense, which were placed in abundance throughout the Hotel Ceasar Augustus where we stayed. They are all divine.


And there you have it, a trip around the world, from Chicago to New York, Capri to Dubai, and throughout the seasons of the year and the illusions of time. Which fragrances spark your memory and moods?


Miss Sheiky




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I didn’t want to turn this into a political blog, but I also didn’t anticipate the utterly vile actions being taken by our elected and appointed officials in so rapidly a fashion as they are today. If you don’t agree with my point of view, gird yourself and read on. If you do, also gird yourself, and act.

This weekend, like millions of others globally, we took to the streets to express that we do not accept the incoming administration’s disregard for facts, for science, for education, for health, and for equal rights. It was a moving experience, one in which the sea of humanity felt so vast that it took us 7 hours to walk the march’s path. There were elderly men and women, middle aged men and women, teenagers and children alike. It was an astonishing showing ; estimates are putting the global numbers at roughly 4 MM marchers. But now, we are duty bound to follow through our discontent with action.

First, we must remain educated on what is happening, regardless of our leanings. Act Up, one of the most successful activism movements in history, was able to get its AIDS platform heard by Reagan’s administration because they considered it their duty to know the facts better than their officials did.

READ. LEARN. ASK QUESTIONS. Do not accept for truth what even the elected officials of your party tell you, and certainly not those who surface “alternative facts.” Fight for a Better America has an excellent list of resources that we should all read. Meet the Cabinet that is currently being put up to run our trusted agencies, and understand their points of view. Understand what resonates with you- you may be perfectly happy with one cabinet pick, and disgusted with another. Develop and hone your point of view and find what resonates with you.

Then get to work:

  • FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE in the house (upper right hand corner). Note their email and save their phone number in your phone. CALL THEM.

  • FIND YOUR SENATOR in the senate (upper right hand corner). Not their email and save their phone number in your phone. CALL AND WRITE THEM.

  • Or make it stupid easy on yourself and do this all through Fight for a Better America

  • Sign up at SwingLeft.org – Full stop, our government works best when no one party has a full majority- we need checks and balances and that requires tipping the balances of the house and senate. Sign up to find your nearest swing districts – we will be directed to phone bank or volunteer in person to get democrats elected in these districts.

  • Commit to doing your civic duty 3x per week. That might be 3 emails, or 3 calls, or attending a rally, or watching your friend’s children so she can go to a rally. It could be making a recurring donation to Planned Parenthood or the ACLU. It could be committing to defend a stranger who is being bullied or disrespected.

Finally, the normalization of the abnormal starts in our homes and with our friends. If a friend is vocally supporting the perpetuation of racism, sexism corruption and lies in my presence, I will not remain silent. And I will not tolerate those who remain silent in my presence- those who do become complicit in the denigration of our democracy, and we should expect more of our friends and family than to let this happen.

Let your voice be heard, but lead with your action. This is the harder part but one we should apply ourselves to wholeheartedly. I believe so strongly in the promise of this country. It is a place of justice and of promise, and imminently deserving of our efforts to ensure that it is protected.