There is probably no need to introduce this week’s interview subject Alyssa Harad. She is one of us, a true Perfumista who made her journey down the rabbit hole and the way it changed her entire life into a beautifully written book full of ideas and stories we can very much relate to. Coming To My Senses was one of the best books I have read last year and I want to read it again soon, because in so many ways it feels like my own story.
Alyssa used to write for Now Smell This and Perfume Smellin’ Things before she turned her fragrant experiences into a novel-length book detailing not only her olfactory awakening but also the story of her personal growth and development that got jump-started by perfume.
This month Alyssa is collaborating with Olfactif. Olfactif is a service of monthy curated samples that get delivered to your doorstep. I’m sure you have all heard of founder Tara Sword’s great idea by now. February’s offerings have been curated by Alyssa and consist of two of her favorite perfumes described in the novel and one she has falled for since. Take a look at those three scents here.
But now, let’s hear about Alyssa’s private quirks and routines in the questionnaire:
A good day starts with… tea. Always tea. You don’t want to talk to me before tea.
I’d never leave the house without… locking the door behind me.
I always feel good when… I manage to finish a piece of writing. Until I start wondering how to revise it.
My favorite thing in the world is… a great conversation.
The next thing I want to buy is… a plane ticket to London. I’m hoping to go later this spring.
The place I always come back to is… the couch in my office.
My personal style is… rumpled.
My favorite perfume… oh my god I can’t believe you’re asking me this. How much time do you have? (A: Not enough.)
When I travel I always… eavesdrop.
To relax I need… a cat or a café. Or a couch. That’s the second time I’ve mentioned a couch, but what can I say? The ability to lounge is very important to me.
When I have a bad day… I have to tell stories about it until I feel better. I try not to tell them all to the same person.
I like to gift people with... something they’re denying themselves.
I find my inspiration… everywhere. Listening and watching the people around me, walking down a street, books, movies, music, art, talk. I especially love hearing about process—how a painter paints or a scientist explores a problem, or a chef creates a new recipe. I will listen to anyone talk about work they love to do.
Something I would never want to miss… getting a little lost in a city I love.
My last mistake was… forgetting to take my allergy meds this morning. Ugh. Austin cedar pollen is the worst.
In my fridge there is [are] always… enough condiments to flavor a small whale. If I ate whale. Which I don’t. I’m sorry, what were we talking about?
On my nightstand I keep… a stack of books and an assortment of hydrosols—rose, sweetgrass and frankincense right now.
The perfect weekend starts with… As a writer I don’t really have weekends. Just deadlines. But the farmer’s market is always nice.
My role model is… anyone who manages to pursue their passion and live well at the same time.
Something I always want to be asked in questionnaires like this is… would you like a free place to stay in downtown NYC? (A: Yes.)
I would like that place to stay in NYC as well, please!
Tea in the morning is just as much a must for me as for Alyssa, and a couch and allergy meds are must-haves if a day is to be a good one.
As I said in my introduction, I can relate to Alyssa in so many ways, and it turns out it is not only when it comes to perfume. She appears to me as a lovely, down-to-earth woman I would love to share a pot of tea with. Maybe in London this spring?
Have your read Coming To My Senses?