Will The Real Colombina Please Stand Up! A brief interview with our fragrant leader.
This interview comes with a giant WARNING! First off, I am not a journalist; in fact, I don’t even pretend to be a writer in any way. I do read a lot though. Secondly, I realize that because this is a perfume blog, this should be fragrance related. After asking many questions that had nothing to do with scent, I snuck in a few at the end. I hope you find this as entertaining and informative as let’s say…“Oprah”.
Now that the warning is out of the way, I want to point out that this “interview” is being posted on Marina’s birthday! She was a great sport throughout the process of emailing back and forth. I also want to add that this is my year anniversary writing (sporadically) for Marina’s blog. What I would like everyone to do is to read the interview first, and then add a note to the responses listing why you appreciate Marina and her Perfume-Smellin’ Things blog. OK? Got it? [Marina here, feeling extremely self-conscious. What I want you to do is to join me in congratulating Kelley on his blogging anniversary. Thank you.]
Marina, tell us about your family and some of your earliest memories. Where were you born? What was your first bottle of perfume?
I was born in Russia, and, looking back now I realize what a happy, careless childhood I had. I was the only child and was spoiled rotten not just by my parents but by a grandma and a great-grandma. You can imagine!
My very own first bottle of perfume was Poison, bought for me when I was, I think, 13-14. Prior to that I've been "borrowing" my mom's Madame Rochas, Climat and Magie Noire.
Tell us a little about your experiences at school in Russia. Were you a cool kid? A nerd? What hobbies did you have growing up. When did you leave Russia and why? Also, how did you meet Mr. Columbina?
I was a cool nerd :-) My hobby has always been and always will be reading. In fact one of my earliest memories is of me at 3-4 years old, reading Uncle Remus story, How Mr. Rabbit Was Too Sharp for Mr. Fox.
I first left Russia, because I won a scholarship to study abroad, then another, and then yet another. The journey of a thousand miles truly begins with one step...Mr Colombina and I met in Oxford, where I was working on my DPhil (PhD).
Astrological sign? (Leo) Chinese astrological sign? (I am an ox!) Have you ever had your palm read? Been to a psychic? Have you ever had a mystical experience? Why do you think your purpose/destiny is (why are you here)?
I am a Leo and a Dragon. Bossy, conceited and flamboyant, yep, that would be me. I had my palm read and my future told by someone once. It is scary how right she was on many counts. She even predicted the character of my daughter, years before the said daughter was a twinkle in anyone's eye. Apart from that, I don't think I have ever had anything that could be described as mystical happen to me. I have always fancied myself somewhat of an existentialist, and I don't really believe there is a purpose to this life or that one has a destiny. I have always felt that, just like Sartre said, existence precedes and rules essence (don't ask me how that goes with a psychic predicting my daughter's character though). I believe that we create our destiny as we go.
Tell us a little about Mr. Colombina. What does he do? Is he from the United States originally? What is your life like with such a funny guy? What is the most romantic thing that he has done? We are also dying to know about Little Miss Colombina, so can you tell us about her?
Mr Colombina is American with English (his mum) and German (his dad's family) roots (he also has some Scottish, Irish and Spanish blood). Add to that my Russian, Polish and who knows what other pedigree and you can see what a multinational being our daughter is. What is it like to live with a funny guy...Borrowing Billy Graham's words, I will say that Mr C's keen sense of humor helps us to tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable stuff that life throws at us. The most romantic thing he has done was probably proposing to me at Heathrow airport. Our little Miss Colombina is truly the most unique person I've ever met, if I say so myself. She has a tremendous imagination, she is a little actress, she is eccentric in all these wonderful little ways, and she is just a sweetie and a cutie.
What are your current hobbies? What are your favorite movies? Favorite books? Favorite singers/bands? (Don't worry, we will be getting to perfume soon)
Is blogging a hobby? Somehow it feels like it occupies a bigger and a more important part in my life than a mere hobby would. I love old Soviet comedies, as for favorites books, they are: Michael Bulgakov The Master and Margarita, Albert Camus The Myth of Sisyphus, Milan Kundera The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Erich Maria Remarque Heaven Has No Favorites, and John Galsworthy The Forsyte Saga. I also love many of Françoise Sagan's books, and everything ever written by Marina Tsvetaeva, Anna Akhmatova and Agatha Christie. As for singers/bands, I love Elton John, Sting, George Michael circa The Older, The Walflowers (what happened to them?!), Goo Goo Dolls, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica.
Since this interview is being posted on your birthday, I won't burden you with long lists of favorites (Best Winter Fragrance, Best For Hot Weather, Best Oriental...) instead, I want you to list your deserted island picks. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only have 10 bottles (10 is a generous amount for traveling but who cares?). List the 10 you couldn't do without and why.
A couple of months ago this wouldn't have been possible, but I feel as if lately I have been finally letting the superfluous, the Not Really Loved scents to sort of fall away and found myself left with the "core" scents, the ones that are truly Me and that I Really Love. They are:
A Maze by People of the Labyrinths, because it is incredibly gorgeous and sumptuous.
Aoud Roses Petals by Montale, because it fills me with a strange sensation of being newly in love.
Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle, because it is sublimely perfect from start to finish.
Chanel No 22 for the exact same reason. These two are my Instant Chic scents. I put them on and I feel perfectly made up and perfectly attired, even if I am not.
Une Fleur de Cassie by Frederic Malle, because I find it strange and strangely comforting.
White Aoud by Montale, because I find it to be drop-dead gorgeous and comforting. It's like one of those great celebrity moms, say Liv Tyler, glamorous but also warmly maternal.
Messe de Minuit by Etro, because if I didn't have it, I would go mad. It is my stress relief drug of choice.
Diorama, because it was created for me in my previous incarnation as a existentialistically-inclined socialite in the post-war Paris. What? No laughing, no laughing! This scent is so "me", it feels like it was custom-made for me.
Dzing! by L'Artisan, because it rather inexplicably smells like very happy years from my past
Une Crime Exotique by Parfumerie Generale, because it smells like Russia, like winter holidays, like childhood and like fairy-tales.
What are a couple of your favorite scent memories?
My mom's perfumes, the smells of hers and grandma's cooking and baking, the scent of peonies that my great grandfather planted when I was born, the gasoline of which my dad always seemed to smell, the smell of Samara circus (i.e.Dzing!), the smell of mandarins on New Year's Eve, the smell of the Baltic sea, the fragrant air in Sochi, the scent of my daughter's hair and her neck when she was a newborn.
And for the last question, is there anything else about you that you would like your readers to know?
Dear readers, dear commenters, you mean a lot to me, I say it with all sincerity, from the bottom of my heart. I can't believe you want to read my ramblings and I am very thankful to you for reading them!