When I feel somewhat feral, a little savage, a little ungovernable, I seem to reach most predictably for Estée Lauder Private Collection. A fern freshly picked from a woodland floor and crushed between the fingers might smell as thrilling and immediate as this; nothing refocuses me quite like it.

One wonders how so elegant and patrician a lady as Estée came to commission for herself a scent so visceral. Under her polished exterior, did the atavistic spirit of a shamaness roil and bare its teeth? I certainly sympathize. Trapped in day-to-day bureaucracy, surrounded by machines (and very often mistaken for one myself-- particularly over the telephone, where I am often asked "Are you a robot?") I desperately wish to be reconnected to my naked self-- hide-clad, redolent of the forest and of my own beastly nature.

When I cannot find the forest for the trees, I reach instead for a bottle... and it delivers to me my lost talons, resharpened and ready for the task of survival.