Pink Trash Travels

Deary Diary

We're in Florence, heading to Rome tomorrow. So far, the trip has been great. Though, too much to write about tonight. But here are a few highlights:

1. I lost my wallet - before we ever left Paris. Has resulted in me trying to make-up the $140 worth of tanning points I purchased on Thursday.

2. The bus ride into Venice reminds me of Florida - possibly Pensacola?

3. Burano, an island off Venice, is the Legoland of Italy.

4. I don't recommend jogging on cobbled streets.

5. Chris has tried every Gelato establishment in Northern Italy.

6. The best parts of Venice are the ones less traveled - and where I found Mr. Pantelones.

7. The outlet malls in Florence are amazing and worth the drive.

8. You may think you're in shape, but wait until you climb the 436 stairs at the Duomo.

9. We had one of the best meals, not only in Italy, but anywhere, tonight at an establishment frequented by Lucy Lu.

My time is running out, but so much more to come!

Off to Italy

It's Friday night, about 11:45 p.m. and I should be in bed. We go to Italy tomorrow - for 10 days. I know we're visiting Florence, Venice and Rome. That's all I know.

So Pink Trash is on holiday starting at 7:20 tomorrow morning when we head for the airport. Hopefully I'll have many stories to share once we return - along with pictures.

Check back beginning October 7th for more Pink Trash Travels!

Dear Diary

Ugh. I'm irritated with our living arrangements. Right now, the family that we told didn't exist upstairs is making noise. Not much, but enough to irritate me. I'm sure it doesn't help my day started at 6:30 a.m. when the Gardenier decided to clean out back. Of course, he seems to pay more attention to the area around the garbage then the walkway leading to our flat. But then again, nobody seems to care that it smells like tuna. Apparently, the restaurant spilled fish water in the entryway and decided not to clean it up. Maddie found it right away and decided to rub her head in it. I guess she likes Chicken of the Sea. A few hours later upon returning from the gym, I noticed more drippage up and down the entryway. Having inspected it closely, it was more fish juice. I had enough.

I ran upstairs, converted my outraged English into French, and posted signs around the building asking tenants to contact their landlord and not only complain to them directly, but also the restaurant. Since I can't talk to anyone face to face, I use pen and paper. I also called our relocation service to ask for their help.

God, won't those people upstairs go to bed? It's 10:43! I'm just not used to living under anyone. We always made sure we were the top floor. Here, you don't have much of a choice. The ones in the penthouse are the Oompa Loompas living in the "Land of the Lost." That wouldn't work for us either. But I need to relax. Maybe it's because I'm hungry.

I made a hamburger on Pan Complet tonight with a spinach and beet salad. It was delicious. One of the many new treats I've found in Paris. You buy the beets already cooked at the open market. No prep work. And again, they are tasty! But I ate it two hours ago and I'm already hungry! What's up with that? I shouldn't be hungry. But now I have to eat something or I won't be able to sleep. That's so bad! I shouldn't be eating at 11 o'clock. I don't want a belly pooch. And after two days of Fat Girl Sunday, I need to take it easy. But I'm hungry...ugh. What am I going to eat? Egg whites and oatmeal...humm, that doesn't sound so bad.

And I still don't have my dj equipment up and running. I can't get the right cord and adapter for Europe. Numark in England can't send me the part because I'm in France. And the French distributor doesn't have it and won't order it. Nobody sells it. Isn't anything easy over here? All I want is my cord! Right now, being able to spin some music would put my mind at ease. That, and I could drive those elephants crazy upstairs. It's open season for making noise.

I was a bit crafty today. Dennis has decided since we threw out his cat tree, he would use the new rugs we bought as scratch pads. So I bought some wood, wrapped it with jute, and hung it in his room. He better use it. If I find him scratching the rugs again I may have to banish him to the Maid's quarters.

I also wrapped the beheaded orchid in the guest room with twigs and such for guests arriving in a few weeks. We hung the curtains, the orchid is set, now we wait for them to arrive. But first, we head to Italy for a few weeks. I couldn't tell you what we're doing, but it should be fun. We're meeting friends from Houston who may have to escape early because of Rita. Damn that Rita. Messing up plans.

Well, I guess I feel a little better since I vented. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. Chris will be back and we'll be hanging more curtains. You can't ask for more in Paris.

Vanity Insurance

Ever since we arrived in Paris, I couldn’t help but notice how much older everyone looks. With deep wrinkles on their forehead, crows feet around the eyes and discolored teeth, the Parisians seem to age faster than nature intended. With this in mind, I further examined my own perfections and began to wonder: Will the city of lights cast a dark shadow on my quest for a youthful glow?

There are those elements I can control. No smoking. No drinking. No excessive late night excursions to the dance clubs. But others are much more difficult to manage. For starters, the water in Paris is loaded with calcium and other hard minerals. Not only do these wreak havoc on your polished nickel faucets, they turn golden hair delights into muddy, dishwater blondes. Beyond that, I wondered if the hard water would clog my hair follicles. I’ve seen what I look like with a shaved head. It wasn’t pretty.

So on the advice of my hair stylist, I’ve began rinsing my hair with purified water. No, it’s not Evian, but rather filtered water from our PUR system. In addition, I purchased a line of hair products found in Europe that helps to invigorate the scalp and promote hair growth. I’m not taking any chances.

My friend Jamie is partly to blame. Yesterday, while accompanying him on a business trip around Paris, we sidestepped into the local Pharmacie for a PowerBar bar. What we found were nutrition bars no bigger than a domino, a special whitening toothpaste, tan enhancing pills, eye whitener used by the models, and Rene Furterer’s 76% guarantee to not only improve the hair you have but grow some in the process.

With my basket in hand, I bought:

Complexe 5 – It tones the scalp and strengthens the hair
Triphasic – Regenerating serum for thinning hair
Fortifica – Shampooing stimulant
Karite – Nourishing, conditioning cream

Yesterday at the gym was my first experience using the products. Needless to say, I was in the shower for over 15 minutes. Fortunately, you can somewhat see through the smoked shower doors. This comes in handy for many reasons, but for the case in point it will be beneficial in proving I’m not entertaining myself.

I’ve also requested additional Dermologica skin care products from home. Currently, I conduct a four-step process including exfoliation, cleansing, protection and moisturizing. Considering the harsh pollutants in the air, I’m considering adding a fifth – weekly mask treatments to remove impurities the other steps leave behind. Consider it insurance.

So let the city of lights shine brightly on those less vain and nonchalant towards the aging process. I’ll be at the Pharmacie, in aisle five, looking for the fountain of youth.

In the Land of the Lost

Every day can be an adventure - even if it's performing daily chores. On Sunday and Monday, we reorganized the flat. The back room finally started coming together. As such, we had to find room for our bikes and other miscellaneous office equipment. So we finally found time to empty our storage room, make room for our bikes, and ship the remaining items to the maid's quarters on the 8th 1/2 floor - or what I like to call "The Land of the Lost."

To get there, you must first walk through a side hallway to the left of our front door. From there, you ascend a winding staircase to the eight floor. Not done yet, you step into another staircase designed for Oompa Loompas. Once you've reached the 8th and 1/2 floor, you stumble your way over loose tiles to the third door on your right. With a turn of your magical key, you enter a mystical room with golden walls, indigo carpet, a crystal chandelier and a mysterious sink that appears to work only when the water fairy arrives through the pocket window with buckets in hand.

And from what I can tell, others live in the rooms adjacent to this mysterious place. Though, they can’t be any taller than four feet and require no bowel movement. Maybe they make shoes at night for tired cobblers or scare kids after dusk.

Either way, for the next two years, they’ll have luggage, unused lamps and other misfit items for neighbors. At least they won’t have to worry about the noise – for now. Who knows what will happen to our inanimate objects once get comfortable in “The Land of the Lost.”

Only in Paris

This weekend, as Chris and I were walking about Paris, two cultural events stopped us dead in our tracks - literally.

Friday night, as we made our way back from dinner with Semi and his partner Lorenzo (yes, we made it to round two), we saw a sight unlike any we've ever seen.

Just before the clock struck midnight, a tidal wave of rollerbladers made their way through L'Opera and Rue St. Honoré. Apparently, every Friday night beginning around 10:00 p.m., thousands meet to rollerblade freely through the streets of Paris. From the whizzing to the wobbly, they spread their wings and fly over cobbled streets for more than two hours. We decided it's time to dust off the wheels.

Then, on Saturday, we ironically stumbled across the Techno Parade as we headed to Habitat to buy a desk for my dj equipment. With curtain rods and umbrellas in hand, we heard in the distance a roaring thunder of bass. "It's the Techno Parade," Chris stated. Thinking he was joking, I continued walking toward the beats like a moth to a flame. Within 500 feet we found ourselves immersed in an outdoor rave.

The first of many floats passed us by complete with fluorescent harijuka girls. With every beat, wet club kids jumped up and down while grasping red bulls in one hand and cigarettes in the other. Djs acting as pied pipers lead shirtless teenagers through the wet streets as cross dressing clowns on stilts followed close behind. "Where is the camera when I need it," I thought.

We stood in amazement for more than 20 minutes as the floats passed us by. Yes, it was a bit obnoxious. But having been to gay events similar in nature and understanding the power of relentless beats, there was something calming about the free-spirited spectacle. "Good for them," I thought. "Everyone should have a good time now and then." And with a quick adjustment of our curtain rods, we continued our exciting day of shopping.

Hello James

When Chris and I learned of our eventual move to Paris, I immediately called for help. Consider it the bat signal for friends of Dorothy. By doing so, you immediately have a network of friends at your disposal - most of them willing to extend an open hand to help you any way possible.

Today, I met one of the respondents to our call - James. He's been a wonderful support system over the past few months. For example, when we were looking for flat in Paris, James advised us against living near the Eiffel Tower. "Nobody will ever see you there," he said. And when we had to choose between a flat in the first or the sixth arrondissement, he screamed, "The first! The first!" From that, as well as our gut feelings, we chose the first. Now, if we have any complaints regarding our living arrangements, we can always blame James.

James arrived at noon. Fortunately, I was able to Fabreeze the hallway before his arrival. I didn't want to choke him with the smell of fried bass. When I opened the door, he looked nothing like I had imagined.

You see, when you speak with someone over the phone, you can't help but paint a picture of whom they'll resemble. As I told James, I thought he'd look like Matthew Broderick. Needless to say, he bears no resemblance to the star of War Games and recent winner of the Tony for the Producers. In turn, I asked him about me (contrary to popular belief, it's not always about me - only sometimes and this time was one of them). As he described, he didn’t expect to see a “California surfer boy.” It must be the hair. God knows it’s not the newly found wrinkles I spotted on my forehead this week. Can the pollution be affecting me so soon?

Anyway, we headed out to lunch. What I soon learned is that Chris and I aren’t the only "sweaters" in Paris. Apparently, James is human torch as well. So we opted to stay out of the sun and dine inside a charming creperie restaurant nearby. Sadly, it wasn’t any cooler. We both started to perspire. At least I was wearing what I refer to as “half pants.” They aren’t pants. They aren’t shorts. They’re “half pants.” James was in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt forcing him into roasting mode quite quickly. As we finished our meal, I alerted James that I was a bit concerned about sweating through my “half pants.” Would I be able to leave the restaurant in dignity with a sweaty ass? Fortunately, for both of us, I was soft and dry and under control.

In the end, James displayed all the characteristics of a fine, gay gentleman – smart, witty, and groomed from head to toe. I look forward to seeing him again on Saturday night along with his partner David and a few other friends they’ve invited over for cocktails.

And James, if you’re reading, that wasn’t so bad was it? You truly were the best.

I Survived the Metro

I'm back from my excursion to the Parisian burbs. My first Metro experience alone was just as I expected - HOT. As I stood near the front of my car, I looked around and couldn't believe I was the only one sweating. Do these people have poor circulation or are they just freaks? How could I be so uncomfortable when others were draped with sweaters and scarves or in business suits and raincoats?

I did arrive safe and sound and on time. Chris was waiting to pick me up and drive us to the restaurant to meet his co-workers. Turns out it wasn't a birthday but rather one's going away festivities. He was moving back to the UK after a one-year stint in Paris.

In short, the puffed appetizer filled with meat, spices and sweetened with sprinkled powdered sugar was delicious. My lamb, peas and artichoke tangine dish was quite bland. The after dinner sweetened tea with mint was pleasant. The company was enjoyable. The only problem was I was starving by the time I got home.

From this, I've just finished two bowls of Chocolate Wheetos. Think of it has giant chocolate Cheerios with 36% less sugar. It hit the spot. Now, if I can only get some sleep.

Metro - Here I Come

Tonight, Chris and I were to meet friends of friends out for dinner. About an hour ago, I received a phone call letting me know we needed to abandon plans. Instead, I'm to meet Chris for dinner with colleagues. Apparently, it's someone's birthday and my presence is required. So as I sit in my A & F cargo shorts, it seems I have a lot to do in the next twenty minutes. But what scares me isn't my ability to complete tasks such as walking Maddie, changing clothes, brushing my teeth and coifing my hair in under a half an hour, but rather my first venture onto the Metro system without Chris and in 85 degree weather.

From what I can tell, I have to take two trains, with numerous stops, to my final destination. Is it really necessary I be there? I don't particuarly want to ride the train with rush hour traffic when the heat index in each car is sure to be 125 degrees. The only place I want to sweat is in the gym. It would be somewhat more manageable with shorts and a tank, but God forbid I wear shorts in public. I might be labeled a tourist.

So off I go. Here's to arriving on time, in one piece and respectively clean and powder fresh.

Up for the Job

On Saturday night, Chris and I initiated the interview process. No, Chris isn't looking for a new job. He's enjoying his new role as Mayor McCheese. I might be, but this isn't about weaving my way through the tangled employment process in France. Rather, it's the beginning of our journey to find like-minded friends capable of displaying the quality traits found in our circles back home.

"It's as though we're getting ready for a date," I said as we contemplated our outfit for the evening. In short, we were. The evening could be the start of a lifelong relationship or a short-lived excursion into hell. Either way, our ensemble needed to convey our personal style and understanding of relevant culture and fashions. That, and to make me look as hot as possible.

Our appointment was at 6:00 p.m. Having been told by Semi where to meet but not able to understand the exact location, Chris and left with 30 minutes to spare. We needed 40. The bar was on the flipside of where we thought it to be. By the time we reached our destination, not only were we 10 minutes late, we were a sweaty mess. This weekend, the weather revolted against the norm reaching highs around 90. So there we stood, in front of a crowded outdoor cafe filled with sisters, dripping wet. Not my idea of a good time and the impression I wanted to make. Fortunately, Semi recommended we move to a different location. "Preferably one with air conditioning, a cool breeze, or a cabana boy fanninig me with giant palm leaves," I thought.

After a short walk and a few beads of sweat later, we landed at a small and quiet cafe. Semi and Chris ordered a bottle of wine, I opted for Evian. Mama was dehydrated. For the next few hours, Semi educated us on Parisian culture while psychoanalyzing our behavior. He's a psychotherapist. And from the quick assessment of both Chris and I, a good one at that. However, from our conversation, we now know:

1. We joined a trendy gym filled with models.
2. If you're called a bitch in Paris, it's not so bad. It means you're attractive, intelligent but a flirt with the boys.
3. If interested in clubbing, the "cool kids" don't start until 3:00 a.m. Or, you can wait until 6:00 a.m. for the after hours. You wear jeans and a t-shirt. They won't be on long.
4. Unlike America, it's hard to find a decent, inexpensive meal. Be prepared to pay for dining that meets your French cuisine expectations.
5. If someone is interested in you, they act as though they hate you.
6. Fortunately, Paris is very integrated with all makes and models mingling freely together on the streets, clubs and restaurants.
7. When you get dressed to go out for the evening, you're dressing for sex. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. So when you buy that next shirt, it's not because it's cute. It's because you want to hump like bunnies.

As Chris and I returned home, we both agreed the interview went well. Based on our initial meeting, we feel as though we can progress to round two - which could have been tonight, Sunday, for a cocktail with Semi and his American journalist friend from New York. But unfortunately, our evening social calendar is already booked with friends from Chicago. There's always next time - we hope.

I Long for Lee's Wok

Tonight, Chris explored our neighborhood for Chinese take-out. Due to Noos' late arrival (that's French for Comcast or any other cable company), I was unable to fulfill my wifely duties and cook. It's impossible to prepare a seven-course meal when you're trying to communicate with a Frenchman through interpretative dance. So, as I waited for Noos to complete their task, Chris began his quest to deliver a tasty dinner in less than 30 minutes. In just under 22, Chris returned with three dishes and an appetizer in the bag. Though, from the looks of the spring roll, we were headed for trouble.

"This is foul," Chris declared as he tossed the rolls in the trash. I, of course, gasped. As his personal business manager, I strongly advised him against throwing away 5 Euros (especially in my presence). With plates loaded, we launched a Will & Grace from 2003 on our satellite. As I picked away at the Garlic Chicken, Beef with Mushroom and Fried Rice, I thought, "$40? I could have bought one (but only one) Puma sneaker for the price of this bland and unappealing meal."

You see, I equate dining out food costs with material goods. After all, you can wear a shoe more than once. You can keep it forever if you'd like. But not the Chinese food. Most likely, it will be consumed and digested rather quickly - probably faster than we'd like. I'll let you know tomorrow.