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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

French Kiss

A little over a month ago, I was in Paris. I'd long forgotten about London, as the magical City of Lights swept me away. Tuesday morning, May 6, Mandy, Siebe, Lana and I boarded the Eurostar to make the under-ocean trip to Paris by way of the Chunnel. Those clever Europeans and their tunnel under the English Channel...

Our trip wasn't entirely spent below sea level, and we saw plenty of the English and French countryside. I slept the majority of the way to Paris, but woke up when Lana elbowed me to look out the window. For miles and miles, we saw fields of golden flora, but had no idea what to call it. Regardless, it was a breathtaking sight.

It was early afternoon when we got checked into Hotel Odessa in Montparnasse, part of the 14th Arrondissement. We marveled at our simple room, which looked extremely inviting compared to our London accommodations, freshened up and marched down to the Metro. I wasn't as impressed with the Paris Metro as I was with London's Underground. The Underground has more stops, is easier to navigate, and is a bit cleaner, but at least the Metro is still convenient for inner-city travel.

What else would be worthy of our first Parisian experience than the Eiffel Tower? The four of us rode to the Trocadero, at the Hill of Chaillot, to walk down and across the River Seine to the Eiffel Tower. Now, I'm 27 years old, and for as long as I can remember, I've known about the Eiffel Tower. All my life, I've wondered if it's a bit overrated, but I laid eyes on that beautiful monument and it took my breath away. Actually, all four of us were pretty floored. It's an amazing sight, and no photograph will ever do it justice. We just kept repeating, "I can't believe we're actually in Paris. I can't believe we're at the Eiffel Tower." I want to remember that moment always.

Behold her beauty. Our first look at the Tour de Eiffel.

After our first Parisian cafe experience, we strolled down Trocadero park, crossed the Seine and made our way underneath the Tower. The four of us boarded this large elevator for the 1,000 foot surmount to the top. The elevator stops at three different levels, and we were able to see some amazing sights during the light of day.

MA & Siebe dining Parisian Style.

Trocadero Park

The River Seine

The Arc du Triomphe

The Sacre Coeur

Later that afternoon, we found ourselves walking along the Champs-Elysees, doing a little window shopping. I saw a Parisian Sephora, and miraculously, didn't buy anything. I didn't want to put my travel companions through that. Plus, we'd started to get really tired at that point, so we parked ourselves on a bench and watched the world go by for awhile.

We had a dinner date that evening with Fred and Tina, friends/family of Mandy's from Grundy County. Tina moved over to Paris eight years earlier with her job, met Fred, and got married. Tina instructed us to meet them in the Hotel de Ville area, a chic neighborhood with tons of upscale restaurants. The six of us took our time at dinner, enjoying the laidback parisian lifestyle, and we were exhausted by the time we got back to our Hotel that evening.

Wednesday morning came early, and our day was packed with typical tourist fare. The Cathedral de Notre Dame was up first. We spent quite a bit of time around the facade of the building, and began to notice how hot it was getting outside. The pre-trip reports forecasted temperatures in the high sixties during the daytime. We'd packed accordingly. Instead, we got high seventies, so we were burning up most of the time. Most places in Europe are sans air-conditioning, so we didn't spend a ton of time actually inside the Notre Dame.

The back side of the Notre Dame

Our next stop was the Sainte-Chappelle, and we got in line to go inside. Ropes designated two lines, and we noticed that the sign noted a Paris museum pass line, and a general admission line. We didn't have museum passes (as it worked out better for us to pay a la carte), so we walked into the empty gen. admin. line. I walked inside the reception area, and put my purse on the conveyer belt to be x-rayed. I walked through the metal detector, and batted my eyes at the hotness that was the security guards. Behind me, I heard commotion, and I see Mandy, who was originally right behind me, getting yanked by her collar out of the doorway and down the steps. I grabbed my stuff and told the guard that I would be back, but my friends had disappeared. Now, we don't really know why, but an ornery guy in a black suit angrily ushered all of us and other tourists out of the gen. admin. line, and into the other line. We were slightly confused, and miffed at being confronted like that.

When we were finally admitted, the Sainte-Chappelle (or the Dave Chappelle as we began calling it) fell a bit short of my expectations. Inside the upper chapel, the stained glass was abundant and gorgeous, but there wasn't much else to see after we exited this chamber.

The rest of our afternoon was spent alongside the Seine, shopping the hunter green stalls of the street vendors. It was insanely hot, and I got fried. The medication I was on for my roseacea causes me to be sensitive to the sun, but I wasn't expecting that much sun.

We returned to our hotel room a bit earlier than normal, as we had to beautify ourselves for our night at the Moulin Rouge! When we emerged a couple of hours later, we practically stopped traffic. I don't think Paris had ever seen lovelier women. After dinner, we killed some time exploring Montparnasse, and stopped at a street vendor for a crepe. My first nutella crepe! In less than a minute, I was holding a piping hot and steamy confection and I let the sugary goodness wash over me.

Hazelnut Love

We arrived a bit early for our 11 p.m. show at the Moulin Rouge. Finally, we were seated in the auditorium at a table that was wedged between a wall and another table. In retrospect, we probably should've asked for another table, but we didn't think that quickly. There was already a group of six seated at the other table, and I could tell that we inconvenienced them when we sat down. They'd had their chairs scooted back almost to where our table began, and there wasn't much room to maneuver. We were seated with another couple that had already claimed their spots, so the four of us slid in our seats.

Behind me, was an old, cranky woman, who had about a foot's space between her waist and the table. After getting tired of smashing my boobs on my own table, I dug my heels into the floor and scooted her back a bit. She didn't like this, obviously, and started yelling at me and anyone who would listen, in what was very likely, German. Lana and I got tickled, and just shrugged. Equal space, lady. Well, she didn't stop for about a half-an-hour. She even told the maitre'd, but finding no issue with her real estate vs. my own, he ignored her and walked away. About that time, two icy chilled bottles of expensive champagne arrived and all was forgotten...until the show started.

I don't think we really knew what to expect. Actually, what we expected wasn't exactly what we got. Unless you're into boobs and flamboyantly homosexual men prissing around in cheesy sequined-attire among a chintzy stage set, the Moulin Rouge is not for you. And what's worse---they weren't even dancing in unison, or even close. I've seen shows at theme parks with local yokels that have been better performed. Much to the German lady's delight, we left early to catch the Metro before it shut down at one a.m.

MA & Siebe's second wind at 1 a.m. (told you I was burnt)

On the Metro ride back, we got our second wind, and found a local pub in Montparnasse that was just getting busy at 1:20 a.m. We ordered a bottle of wine, and when we finished it an hour later, it was replaced by another bottle of wine from some nearby local boys. By invitation, we accepted a request to play pool downstairs. Before we got up, I told the guy that bought us the bottle of wine that I needed to pay for our first bottle. He assured me that he'd already paid for it, so the four of us followed them down the steps.

Several hours passed, as we flirted, played eight-ball, and danced. Three of the four of us were having a great time, when the fourth decided it was time to exit the building and go home. Reluctantly, we made our way upstairs, but those persistent Parisian beaus didn't want us to leave. I said au revoir to my flame for the evening, and got a little "french" kiss to go. I thought I got away with my sneaky rendevous, but Siebe sure did call me out as I walked out the door.

The three of us are walking back toward the Montparnasse carousel, and we hear in the background, "Siebe, come back!" It was the guy that bought us the bottle of wine, the same one that was macking on Siebe---except her attentions were granted to another. "You did not pay for your bottle of wine," he said. "You said that you paid for it," we replied. About that time, we see a man on a vespa in a silver helmet fly up the street toward us. It was the bar owner, wanting to know why we'd skipped out on the bill.

He wasn't mad, especially when I explained that Siebe's wannabe boyfriend told us he'd picked up the tab. Mandy and I pulled out some Euros, paid the guy, and he zipped off. Well, this struck the three of us as hilarious, especially since the bar owner had time to put on his helmet before chasing after us. We made it home by about 4 a.m. and went to bed, albeit with some drama that shan't be mentioned, as to protect the not-so-innocent.

At this point, we'd been in Paris for less than 48 hours. There's so much more to come.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Burqa Beachside

Not a single item of clothing is packed, yet I am leaving for the beach in approximately three hours. And here I sit at work, swamped with grand opening marketing plans, radio campaigns, and a lot of stuff that I'd rather not be doing right now.

The plan is to leave work by two, race home, and start throwing stuff in a bag. It's the beach---can't be too hard, right? Just a swimsuit and a towel? Well...no. I got deep fried in the sun on Sunday afternoon and so my beach vacation won't be without SPF 4000 and a parka. And a huge sombrero and tent and those sunglasses they give you after you have cataract surgery.

You think I'm exaggerating? You should see the tops of my boobs right now. I am hot pink. And I hurt. I hurt badly. As I seizured in bed at 11 p.m. on Sunday night, I considered going downstairs and making Emily and Amy take me to the hospital. Looking back, I think I was in shock. Seriously though, I'm not kidding. Not kidding. Amidst my whimpers, I kept telling myself, "Mary Anna, get a grip. It will go in overnight. It will stop hurting in the morning." Well, it didn't stop hurting. I'm still hurting.

Needless to say, I'm having a hard time getting excited about the beach. Don't tell Emily and Katie. I keep thinking that I can have just as much fun under the umbrella as I can wallering in the sand as the tide comes in, but we know that's just not true. I am, however, fully stocked with reading material. I have have about three months worth of Newsweek that have been stacked beside my bed for, well, three months. I have The Shack and Velvet Elvis, both Book & Co. book club selections. I have Twilight, a 544-page novel that I'm embarrassed to admit aloud to you because it's about vampire love. See? You're kind of flipping out right now. Hey, take it up with my roommates Amy and Autumn. They've practically forced it upon me. I also have the latest Company Store and Pottery Barn catalogs, as well as an issue of Southern Living and Nashville Lifestyles. I'm afraid that I don't have enough.

And lastly, I feel rather guilty for not yet posting about that wonderful place that is called Paris. The first part of the recap is done, but I haven't had time to organize and load the pictures. It's coming soon, dolls. In the meantime, I'll be in my burqa at the beach.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Cat Came Back...

...the very next day. The cat came back, oh, we thought he was a goner! But the cat came back, the very next day, he just wouldn't stay away!

Skeevy Jones made his return today at about five o'clock. Guess he wasn't satisfied with our exchange yesterday.

I was standing in our author signing square, minding my own business, and I heard someone say, "hey Mary!"

Oh bless-ed.

I look up, and about five feet away from me, in the entry way to the signing area, I see Skeevy J. waving at me. I didn't move. He couldn't move, because there was a velvet rope restraining him. I think I cringed.

"So, how have things been today?"

"Just fine (until you walked up)."

"I just got off work--thought I'd drop by to see you."

"Oh, ok [grimace]."

About that time, one of my authors ran out of books, so I busied myself with restocking. Skeevy J. walked around the table, picked up Tony Dungy's book, and shoved it in my face.

"So, Mary, can you check me out?"

"Nope, sorry. But Rick here can (it's Mary Anna, thankyouverymuch!)."

"Aw, well I wanted you to do it. So, I'll call you when I get to Nashville this season and we'll go to a Titans game, right? You said you had season tickets, right?"

[ignoring him.]

"Hey, we're gonna catch up when I'm in Nashville, right? You know, go see a game together?"

[still ignoring him, while Rick shoots me a confused look.]

I turn around and walk to the opposite corner. Before I know it, he's wound his way around again.

"It's good seeing you, Mary. I'll talk to you soon."

Anybody remember this from 1980s Nickelodeon?

Monday, June 9, 2008


I rode in a golf cart beside Tony Dungy today. It was kind of surreal, not because of the Tony Dungy part, but because everyone was waving at us and hollerin' out stuff. I felt like a celeb, like VIP. It was fun, but I put on my "cool" face as we flew through the convention booths, and pretended like I do this kind of stuff all the time.

Oh, and, Dungy was cool. Nice, upstanding, quality guy. Even if he is associated with that pansy, Peyton.

So tell me this----why do I only get hit on by skeevy guys??? I was ushering Dungy around today, and I had an arsenal of convention security staff to help with crowd control. The staff manager, a 50-ish balding dude with a Magnum, P.I. stache, would not leave me alone. It was worse than the waiter at Old Spaghetti Factory last night. He said that he could get me on the field for a Colts game:

"I don't live in Indy (and you creep me out)."

"Well, my company contracts out for Titans games. Maybe I'll come for a visit to Nashville sometime. I could get you in."

"Oh, that wouldn't be necessary. I have season tickets (back-off buddy)."

"So maybe I should give you my number so that we can keep in touch..." (as he hands me one of my own business cards with his name, number and email address scrawled on the back).

And then, get this: dude tries to hug me!


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Heavenly (Overpriced) Bed

It's the negligible details of my day that are somehow the most interesting. That's what keeps you reading, right? I mean, it keeps me writing. Some of my best, most inspired posts, come from days that I piddled around. Isn't that why reality television and celebrity rags are so fascinating? Doesn't one of those tabloids have a section titled "Stars: They're Just Like Us!" with A-list celebrities pictured while grocery shopping or gassing up their Beamers while make-up-less in their houseshoes? I digress...

Anyway, my point is that I need a Sugar Daddy. If I had a Sugar Daddy, then I could attempt to satiate my wanderlust. I wouldn't be one of those women that sat on the couch watching Oprah over bon-bons. I'd go to museums, and paint, and write, and go fellowship with the homeless. I'm just sayin'.

Between Paris and my Indy road trip, something's gone off in me. It doesn't help that I got to spend a leisurely day at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. While I love my job (and I'm not just sayin' that), it's the walls that bother me. I feel confined. Stifled. Uninspired.

I got to the museum when it opened at noon. It was like a ghost town in that building, very nice and quiet. The museum's three floors held tons of artwork and sculpture, at least one piece by every acclaimed artist imaginable. I saw quite a bit of Pointillism, and Rodin minis were everywhere. With some pieces, you can't help but smile when you see them. It's always a special treat when I stumble across work by my favorite artist, Marc Chagall. They had one lone painting, so that makes it a grand total of four Chagall works my eyes have feasted upon. I also saw one of Robert Indiana's LOVE pop art paintings.

Later this afternoon, I checked into the Westin in downtown Indy. What's the deal with upscale hotels, anyway? Let's do the math. If you stay in a budget hotel that's either new or managed well, you'll find a clean, tastefully decorated room with a sturdy bed. You'll also find free Wifi, continental deluxe breakfast, and most times, a microwave/mini-fridge. All of that for about $79 bucks. For upwards of $200 per night, you can have a clean room and a fabulous bed (like the Westin copyrighted "Heavenly Bed" that I'm lounging on now. And yes, it's heavenly.), but that's about it. No free Wifi ($9.99 per day), no continental breakfast (in-room dining menu: mango smoothie $8.00; granola-n-berries yogurt $10.50, etc.), and no microwave to pop my popcorn tonight. Oh, but we have a fridge---one that costs money if you re-arrange its contents to make room for your own. The bellman told me so. "It's weighted," he said. I'll have a Hampton Inn, thankyouverymuch! And let's be real. I don't care if a hotel room cost $1,000 per night, you will never find me walking on the carpet barefoot. I've seen too many episodes of 20/20...

I had a nice stroll through the streets of downtown Indy tonight, heading toward the Old Spaghetti Factory alone. I'm not in the good ol' boys club. I don't have a beard, or the other necessary accessories that designate "male." I don't get asked to go play golf. Not that I mind...

However, as I passed a homeless man tonight on my way to the restaurant, the thought crossed my mind to ask him to be my dinner date. Instead, I said hello and smiled at him. But when I sat down at the restaurant, I was consumed with thoughts of that man. I justified my actions because of safety. And honestly, what would the host or hostess think if I showed up with a dirty old man? It's a catch-22. I still don't know the answer. Christ would've had dinner with that man.

So, I walked into OSF alone, and they seated me in a booth near the kitchen. The second I sat down, my waiter walked out and asked if I was ready to order. "Um, no, I just sat down." No kidding, he was back two minutes later. Then two minutes after that. Seriously. Give a girl some space. He didn't leave me alone the entire time I was there. I think he tried to hit on me, but he only succeeded in hitting his head on the light fixture hanging above my table. Doofus. He asked if my spumoni was cold. Duh.

Now I'm watchin' the Cubbies play the Dodgers from my Heavenly Bed. We're up 3 to 1. I don't want to jinx it, but I'm feelin' it this year. 1908 to 2008. One-hundred years. It could be poetic justice.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

PMS 194

Maybe I need to leave town more often. Somehow, I have all this time to blog. It's my goal to have at least one Paris recap posted before I leave Indy. Not tonight though. I'm sick. My roommates transmitted their germs to me before I left and I'm bringing the love north. I almost had a mini fit tonight after I got back to my room. Sometimes you just want your mommy when you're sick, even if you're 27 years old. Plus, I'm PMS-ing. Feel sorry for me.

I admit, I do love some time to myself. I'm very capable of autonomy. I love community (and one needs to in order to live with three fabulous gals), but sometimes a girl just needs some time to tool around with me, myself and I. And it's not hard to do on this trip, as I'm traveling with a bunch of Southern Baptist men that, let's be real, are kinda clean. Respectful and polite, yes, but still kind of clean. It's a far cry from the men that I traveled with during my Adtec days. Especially when those Adtec men did Vegas or Amsterdam.

I didn't tell any of them that I was going to see "Sex and the City" this afternoon (yes, for the second time--don't judge.)...

So here I am, watching paint dry. Literally. I just painted my nails a bold shade of L-Way red. For all of you Pantone fans, that's PMS 194. My nails will match the itchy, poly-cotton blend oxford that they're requiring me to wear while I "look pretty" and "assist" who's who in So-Bap culture sign their books. I make light of it, but the Tony Dungy signing I scored may be my meal ticket when my yearly review arrives (which by the way, is three weeks past).

Signing off now. Going to the art museum tomorrow.

Friday, June 6, 2008


The cicadas aren't out yet in Tennessee, but as I was driving north on I-65 enroute to Indianapolis earlier today, my car was bombarded by a large caravan of the singing insects in-transit. At 75 mph, it sounded kind of like machine-gun fire rattling the side of my sporty G6 rental. After it scared the hell out of me, I laughed. I've never seen (or heard) so many cicadas in one place.

There's something about those little buggers that signify the onset of summer. It's like that first smell of summer honeysuckle, or that insatiable craving I've had for ice cream during this past week of 90 degree weather. Cicadas are summertime.

Ben and I used to try and find cicada shells in perfect, mint condition at Grandma and Grandpa's house. We'd pluck the little shells off the large maple trees in their backyards, and would sometimes stumble across a shell that had no cracks with every leg in place. And then we'd go and put them on Gran-monster's shoulder and try to scare her. She humored us. It doesn't take much to entertain us. Obviously.

Anyway, I was thrilled when I walked outside L-Way today to pick up my rental car, and was handed the keys to a sparkling white Pontiac G6. Now, I'm not a fan of American-made cars, but when renting a compact car, I don't want to get stuck with something like a Toyota Carolla. I want something zippy with a little horsepower under the engine.

Two summers ago (Spring Break 2006 to be exact), we rented two cars to travel down to Florida. I lucked out with a G6 and Amanda got stuck with a Carolla. My car kicked her cars ass on the interstate--so much so that I had to force myself to go below the speed limit just so the-little-car-that-could was able to keep up (this is certainly no reflection of you, Amanda, as it wasn't your fault that you got stuck with that piece).

Needless to say, I had a lot of fun on the road today. And I happen to love car trips, and love to drive, and love to drive alone, and especially love uncharted territory. I've been to Chicago and to Columbus, but I've never driven up the path to Indianapolis. Along the way, I realized that Kentucky is a rather beautiful state, with lots of pretty trees.

Outside of Bowling Green, I saw a billboard and a huge, pinky-orange, life-size tyrannosaurus about to attack the interstate. It was an advertisement for "Dinosaur World" and for about ten seconds, I seriously considered exiting. And then it was too late, as I flew past the off-ramp. Does anyone know about this??? I was rather fascinated. I love dinosaurs. I want to go here someday. And that big T-Rex reminded me of a scene from Pee Wee's Big Adventure.

The farther north I traveled, the less there was to look at. Although, I did notice an abundance of DQs and I stopped for a chocolate dip cone (one of my favorite things on earth, that McDonalds can only imitate half-heartedly). When I ordered, the girl repeated my order back to me and kind of mumbled. I ordered again. And she mumbled back some more. She finally stated in non-redneck speak that I had a choice of the traditional vanilla ice cream with my choco dip, or chocolate ice cream inside the crunchy, bulbous shell. Ok, I admire DQ's efforts to indulge people's chocolate fetishes, but seriously---a dip cone is meant to have vanilla ice cream. Duh.

Over the Indiana border, I did a bit of outlet shopping, and then I rolled into Indy at about 7 p.m. After I checked into the hotel, I discovered a Super Target and a Panera, and am now enjoying a peaceful evening in my room. We've had some bad weather here tonight...tornadoes and such. Now I'm off to bed. I've got an early morning looming.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Mollydooker Shake

My Paris recap is coming soon, but in the meantime, I got my brother married off, entertained family members in town for the wedding, and tomorrow I leave for Indianapolis for the Southern Baptist Convention (jealous?).

Ben and Brittany got hitched on Friday, May 30 and they're spending their honeymoon in St. Lucia right now. The wedding was an affair that could've been found among the pages of Southern Bride and I had myself a right nice time. My mom was notably hot at the event, boobing-out in her dress, and I commented to her at one point that I was likely the only one in the family not getting laid that evening. I did make a little reconnection of my own though, but that's not for the pages of my blog. Let's just say that it was a Hollywood moment if I've ever seen one...

My cousin Steven and I tooled around on Saturday afternoon, and went to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts to see the Modern Masters exhibit after a Nashville barbeque tradition at Jack's. The collection was of decent quality with a few notable pieces, one by Berthe Morisot called "Reading" that I loved. After a stop at the Parthenon, Bicentennial Mall and Farmer's Market, we met my parents and aunt and uncle for dinner at Cheddar's. I heart that place. Sarah Scott?

I saw two movies last weekend: "The Strangers" and "Sex and the City." I'm not a horror movie fan, but Steven, talked me into going to see "The Strangers." When did it become entertainment to watch people die??? Spoiler Alert: the good guys are brutally murdered, all vividly on-screen, and there is no redemptive ending whatsoever. Thankfully, round two at the cinema last weekend yielded a winner. "SATC" was fabulous. I laughed, I cried, and I loved. I couldn't believe just how good it was.

I'm leaving tomorrow morning for the six-hour drive to Indy. I'm headed up there by myself, and am rather tickled about having some alone time in the car. Yesterday, I signed up for a Nashville Public Library card, and I have two audio books for my journey. I'm sure my week will be filled with lots of bearded, conservative men, and probably even some controversy too. The "Emergent Church" and "The Shack" are seemingly some hot-button issues in the So-Bap world right now. My week will either be incredibly boring or intensly interesting---it could go either way. I've got planned a stop at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and possibly even the Zoo, so we'll see...

Oh, and one more thing... I went to play poker at Joe and Rhonda's several weeks ago, and was Joe's featured guest on WineSmash. Watch us do the "Mollydooker Shake!"

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