#body {margin-top:10px;}
Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Newfound Respect.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stupid Mascara Tricks

In the on-going mascara wars between cosmetic companies, I find myself constantly bombarded with advertisements for "new" and "innovative" mascaras. I don't necessarily mind the advertising--afterall, I love to keep current on all things beauty--but I do mind some of the recent developments in cosmetics.

Exhibit A: Estée Lauder's New Turbo Lash All Effects Motion Mascara.

One might be able to guess the primary method of application offered by this mascara. It vibrates. Or, seizures. Do you want something that seizures in your hand centimeters away from your eyeball? No thanks. What does Newton's third law of motion say about this? And, what's with the fifteen-syllable moniker? Can't we just be simple, and call this what it is: "vibrating mascara"? Also, my eyelashes are not "turbo," nor anything else associated with NASCAR. The product retails at $28 GBP (as it hasn't hit stateside yet), but if you're interested, that's a cool $55 USD for ya. Somehow, I think that the late Estee would be mortified...

Exhibit B: Givenchy's Phenomen'Eyes Mascara.

A simple glance at this product conjures up images of an S&M torture device. Why must beauty be dangerous? I can't imagine placing this anywhere near my cornea, lest it slash and scratch. How are you supposed to apply this stuff? Is the wand supposed to point perpendicular to your eye? I have a hard enough time not poking my horizontal wand in my eye, much less one that has a big ball attached to its end. Rest easy though...retail for this one is only $27.

Since 1993, I've been in a committed relationship with Cover Girl's Professional Remarkable Washable-Waterproof Mascara. I've been unfaithful many times, having affairs with other mascaras on the market, but I always return to the simple, purple tube. Her basic function and packaging may be boring for some, but she always delivers lengthy, seperated and lush lashes. And I don't need paint thinner to remove her at night. She never breaks my lashes off, and they're soft to the touch. If Cover Girl ever discontinued her, there would be the tearing of sackcloth and the gnashing of teeth. And the even better news? She retails for about $4 bucks a pop. At that rate, you can keep a tube in your makeup kit, purse and desk drawer (ironically, I loaned Courtney my tube at work this morning because she forgot to apply her own mascara before she left the house).

Moral of the story? Be an informed mascara shopper. Do your research. Here are a couple of great informants:

Don't break the bank on a boutique-brand mascara. Cover Girl has some fabulous mascara varieties, and some are even innovative! Cover Girl was one of the first brands to bust out the nylon bristles, revolutionizing the mascara world. Besides, all mascara, whether expensive or cheap, will only last you a couple of months before it gets crusty in the tube.

And lastly? Don't buy into the urban legend of Maybelline's Great Lash. It's crapscara.

Monday, July 21, 2008

On this day in history...

At about 2 a.m. last night, my phone's alarm went off. I didn't set it for that time or create a calendar appointment for the dark of morning---but nonetheless, the alarm sounded. Before I even fumbled for my phone in the dark, I already knew what to expect: January 6, 1896.

For a reason that alludes me, my phone randomly (and by randomly, I mean every few months or weeks) sounds the alarm for that lone date. There's no entry or appointment on that infamous day in history, just a reminder of the date. Interestingly enough, if you scroll through my mobile's calendar function, it only will go back to the year 1900.

I told my techie friend Jerry about this phenomenon, and he figured out that there is a Samsung firmware glitch in my phone's model. Leave it to him to find some rationality in this. Emily, on the other hand, was just as spooked as I am, and asked, "what happened in history on January 6, 1896?" So, in hopes that it was something juicy or scary or ironic, I did a little research. Here's what I found--you tell me if any of this sounds significant:

  • The first U.S. women's 6-day bicycle race started in Madison Square Garden.
  • Abram N. Pritzker, founder of the Hyatt Hotel chain and McCall's magazine, was born.
  • At 1 o'clock in the afternoon, the first session of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court took place in New York City.
  • President Grover Cleveland issued a public subscription to the nation's dwindling gold reserves, outraging the country, yet resuscitating its ailing finances.
  • Utah was finally admitted to the Union, bringing the flag to 45 stars.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

World's Hungriest Criminals

Several years ago, my bank account number was compromised in the DSW/Wells Fargo ID theft debacle, and fradulent charges made in Hialeah, Florida appeared on my statement. Among the charges for gas and electronics, a $45 charge appeared for Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Funny, no? Well, evidently this is a trend among today's criminals.

As a resident of the 12South downtown Nashville neighborhood, I subscribe to the neighborhood association listserv. This morning I received an email describing a robbery in the neighborhood. The description of the suspect and details of the crime were this:

After taking her purse, the perpetrator ran down the street toward Twelfth Avenue South. He may have had a car waiting, because about 30 minutes later, one of the credit cards from the purse was used at the White Castle on the corner of Nolensville and Thompson Lane.

Does that strike anyone else as hilarious???

I can understand being hungry. In fact, I'm hungry right now. But if I had just robbed someone, my first stop wouldn't be the drive-thru of a fast-food joint that serves fried hamburgers 1/8 of an inch thick. And if for some reason that was my intention, I would have at least upgraded to the Krystal.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Au revoir la belle ville

A brief nap later, the five a.m. Parisian sunrise greeted us on Thursday morning. It's a good thing that we were in Paris--the excitement of our daily agenda tore me from slumber. After a big breakfast, we rode the Metro across town to the Palais Garnier, otherwise known as the Paris Opera House. The city has since built a new opera house, but uses this neo-classical building for the ballet and other performing arts.

We spent several hours exploring the corridors, lobbies, endless staircases and nooks of this marble, glass and gold palace. As we walked down the long le grand foyer, we realized that we were among wall-to-wall mirrors, with ballet-esque bars as the chair rail. The four of us began to pose in the mirrors, admiring our reflections, and attempting to catch it on film without much luck.

As we explored the Opera House, we finally stumbled upon what we (okay, mostly I) came for: The Grand Salle. Not only did events that transpired within this ornate auditorium inspire Gaston Leroux to write The Phantom of the Opera, but my favorite artist, Marc Chagall, painted the ceiling surrounding the chandelier. We stood there in one of the boxes of this breathtaking room and marveled at the quiet solemnity. This was another one of those Parisian moments that I was determined to have seared on my brain.
A few minutes later, we found ourselves in another mirrored room, this one round and projecting thousands of our likeness into infinity. We were the only ones in this room, and it didn't sound like anyone was nearby, so the four of us began to dance around. At first, we danced proper ballroom style, then swing, then before you know it, we're doing the Electric Slide all around the room.

Our next destination was the area of Montmarte, which was famous for its altitude, art, pick-pockets, and one of the most beautiful churches I've ever laid eyes. It's also Amelie country, as much of the movie was filmed in the 18th arrondissement. This was obvious immediately as we exited the steps of the Metro, and I began to recognize the film's scenery. The four of us started up the long hill, and then began to ascend the hundreds of steps that led to the Sacre Couer. We finally made it to the top, and beheld, not only the gorgeous basilique, but the sweeping view of Paris below us.

Scattered along the steps were tons of people. It was like a swarming ant hill. We toured the church, took in a couple more eyefuls of the panorama, and started down the hill to do a little shopping for oil paintings. We'd almost reached the bottom when a man and a woman stopped us and said in a very loud, very southern (probably Texan) accent, "hey are ya'll from America?" Cringing, we slowly turned around, and she was on us like white on rice. "Do yall know where the art shops are?" The four of us nodded no with our heads down. "Honey, let's ask these people over here" [Attacking some Parisians nearby] "Hey do yall know where we can buy some art? They said we can't get it down here." By this time, the four of us are slinking off, hoping no one will notice that we're also from the States. No wonder the French think Americans are obnoxious.

We think we're out of sight, but then we hear a booming, "Giiiiiiiiirrrrls! They said the art's up this way!" I think we waved back sheepishly and booked it down the rest of the hill. "We'll go back up after she goes away, whispers Siebe."

Sacred Crack

Back at the bottom, we're a little exasperated. We've got to walk all the way back up to the top. But first, we spot a carousel, one of Mandy's required Parisian activities. And it just so happens to be the carousel that is featured in Amelie, complete with the music that is the soundtrack. The four of us hop on, and I pretend like I am Amelie as love eludes her.

After our ride, we started back up the hill, and finally made our way behind the Sacre Coeur to the streets full of art shops and cheap souvenirs. Mandy and I each found oil paintings, and by this time, all of us were hungry, cranky and tired. When we reached the bottom of the hill for the second time, we were stopped by a group of men with Jamaican accents, wanting to wrap our hands in string so they could perform tricks on us. We realized quickly that their idea of "tricks" weren't productive for us, so we got out of there as fast as we could. They didn't let us leave without a hard time though, telling us to be "nice and generous Americans" and "be polite, don't be rude." It's interesting how they try to appeal to your psyche.

Late in the afternoon, we made our way back across the city to visit Galleries Lafayette, the most famous department store in Paris. Again, we were hot, hungry and cranky, and almost didn't make it to the restaurant before passing out.

Friday morning beckoned us early, as we had to catch the bus for our Champagne tour. That'd be our air-conditioned bus (it was advertised as so) for our tour of Reims and Epernay, two ancient cities in the Champagne region of France. We boarded the air-conditioned coach, and quickly fell asleep on the two hour journey. And, we froze. We'd gotten a little accustomed to the humid museums, and weren't ready for the cold shock.

On the way there, we noticed more and more of those beautiful fields of bright yellow flora that we'd seen on our cross-Channel trip to Paris. Our multi-lingual tour guide (translating in four different languages), pointed out that the sea of gold was Canola, as in the plant that makes the oil. This time, it was even more beautiful, as we coasted over hills of the flower, and saw many small villages and cottages sprinkled amongst.

Stop one on the Champagne tour was the G.H. Mumm House of Champagne in Reims. The tour started almost immediately, and after a short historical film, we were led through the Mumm cellars. Now, there's not a ton to look at, considering you are in dark, underground tunnels with racks and racks of dark green, labeless bottles. However, the black mold on the cellar walls and ceilings was rather intriguing. The tour was very short, and we were led to a tasting room and offered a glass of either the Demi-Sec or the Brut. All four of us had the Demi-Sec, and it was sweet and juicy champagne, some of the best I've ever had. Keeping things in perspective though, we were a little disappointed at the Mumm tour. We were hoping for more.

Our group climbed back on the coach and about a half-an-hour later, we found ourselves in the ancient city of Reims, staring at a smaller version of the Notre Dame. After we had a look at the cathedral's twin, we broke from the group for lunch. The four of us found a street cafe, and sat down and ordered one of our finest French meals. We noticed almost immediately that very few people in Reims spoke English, in contrast to the touristy Paris. This was surprisingly refreshing, and felt very authentic. I had a savory buckwheat crepe, or a gallette, with cheese and ham and some amazing cream sauce on top. And it came with a green, leafy salad that had a fresh and tart lemon vinaigrette on top. It sounds simple, but it melted in my mouth.

We had some time before we had to catch our coach, so we spent a couple more hours exploring the cobblestoned roads of Reims, shopping, and finally ending up at a chocolatier. The four of us loaded up on chocolate, snapping up every kind of confection that you could imagine, and then we gorged ourselves once outside the shop. We had chocolate all over us...well, I did anyway. But that's not surprising.

Wistfully, we left Reims, with vows to ourselves that we'd come back someday and spend more time there. Our last champagne house stop was in Epernay at Moet-Chandon. The guide was more professional, the tour was more educational, and we learned the exact science that goes into constructing a quality champagne. It was well worth the price of admission. At the end, we sampled the bubbly, yet dry, Brut-Imperial. It was a long trip back to Paris, but we were exhausted from our day in the French countryside.

We arrived back in Paris at dusk, and ate dinner at an outdoor cafe on the Champs-Elysees. Because it doesn't get dark in Paris until close to ten p.m., we spent some time on a park bench in front of the Arc du Triomphe, in anticipation of viewing Paris at night. Finally, dusk arrived and we began the ascent up hundreds of steps to the top.

Views at the summit of this national monument were incredible. It sits in the middle of a "carrousel," with 12 tentacles, or roads, stretching out from it. All of the ant-like cars were lit up from below and it was a cool sight to see them merge in and out of the carrousel. And, it was the first look we'd had at the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, and other famous sights at night. It was a lovely way to end our evening.

Our last full day in Paris arrived with a heat wave. By the time we got to the Louvre that morning, it was quite warm and windy outside. After we finally gained entrance to the sprawling museum, we began to dissect the corridors of art and sculpture.

On our exploration through the museum, we saw many, many famous pieces of art. Our first discovery was the "Venus de Milo," then the "Winged Victory of Samothrace." I couldn't believe just how crowded we were when trying to navigate through the museum. A little while and a lot of art later, we stumbled upon the "Mona Lisa." And, we saw more sculpture, so much sculpture. We found "Cupid and Psyche," and so much I'd never seen or heard of that I thought was breathtaking and oh-so-sexy.

After about five hours (no joke) inside the museum, we felt like we had a handle on most of it, and broke for lunch. After trudging through what seeemed like miles of gravel and dirt on the Louvre pavilion, we finally found a table at an outdoor cafe. We were grimy from all of the swirling dust, but we were so thirsty and hungry that we didn't care.

Lunch was over, and we had our last Paris sight left: The Musee Rodin. Em highly recommended the museum, but I had no idea that it would be so incredible. We started in the outdoor, tree-laced garden, and viewed the original "Gates of Hell." We wandered on, and saw lifesize bronzed scupltures that, no doubt, weighed tons, but seemed to dance among the shrubs. I was taken by how expressive the faces, hands and body language is on these motionless figures. A little while later, our path led us to the original "Thinker," and he looked so strong, yet sensitive, up on his perch.

There was still so much to see inside, and we discovered many of Rodin's miniature replicas made of stone and marble. Talk about rated-R... Rodin must have been a sensual man, because his works are sex-u-al. We gazed at "The Kiss" and "The Eternal Idol." I was turned on by Rodin's "Hands" study. The Musee Rodin is one of the few tourist places in Paris that I would return again and again--and hopefully next time, with a date. Our day full of so much famous art was almost surreal, and the Rodin was by far my favorite museum on our entire European trip.

The four of us left the Rodin in the early afternoon, and headed back for the hotel. When we got back to Montparnasse, we passed a patisserie and stopped in for an afternoon delight. I had the best strawberry tart with buttery shortbread that I've ever placed upon my tongue.

It was a little early to return to our hotel, but Siebe, Mandy and I knew we had to get ready for a "special event." Lana, on the otherhand, was clueless. We tried to get her dressed up, as it had been requested of us, but had no luck. If you know Lana, you can't get her to do anything she doesn't want to do. We finally gave up, and set out for the Eiffel Tower, aiming to spend our last evening in Paris by the quintessential symbol of the city.

Siebe, Mandy, and I were nervous as we exited the metro station at the Champs de Mars. Lana? Still clueless. As we approached the Eiffel Tower, our pace got slower and slower. Like hawks, we were nervously on the lookout for someone. Finally, we spotted him, and Siebe said, "let's take a picture right here." I said, "Lana, go ask that guy to take our picture." As she turned around, she saw Barry, her boyfriend, standing there waiting on her.

The rest is probably self-explanatory. Barry proposed marriage on the lawn, hundreds of people clapped, and they sucked face for about fifteen minutes while the three of us stood there not knowing what to do next. After we exchanged goodbye hugs and oohs and ahhs of the ring, we left the two lovers and walked underneath the Eiffel Tower.

And then there were three. We'd waited all week long to buy our Eiffel Tower replicas, as the gift shop prices were outrageous. Earlier in the week we'd seen men selling the towers by the dozen out of trash bags around the Tower. Problem is, sale of these towers was illegal, and they were constantly being chased around the pavilion by armed guards.

Siebe, Mandy and I approached one of the hawkers and motioned that we wanted to make a purchase. I forcefully said, "I want 10 of that size for 20 euros, and that's my final offer." After a few minutes of haggling, they gave in. And by they, I mean the five of them that had gathered around us, trying to outsell each other. We threw some money at them, took our booty, and scurried off. I was so proud of us!

Hungry, we walked up the Trocadero to find a cafe to eat dinner. We enjoyed a leisurely last dinner and some traditional creme brulee. At this point, it's dusk, and we found a spot on the Trocadero to perch and wait for the Tower light show. The Eiffel Tower is magnificent during the day, but an astounding beauty lit up at night. Soon the light show began, and it was like a thousand diamonds sparkling in the sky. I wanted to cry tears of happiness. It was over a few minutes later, and the three of us emitted sighs of happiness. We basked there for a couple more hours taking it all in. Finally, it was time to go home.

The next day, we boarded a plane for Chicago and embarked on our journey home.

Closing thoughts:

1) Paris is the most romantic place I've ever been. I felt beautiful there. I was in love with myself, in love with the city, in love, in love, in love.

2) Despite six days in this amazing city, we only saw bits and pieces. I left so much behind, so much left uncovered. The art and culture are infinite.

3) When I got back stateside, all I wanted to do was walk around, drink wine, eat pastries, flirt with boys, and be inspired. I wanted to create, to paint, to write! I felt so alive in Paris, and then reality set in, and my plans revolved around my cubicle and rising gas costs. How depressing.

4) My lease on my house is up in March of 2010. If I'm not married yet, I'm on the last train to Clarksville, a.k.a. the City of Lights!

5) This post was a beast.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Who Got the Hooch?

Tonight, Amy got home and as soon as she walked in the front door, she yelled at Em and I upstairs that we had a package! Em and I shrieked with glee, as we realized that the package might be from one of our neighbors. You see, the four of us have been loving our new neighbors in recent weeks with cupcakes and muffins. So, you can imagine that it was a big deal for us to get something in return. "It's like secret pals!" squeals Emily.

Amy runs up the stairs and Em and I are jumping up and down at this point. I spy the rumpled bag, and realize the design on the bag looks like a Bill Cosby sweater. The top of the bag had white tissue paper laced with confetti poking out. Amy shoves her arm in the bag, and pulls out a dark green, labeless bottle of white wine. Again, there's no identification for this bottle of wine, no foil cork label, no nothing. On the top of the embedded plastic cork, scrawled in Sharpie, "98."

We all look at each other dumfounded. Amy pulls out the card inside, and we realize its from our neighbor Mr. Ted. We'd dropped off banana crunch muffin's at Mr. Ted's house this past weekend.

Amy: "So, I guess it's from 98."

MA: "It looks like urine. I don't know about this..."

Emily: "It's moonshine! It's hooch!"

MA: "He made it in his basement!"

By this time, we're gasping with laughter at this random gift. It's a nice gesture, but let's be real--it's a mysterious green bottle. No explanation in the card, no "I made it myself," or "I picked it up from a special family vineyard," or "I found it on the side of the road and thought of you."

However, he did kindly write, "To the nice young ladies across the street. Serve cold."

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]