Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Legendary Naked Venice Bridge Jump

I have to admit that it makes me chuckle to this day when I hear models and bookers at random talk about the supposed urban legend of a group of models jumping totally naked off of the Rialto Bridge in Venice Italy. Urban legend? Ha! The only thing that is remotely mythic about this bridge jump is that it is STILL to this very day talked about by completely random people in the could I have imagined this would go down in modeling history when I was boarding the train from Milan to Venice with my friends that fated morning.

En route to Venice!:

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Rather than try to re-tell things as they happened, I'll just go ahead and copy my journal entry from that day. Here goes....the myth, the urban modeling legend......IS REAL!


Yesterday, Jean-Paul, Ned, Paul, Muffin, Jennifer, Katarina, Jason, Sam and I all took the 9 am train from Milan to Venice. We had a blast piling into the compartments and joking around. Then once we got to Venice we ran around the city like crazed teenagers eating, singing, laughing, joking. I was once more amazed at how exquisitely beautiful that city is.

Models DO eat junk food...and lots of it. Burger King in Venice....they should have paid us for this!:

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We bonded so well as a group and our energy together was amazing. As evening approached, we went into a small liqour store down a tiny, cobblestoned alleyway and bought cheap wine that we commenced to drink while walking around the streets and piazzas of the city until we were all in a drunken state of sheer bliss.

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We ran around like children hiding and chasing each other down dark alleyways, peeing in the canals, window shopping for masques and loving being with each other. And then, at midnight, the boys decided to go skinny dipping in the Grand way of jumping off of the RIalto Bridge.

Maybe because I was raised by outrageously straight laced parents, and I could hear....even while mother's voice stating the cliche "If your friends jumped off of a bridge, would you?", I abstained from the event. Instead I contented myself with taking pictures of everyone although somewhere inside of me I wish I would've joined them. By the time the second person had stripped down and jumped, there was a pretty sizeable crowd of tourists and locals that had stopped and become spectators....even at midnight there were people out with their camcorders and cameras. I wasn't the only one recording this event.

One after another, my friends all dove off of the bridge in their birthday suits and then commenced to run back up the bridge and hurdle themselves off again. It was amazing, funny, beyond words. The onlookers we had attracted were cheering, people were hanging out of their canal & bridge view was getting insane. And then all of a sudden we saw the police rushing up in their boats.

I am all about respecting everyone's comfort level....hence the strategically placed star:

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JP pulled me away and we made it down off of the bridge. We saw the police running with their billy clubs out and ready and they ran right past us. I will never know why they didn't stop us.....I was dry, but JP was still dripping from the jump.....and they caught up with Paul, Jen, Kat, Sam, Muffin & Jason beating them with their clubs and then handcuffing them. JP and I ran into Ned who had somehow also escaped unscathed and, after some little Italian kids ran up to us and told is to flee because our friends had been arrested, we ran back up to the bridge and watched the police drive off in their boats with our friends. We were stranded in Venice.

So, we wandered the streets. The three of us. The Mod Squad. Finally at 1:30am we found the train station and it was locked so we sat outside for an hour. After freezing our asses off, we decided to wanter down a road and look for some food. Next thing we know, we are in a nightclub with a hairy backed transvestite in a tight red dress dancing next to our table. We just sat there not knowing what to do or think or if this was all really happening to us. I couldn't stop laughing. I was delirious.

Then a group of young girls came up to us and asked us if we wanted to smoke with them, so we all left the club and followed them to a piazza where we sat on the the steps of a church and shared a joint while one of their guy friends twirled a flaming baton in the air. Surreal. They sat with us and chatted for hours and at 4:30 am they took us to a bakery where they bought us each a jam filled brioche straight out of the oven. We said our good-byes, headed back to the train station and 45 minutes later our friends, who had spent the night in jail, were released. We were so happy & relieved to see them.

We got on the first train back to Milan and slept the whole way back, piled on top of each other like puppies. What an amazing 24 hours. I will NEVER forget this.

Tonight we all went to dinner at Louisiana. We have bonded eternally from this experience. I love these guys. JP leaves on Monday. I will hate to see him go, but now I know I can hang with my boys anytime. I can't wait to develop the pics from this adventure. What a rush. This is life!


The next day one of the guys bought a Venetian newspaper from a newstand in Milan and there was an article, it may have even been on the front page, describing the previous night's event. Funny thing was that in the article we were described as "drunk, American youths" and they likened the bridge jump to desecrating the Statue of Liberty. I have to clarify that only Ned, Sam and I were American. Nice generalization, huh?! And I, one of the Americans, didn't even partake in the jump! I just photojournalized it. Guilty by association....yes! My friends that got arrested ended up having to deal with Italian attorneys. pay court fees, and were told to take a course of antibiotics because the canal water was so polluted. I'm not sure what all ensued after that.....but they are all still alive and well, so I'm assuming none of them contracted the plague that night.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Playtime in Milan....A Pictorial

The clubs that were considered hot in my day were Hollywood, Gasoline, Old Fashion Cafe, and Louisiana (on Wednesday nights). Favorite (or only) method of transportation to said venues: foot or public transpo. After arriving at whichever place was considered the hot spot du jour, we'd be escorted to the VIP where we would usually have a table along with other models and the drinks would appear and reappear all night....playtime! The only exception to this rule was at Hollywood where I would be allowed into the VIP but since I always had all of my guy friends with me, they would be turned down more often than not. The guy to girl ratio always had to lean strongly towards the girls.....and since I had too much fun hanging out with my friends, and the alternative would mean getting liqoured up by middle-aged (and older) modelizers wearing wedding bands, Hollywood was my least favorite place. Gasoline and Old Fashion were our definite favorites.

One night in Gasoline:

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The party boys, prefunking in the C-1 courtyard:

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More prefunking and modeling of what are not quite whities or tighties (sent by one of their moms....moms have AWESOME taste in underwear, eh?):

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No free drinks at the VIP in Hollywood? No problem....the panini stand outside the club always had excellent vino in a box complete with the ever classy plastic cups to drink it out of!

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When you're a middle model you ride trams and subways...NOT parties:

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Thank God We Spoke Spanish!

When Penny and I found out that Blink 182 was going to be performing at the Fila Forum in Milan, we ran out and bought tickets. Going to a rock concert in a huge venue in a foreign country was going to be a blast!! And I was going to get my otherwise shy roomie out of the house and maybe rockstar her up a little. I couldn't wait! But, two days before the concert, Penny booked a job and had to fly to the South of France, so she generously offered me her ticket and told me to give it to Jean-Paul so I wouldn't have to miss it or go by myself. JP was as excited as I was to go, we both liked the band and had a favorite song from our Miami days that to this day always reminds me of the good times we had together.

The night before the concert JP took me to Antlantique with 8 of his roommates. There I was, little me, with an entourage of eight beautiful boys. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night! Atlantique was a "cafe" that served free buffet lunches to models during the day and at night was an over the top nightclub that indulged in a little too much Europop, but when you are with good people and libations are free flowing , the music, the venue, and everything else matters not. This was one of my first nights out on the town in Milan with my new crew, and these boys could party like the best of them treating me like one of them and not just a hanger-on or some fragile girlie girl. I can't imagine how bored and lonely things would have been for me my first few months in Milan had JP not been there at the same time and introduced me to his roommates.

So...back to the Blink 182 concert.....JP and I boarded the bus that would take us to the outskirts of Milan where the Fila Forum was situated. The bus was full of Italian youth going to watch the concert as JP and I decided that instead of seeming obviously American we would stick to speaking solely in Spanish (he is from Puerto Rico). And thank God we did. Nobody looked at us twice, they must ahve assumed we were from Spain. Thank God.

During the show the band got incredible accolades from the crowd, they sounded amazing, adrenaline was pumping and so was the sound system. Fila Forum was fit to burst full of concert-goers and JP and I were loving the fact that we spoke something other than English. It was already pretty obvious that we were models....we just didn't really want to branded with the Stars & Stripes in this huge crowd. See, anti-American sentiments have existed abroad for a while.....much as I would love to blame it on the jackass that is our current President. When I was studying in Austria while in college we were warned by our professors to always say we were Canadian when asked where we were from. As a matter of fact, during the entire concert, the guys in the band would make quips and throw out random jokes, none of which were laughed at, and I am assuming it was due to the fact that the punchlines were lost in translation. Finally realizing that their witicisms were getting nothing out of the crowd they all flipped the bird and yelled out "F***K America!!" at which time EVERYONE in the crowd cheered as if they were told that they were all going to walk out of the Forum with a million dollars in their pocket. It was disturbing. I can't imagine what it must be like now......I think I'd be walking around with the Canadian maple leaf tattooed to my forehead just to keep my anonymity. So yeah, I was ever so grateful that day that my mom was so adamant about speaking to me only in Spanish as I was growing up. !Gracias mami!

So the concert rocked. JP and I left before the last song in order to get a spot on one of the busses back into town and made it to C-1 in time to meet up with everyone for another night out painting Milan a brilliant shade of rosso.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Trippin to the Tip of the Boot.

My first location shoot in Italy was for an Italian department store called La Rinascente....God, I hope I spelled that right, my preggo brain lapses on me quite often nowadays.....and location was in Otranto at the very tip of the heel of the boot that is la bella Italia.

I packed my bags, thanking the modeling gods that I had a roommate like Penny that would not take off with the rest of my stuff while I was gone, and headed to Linate Airport. Now I mention thanking the modeling gods about Penny, because I had heard many a horror story from other models about leaving for an out of town location shoot only to return to their apartments after a few days to discover that their roommate had taken off with all of their belongings. Now how on earth do you go about tracking down a girl in Lithuania so that you can get back your Samsonite full of pretty much your entire life on the road? Not something I ever wanted to deal with.

At Linate I spotted another model that I figured I would be working with. She didn't seem at all approachable so I kept to myself and off we went. Upon arrival in Southern Italy we were picked up by the client's driver and taken to our hotel. It was late at night by the time all was said & done (the car ride from the airport to the hotel was a long one), so we checked in and found our rooms. After gingerly looking around my room...something I always do no matter how nice the place, because yes, I am totally OCD about cleanliness...I started unpacking my bag. To my awesome surprise I realized that I had left my toothbrush behind and I would be on location for three days with no way to scrape the plaque off of my pearlies. Fanfreakintastic. If the shoot had been in a CITY I could have hoofed it out somewhere and found a toothbrush no problem....but the hotel was completely isolated and therefore I was pretty much shit out of luck to put it bluntly.

So, while muttering a lot of choice profanity under my breath, I prepared for a shower which I hoped would help make me feel somewhat clean even if I was gonna be stuck with yuckmouth. Well, my friends, my shower was the equivalent of standing under a stream of lukewarm urine...not that I have ever partaken in a golden shower, but if I could equate it to anything, that would be it. A tiny trickle of lukewarmth.....shaving under those conditions is not a good thing, end up razoring off your goosebumps. It feels divine, let me tell you. So there I am shivering, razor burning and cursing the fact that I can't even so much as brush my teeth when I get the brilliant idea to use one of the cotton balls I had packed in lieu of a brush. Okay, not so bad, I put toothpaste on it, rubbed it on my teeth, rinsed.....much better. At least I wouldn't be killing anyone with dragon breath or developing a severe case of gingivitis anytime soon. But the combo of what was happening in my hotel bathroom was not in any way, shape or form helping me feel like the model I was supposed to be. I could almost forecast waking up with an entire colony of cystic acne on my forehead at that point. Luckily, that didn't happen.

The next morning, talent and crew gathered for a quick breakfast and we were off to shoot. We drove around Otranto and its vicinity shooting in cobblestone alleyways, piers, seaside cliffs, by a was a long day. Beautiful but long. This culminated in a very large and loud pasta dinner at a local restaurant where a random patron had a rose sent over to me. I got eyeball daggers from the other model who was left with nothing, but what the hell, the dude that had sent me the rose was no Prince Charming. Think Tony Soprano with gold teeth.

After two more days of shooting, and all the while I am loving my lack of a real shower and my cottonball dental hygiene, the clients let me know that they had called my agency and told them that they wanted to keep me for two more days. Great for the money, but no so great for the fact that that meant my personal hygiene would really suffer now, especially since I, still being something of a modeling tenderfoot, had only packed just enough underwear for the time I was supposed to be away. I will spare you the details, but whoever the maid was who had to clean my room out must have gotten a kick out of seeing my knickers hanging from the shower rod. Shampoo makes for great laundry detergent if you are ever in a pinch. Smells good and it leaves your items smooth and tangle-free.

The last two days we spent shooting this job took us to another seaside town called Gallipoli. It was amazing, breathtaking, and a million other descriptive words for "beautiful" that I just can't think of right now. We shot all over the town and every square inch of it was a dream. Whitewashed buildings, azure waters, cobblestoned streets, stunning architecture, painted fishing boats in the was the kind of place you honestly wondered could truly exist....had you just walked into a painting? I was humbled and happy and in no hurry to ever return Stateside.


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On our last evening in Southern Italy, we were invited to have dinner at a villa belonging to a close friend of the photographer. I won't bother to describe it to you other than to say that it was my dream house. The minute I walked in I fell in complete lust with that house and it's gardens. It was some crazy hybrid of Pottery Barn New York loft & Tuscan dreamscape. Oh to be rich.......At the end of the evening the photographer approached me and let me know that his friend wanted to extend an invitation to me to spend a weekend at his villa whenever I wanted. Flattering? Yes. Tempting? Nope. Although I would have taken the house in a heartbeat, it's owner I could have done without. And since I have always had an aversion to sugar daddies, that little dealio was nipped in the bud. But I have to say, roses from Tony Soprano and villa weekend invitations from a would-be Casanova were making me think that this whole hot shower, shaving, tooth brushing, clean underwear wearing thing was overrated.

The next night found me in my little Chinatown hovel taking an embarassingly and completely non environmentally conscious loooooooooong and very hot shower. I was so glad to be home. Oh, and I prectically kissed my toothbrush and lingerie when I got home too. Penny must have thought I was completely out of my gourd.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Milan Travel Journal Part 2


I feel so fortunate. I walk down the streets of Milan and can now look past all the graffitti and pollution and see the true beauty of this city, its buildings, its narrow cobblestone streets and broad, shop-lined avenues. I am in Europe! I have always loved Europe and somehow have always known that I belong on this continent. As my mom has always said "tu tienes el espiritu Europeo" (you have a European spirit). I am amazed and at home here.

For a person my age, I have traveled so much....I have covered so much of this earth and still have so much more to see. I can't stop now! Between modeling and school I have been to Japan, Taiwan, England, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Greece and all over the West Coast of the US, Miami and Jamaica. There are people who live to be 100 and never see half of what I have seen. I will never take this for granted. Thank you so much God for blessing me this way! I have to continue traveling for work as long as I can. I have to.

I have ben here for a couple of weeks now and I have already shot editorials for DONNA and DONNA MODERNA and tomorrow I fly out to Southern Italy for three days to shoot a catalog. I'm on option next week for VOGUE SPOSA.....oh my God, that would rock to get! That would be brilliant! Fingers crossed on that one. Gotta go start packing....

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My Beautiful Band of Brothers

My first weekend in Milan, Penny decided to stay in as she usually did, and so, after getting a phone call from Jean-Paul I decided to head out on my own and meet up with him and his roommates at Parco Sempione, which is Milan's huge main park crowned by a stone castle & fortress complete with a moat. Behind the castle there is a large clearing where on any given day you can find bevies of models just taking in the sun, playing soocer, smoking herb, and just basking in how good life is. This would be my first of very many trips to the clearing.

Parco Sempione's castle-fortress:

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I walked from my apartment to the park taking it all in and so excited to see one of my best friends in this foreign town. Halfway through the park I was accosted by a short, swarthy guy with a heavy and non-Italian accent....he had a little group off to the side that must have been his posse, and I was pretty intimidated. I had my purse around my neck and held with one wallet and passport were both in there and I was not about to let go. The guy kept walking very close to me speaking to me in English and Italian asking if I wanted any "hashish, verrry verrry gooood hashish" all the while rubbing up against my purse. I took off at a faster pace until I got to the clearing where I would be looking for Jean-Paul (who I am just gonna call JP from here on out) and he finally backed off.

The clearing:

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I was lucky I got away with my purse intact as he was one of many gypsies that are notorious in most European cities for cutting holes in your bags and extricating the contents with the precision of a neuro surgeon, or cutting purse straps completely and taking off with the whole enchilada. In all of my travels to Europe I have encountered quite a few of these characters, many of which use their own children to rob from tourists, luckily, all I ever lost was an agency cell phone on a crowded tram.

A bit flustered, I started looking for JP and finally picked him out in a crowd of several beautiful boy models who would eventually become what I like to call my crew, or my little band of brothers. Although our relationship had always been platonic and nothing more than the best of friends, we ran to each other like out of some cheesy romance movie scene and ended up in a huge bear hug. Here we were in Italy, not knowing anyone, but we had each other. It was a comfort for sure.

JP then introduced me to his roommates, and he had a lot of them. JP was with WhyNot Model Mgmt. which placed their models in what are called the Celebrity Apartments. These apartments were owned and managed by a woman named Lori who allegedly was married to Eric Clapton once upon a time and who, rumor has it, was the mother of the the little boy, Eric's son, who fell to his death, hence the famous song.....JP lived in Celebrity Apartment number one, otherwise known as C-1, with 11 other guys. The ones I met that day at the park were Ned from Maryland, Geoff from Texas, and Paul from South Africa. Ned and Geoff had girlfriends at the time, and the girls were there as well. So we all hung out and talked, about what, I don't remember, but I do remember being really glad to be there and to be making friends with cats who were cool and smart and just all around good to be with.

As dusk approached they invited me over to their apartment where I met the rest of the crew, Jason (Canada), Kerry (California), Muffin (South Africa), and Sammy (Boston). There were other boys living there too, but these were the ones that became my friends, the others were either too elusive, unfriendly or who knows what. Their apartment could have been luxury digs had it been furnished. It was an enormous space surrounding a marbled courtyard with a gazebo in the middle, very pretty, but the guys were relegated to hanging out on benches in the courtyard or in their bedrooms where the only furnishings were beds and armoires....maybe a chair if you got lucky. Their "hausfrau" was an Italian guy named Ale, who said he was a model, but which we all doubted unless he was booking work for GNC Creotine bottles. He was short, outrageously buff, and ever so fakely tanned and blonde. He was always nice to me and the other girls that would visit, but definitely had an issue with the male models. If any one of them would leave a dirty pot or dish in the sink he would come out to the courtyard where everyone was and throw the pan across the floor while screaming about everyone being a pig or something. Later I heard accounts of his threatening the guys with butcher knives and even of confiscating and destroying another model's acoustic guitar. Ale was insane. But that just added to the entertainment value of hanging out at C-1.

C-1 became my second home that season. My apartment was so quiet and lonely, and my friends were always text messaging me to come over and hang out, I was officially one of the boys.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Journal Entry: Milan


I left Miami yesterday...full day of castings & go-sees today. Roommate is sweet, but I wish I could just pick up the phone & call Kari. I wish I could've said good-bye to Linley. I hope he doesn't forget me. Thank God Jean-Paul is coming tomorrow. A little Miami sun in Milan! Sweet boy will help me overcome my homesickness.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Milan...Without the Naked Fat Guy on Silk Sheets

Initial apprehensions aside, once I returned to Milan I have to admit that I was pretty damned excited to be back. It is not the most beautiful of European cities esthetically speaking but it is a European city nonetheless and being that I am also a hopeless Europhile I had to love it.

After somehow jigsaw puzzling all of my luggage into the Smart Car, my driver took off down some narrow cobblestone streets at a velocity I did not think possible of what could not be more than a 2 cylinder car....I swear every Italian was born to be behind the wheel of a Ferrari.....and miraculously got me to the agency alive and in one piece. Eye for I had their offices on the top floor of a beautiful old building with sweeping views of Parco Sempione. It was stunning.

I walked into the agency, looking a bit (ok, a lot) worse for wear after an International flight...what do you expect?! Patty and Giuseppe, the owners, walked right over to me and gave me huge hugs as if I were the prodigal daughter returning to make amends and then introduced me to who would be my bookers, Fabio, Giorgia and Federico. What an awesome team, I have to say. I felt at home with this group immediately. The vibe was good, not seedy....things were off to a good start. Giorgia then took me to the conference room where I had to proceed to strip down to my underwear (totally protocol, they have to see what you look like under clothes, jeez!) so that she could polaroid me and take my measurements. Thank God I wasn't in some granny panties and a sports bra! I did get a little warning my hips had dared stray to 34 1/2 inches...that I needed to stay away from the pasta. Well, that was gonna be easier said than done, my friends.

After my measuring session I went back to the booking table to get the low down on what bookings I had coming up and what my holds were. Nice. I had been in Milan for one day, gone to zero castings and was already booking work. I like. I like a lot. You have to understand that even though I had been to Asia and Miami, Milan was one of the big dogs when it came to fashion and rather intimidating because of that. And seeing that I am not a "model's model", meaning that I am on the shorter end of the modeling scale, and while thin, I am far from skeletal (Cuban ass. Amen.), nor do I have any odd or edgy features, I was humbled and surprised that things were starting off so well. I honestly came back to Milan with zero expectations beyond getting some cool tests done to expand my portfolio. Obviously I had been placed with the right people.

Within the hour, I was done with all of my agency business and was handed the keys to my new apartment and driven, once again within an inch of my life, to my new digs on Paolo Sarpi which is the main vein that runs through Milan's Chinatown. My roomate was out of town for a booking and would be back that evening, so I got to nurse my jet lag with a nap and hang out on my own for a while. The apartment was a tiny one bedroom that had seen far better days. It was dirty....a recurring theme in model's apartments....since the cleaning lady only came once a month and apparently the girls that lived there previously had a hard time finding the trash bins in the courtyard or cleaning supplies at the local supermarket. Oh well....I was starting to get used to this.

View from my living room window:

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My new roomie ended up being a sweet girl from South Africa named Penny. She was darling and immediately I felt like a mousy dwarf standing next to her. Here was this 5'11'' blond beauty with porcelain skin while I was tan, short haired and feeling very androgynous. Was this what all of my competition was going to look like? I hoped not! Anyways, she took me on the rounds, showed me where the local Blockbuster was that rented American movies out, not dubbed, and where I could buy a map of Milan and get my groceries....all things essential.

The next morning we headed back to the agency to get our list of castings for the day. Luckily we had many of the same appointments so I got to tag along with her. This made things a lot easier since normally, in European markets, you are given a map and a list of places to go by your agency and the rest is up to you....totally sink or swim. The amazing thing is, when that happens you learn your way around a foreign city in a matter of a few the end of my first week there I knew where pretty much everything was and how to get there. You also want to learn this as quickly as possible, since there is nothing more frustrating, or obviously touristy & embarrassing, than lugging out your huge city map every few blocks or so to see where on God's earth you are supposed to be heading.

At the end of the day, and after making a few stops for the best cappucinos on earth, we headed back to the apartment. I got a call from the agency to give me feedback on the appointments I had had that day and for another list of go-sees for the following day. We cooked dinner.....pasta of course!...and watched some really awful Italian MTV then I crashed out. The end of my first official day in Milan.

Oh, and no weird agency dinners this time around. No shady phonecalls at this apartment, thank God. Penny was quiet and reserved and therefore avoided the hounding P.R.s.....I missed Miami, yes....but Milan was gonna be okay after all.

My new Italian business card!

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

And It's Back on the Road...

My first season in Miami was over and it was time to pack my bags and head back on the road. This time to a lovely little fashion capital named Milan. Wow. And even though by this time, between my travels in college and my initial modeling trips, you could start to call me a seasoned traveler, I still always seemed to make that great faux pas all of us girls are infinitely guilty of.....overpacking. I hit Miami International Airport with two large suitcases and two carry-ons that I am still amazed made it on the plane without being confiscated and forcefully checked in at the gate.

Why so much stuff? Well, I was going from a warm, tropical climate to a chilly Northern Italian spring which would eventually turn into a scorching summer. I needed more than one season's worth of clothes & shoes! And I was also a huge monogomist when it came to the toiletries and hygiene products that I used. I would pack several bottles of everything that I normally used, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, bodywash, you name it. And since I have also always suffered from seasonal allergies, I would pack at least half a dozen boxes of antihistamines.....thank God this was before the whole "meth epidemic" hit the States....I would have had some serious cop action following me around asking why in hell I was purchasing so many boxes of pseudoephedrine. Do you really think they would have accepted my answer of "because I enjoy breathing through my nose and not having my eyes swell shut on a regular basis and I am about to leave the country to where they may not have Sudafed or Drixoral" as a legitimate answer? Something tells me no.

Anyways, it was a few trips later, when I finally decided that I could buy whatever I needed anywhere I went and it didn't have to be made in the freakin' USA to be a matter of fact the foreign products (and I am not just talking pharmaceuticals here) were far better and often times cheaper than the stuff I was buying at home. But until then, my suitcases looked like I had ransacked the local CVS. It amazes me I never got stopped by customs and asked if I planned to shampoo their entire nation. Although, if you spend one summer in Milan and have to take public transpo there, you might seriously consider smuggling in a stick of deodorant for everyone in that city.

My carry-ons were huge because back then the advent of the ever compact MP3 player had not yet occurred. This meant that I, and anyone else who enjoyed music and traveled, had to carry a Discman and enormous CD cases full of whatever favorite CD's you had. I happened to have two of these cases and I swear that that alone took up an entire carry-on. I loved my music, and it helped the time pass on those really long flights....also helped avoid conversations with the creepy dudes that inevitably got seated next to me. So there were the CD's and then my books. I am a bibliophile. 100% addicted to reading, which is why I always had at least 3 or 4 books on me at all times. Throw in my portfolio, travel papers, some toiletries and a huge bottle of water and that meant some serious on board baggage. Mmmmm, my bottles of water. Flying would always dehydrate me and the thimbles of water that the airlines would hand out every 10 hours just never satiated me....thank God I did all this traveling before airlines and the government decided that water could be turned into an explosive mid air. I would have arrived at my destinations parched and needing an immediate IV.

My flight to Milan was uneventful. Lots of reading, listening to Live, Incubus, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Foo Fighters ad nauseum....well never really ad nauseum, since I could and still can listen to those guys forabsolutelyever, and anticipating my tiny tray of airline deliciousness....remember, I truly do enjoy airline food. I arrived at Malpensa Airport in Milan, called my agency, followed directions to get on the Malpensa Express and got off at Cadorna Station in the center of Milano......bella citta...where a driver from my agency was waiting for me in a miniscule blue Smart Car with Eye for I emblazoned proudly on the side. Flashback to Japan.

The next chapeter of my adventures was about to dolce vita style.....

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

South Beach Travel Journal Part 2


I leave South Beach in less than a week. My heart aches. I already feel homesick for this place, for my friends. I don't think I've ever grown so attached to a place before, and it's probably because this is where I grew into myself. I comfort myself by knowing that I will be back in 9 months. I have a lot to do and many difficult decisions to make between now & then and the months will fly by. I wonder what kind of person I will be when I return.

I'll never forget last Saturday. Dinner with Kari, Mandy, Jason, and Jen at Big Pink. Four shots of tequila at Amnesia and dancing non-stop for four hours with Linley. We left Shag at 4:30am with Linley, Shay & Todd and went skinny dipping in the ocean. The water was warm. I kept thinking about sharks. We ran to Linley's beachfront apartment all covered in sand and salt water and he let us pass out in his beautiful home. The next morning he bought us all cafe con leches and made us pancakes, omelettes and bacon He is an amazing cook. We went back that night for the best barbeque that I have ever had. He invited us to spend a week in Costa Rica with him this August where he owns some land that he plans to develop into a resort. We have to figure out a way to go.

"It's not how long you live, but how MUCH you live that matters."