No Longer A Sin City Virgin

I arrived in Las Vegas for the first time as everyone does, as a sin city virgin. At least that what I was being called by others that had been to this unique city before. It didn’t bother me, but I wanted to make sure I left with an insight and knowledge equal to a seasoned Vegas goer. No, not strippers, booze and fornication. I was thinking something more classic, more ‘Rat Pack’ style; a night on the town, dress up a little, gamble. You know, Old Vegas. For the most part I did pretty well.

The reason I was in Las Vegas in the first place was because I was attending an educational forum for travel agents.

As with most events like this, I had free time built in. On my first free evening, I grabbed my camera and decided to go see the lights and magic of the strip. I walked from the Venetian to New York New York and, to my surprise, managed to walk my way through the world. I saw the canals of Venice, the Eiffel Tower, the Trevi Fountain and all kinds of sculptures, lakes and treasures from Europe.

    

As I made my way back to the United States I passed the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and the Chrysler Building. Not bad for a few hours of walking. It was really cool and quite interesting, except I’ve been fortunate enough to see the originals of these places and attractions and they are so much better in reality. Nonetheless, I enjoyed taking a walk through the world.

         

        

As much as I enjoyed the evening, it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I was still looking for the Rat Pack. Little did I know at the time, but the hotel I was staying in was built where the Sands used to be. The Sands, of course, was where Dean Martin played all those years ago. Also, I walked past the famous Flamingo hotel, built by none other than ‘Bugsy’ Siegel. Unaware of the history right around me, I went back to my hotel room still seeking some magic. Old Las Vegas. Fortunately I found what I was looking for the very next night.

My group was being taken by bus to Fremont Street. I didn’t know what that meant, or where we were going, but it involved free food and alcohol and a large party, so I was in. Turns out, Fremont Street is a little bit of old Vegas. A few old hotels with their neon signs, the Golden Nugget, Stratosphere and parts of the old strip; awesome. I could just see Dean Martin drinking and playing craps here. After we ate and got a little tipsy on jello shots, my friend and I decided to go to play craps. I don’t gamble. Sure, I’ve put a quarter into a slot machine and five bucks on a roulette table, but I don’t know the rules or honestly see the point. But I was more than happy to watch her play. Truly though, I think I had the most memorable and fun experience of that night.

Next to us was a young man playing the game and I was attracted to him instantly. Not sexually, although I’m sure it would disappoint him to hear me say that. He was friendly, funny, kind and witty. My friend played for a couple of hours, and as we waited for the dice to come around to us to throw, this man and I got acquainted. He made me laugh, and for just a little while I felt like we could’ve been in Monte Carlo and I was eye candy on the arm of James Bond. When the dice finally came our way, although I never voiced my thoughts to him, he picked up the dice, held them up to me and asked me to blow on them for good luck. It was a good role. He was elated and responded with ‘Thanks, Doll.’ The fantasy was complete. Just for a moment I was dressed up in a long sequin gown with white gloves and diamonds on my hands. I was the doll on the arm of a spy for the British Secret Service. But alas, on the next role he crapped out. I guess I’m not good luck after all. Now mind you, I am certainly not eye candy by any stretch of the imagination, and he was not Pierre Brosnan or Daniel Craig, but I will always be grateful for the way he made me feel that night. Partly because of him I’d found Old Vegas. Where people dressed up to go to the casino and dinner, with Dino singing in the background, and just for a moment I was one of them.

One of these days I’m certain I will return to Las Vegas. I know that due to the amazing diversity there, I’ll see and experience something new every time, but in my heart the glamour of Vegas will stay with me. I drove home the next day and couldn’t resist playing some Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra from my itunes. New York, New York, how appropriate.

Reminded of Paris

Reminded of Paris

It’s early in the afternoon on this warm summer day and I go sit at the beach to think, and do some writing. There’s a soft breeze and the air smells good. The sun feels good. It doesn’t take long for me to feel sticky from the salty breeze. I’m soaking in every moment. I’ve been away too long.

I moved to Connecticut from California for a job about eight years ago. It was a dream job, a job I’d always wanted to do. I did it for love, but when it ended, broken up, I promised myself I would never take a job solely for money. Next job, I did. Laid off, and now unemployed I’m looking for permanent work but also trying to make something of myself as a photographer and writer. I love traveling and want my passions to pay for it. Currently living in San Diego with many opportunities to photograph and write, I should be content. But I long for living out of a suitcase, street food vendors, foreign languages and cultures, and breathtaking architecture and history.

A women walks by me, she’s visiting here and she speaks French to her companion. One of the romantic languages. I loved listening to it in Paris.

Paris. The city of love is appropriately named. No one there takes a job just for the money. I know that’s not true, but I want it to be true. I want to live there and paint in the same spot where geniuses painted. I want the inspiration of the city to move me to write and photograph better.

Our first day we just meandered through much of the city watching the Parisians rush through their day. Probably going to jobs they hate just like we do. Our first stop was the Eiffel Tower after walking along the Seine. What a sight! You can, of course, see it in the distance from the banks of the water, but once you come upon it, it took my breath away. It told my disbelieving mind that I am now truly in Paris. The land of Kings, priceless works of art, impressive architecture and much to my surprise, friendly people. The Eiffel Tower, which was built to only be in it’s place temporarily, is still there over 100 years later. I’m glad it is. Although new in comparison to the some of the ancient parts of the city, it is truly the one sight that epitomizes Paris. But wait, it got better. When night fell on the city of lights, the tower lit up from underneath with lights that gave a golden glow that you can see for miles and every hour the tower lights glittered and sparkled like a disco ball. Quite beautiful.

Reminds me of the San Diego skyline. Equally beautiful. Big buildings, lovely architecture. Sure none of it was built hundreds of years ago, but it’s still gorgeous. Why isn’t it enough?

Notre Dame, built well before San Diego, is marvelous. I couldn’t wait to see it. Huge and spectacular and powerful. Heavily ornamental yet simplistic in design, it is a sight to behold. We took the 400 plus stairs up to the top of the cathedral to see Paris from the view point of the birds. I wish we had gone up on a clear day. If we had I’m sure we could have seen three countries easily. That day was very overcast and gray and my pictures clearly reflect that. While up there we took a close look at the gargoyles. Designed to be water spouts they are remarkable in their own right with faces that border on demented and evil, on this building designed to be a place of worship, and house of love.

I love churches. Every size, shape and religion. Being in them, feeling safe and full of peace. Relishing in their ornamentation and beauty. I love photographing them. I would make a living from only photographing churches, if I could. Oh, if only I could.

Art too. Well how can you love to paint and photograph without loving art? Paris is full of amazing art. Art that moved me, angered me and compelled me to look at it. Numerous museums housed works of art that moved me emotionally. The most famous of these would have to be the Louvre. The largest museum in the world and home to none other than the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and too many others to name. The day spent here was overwhelming and for me, much too short because I just couldn’t take it all in. But fortunately I have a camera. I filled card after card in my digital camera. I must have taken two thousand pictures here. Maybe a slight exaggeration.

Museum d’Orsay is another art museum but the priceless works of art were more recent. 18th and 19th century and much of the art is impressionism. which I enjoy, but my husband doesn’t. Something about the messiness draws me in. Next to Montmartre, where famous painters from practically every era came to paint in the square. The day we arrived there, the square was filled with easels, canvases and people milling about looking for the perfect painting to mount on their wall at home.

I didn’t buy one. I wanted to take the inspiration of the city home with me and let my photographs be my paintings. Or paint something fabulous myself.

But the concept of home is forever changed now that I’ve been here. The pictures and souvenirs I took home are not enough. Paris has stolen my heart. I came home and began decorating and designing to give me the feeling like I never left and somehow no matter where I go, I don’t think I will ever leave Paris. It’s one of those cities that stays with you. A welcome addition to your heart. A heart filled with a longing to return. I want to return.

I walk home from the beach and spend a few minutes looking at my pictures of Paris on my computer. I see the influences I’ve put into my home. The fleur de lis, the lamps I bought there, the towels in my kitchen. Reminding myself of our time there. In the grand scheme of time, only a moment.

With my current moments, I should be sitting down to write the current story I’m working on. I close out the pictures and get back to work. I need to practice my writing and photography skills, learn how to promote my blog, improve my social media skills and win the lottery. All in one day.

I have a charm that I picked up of the Eiffel Tower while I was in Paris. I wonder if it’s similar to a rabbit’s foot and if I rub it all my dreams will come true? I think I’ll try. Perhaps I should get my luggage out just in case.

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