Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Blank Slate...Revisited

So long long ago, I had this crazy idea to build up my terrace.

Mainly because of this view...

But an easy task it was not.

Here was the process...

And now onto the next project.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Self Defense

Guest n°2

Cesarea (Shay-Zah-Ree-Ah)

Cesarea wasn't really invited to the party, but she came anyway. That was typical of her. I wouldn't say that Mads disliked Cesarea, but there were always moments that Mads found herself unknowingly squeezing her fists in stress/annoyance while speaking to her. It wouldn't be until the pain of her nails slicing into her hands became unbearable that she would realize just how wound up she was getting.

It wasn't because Ceserea was a nasty or cruel person in anyway. She was just overly defensive... About everything. You couldn't have a conversation with her without unexpectantly finding yourself backed into a corner.

Mads had been to her home once before and remembered it being so fitting. It was strangely warm and inviting, but the moment you relaxed and sat down it seemed to wake up and sound the alarms. Her home was a tricky little bastard because on the outside it seemed elegantly bold, yet sweet and passionate...but the moment you let your guard down it was there like a hawk ready to deafen you with its cry.

Elle Decor Italia May 2008

Rèussir son Habitat Aug/Sept 2008

AD Italia Nov 2007

AD Italia July 2008

Mads was thinking desperately of a cordial way to greet Cesarea without pressing any buttons. Fortunately, Cesarea initiated things with a compliment,

"Wow Mads, you have really outdone yourself this time! The place is fabulous! I heard of all of the problems that came up during the reconstruction process...Gosh! You must be so happy its done! Happy and proud! Am I right?"

Compliments...Hmmm, this was going well. Mads breathed a sigh of relief,

"That is so sweet of you to say...And yes I am very happy and quite proud!"

The two exchanged Italian kisses and Mads, feeling quite good about her accomplishment and how the night was going in general, decided to engage in a little chit chat,

"And speaking of proud, you must be as well! We have all heard about your brother Matteo's new job position! Director of the Bentley? It's only the largest, most well known and prestigious hotel in all of Liguria..."

MAds hadn't even let the breath of the last word out when she knew that there was a problem. She could see it in Cesarea's face, and hear it in her suddenly flat voice,

"Why would we be proud? What is so exceptional about the situation that you would assume that we would be brimming with pride?"

Mads began running through the last 30 seconds of conversation, wondering where it had gone all wrong,

"No, I mean, I just think it is wonderful and inspiring that he would be appointed as Director of such an important establishment. He has certainly worked hard to get it"

"And we should be proud and overjoyed because my brother, who has been working in the hotel industry for half his life and who has been praised for his professionalism and ability to create atmospheres and balance budgets better than anyone else...We should be proud that he, the obvious choice in our minds, was finally given the opportunity that he deserves? Is that what you are saying?"

Mads was already beginning to loose sensation in at least 3 of her fingers on her right hand,

"All I am saying is that if I were you I would be very proud of my brother in this situation. I mean, he is blind, and this isn't exactly a normal situation"

"Oh! So my brother isn't normal just because he is blind? So you don't think blind people are capable of working the same as people with sight?!? How dare you assume he will fail before he has even finished signing his contracts! You know its people like you that create this kind of discrimination in the world....!"

"Okay, listen, I'm not sure where this went wrong but I was not judging your brother or predicting his failure. In all honesty, I'm just amazed at how many hurdles he has overcome and how well he has done up until now."

"The only hurdles he has are people like you! He has been doing this job for over 15 years!"

Mads decided to take a chance,

"Well, running a bed and breakfast and a multi million dollar 5 star hotel aren't exactly the same, in all fairness, Cesarea"

"Oh so your saying that because he is blind he wont be able to adjust to the slightly larger scale of operations?"

Understanding that this was going nowhere, but around and around in circles, thus missing any point to be made, Mads concluded what had started as such a nice conversation,

"Okay, you know what, never mind...Congratulations, again. Send my love to your brother and his wife. I hope she has been able to recover from her injuries..."

"What?!? So you think that just because he is blind he wont be able to take care of his wife who has lost the use of her legs and be successful and dedicated to his job? SCREW YOU! AND SCREW PEOPLE LIKE YOU! HOW DARE YOU THINK THAT THE BLIND CANT BE AS STRONG AND AS SUPERHUMAN AS THE REST OF US!

Hands bleeding, Mads gathered herself and walked away.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

That Girl

Guest n°1


Sandra opened her email with an anticipation that very rarely graced her life. She hadn't been to a real party in a long time. Back in the day she was the 'It Girl', but recently with work, life, stress and a relationship gone bad, she had slipped into a mundane existence that facilitated her arrival to Saturday morning when she could sleep-in and eat leftover pizza for breakfast.

She spent most of her time at home. Her house was her pride and joy, but I must say, in as much of an objective and non judgmental way as possible, that although quite nice...Well, there was always something just not quite right. The very good idea and attempt gone bad. But you couldn't tell Sandra that. Oh no! Not only had she needed a reality check for quite some time, but she also lavished herself in denial on a daily basis.

Well you be the judge...

AD Italia Jan 2008
AD Italia Jan 2008

AD Italia Jan 2008


It seemed to have taken forever for the file to download and when the slide-show began she smiled as memories of the event were refreshed. After 3 or 4 photos she began to get impatient. Where was she? You see, she had made a real effort that night. She had found a skirt that she had worn a few years back that had been daunted by others as 'The Killer Skirt That Sandra Got In Rome'. She wore it along with a new top she had bought for the occasion. She had taken a chance because the skirt was a bit shorter than she remembered and a bit tighter. But she was looking to leave an impact. She was looking to be remembered and that skirt was her ticket. And then her thoughts were interrupted by an image that almost stopped her heart. Finally there was a picture of her. But not the one she expected. Instead of looking like a diva dressed in Prada, she looked like a beached whale wrapped in a black plastic. And if the 1st photo stopped her heart, then the next three can be summarized by watching any 5 minutes of a WWE Smackdown highlights clip. Her ass seemed to expand exponentially in each photo. Sandra's palms began to sweat. How could this be possible? She wasn't fat. Fine, most of her clothes were a bit too tight, or too small all together, but that was only because her washer was old. She had bought a new one, and admittedly the problem didn't go away, but that was only because there was an electrical problem with the currents and fuses and whatever else is involved in home wiring. In fact, she already had an appointment scheduled with the electrician for next Tuesday.

And then her mind began to race...Maybe there was a problem with the camera. Or the monitor. Like when the wide screen came out and everyone looked like short fat chipmunks. Of course! It was the format of the photos! She quickly started the slide-show from the beginning to examine how others looked. The first person seemed completely normal, but she was like 20 years old and completely anorexic, so she didn't count. Then others popped up with smiles and decent figures. And then she saw herself again and the vomit creeped up the back of her throat.

Oh My God, She thought. I'm FAT. Its not the dryer or the cut or the fabric or the electricity. Its me! I'm fat and I squeezed my fat ass into a skirt that I should have never worn and I pranced around all night like I was a supermodel not even knowing that the stares weren't out of admiration, but of ridicule.

The embarrassment overwhelmed her.

Oh my God. I'm That Girl.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Wine, Water and Milk

Mads wasn't a rude person by nature, but Simona had come at the wrong time. When she asked to stay a Mads house it was just 3 days before her Open House party, so suitcases and drama were not what she needed. She was already trying to find a solution to her current problem at hand.

She had less than 24 hours for the big reveal, and nothing was going according to plan. Not only had the guest list grown from 20 to 70 overnight, but it was raining out. Actually it wasnt just raining, it was POURING.

So while the rest of the world was moving in continuous motion, Mads hit a brick wall built of the following materials:
  • 3 pounds of new computer, which unbeknownst to her, was not pre-mixed
  • 10 tons of Windows Vista, which was not only defective, but not compatible with ANY OF THE OTHER MATERIALS ON SITE
  • 6 crates of Cambridge Exams and no lorry to deliver them in time
  • At least 8 slabs of pre-cut flu...all of which fell off the crane and directly Mads head
  • 4 invoices for photos that she couldn't use...that thus remain unpaid

And so time passed, faster than normal. But alas, Mads' ability to finally connect to the Internet and download the manual for her camera brings us two steps closer to a full reveal...

But Not Quite Yet

Until then, enjoy a few short stories about the guests...

Wine, water or milk. An evening of confusion, diversion, improvisation and laughter.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Wine, Water and Milk

What I can tell you is that there was a party last night. I wont elaborate much until the photographer gets back to me with the photos.


There were enough characters in last nights event to keep this little blog going for years to come...

Chapters in the saga to look forward to...

Wine, Water and Milk
Say Hello
Who Brought the Lobster?
Ringing in My Ears
Dogs New Best Friend

Monday, 18 February 2008

Overdose and Implications

Zikulman trotted down the stairs and Mads waited until she heard the slam of the iron doors before she proceeded up the stairs.

As she approached her apartment, she realized that her door was slightly opened. Fearing the worst after a string of burglaries in the past few months and being the proud parent of a completely useless dog, Mads dug into her bag for the illegal pepper spay she had bought on Ebay

Being a big fan of any detective/cops reality show, Mads assumed the position of spray out, safety clip released...And gave the front door a kick.

The entrance was normal...

Mads was about to step into her home when Simona crossed her path.

Simona was an old friend of hers meaning she had known her before moving to Italy. They had met during Mads undergraduate studies and shared a room in a co-op that should have been closed down years before.

Simona was an incredibly interesting person, but borderline annoying/insane. She was a modern hippie which meant that reality was not of particular importance to her.

Don't get me wrong, Mads is all for liberal thinking. She graduated from UC Berkeley and went at least 2 years without shaving her legs. But then she needed to get a job and pay the bills. Call her a sell-out, but if shaving her legs, washing her hair and putting on a suit meant that she no longer had a voice, then so be it.

Anyways, Simona comes from money. Ironically her family is in the oil business and while she refuses to accept a job from them, she has no problem accepting a monthly allowance. She justifies it by using the money to lead a cleansed life filled with organic food, herbs vs pharmaceuticals and regular retreats. Her home is also very green and earthy. It embodies the natural elements of the world in a very stylish and contemporary way.

Elle Decor Italia June 2007

Elle Decor Italia June 2007

Elle Decoration Austria Jan 2008

Elle Decor Italia Nov 2007

Elle Decor Italia Nov 2007

Elle Decor Italia June 2007

Elle Decor Italia Nov 2007

While loosing herself in the aura that is Simona's home, Mads was suddenly reminded of the situation at hand.

"Simona, what are you doing here?"

Simona smiled, cocked her head to the side and reached out to give Mads an Italian double kiss. Mads noticed the underarm hair peeking out of Simona's blouse and in an effort to avoid physical contact, took a quick step back and barked,

"Wait! Why was my door open?!?"

"Madonna!, I had to leave it opens. Ferre was a lot of negativity that need escaping. I needed to relax myself. Particularly in my condition"

Mads look of annoyance prompted additional comments from Simona

"I'm being so proud of you!"

"Proud? Why?!?"

"Yes, We Can! Yes, We Can!"

"Uhhhh...Are you referring to Obama?"

"Yes, I Am! Yes, I Am!"

"Okay...Okay...I get it. But what does that have to do with me?"

"Because you and your peoples will electing him and he will make America the better!"

"Me and my people?!?!"

"Yes! Barak peoples! You should all standing together! Just like wif da Martin Luther King!"

"Barak people?....Oh...Ok....I get it. You mean BLACK People. It's B-L-A-C-K. They are two different words, cara mia."

"Oh dear..."

Simona looked up pondering the mistake and mouthed out the spelling while using her index finger to write the two words in the air above her*

Mads, whose patience had completely run out not only with Simona but with the European OBSESSION with Obama, sharply cut into Simona's not so intellectual moment

"So, listen. Can you tell me exactly why you are here, minus the political commentary?

"Yes, I can"

Mads at this point wanting to assassinate Obama herself, let out a sigh of annoyance that obviously got Simona's attention.

"Okay, Bellissima amica mia, you know when you have sending me a Christmas card and you have been wrote that if I ever needed you I could always be counting on your friendship?"

"No, not really"

"Well, that's why I brought it just in case you had been forgetting. See? It's here! Guarda!"

Damn! Mads had stupidly written those words 3 years before.

"Well, now I am needing your help. And I am not BLACK, B-L-A-C-K, but I'm still a friend. So remember what it is meaning to saying Yes, We Can!"

With a long blink and the nod of her head, Mads gave Simona the OK to continue.

"Allora, I'm in pregnant. With Zikulman's baby. He have asked me to marry him, but our new house wont be ready for another in 3 months and the house I'm living now isn't correct for my condition"

Mads was slowly digesting the implications of this. Now it was clear why Moody Mitch was in such a good mood and why Sinthia was spitting fire just minutes before. Everything was starting to make sense and Mads was finding herself in the middle of it all. And then Simona's final request hit like a gong 2 centimeters from her ears...

"Can we come for staying with you? Just until we can be moving onto our place?"

Mads head cleared astonishingly fast. There was silence and the room came back into focus. And with a voice as clear as a pistol firing in the desert she replied,

"No, You Can't!!"

* This event actually took place. I can't make this kinda stuff up...

Thursday, 14 February 2008

I Hate Thursdays

As the Director of Studies I should be exempt from the 'Crap Classes'. The ones that give you more stress than gratification.

Put frankly, the ones with zit-faced, BO ridden, back talking pre-pubescent kids.

Somehow I got stuck with such class, and by 7pm Thursday Evenings, not only has all my make-up worn off, but my nerves are burnt to a crisp. Aside from the contraceptive like effects of spending 3 hours with 11-15 year olds, I rarely find any positive points.

But sometime between climbing the walls and aiming spitballs at the back of my head, one of my little 11-year old rugrats produced this:

I dont know why I love this letter. It just made me smile and laugh and kinda love this kid.

Until, of course, he puts crazy glue on my chair again.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

I Remember

I remember my life in America.

I remember the looks I would get. You don't belong here.

I remember walking to my friends house in Darien Connecticut and being repeatedly pulled over by the police and being repeatedly asked where I was going and who I worked for.

I remember food shopping when a woman cut in line. I remember my mother pointing it out and the woman responding, “Niggers think they own this place”. I remember wondering what the word Nigger meant but being too afraid to ask.

I remember being encouraged by my hippy English teacher to enter into a Shakespeare recitation contest. I remember preparing and pouring my heart into it. I remember an elderly woman with a sweet smile and silver hair coming up to me at the end and congratulating me on my bravery. I remember her looking me dead in my eyes, hands on both of my shoulders and telling me to go home and tell all of my friends about what I had done. She had assumed I was from the Ghetto. I was raised in private schools in Marin County California and Fairfield County Connecticut. I remember wishing she had just told me I had done a good job and left it at that.

I remember telling everyone my father was dead because I was too embarrassed to be just another Black kid who's father wasn't in her life.

I remember falling in love and being told that it was not suitable for me to be anything other than her son's friend. I then remember her smiling and offering me cookies.

I remember my mother telling me that I would have to work twice as hard as all the others. I remember her saying that while I will always be seen, I will never be recognized or rewarded. I remember her being right on far too many occasions.

I remember the surgeries, the pain, the seizures.

I remember giving up on it all.

I remember my mother by my side.

I cant do this.

Yes You Can.

I remember leaving this earth. It was not like they said. There was no light. It was calm and dark and I could hear the surgeons speaking

I cant stop the bleeding.

I cant control the pressure.

I remember thinking

Yes You Can.

And when I came back, I remember my mother words

You did it. I knew could.

I remember loosing all hope in America. I remember not caring anymore. I remember giving up, never to return home again.

Then I heard the words again...

Yes We Can.

And I heard the song and the speech and for a split second I stood in my stance, with my hands on my hips and head held high...

Because for the 1st time EVER IN MY LIFE...

I was proud to be American. I was proud of my country. I was moved. I was fundamentally part of something that I was so far from. Part of a country I have always felt separated from.

I can put aside everything for a real movement. Those shivers that run up and down my spine are not those of fear. They are those of excitement.

There has been a vast aura of inspiration rotating recently.

People are fighting the odds.

The power to inspire.

Can you feel it?

Yes, I can.

Friday, 1 February 2008

He's So Cool

He was still at least two floors up, but the smell and smoke from his cigarette was already bitch slapping MAds in the face. She let out a little cough, just to clear her throat. Before she saw a face she heard his voice again,

" You are so pre-dic-table, you know."

Without even being able to get a remark off, Pierre Zikulman swung around the banister with a tilted head and a sly smile. He greeted MAds with a cigarette in hand and a delicate point in her direction, "I sink it was you zat brought zis re-vo-lu-tion of anti-smoke to Europe, wiz your Stupid little cough and Ugly dis-a-pro-val!....Am I bozering you?" The final words punctuated by a long drag on the newly lit fag.

MAds was about to Give The Speech but then decided that rolling her eyes and muttering an effective Whatever would suffice.

You see, Pierre Zikulman was that stereotypical Frenchman that has pretty much ruined it for all French people internationally. He was arrogant, self righteous, a little stinky, and always over eager to insult a person in the most mundane of circumstances. Having said that, he was also a very successful fashion photographer which allowed him to travel extensively and, unfortunately, perpetuate the stereotype on innocent and defenseless nations.

His success also allowed him the pleasure of beautiful residences in the top fashion cities in the world. My favorite is his eclectic flat in Milan. Dark and heavy like the winter fog or the summer heat...But with a punch of creativity and spirit that will always keep him and this city one step ahead of the rest. Combine this over exaggerated French ego-centric arrogant attitude with that level of style and you get this knockout apartment

AD Italia 2007

This room put him on the map. As with his photography your eye is shocked and drawn as if he is whispering in your ear where to look next. Its a maze and in some kind of complicated code you follow and are able to decipher the message and reach the end without any missed turns.

AD Italia 2007

As you can see Zikulman takes every opportunity he gets to showcase his work...and himself.

Elle Decoration Austria 2008

And his inspiration room is right out of left field. He claims the colour and vibrance take him to another level of creativity in the house. The other rooms just hint at what can be possible...He says that this one screams it.

Man, he is so cool.

But why is he back after such a long absence? Who called him and what does he want?...

Thursday, 31 January 2008

Spiralling Out of Control

Previously on Cabella Place...

Moody Mitch, ex-husband of Sinthia, warns MAds of drama brewing in Cabella Place. MAds has no idea what to expect when she walks into the building, but figures it may have to do with Sinthia who has the penthouse apartment and is not exactly one to avoid controversy.

It could, however, also involve Madison, who although annoyingly perfect, not immune to skeletons hiding in her closet. But Madison is currently out of town working on her screenplay at her country house while attempting to avoid the watchful and sometimes perverse eyes of Mr & Mrs Franshpipal. Plus, the voices MAds hears are coming from the the top floor. One is definitely that of Sinthia, the other is distinctly familiar, but not recognizable.


MAds Looks up the staircase hoping to get a glimpse of something. She is carrying a plastic shopping bag filled with groceries which is crinkling and crunching, making her spy/ninja walk completely useless.

Voices turn to screeches, doors slam and then the sound of footsteps and random mutterings reveal just exactly who is involved...

The Authentic Expat

AD Italia

I will close my eyes and go to this zenly tranquil place when people say really ridiculous things. Yes they are ridiculous because I asked my husband and he told me that I was right. He wasnt looking at me and his nose was in his motorcycle magazine, but he said it, so its true.

So I went too far suggesting that expats should just go to Las Vegas instead of moving to metropolitan cities like Rome, Paris, NY, Tokyo and London. My point was that it was a joke for expats to live in these places and then think they are experts or spokespersons for such and such country.

I have lived all over the world and the one friend you know who speaks the language fluently, doesn't have an expat contract with housing, furniture, insurance etc allocations (or rich enough to live anywhere) and plans to live in that place until the day they die does not compare to the 150 I know who have 2 year contracts, no roots or ties, and absolutely no intention of doing anything more than taking advantage of this incredible experience.

Okay, I'm done.

You know I'm not

Party people, weigh in...

Can expats live authentically on foreign soil?

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Blank Slate

Okay party people. Challenge time.

I have this terrace. It's about 25 square meters (I'm too lazy to figure out what that is in square feet)

I've been living in this building for about 4 years but I'd been so obsessed with the reconstruction of the house (lived with no hot water for a year!), the layout and making it a relax zone, that I didn't really put any effort into the terrace. In all honesty, I'm still considering if it is even worth the trouble. Let's look at the situation...


1. It's not attached to the house. You have to walk up 2 flights of stairs to get to it.
2. It's unprotected and we can get very high winds in the area. I'd have to sort out what would be structurally safe.
3. I cant build a fixed structure that is closed on any of its sides. Just gazebo-like open structures, so as to avoid any building violations.
4. Since I cant close off any of the sides I have neighbors who have direct views= No Privacy...Trees/plants maybe? But there is the wind factor...


1. The View...

Behind the castle tower is Portofino.
Oh my God...I live next to a castle and I have a view of Portofino!

This is an example of what others have done. I intend to step it up a notch.
Check out my uninterrupted view of the city and the Mediterranean sea.

2. Little Eva would have her own private park (which would be very spoiled of her as we live 10 minutes from Righi where she goes running every day)

So what's your vote? Put time and effort into this or not?

If so, give me some suggestions on the who what when where and how. I need a spring board people...


Saturday, 26 January 2008

'Drawers' in Light

Apartment Therapy has got this new theme of light going on.

I'm not the sharpest in the bunch, so I couldn't figure out how to submit this photo to the contest. As a result, I've decided to run my own little show!

• Title: 'Drawers' in Light
• Location: Liguria, Italy (My stairwell looking into courtyard)
• Your Name: MAds
• Short description: 'Drawers' is us black folks name for underwear (pronounced
draws). So if you read the title correctly it should be Draws in Light.

Funny side note: Those are my uncle's (by marriage) underwear!

Table Manners

I think I would have much better table manners, and my husband would certainly eat with his mouth closed if we had Fine China like this...

All taken in the Imperial Silver Collection Museum, Vienna Austria

Window Shopping in Milan

PRADA Display, Milan November 2007