Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Million Years Ago

Karen - Day 117 - Burbank

A job I did a million years ago in Florence, Italy

I thought long and hard about this post, it's relevance to The French Skinny Experiment and if it was even interesting.

But 4 things inspired me to go ahead and dust off the memories.

1: A comment from my friend at thecommonsensualist, asking about my time in Italy.

2: A post by Ann's Rants, about her 5th grade crush.

3: This week I started wearing bifocal sunglasses and bragging about my cholesterol which = old enough to talk about the good ol days.

4: Nothing much happened today except the usual baguette, cheese and crepe extravaganza.

My 5th grade nightmare included headgear.

In 5th grade, when I was made the official "Deliverer Of Notes" between the popular girl and my mind numbing crush, I started dreaming of Italy. It became my happy place. My holiday. My escape.

In my dream, I was Sophia Loren in 'House Boat'. (I had a super good imagination)

What actually happened was not so glamorous.
I was working as a waitress at a truck stop, when my mom put my picture in a local mall modeling contest and I miraculously won. This led to a test with a big Hollywood modeling agency. (Where I first encountered politics.) I was brought in by the Vice President of the agency. The "new agent" that had to take me on was resentful. (I was oblivious of this) Every time I went in she said "You have to lose more weight. Your hair is a disaster. Blah. Blah. Blah." I realize now that this was meant to discourage me but, if you have read this blog at all, you know that once I'm motivated to do something, I throw myself into it with a passion. So I lost more weight. I cut my hair. On and on and on this went for about 6 months. Finally, on a Friday afternoon, the "new agent" told me that I would never make it as a model unless I got a nose job.
I thought about it all weekend, called the Vice President on Monday morning and left this message.

"Hi, this is Karen, I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity you gave me. I have decided that I like my nose the way it is and I won't be getting a nose job. Please thank everyone there and know that I really do appreciate your time."

I received a call from the Vice President a few hours later to come in for a meeting. She apologized, told me to forget about the nose job and to stop losing weight. She would call me again next week.
Meanwhile, one of the photographers I had done a test with introduced me to a smaller agency and I booked my first job. Then another. Then another. Then an agent from Italy showed up and wanted to represent me in Milano.

I talked to my folks and they backed me 100%. I had an open ended plane ticket and one thousand dollars. If I could make a go of it, great. If not, I was to come home immediately.

On the plane to Milano I studied the book "Learn Italian The Fast And Fun Way" like it was my lifeline.
My dream was about to begin.
I never expected to work in Italy but I would at least be able to see it in person for the first time.

I bought a map, met my 3 roomates and was introduced to my new boyfriend within a week. A handsome Italian with green eyes. His name translated to "Lucky". When we met, he spoke as much English as I did Italian. But these things have a way of working out.

I did find work, and for the next 2 years was able to travel to places I had only dreamed of. Venice, Florence, Rome, Paris, the south of France, Switzerland, Santo Domingo, Saint Martin, Africa....it was all amazing.

For 2 years we had, as Lucky used to say, "a beautiful story". But at the end I was literally kicked out of Italy. Not by the government, but by an even higher authority, his Momma.

I was staying at their place while I looked for another apartment. Lucky's Momma had been in and out of mental facilities for a few years. I came home one day to her screaming at me because I had not bought her a swimsuit. She threw me and my stuff outside. I waited for Lucky to show up. He was very sorry about what happened but.....it was his Momma. I had 3 days to find an apartment or go home.

Lucky and I knew we would never see each other again. It was not our time.

I cried all the way home.

Once home, I did the only thing I could think of to heal my heart. I dyed my hair platinum blonde.

Thank you for all the inspiration my friends, and for letting an old lady with bad eyesight and excellent cholesterol ramble on.

Je t'aime mes amis


  1. What an amazing experience!!!! And that couldn't possibly be you in 5th grade.

  2. Sooo wonderful. And you *do* look kind of like a young Sophia Loren in the top picture! Thanks for telling the story. :-)))

  3. I think the man in the photo with you looks like your husband. Do you see it?
    Ciao, Bella.

  4. what a beautiful story/experience...i am so grateful that you shared it with us....smiling all the while i am typing....THANK YOU!!

  5. This is so not fair. Why doesn't THE GRADE SCHOOL COLUMNIST get to go visit Italians and become a "REAL LIVE" model???

    Am I going to have to kill myself God? Is that what I am going to have to do?

  6. That is just gorgeous. show-off.

  7. you're beautiful and i love you

  8. Wow...I'm so glad that one of us "note passers" got to live out the fantasy...awesome story! I'm still not giving up...eventually, I will make it to Europe. I have 5 more years til my youngest is 18...so I'm saving.