where the writers are
The Paris Chronicles, Part I

Dear Reader,

As some of you probably expected after reading the previous post, the little netbook that I absolutely had to have, so that I could blog daily while wearing a beret and sipping espresso, was basically ignored during the entire Paris trip.

Yes, I did make an effort at mobile blogging. Each morning, I would faithfully place the netbook in my backpack thingy, carefully nestled among the 30 other must-haves crammed in the backpack. At the end of each day, none of these 31 items had been exposed to any sunlight whatsoever.

As the days passed, I began weeding out some of the "maybe I don't really need to take this after all" paraphernalia. (I believe the netbook was banished along about Day 5.) By the end of the trip, there was nothing in my backpack except a camera, cigarettes, hangover remedies and nerve pills. Oh, and about 6,000 used subway tickets.

So the "real time" blogging effort hit the ground with a thud. I realize now that it was not a realistic goal. (Yet another dream ripped and torn out of my life, right?) I will have to reconstruct the events of our Paris excursions by utilizing already-hazy memories, scribbled notes, and impromptu souvenirs surreptitiously "liberated" from their previous locations.

And, of course, there will be consultations with bestie Tiffany, who will help me differentiate the TRUE memories from the mere hallucinogenic reactions caused by eating four pounds of cheese, guzzling a bottle of wine, and then racing 10 cobble-stoned blocks to a questionable museum where you can see Marie Antoinette's training bra.

But before we begin with the more-detailed bits of the travelogue, let me introduce you to the entire cast of characters who accompanied me on this trip. To savor the full flavor of our experiences, it is important that you know a bit of background. It will also help you understand why, at some point, I wanted to throw every one of their asses off the top of La Tour Eiffel:

1. Brian - Me, of course. And yes, I seriously considered throwing my OWN ass off the tower. Several times, every day.

2. Tiffany - My partner in crime. Loads of fun to be around. Very sociable and quick-witted. However, home girl has a dark side. Before deciding to take Tiffany along on any outing, I strongly suggest that you speak with me privately. There are things you should know.

3. Terry - My spousal equivalent, or whatever they're calling us these days. I like to make fun of him, he likes to make fun of everybody, and we both like the same TV shows, so we get along just fine.

4. Dawn - The oldest of my three sisters. Like Tiffany, she's a hoot and can talk to anybody. She's the most outspoken one in the group, and she does NOT put up with any crap. She also has this amazing ability to look stunning and chic no matter what she is doing or what time of day it might be. In all the travel photos, she's the one who looks like she's strutting down a runway while the rest of us look like we just gave birth to triplets in a barn.

5. Darrin - Dawn's husband, my brother-in-law. He generally doesn't have much to say about anything. He once went 7 days where the only noise we got out of him was a startled yelp when he discovered we were out of beer.

6. Roni - The youngest of my sisters. She doesn't "say" much either, but only because of a massive stroke she endured several years ago during a pregnancy that went terribly wrong. But that doesn't mean she doesn't "talk". No, sir. She's quite skilled at making it very clear what she wants and how fast she wants it.

7. Nina - Pronounced "Nye-Nuh". (Don't say it that other way or there will be bloodshed.) Terry's sister. They are exactly alike. EGG-ZACT-LEE. Which can be great if you get their West-Texas personalities, or somewhat alarming if you DON'T get their West-Texas personalities. You have been warned.

8. Mom - As in mine. And Dawn's and Roni's. She was the mastermind behind the trip, making all the arrangements, setting up day-trips, working with the hotel to make sure things went smoothly. This whole thing would not have been possible without her. (Love ya, Mom!)

Okay, now that you're best friends with everyone, it's time to get in your seats and buckle up. It's going to be a long flight, so you will need to pace yourselves. I'll be serving up bite-size snippets of our adventures over the next few weeks, just like the flight attendants who toss you those tiny snack packets with five peanuts, and then you don't see them for three more hours.

Because, you see, this tragic tale cannot possibly be told in one posting. Oh, we had a great time, lots of laughs, tons of pretty things to look at, interesting food and people. But our family is cursed. We cannot lead simple, normal lives and rest peacefully at night.

No, despite all precautions, we are fated to encounter and experience, on a daily basis, situations that other people would run from in horror. It's just our destiny, we accepted that long ago.

So every time the crazy hits the fan, we instinctively go into defense mode, circling the wagons, making sure no one is bleeding, paying whatever damages we have to pay, and then marching on to the next crapfest. Promising ourselves that some day we will look back and laugh, because that's what you say when your only other option is a complete and total mental breakdown on the charming streets of Paris.

The plane will be departing shortly. Please ensure your seats are in an upright position while we taxi to the runway... 

Note: This was the first post in what became an extended blog series that I worked on back in the ancient days of 2009. If you'd like to read more, click Here to continue with the series. (Yes, you will be transported off the Red Room site. I hope this does not violate any sociological or religious inclinations that you may have..)