MILAN, Tuesday, September 8

On the train heading to Milan.  I am passing through Carrara where blue white marble gleams like a fresh fallen snow on all the mountain peaks.  I am not a fan of marble in counter-top form, but I have always loved the idea of trying my hand at a giant sculpture.  I daydream about Camille Claudel who took the door off her studio in France just to get a massive block of this stuff into her studio just before she went mad. Camille was Rodin's lover; the first woman to be offered an apprenticeship in his studio. At the time, women in France were either wives, hookers or dancers and not allowed education or entrance to art galleries.  In those days, galleries were gentlemen's clubs.  The porn hub of the time if you will; full of nudes with downward gazes who were objects to look upon but who dared not look back.

 Rodin gave Camille a chunk of the hardest marble to work with hoping it would deter her.  She returned with a glorious marble foot and Rodin was smitten.  When his model failed to inspire, Camille sent her off and lay nude before him in the pose he desired.  She was 19, he was 25 years older with a wife and family. During their ten year affair she worked with him on The Gates of Hell, on which is perched the infamous "Thinker." Camille is believed to have been Rodin's inspiration for his famous sculpture "The Kiss."  He promised in writing he would leave his wife Rose and have no other love or model but Camille.  

He lied.  

Camille enjoyed a bit of fame and much notoriety for a few years. The affair for Rodin ended as they do, but for Camille it was an unending romance fraught with betrayal and an abortion. 

After she got the marble block into her home, the door did not return to it's hinges.  The rain came in, mice took up residence and the distraught Camille slowly went mad.  She tossed most of her work into the river where it still lies likely with all manner of dark secrets of the French. 

Finding her dishevelled and incoherent, her brother took her to the Montdevergues Asylum.  She spent the next 30 years locked there in the madness of a broken heart.  She was found dead in her room and buried innocuously under a tree.  I don't know why I love that story so much.


Arrived in Milan to find I had no reservation.  I know I had a reservation and after much discussion  it seemed the hotel had given away my room due to the urgent needs of the rich and famous during Fashion Expo.  I blame my Canadian attire.  The snotty and condescending concierge offered me a  ridiculously expensive room up the street.  His plucked brows arched and his tiny little French mouth puckered like an asshole when I said I would take it.  It took me four hours to find the hotel up the street, but it had a glorious bath tub and a giant bed.

I don't know what a Fashion Expo is, nor do I care.  This place is full of gorgeous, busy young people.  I don't think anyone over 30 is allowed. I thought Toronto was a trendy and busy place, but Milan is majestically monotonous.  The pace is set by a million Gucci and Louboutin heels clicking masterfully along the cobblestone.    I was the only hobo sneaking along in Sketchers, a hot pink tube top and dragging a rickety suitcase.  As I walked, I waged war with my flowery shorts that seemed to want nothing more than to retreat and hide bunched in my crotch. I  Even the dogs were better groomed than me and I had an urgent desire to brush my hair and shave my legs. I suppose I should have been embarrassed, but I like to think I was the most noteworthy woman on the street. This is one of the joys of being a stranger in a strange land and of travelling alone.  It provides a forum for rich delusion.

The quest for red meat was foiled in the land of the anorexic.  My only option was a Chinese place, but it was different enough from Italian.  I gorged on spring rolls and separated enough slivers of beef from peppers to form them into the illusion of steak.

I am not going to stay in Milan for long.  Fashion and Fashionistas bore me to no end.  I will never understand the need to impress with clothes and bags you cannot afford.  It all seems trite and silly when no one will remember you for more than a moment.

Back at the hotel, stuffed with protein and glee, I filled the tub and emptied a bottle of red wine.