Archive for June, 2012

Summerflings, We Were Evergreen

Yesterday was the summer solstice and Fete de la Musique, the popular music festival that takes over the streets of Paris. The sky rained, then shined, then opened up and unleashed a humongous helping of hail.

By evening, the freak storm had passed and people paraded through the streets taking in the tunes.

I’m not sure why it is, but I always have something big I’m preparing for that precludes me from fully engaging in the festivities. They are always good things, though, so I’ve come to associate the day with opportunity. Last year I was about to jet back to the States and pick up my MFA degree. This year I am preparing for an entire month in Spain.

You read that right – Espana!

Continue reading ‘Summerflings, We Were Evergreen’

Anything but Oatmeal (New Essay Published!)

I’m delighted to have an essay in the debut issue of Lunch Ticket, the new literary journal of the Antioch University Los Angeles MFA program.

It’s actually an essay I wrote several years ago (how strange, like an artifact, to return to work from so long ago!) I sat on it for years. The essay centers on the relationship I have with my father – or one moment of that relationship.

Joan Didion once said, “writers are always selling somebody out.”

That’s a hard concept to wrestle with – or to admit. Is it true?

When I write fiction, I don’t have to worry too much about other people’s feelings; I imagine new characters. With nonfiction, I have tended to talk mainly about myself – tell my story, so as not to involve those who may not want to appear on the page.

The problem, of course, is that my story is very much tied up with other people. Our connections matter. To me, relationships are what make life.

So how do I tell my story without ever talking about the people who help shape it?

Continue reading ‘Anything but Oatmeal (New Essay Published!)’

Passing Love

In 1999, after years of working in the corporate world, Jacqueline Luckett took a creative writing class on a dare.

She hasn’t looked back since.

Now the author of two novels and a core member of a writers group featured in O Magazine, Luckett is an inspiration for those wondering about the possibilities of their lives. “I’ve finally begun to understand that it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get around to fulfilling your dream,” she writes in a blog post discussing her love of Paris and writing, “just as long as we have them and try our best to fulfill them.”

Both of Luckett’s novels – Searching for Tina Turner and this year’s Passing Love – center on women seeking a change. I think you’ll agree that Luckett proves it’s never too late to chase what you want – and that it’s the journey that counts.

Thanks so much to Jackie for coming on the blog today.

Your protagonist, Nicole, dreamed about Paris since the time she was a little girl, yet doesn’t make it to the city until she’s in her mid-50s. For you, what is it about Paris that inspires people to dream? And why were you drawn to set the novel here?

I’ve been in love with Paris for a long time, yet I never pushed myself to visit. I wasn’t adventurous in my twenties and I kept waiting for someone to go with me. That’s partly the basis for Nicole’s failure to fulfill her promise. But she served the old adage—“Better late than never”—quite well.

My mother told me after reading Passing Love, that she always thought I was a natural dreamer and drama queen. Though I’ve never thought of myself that way, Paris inspires me to express what my mother seems to have known all along. Why not?! I love the anonymity I have when I’m in Paris. No one cares what I do, what I wear, or what I look like, and I feel a freedom that’s different from when I’m at home in California.

For Americans, particularly those of us on the West Coast, Paris with its old buildings, its streets cobbled with stones that have been there for decades, if not centuries, is very different from where we live. Sure, there are old buildings in the United States, but in California they don’t date much before the 19th Century. So we’re in awe of what we see in Paris. Movies, books and photographs have fed our curiosity and set our expectations about Paris. So much so that I think we go there prepared to do and be different from our everyday selves.

We gawk at the towering peaks of Notre Dame and wonder about The Hunchback. If it’s raining, we conjure up Gene Kelly dancing in the rain. Or Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier playing jazz in Paris nightclubs. We let our imaginations run free as we wander about the city admiring the fashions, eating the food, listening to French and wishing we’d paid more attention to our high school French teachers.

Because Paris is so culturally different than U.S. cities, it spurs new thoughts and behaviors. It sparks our imaginations because our senses are constantly presented with new images, sounds, and smells: rose petals scattered on a florist’s floor, an afternoon of people-watching and sipping espresso at an outdoor café—especially if it’s a café as well-known as Café Aux Deux Magots. There we imagine what life must have been like for the American authors who sat in those caned chairs writing novels and poetry.

In Passing Love, I wanted to write a story about women who challenged themselves to step beyond ordinary. Sure, this could have happened in any other city. Truthfully, because of my affection for (and emotional connection to) Paris, it was the logical place for my characters to be.

Continue reading ‘Passing Love’

Pere Lachaise Essay in the Utne Reader!

Hello, hello.

Just a quick note to share some good news: the essay I wrote on Pere Lachaise a few months ago was picked up by the Utne Reader for their July/August issue!

I’m so pleased.

I haven’t seen the print version yet, but I love that it’s online, too. If you see it on the newsstands, let me know!

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To

I grew up watching old films. (See my post about my master plan to host American Movie Classics as a kid). Film noir was a favorite.

When I did my crash course of French before moving here, a large part of my self-education involved watching French films and reading the transcripts at the same time. I was simply “opening my ear” to the language; I didn’t understand a dang thing! But what a pleasurable introduction.

Somehow I missed this one: Ascenseur pour l’échafaud or “Elevator to the Gallows” in its US release. This was Louis Malle’s first film (he was only 25!).

If this trailer doesn’t make you want to watch it immediately, well…I will still love you, but be forever confused as to how in the world this does not look awesome to you.

Hear that lonely trumpet?

That is MILES DAVIS playing an original score. And get this: he IMPROVISED the music while watching the film.

Continue reading ‘They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To’

Faux Pas Friday: Hazards of the Happy Dance

Under certain conditions, I’m a dangerous woman.

Start with a little sun after a drawn-out deluge, dress in cute summer attire, add a little dancing and me without my glasses – these were this week’s ingredients.

It’s like this: It rained for days, for weeks without end. It was as if we would drown, as if the city might swim away. So when the sky suddenly opened into sunshine, I cannot tell you how miraculous it felt.

LAAAAA! The sun! Revelers enjoying some rays.

We skipped over spring fever and headed straight to summer. Life is beautiful again.

I went to dance class on Tuesday as I do; it’s my favorite time of the week. With the majority of my life spent sitting and struggling over words, the chance to move and express myself in a totally different way feels like freedom. Dancing is a saving grace.

After class it was still light outside – after 9 PM!

I don’t know if it’s all that rolling around and sweating and shaking it to good music, but I’m always much looser after class. Maybe too loose. I still have the songs in my head and sometimes I unwittingly break into a dance shuffle on the street. I try to keep it under wraps (conform to societal norms, Sion!), but I guess I’m not that much of a conformist.

So I’m walking up my block and I kind of throw my head back and arc my arms behind me; one of my involuntary improv moves.

Up ahead a man in a sky blue shirt does a double and then a triple take as he crosses the street. I smile because I realize – oh yeah, that probably looked kind of weird, huh?

But so now I’m smiling at him and he’s really like, what? (quadruple take!)

Continue reading ‘Faux Pas Friday: Hazards of the Happy Dance’


paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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