Archive for December, 2012

Faux Pas Friday Guest Post: Newcomer’s Follies

Greetings from snowy Vermont! I hope you all are having a lovely holiday season. I’m just starting the intense residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts (if anyone wants to follow along with just how intense, here’s the daily schedule.)

As I won’t have a lot of time to update the blog, I’m delighted to have a guest today. You may remember I interviewed Aurelia d’Andrea when her Moon Living Abroad in France guidebook was published. When I noticed Aurelia making funny comments on Facebook about her faux pas one day I said, tiens! Why don’t I invite her to contribute to Faux Pas Friday? I’m glad she accepted the invitation! And so, without further ado…

“Newcomer’s Follies” by Aurelia d’Andrea

triumph statueIf faux pas were an Olympic sport, I would be a gold medalist. The main difference between me and a true Olympian, though, is that I don’t have to train for my sport. Being a Socially Inept Expat just comes naturally, without even the slightest modicum of effort.

Since moving to Paris two-and-a-half years ago, this innate “gift” has flowered like an out-of-control weed. France, it seems, offers nearly ideal conditions for social awkwardness to flourish. I would’ve liked to have nipped this problem in the bud, but it’s too late for that now, and how do you nip when you don’t even know where to begin?

Continue reading ‘Faux Pas Friday Guest Post: Newcomer’s Follies’

Winter Solstice

The shortest day of the year, the one with least light.

And it’s true there is darkness.

Here’s a song called “Winter Solstice,” haunting and beautiful for the day.

The light starts growing again now.

What will you bring into the light?

Home for the Holidays

There are plenty of bistros…

Bistro NYC

And the Croque Monsieur is a popular choice…

Croque Monsieur, NYC

And that Arc looks kind of familiar

Washington Square

But of course this is my beloved New York, not Paris!

Continue reading ‘Home for the Holidays’

Faux Pas Friday: Cheapskate at the Checkout

I grew up with a single mom who clipped coupons religiously. When the Sunday paper arrived, out came the scissors. Scouring for sales meant we sometimes ended up with strange foodstuffs in the cupboard, items we bought only for the discount. I dutifully absorbed these lessons. To this day, I don’t like shopping, but I love a sale.

Tender Leaf Tea Coupon, Front

Financial prudence has made my marginally-employed existence here possible. Paris is expensive; being a cheapskate serves a bohemian writer well.

Pinching pennies does mean I lack social graces at times, however, as I often turn down invitations if I think it will cost too much (though truth be told my hermit tendencies are as strong as my cheapskate ones).

I’ve been wondering lately if this really is the way. I’m in my mid-30s and I still approach life like a starving student? Should I buck up and spend more? Prioritize differently?

For the moment I’ve decided that in daily matters I’m fine with sticking to my cheapskate routine, but that I’ll make concessions as I go.

I was at Biocoop (the organic store! costs more!) this week picking up some dessert for dinner with a friend in the evening (at home – cheaper!)

My eyes lit up when I saw the word “promotion” on the chocolate mousse. Not only was chocolate mousse exactly what I wanted, but it was on sale. Score!

I readied my coins (the French love exact change), but the higher, standard price appeared when the cashier rang it up.

I dig into my purse for some extra coins, then say as I hand them over, “It’s not a big deal, but I thought that was on sale.”

Instead of being annoyed, the cashier smiles and studies the receipt.

The woman behind me is not smiling, however. She’s throwing daggers with her eyes. “35 cents?” she asks, not even pretending to mask her disdain.

Continue reading ‘Faux Pas Friday: Cheapskate at the Checkout’

Expat Blog Awards and Amazing Synchronicity!

Happy 12.12.12!

As many have noted, this is the last repetitive date we’ll see in our lifetimes (unless you can hang on another 88 years to 01/01/2101).

I’m a bit of a number nerd. Not so much into math, but a person who keeps strange little superstitions, making wishes at 11:11 and imbuing certain combinations with meaning. Hey, you never know!

Sometimes life does offer amazing moments of synchronicity, though.

After posting my James Baldwin essay yesterday, my fabulous roommate revealed that her uncle was close friends with the author. “Jimmy” was her cousin’s godfather!

James Baldwin and Robert Cordier

James Baldwin and Robert Cordier (photo from Wikimedia Commons, posted by Acting123)

WHAT? I’ve been living with someone with a connection to my literary hero?!

“Yeah, we should all get coffee sometime,” she said casually.

“This is amazing!” I said.

She shrugged. “I wasn’t even going to mention it, but you keep talking about him.”

Sure enough, her uncle’s name sounded familiar. I went to my Baldwin biography and found several mentions of Robert Cordier. Then I googled him (of course) and found more: playwright, director, famed acting teacher, etc, etc. Whoa!

Mind officially blown.

ExpatsBlogAwardsIn other fun news, I’ve been nominated for an Expat Blog Award!

The contest has been going on for awhile, but I was too shy to mention it before. But along with my slight number fixation and surprise connections, I must also have a competitive underdog streak somewhere in there, too.

If you want to help create a last minute surge in the rankings, nice comments here by Friday count as votes for my blog. Hop on over if you’d like. Merci!

Stories of synchronicity to share?

James Baldwin in Paris (New Essay Published!)

JamesBaldwinEssayScreenshotHi friends,

This is an especially gratifying one for me.

I’m thrilled to have an essay about one of my literary heroes over on Hunger Mountain.

“Another Country: James Baldwin at ‘Home’ (and) Abroad” explores how the author of such seminal American works as Notes of a Native Son and Go Tell It On the Mountain was influenced by his many years living abroad, first in Paris, and later in Istanbul. Revisiting his rich oeuvre was an amazing way to delve into questions of home, identity, and expatriation.

I’m also particularly excited because my essay sparked the journal to assemble a whole tribute to the author!

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Baldwin’s passing. I highlighted this fact in submitting the essay to explain why it was a great time to examine his legacy. I am so glad they agreed. Not only did they accept my essay, but they then went on to solicit other essays from several noted writers. I’m humbled and proud (is it possible to be both at once?) that my enthusiasm for Baldwin contributed to this tribute. Baldwin had a great impact on me and I’m delighted to shine a light on him and his work, still so moving and relevant today.

Here’s the link. Enjoy!

Faux Pas Friday: Misunderstanding on the Metro (or Save the Children)

Mid-afternoon, mid-week. Dark and wet like many a December day in the City of Light. I descend into metro Colonel Fabien and try to shake off the cold.

When the train arrives, I spy through the window the one free seat. It will be mine. The man behind me has the same idea. He rushes past me as soon as the doors open, nearly sprinting to get to the seat. He plops down and puts on that blank city face: I don’t see you even though you’re right in front of me.

Continue reading ‘Faux Pas Friday: Misunderstanding on the Metro (or Save the Children)’

Teaching Writing at WICE!

WICE classDecember! How is it the last month of the year already?

While I’m pondering just what the heck happened to 2012, exciting things are already brewing for the new year.

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be teaching a fun 4-week class at WICE starting in mid-January.

“Getting Unstuck: Conquering Fear of the Blank Page” will offer tips and techniques to encourage writing. Fear of the blank page is normal – but it can be overcome! Emphasis will be on generating new material and is appropriate for all genres as we’ll be using a variety of prompts and exercises for fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Basically, I want to put the play back into writing. Workshops and critique groups have their place, but this isn’t that. I’m interested in exploring – and pushing past – the resistance we sometimes feel in even sitting down to write. How do I start? Or…I’m stuck. What can I do? We’ll try to answer those questions!

You know how classes are usually more interesting when the subject obviously touches the instructor, too? Well, I can tell you I proposed this class because it’s a topic very much alive for me. I’m fascinated by the feeling of wanting to write, but then finding every which way not to do it! I hope to create a space where participants can reconnect with the joy of creativity and get their pens flowing again. Perfect for that new year’s writing resolution!

4 Mondays (January 21, 28; February 4, 11) from 2 PM-4 PM. All the details and registration information over on the WICE website.

Come join me in the adventure!


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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