Archive for November, 2010

Snow Shots (and Being Sneaky)

In front of my apartment

Where am I?

Still in Paris, but of late I wonder. What is this “Winter Wonderland”?

The park next door

(Slightly indecent) smiley snow car

Snow is predicted this whole week with temperatures to reach as low as -6 degrees. (Ok, that’s in Celsius to be dramatic, but still! 21 degrees Fahrenheit if you want the conversion).


I much prefer snow to rain – what we usually get around these parts – but please let me complain just a wee bit: it’s freezing!

I continue to be a hermit, hunkering down in my (poorly-insulated) apartment, but sometimes I do have to leave for basic staples.

Good thing the cold can’t kill my curiosity. On the way to the pharmacy I walked by this:

Maybe not the most beckoning of images, right?

But wait! What’s this? The door is open!

You know me by now, don’t you? What do you think I did?

You are correct. I went in, of course. You just never know…

And as I suspected: cuteness lay behind that battered door:

Continue reading ‘Snow Shots (and Being Sneaky)’


Happy Thanksgiving

Last year on Thanksgiving Day, I was flying over the Atlantic, worried, scared. My mother had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and I was coming back to be with her through surgery and recovery. So much unknown. It’s times such as those that the reality of living so far away hits home.

This Thanksgiving, I sit calmly in Paris where a strange sun is breaking through the gray clouds, a sky that might even promise snow. I am thinking about all that I have to be grateful for, how light can pierce through what at first looks bleak.

I am happy to report that my mom is doing great; breast cancer is something we can beat. I am also grateful that despite the distance, the ocean cannot break the most important of bonds. In fact, I think being an expat makes me think even more about gratitude, how much I have to be thankful for in my life. Sometimes, at a remove, we can see how precious everything is; stand back and we see things shine.

This past year has been quite challenging, on many different levels. There have been times that I felt my light burning low. But it is also through struggle that I become so intensely aware of the many gifts that surround me. Daily miracles. I am one of the luckiest people on earth. I know what love means.

I have family, friends, my health, my imagination, my dreams, a beautiful city, new possibilities, opportunities – and a voice inside me that tells me to leap at them with everything I have.

I am also grateful for your readership and comments. Thank you. I wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving filled with joy.

Tunisian Tunes

Have I gushed about my Tuesday night contemporary dance class yet?

No? Well, that is a real oversight.

I’ve been calling it the source of all good things recently. It has truly been one of the highlights of this fall.

I’ll share more about it soon, but here’s just one reason I love it: the amazing women in the class.

Emel and I are the diehards; sometimes it’s only the two of us in class. I knew she was a singer, but not until she invited me to her concert did I realize she was actually something of a star.

(Video from a concert at Place de la Bastille. Beginning words in French, song in Arabic. You don’t have to understand to hear it’s beautiful. If you don’t have the full 5 minutes, you can skip to 2:30 for the high notes 🙂 )

I had no idea such a powerful voice came out of that tiny little body (she’s pretty small).

Tonight’s concert took place at the intimate Theatre de Petit Saint Martin, just a short walk from Republique. Besides her amazing voice, she plays guitar and was accompanied by the bass and violin (LOVED the violin).

The evening was organized by La Compagnie des Arts, which my dance teacher Laetitia founded. (See, another amazing woman). The company’s events and shows support humanitarian and social causes; tonight’s proceeds, for example, will go to an association fighting against domestic violence.

I attended the concert with my friend Rafaele – who I *also* met in (another) dance class (Notice a theme?)

Emel sings mainly in Arabic; her voice is so transcendent, however, that I felt like I understood everything she was expressing without knowing a word. Almost unclassifiable, her music has echoes of classical, electro, rock, and oriental rhythms.

Leading up to Thanksgiving – and every day – I’ve been counting my blessings. Meeting more and more amazing, creative folks in Paris is certainly one of them.

Hear more of Emel’s music on her myspace page.

Click for more information on La Compagnie des Arts.

SAD Inspires (Sort of)

Everyone in my immediate family has a middle name starting with A: Anne, Ariel, Alfonso (yep, you read that right).

Everyone, that is, except me. That was to save me from initials that spell out SAD.

I appreciate my parents’ concern. Unfortunately, the abbreviation avoidance could not actually save me from suffering from the real SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder. (And yes, it is real!)

Since we set clocks back an hour – and if someone can explain why we do that a week earlier in the EU than the States, I’d be interested – I’ve been pretty aware of SAD’s effects. Doesn’t help that the Paris fall is in full swing, too – cold and gray (the rain’s on the way, too, I’m sure).

Paris in November grey

Of course, this is perfect weather for my current state of being a hermit and working. I know I’m a bit secretive about my writing, but that’s partly because the process is a big mystery to me, too. Talking about writing is not the same as writing. I just need to do it.

Last week I went to Ann Mah’s reading and was inspired to be surrounded by so many writers. I’m friendly with people who already have published books! Wow, I want one of my own.

Of course, the only way that’s going to happen is if I keep my butt in the chair and keep believing that this crazy dream can in fact happen if I work hard enough.

And so, the crappy weather is actually playing its part. I like writing late at night. As it looks like midnight starting at 5 PM, I can be tricked into starting much earlier now.

Thanks, Paris. Cheers, SAD.

What’s your positive spin on SAD? How do you beat the bad weather blues?

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Faux Pas Friday: Beauty Blunders

Warning: The following post risks TMI. Still here? Great!

Last week I treated myself to a hammam. Actually, friends treated me as I received a “Bien-Etre Smartbox” as a birthday gift (great idea!)

The “Smartbox” contains a catalogue of “well-being” activities from which to choose – a massage, a Qi-Gong class, a hair-styling session (really?), entry into a hammam, etc, etc. Any of the listed partners accept the Smartbox card as a gift certificate.

If you’re googling “hammam” right now, I’ll save you time: it’s the Turkish word for steam bath and a bit of a thing in Paris. Why getting naked, sweating, and having someone scrub me down was my idea of fun, I’m not sure, but this was the option I selected. (Oh wait, I guess that actually does sound fun, in a racy sort of way).

Saletta Hammam allestita per uno dei trattamenti più esclusivi del centro Benessere
(This is not the hammam I went to, but you get the idea).

I’d only been to a hammam once before, but never to La Sultane de Saba. I was so excited for my little adventure, I wasn’t thinking straight when I left the house.

Halfway to the spa, I noticed the Smartbox’s advice: “prevoir un maillot de bain.” Bring a bathing suit.

Oh. Yeah. Duh. A bathing suit.

(Crap). I didn’t have a bathing suit with me.

I quickly ran through my options:

1) Show up with nothing. Enter the hammam completely naked or in my raggedy underwear. Risk eternal embarrassment.

Or, 2) Go back home, grab a bathing suit and hope I’m not yelled at for being late.

Continue reading ‘Faux Pas Friday: Beauty Blunders’

Today’s Market Promo

“Everything’s 1 euro,” the guy at the market said today. “Including the seller,” referring to himself. “Mademoiselle,” he bats his eyelashes at me.

I wonder if this line ever works?

Wouldn’t I want a man worth a little more? Or maybe I just passed up the best deal ever!

As a friend noted, he was pricing himself at a “symbolic euro” for me. Also, if he does dishes, Alison said she’d take him. 🙂

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Thank You!

Hello, friends!

I just wanted to thank you all for making my birthday so special. I was truly blown away by the number of nice comments I received. I am so grateful for you all – I feel as if I’ve gained a wonderful new community by starting this blog. Thank you for sharing the ride with me!

I promise a full post soon (perhaps even a Faux Pas Friday, as even on my birthday I managed one!), but for now just wanted to send a quick note of appreciation.

More soon! Bon weekend!


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32 Flavors

So I wasn’t going to do this. But then, one of the perks of having a blog is receiving nice comments that make my day. And today is my birthday. And nice comments on birthday = even better birthday.

32. Hmm. Haven’t really heard anything in particular about 32. It seems like a nice enough age to me. And Ani DiFranco’s “32 Flavors” of course springs to mind:

(I’ll also pretend that the applause is for me)

Ok, not really a birthday song. But I do stand by this: “I am 32 flavors and then some.”

This song sent me down memory lane. I used to listen to Ani all of the time, particularly in my college years. She voiced both the full angst and awesomeness of that period for me. (Life is dramatic and hard! I am kick-ass and amazing!) Oh god, if I only knew.

After playing this little ditty, I started listening to a whole bunch of other Ani songs, what used to be a pretty regular soundtrack to my days though it’s been years. And I realize, goodness! She is still awesome!

And then I remembered that “32 Flavors” comes from her 1995 album. And that 1995 is FIFTEEN YEARS AGO.

This revelation/reminder of time speeding by started making me feel a bit bad, which was totally not the point.

Which is why I invite you to wish me a happy birthday and make me feel better. Because it will.


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Author Interview: Ann Mah

Ann Mah

I had so much fun with my first author interview, I just had to do another!

Ann Mah is a journalist and the author of Kitchen Chinese, a novel about “food, family, and finding yourself.”

A Paris resident since August 2008, she was a Program Manager at the American Library of Paris for a year and a half, organizing the Evenings with an Author series. She has now stepped down from that position to focus on writing her second novel about a female sommelier in Paris. (Janet Skeslien Charles who I interviewed last time has stepped into the Program Manager role at ALP – don’t you love all these connections?)

Previously Ann has worked as an assistant editor at Viking Penguin in New York, as a staff writer for an English-language magazine in Beijing, and even won a culinary scholarship to study in Bologna, Italy! Her husband’s post as a diplomat ensures they have exciting new countries to discover every few years.

Ann took the time to answer a few questions about writing, getting unwired, and the importance of place to her work.

Continue reading ‘Author Interview: Ann Mah’

Running in Heels

Quick follow-up to my recent Faux Pas Friday about bathrobe escapades. Actually, the following tidbit is what prompted me to write that post in the first place, but I got so caught up in confessing my odd behavior that I forgot to mention it.

Another Paris blogger made me aware of this competition: a high-heeled running race. Melissa of Prete-Moi Paris is sweet, fashionable, and apparently able to run in heels. In other words, the complete opposite of me. (Except sweet. I’m pretty sweet, people).

All I can say is, only in Paris. I’m not sure I even have anything further to add.

So maybe I need to work on looking more presentable in Paris, but I sure as heck am not going to feel bad that I can’t run in heels.

But I’m always here to make you aware of the random – enjoy!

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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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