Archive for January, 2011

French Forks Have At It


The observation of French women eating cupcakes with a spoon at Scarlett’s unleashed many a tale of other foods we (barbaric?) Americans normally eat with our hands given the civilized (or silly?) French treatment.

All of the following fell to the French fork and knife: pizza slices, hamburgers, mini-muffins, fruit, bagel and lox.

The Antiques Diva tweeted an example today that takes the cake, however.

Peanut Butter.

Yes. Apparently her French friend spooned peanut butter onto a plate (and not onto bread), then proceeded to eat it with a fork and knife.

Wow. Just wow.

I mean, sure, you can scoop peanut butter with a spoon. You may spread peanut butter with a knife.

But to eat just a mound of peanut butter with a fork and knife? Amazing.

Thanks everyone for your contributions!

I’m off to dinner tonight and will try to remember my table manners.


Scarlett’s Bakery

Mini-cupcakes at Scarlett's Bakery

Tonight the sight of these mini-cupcakes drew me into Scarlett’s Bakery, a cute little shop that’s been open less than 2 months in my neighborhood.

My friend and I thought 1.20 euros per mini-cupcake was a bit much for such a small treat, but I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to resist next time.

Regular-sized cupcakes were 3.20, but we both opted for the cheesecake, which at 3.80 for a huge slice seemed like the best deal.

I’m no connossieur, but the cheesecake was yum to me. Plus the bottom of the cake tasted just like Graham Crackers. Graham Crackers! I haven’t had those in like two decades! I said to my friend. There wasn’t *enough* of this crust for me.

A healthy (?) sized cheesecake

We were right about the size.

“Death by cheesecake,” my friend proclaimed. I couldn’t finish mine and wondered whether I should ask to take the rest home. “Doggy bags” just aren’t done in France and for a dessert I imagine even less so.

“But this will be my test!” I said.

Continue reading ‘Scarlett’s Bakery’

Pretty Paris

I never forget the beauty of Paris. It’s not something that one ever takes for granted. Even through the eternal ups and downs (and boy, there have been many!), the magical quality of the city endures. In fact, it’s a major reason for putting up with the many trials of living here.

But really? Loneliness, confusion, French bureaucracy, homesickness – all of these are made easier simply because Paris is pretty?

Well. Yeah.

It sometimes blows my mind that “yes” continues to be my answer. But being surrounded by beauty somehow seeps into the soul.

That being said, all that beauty can sometimes make you feel isolated, too. When you’re feeling down, the contrast between the beauty outside and the non-pretty stuff you feel inside can feel stark.

But I contend beauty is a balm for woe. We each experience it differently, use that meaning in different ways.

Paris’ beauty isn’t exactly a secret and millions have tried to capture her je ne sais quoi. I feel like I’ve seen the same shot of the Eiffel Tower enough to last me a lifetime. The attempts to hold the beauty in a still frame can’t always mirror that very real sensation of standing in a living, moving piece of art.

But sometimes, there is success. Just as we each experience our own version of beauty, everyone has their unique way of capturing it.

Here’s a short video that reminds me of my answer. Our life is art.

Yes. A simple yes.

Le Flâneur from Luke Shepard on Vimeo.

Sunday “Funnies”

Growing up I always used to look forward to the Sunday comics.

These days, I don’t even get the newspaper anymore, so all my “funnies” come from the Internet.

I could make some thin connection to Paris as this is a “weather report” from Atlanta around the time I was coming back to France. I was almost grounded because of the snowstorm, my aircraft stuck in Atlanta, yadda yadda yadda….

But nah. I’m sharing this video simply because it gave me a good laugh.


I wish all weather reports were like this:

Patti Smith Knocks Socks off Paris

Salle Pleyel before it gets its socks knocked off

Do you ever feel so alive and electrified you believe you could simply burst into flame?

Is there a moment – a second, a day – when you’re overcome by your own power, your strength? The power of those around you, light shining everywhere?

Patti Smith makes me feel that way.


Tonight I saw Patti Smith and Philip Glass at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The evening was billed as a tribute to Allen Ginsberg. Both Smith and Glass were close friend’s of the Beat poet. But I was there to see her.


Patti Smith  (Asheville NC, 1997)

She’s in town for a few days with a different event each night. Last night she did an unplugged set. Tomorrow she will perform “Horses” from beginning to end.

I’ll admit: I wanted to go to those other nights more than this one. I wanted to simply bathe in the passion and spirit of Patti; I’m not particularly an Allen Ginsberg fan.

Was I disappointed?

Heck no. Patti can rock the socks off people no matter what she’s doing.

Continue reading ‘Patti Smith Knocks Socks off Paris’

Jingle Bells (and 100 Posts!)

Jingle bells. Today’s title is not a holdover from the holidays, nor some last desperate grasping to that “special time of year.”

No, it refers to a certain quirky detail I’ve noticed since my return to Paris. A small, but funny mystery.

My jetlagged haze might have kept me from registering this the first few days, but since late last week, I’ve been hearing an odd jingling of bells at random intervals throughout the day. The sound is audible in my apartment, though it’s not in my apartment. I have no idea the source.

These are not church bells. Nor are they like clanging cow bells (though they’re much closer to this!)

You know I don’t shy away from mysteries (and have been known to be sneaky), but I don’t even know what I’d go around doing to try to figure this one out. Listen behind neighbors’ doors? What good would that do? I already know what it sounds like! I want to see this thing.

I’m also lamenting my failure of imagination (and I call myself a fiction writer!) I cannot for the life of me imagine what these clattering bells might be.

The best explanation I can come up with is that they’re somehow attached to a toilet and they ring every time there’s a flush. The frequency of the bells, their duration, and the fact that I hear them most clearly in my own bathroom have led me to this conclusion.

Shake em...

I can’t quite fathom the contraption, though. What would clang this way? What exactly does a flushing toilet need bells for? Is this some water-saving device? Does it simply spread joy in the loo?

Another theory is that it’s somehow tied to the elevator. Some squeaky machinery that for some reason, sounds like bells to me.

I’m letting go of the questioning for now, though. Kind of a goal for this new year: accept the random, quirky joys, these little mysteries of life. Nothing wrong with jingling bells each time someone’s on the john, right? Or an extra lift in the elevator. (What will they think of next?)

Any theories? A bit afraid to ask as I’m sure there’s a simple, obvious answer and I’ll be embarrassed by my silliness. Then again, I am silly.

Any random, wonderful little mysteries in your life these days?

Oh yes! And this is post #100! Another joyful thing to me, too. Thanks to Keith for doing a nice little write-up for my blogiversary. I wonder what I can celebrate next.

One Year

My friend Sarah's cat. His name is Little. He's big. I did a fair bit of lounging myself since we last spoke!

Hello, friends!

I know; it’s been awhile. I stumbled back into Paris yesterday just as I left it a month ago: racing against a snowstorm. The East Coast of the US got slammed and I escaped by just a hair. I’ve come back to rain and gray skies – the normal Paris winter, if you will. A fresh, warm baguette upon arrival made me forgive the city for such a soggy welcome.

Vermont College of Fine Arts on New Year's Eve

Funny, how the markers of “home” have changed for me. Between Christmas gifts, books, and a new pair of boots (I’m a sucker for boots), I had zero room for the little treats I usually bring back from the States: mac & cheese, peanut butter, black beans, Trader Joe’s chocolate-covered pretzels. (We can talk later about my random selection, if you want).

But coming back to Paris, changing trains at Gare du Nord and being taken in by the smell of pastries (gosh, even in a dingy train station the pastries smell good!), getting off at my metro stop, Alexandre Dumas, and rolling my suitcase through the outdoor market, I marveled: wow, actually, *this* is home. I think I might just make it this stretch without my home comfort food. Seems as soon as I popped into my bakery I was reminded I’ve found comfort right here in the City of Light.

I love being Tata Sion

A month away is a lot to recap, so I won’t really do that here. Only to say it was a bit of a blur between friends, family, school. I rode Amtrak for nearly 14 hours (DC to Vermont), played in the snow, met some amazing writers, watched my niece walk and run everywhere when last I saw her she was only crawling. I stocked up on hugs (as the French kisses don’t always do it for me, you might remember), brushed up on my English (true! The longer I live in France, the worse my English gets – not so hot for a writer, eh?), and pondered, as I always do, this life between here and there.

I wish you all a Bonne Annee. I know it’s late, but I’ve stumbled into 2011 a bit like I’ve stumbled back to Paris: a little disoriented, but full of hope, happy to see what lies ahead.

On this day, one year ago, I started this blog on something of a whim. I had just come home from a reading, it was snowing outside then, too. I had no idea how many awesome folks like you I’d meet along the way, that Paris, however (im)perfect, would become ever more rich and interesting to me, the more I explored. It’s a blog birthday, but more than that – I’m raising a toast to another great year for all of us.

The wall at Mama's Restaurant in NYC

Cheers and thanks!

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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