Archive for the 'Writing' Category

French-American Mourning

On July 4, I was still in New York with my beau who had quickly fallen under the city’s charms. We were heading to a rooftop barbecue where we would then watch fireworks over the East River.

But the sky and subway had other plans. Right as we were leaving, it began raining hard, great sheets of water. I checked, too, the subway, and our line, the A, was reported to have significant delays.

“Netflix,” we decided. We changed from our wet clothes into dry ones and curled up on the couch instead.

Despite not taking part in any larger festivities, I was glad to be back in the States. I can’t remember the last time I was home during summer and we had spent many weeks exploring the city and catching up with friends.

“You’re a real French-American now,” my beau joked. “In the US for the 4th of July and back in France for the 14th of July.” (F was surprised, then amused beyond measure, to learn we call the French national celebration Bastille Day.)

The patriotic party ended quickly, however. July 5: the murder of Alton Sterling. July 6: The murder of Philando Castile. I burst out weeping. This reality of grief and injustice over and over again. This America, too.

Thursday morning and F hadn’t seen the news yet; I debated whether to tell him as he was rushing to get ready. It was our last full day in NYC and he had several social plans lined up – meeting an actress who had been in one of his short movies years ago, then a date to watch the France-Germany match with some soccer fans we’d met. I was proud of his independence in my home.

But as he was walking out the door, my heart started pounding. My lovely, kind, warm, funny French boyfriend. My beautiful black beau was heading out into the streets of New York alone. He’s not versed in the (heartbreaking) survival codes a black man in America needs to know! I thought, terrified. And even if he were, often it doesn’t matter. As we’ve witnessed time and time again, you can be shot for doing absolutely nothing wrong.

I muffled my wildly beating heart and didn’t say anything to F, then burst out crying again when he left.

Later that evening, news from Dallas came in, the 5 police officers shot dead by a sniper. My whole body seemed to go into meltdown, my mind unable to process the violence upon violence without end.

We packed in a hurry. Friday was always our original leave date, but the trio of tragedies on three successive days seemed even more to be pushing us out. My friend says I left nearly 2 drawers full of clothes at her place. She said it was as if we ran to the airport. Ran to fly away from the grief.

Back in Paris, the sun shone, then it rained, then the sun appeared again. It was better than the difficult spring here I’d heard, the unceasing deluge, the rising Seine, the protests, the strikes. All seemed calm as I strolled my Parisian streets. It was good to see the languid bustle of the cafes, the stands being set up for the marché.

Yesterday I wasn’t feeling well; I knew I wouldn’t be up for any big celebrating for the 14 juillet. But a small voice inside me also said, and better to stay home, anyway. The assembly of crowds on this symbolic day could mean danger. I’m so sad I think that way now, but I do.

I read and padded around the house, tried to nap off some of my lingering jetlagged fatigue. I turned on the TV late to watch the fireworks, a beautiful choreographed display on the Champs de Mars, the Iron Lady standing tall in all her glory while the colors and sparkles exploded all around.

Then a news update flashed across the screen.

Oh my god. So there it is. It didn’t happen in Paris (this time), but a massacre on Bastille Day in Nice.

I think it’s shock, because my mind couldn’t compute straight away.

A truck?

Several dozens dead? (84 we now know).

This is the world we live in. It feels like it’s in flames.

“it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world”
– Mary Oliver

I have no tidy words to conclude this post; we are all living it still. I’m only acknowledging that I am here. You are here. That simple fact in and of itself important. A miracle each day.

I’m both French and American now. It’s true. These two rich, complicated identities. This was the first trip I traveled with two passports, the first time I sailed through the EU line.

But I don’t feel bound by territory. I feel we are larger than borders. We are human beings. Citizens of the world. And we can’t run from what we see.

Life is hard, the world is, too, our lives matter, peace is the way, our work continues, face the fear, through it, it’s okay to feel it. Fight for change, connect the dots, connect with each other, find the beauty, mourn.

Difficult as it is, and some days it feels impossible, believe me, I know, continue to get up in the morning. Rise to love, love, love.

Writing in Famous Authors’ Homes – The Mount, The Kerouac House, plus Film + Event News!

The Mount, Edith Wharton's house in Lenox, MA

The Mount, Edith Wharton’s house in Lenox, MA

Friends, do you remember my happy stint as the writer-in-residence at the Kerouac House a few years ago?

Sitting on the porch of Jack's house.

Sitting on the porch of Jack’s house.

This spring, I’ve been having a similar experience, this time in the Berkshires.

Reindeer sighting early in my stay!

Reindeer sighting early in my stay!

Since mid-February I’ve been staying in a sweet 1-bedroom apartment on Stockbridge, MA’s Main Street (a site captured forever in Norman Rockwell paintings), teaching a twice-weekly creative writing class at the local Waldorf high school, and luxuriating in time to focus on my own writing as the Stone Court Writer-in-Residence.

It’s funny how I thought I would hide away here and pile up the pages. While I have gotten a lot of work done, it hit me soon after arriving that it can be hard to hermit in a town of less than 2,000 inhabitants. Just heading out my door to go for a walk I’m sure to run into someone I know. It’s a delight. Paris undoubtedly has pleasures galore, but there are many to be found in small town life, too.

Shutters at The Mount

Shutters at The Mount

The biggest surprise and fortune has been making a connection with The Mount, Edith Wharton’s elegant country home in Lenox, MA. I admit before my residency, the extent of my Wharton knowledge was the required reading of Ethan Frome in high school, a bleak experience that did not exactly leave me clamoring to seek out more of the author’s work.

Garden path at The Mount

Garden path at The Mount

But from the moment I stepped inside The Mount, I felt a magical energy. And by some further magic – and the very real generosity of the incredibly kind staff – I was allowed to spend nearly a month writing there each day. WOW!

Look there in the corner. That's me writing in Edith Wharton's bedroom!

Look there in the corner. That’s me writing in Edith Wharton’s bedroom!

Continue reading ‘Writing in Famous Authors’ Homes – The Mount, The Kerouac House, plus Film + Event News!’

Keys to a Beautiful Heart

Newfound Journal screenshotThis week we’ve had sunny days, a spike in pollution (smog swallowed the Eiffel Tower), and today, an uneventful solar eclipse – from here it looked like any other gray Paris sky.

It is also the first day of spring. Let us celebrate what we can.

I have a small little thing to celebrate, too: publication of a micro-essay in a lovely literary journal.

Here’s a link to my short piece, “Keys to a Beautiful Heart” in Newfound Journal.

Enjoy your weekend!

Happy New Year! Blogiversary! Love Your Life!

Which direction are you headed this year?

Which direction are you headed this year?

Hello friends,

Happy new year! Has 2014 started off well? Have you made resolutions? Broken any already? Or are you just playing life as it comes?

I’m celebrating, too, another special occasion. Four years ago today I started this blog and signed in as paris (im)perfect for the first time. Thank you for coming along for the ride!

Speaking of which, as someone always seeking Paris quirk, it seems only fitting that my blogiversay and the “No Pants Subway Ride” take place around the same time.

Continue reading ‘Happy New Year! Blogiversary! Love Your Life!’

Three Year Blogiversary!

Today is my blogiversary and I’ve just returned to Paris!

View from friend's apartment

View from a friend’s apartment

Merci in the 11eme.

Merci in the 11eme.

Three years already. Happy birthday, baby. You keep growing so fast.

At 59 Rivoli

At 59 Rivoli

New cafe in my 'hood

New cafe in my ‘hood

Thank you, lovely readers, for coming along for the strange and beautiful ride.

I pass this street art all the time.

Rue de la Roquette; I pass this all the time.

Inside the new cultural center, Elephant Paname

Inside the new cultural center, Elephant Paname

Exciting futures ahead.

How is your new year going?

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!

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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