Notes from Paris

I just spent ten intense and inspiring days in Paris as part of a New York University’s MFA creative writing program. I suspect it will take me weeks to process all the thought-provoking lectures and suggestions for my own writing that I received. Until more grand thoughts and plans of action emerge, here’s a quick and dirty rundown, culled from notes I made in my iPhone during my nighttime glass of French wine.

Day 1: Intense classes. More theory than I would have theorized. Great reading at the cramped and cozy Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. So in love with Paris (it may be the only place I’ve been to that has totally lived up to its hype). Ravioli for dinner. Rain.

Day 2:  The French language is so beautiful it hardly even sounds human. It’s the singing of a beautiful rare orca. I want to put my tongue in the mouths of whomever is speaking it, man, woman, and mechanized elevator voice alike. Rain.

Day 3: Twice today I inhaled with all my might the delicious scent of streetside crepes. Twice the magnificent odor was replaced by piss stench. I think the smell of fresh pastries and pee will always remind me of Paris. Rain.

Day 4: Today I thought I hated poetry after a poet read his boring essay to us for 90 minutes. Two hours later, at a poetry reading, I spit wine from laughing so hard at a cleverly hilarious poem about a “straightforward mermaid” and then cried during another about a barbershop closing. Rain, then sun.

Day 5: So many classes. Such tiny coffees. Rain.

Day 6: Lecture about how strolling the streets of Paris has inspired writers for hundreds of years. As if I didn’t already think all my Parisian thoughts were completely unoriginal. Rain (So cliché).

Day 7: I feel both that I’ve eaten too much here (paninis, crepes, so much bread) and that I haven’t eaten enough. Rain.

Day 8: Told a poetry graduate student that when a writer giving a lecture gets too philosophical and academic, I think “Can you just say this in a clear and logical way that will be applicable to writing?” Poet replied “Oh really? When someone talks in a clear and logical way, I wish they’d be more philosophical.” Rain. (Vertical moisture from upward origin).

Day 9: Realized all of the things I’m doing wrong in my book. Especially flashback scenes. Went on a boat tour for Bastille Day. Watched fireworks over the Eiffel Tower and had flashbacks to watching fireworks over the Washington Monument. Pretended I was celebrating July 4th instead of July 14th. Sun, finally.

Day 10: Early in the week, an author said “As writers, our job is to promote empathy.” Discussed empathy today with essayist who writes about empathy. Is it enough to be empathetic if it doesn’t spur action? I think it is. A little understanding of how someone else is feeling can go a long, long way. Sun.

Au revoir Paris, I’ll see you again in January.

The Dame in Spain





    1. Men just pee on the street there, apparently. I came back to the apartment where I was staying at night and a guy was peeing on the door to the building. It would be more disgusting if Paris wasn’t so beautiful.

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