"Gertrude Stein was Fugly, but awesome"

As I pushed open the door this morning, I was dismayed to see the sidewalk soaking wet. Another rainy day in Paris? It was bad news for my maxi skirt. A few blocks south, the pavement was perfectly dry, and I questioned the Parisian rain patterns. And then I saw a man in a bright green vest hosing down the sidewalk.  Yes, Paris is washed, by humans, everyday.  Everyday.  If I wasn’t so dedicated to this blog I’d be writing Mayor Bloomberg a very pleasant letter at this very moment…

We started our first creative writing seminar today, which was really interesting! I won’t bore you with our three-hour lesson, but we discussed the Modernists in Paris and their influences on each other, how we see artistic techniques reflected in different authors’ works.  I paid attention for the entirety of our first seminar, which is perhaps a personal record.  The school itself (which is very old, I could tell you how old but French numbers confuse me) is gorgeous and reminds me more of the hacienda in Ecuador than any college campus I've ever visited.

Writing is such a solitary activity. Writers like to spend time alone, scribbling notes, reading, or thinking profound thoughts. I imagined myself doing much of this in chic cafés during my month here.  And while I have spent quality time with a cappuccino and a novel, I’ve also found that the writers in my program are just as excited to see and experience Paris as I am.

After our seminar and a quick Orangina break, we enjoyed a lecture by a guest speaker, novelist Adam Thirlwell. He reminded me of someone so distinctly, I couldn’t place it, and then I realized… Yes, he was the real life version of Ed from Lip Service. 

Following Adam's lecture, we walked to the Latin Quarter to watch him read from his new novel, Kapow!, for the first time at Shakespeare & Company, which is apparently a haven for English speaking literary types in Paris.

On the way, we took a detour to a vintage store, at which I found a fantastic pair of navy leather shoes for an excellent price.  My first Parisian wardrobe item!

Shakespeare & Company was amazing in every way.  The walls were lined with books and the attic was filled with cozy couches to curl up on.  We were in Writer Heaven.  This place cannot be real we whispered among the typewriters and chandeliers decorating the reading room.

After the reading, we stopped for crepes in the Latin Quarter (oeuf avec frommage por moi) and walked down the Seine to the Eiffel Tower.  On the way, we passed The Sorbonne, Notre Dame, Musee de Orsay-- you know, just on our casual walk to the Eiffel Tower, nbd.  All the nervous energy I had before I leaving has suddenly transferred into uncontainable enthusiasm for anything and everything Parisian.

Parisians line the Seine at night, drinking wine and eating cheese.  It’s shocking to me how much Paris is actually the charming place you expect it to be!

One of my favorite things we saw during our walks were the Love Padlocks attached to a bridge crossing the Seine. The locks are inscribed with lovers' or friends' names, locked to the bridge, and the key is thrown into the river. The relationship and its importance at that moment will be on the bridge forever, even if the people grow apart.  Romantic or cheesy, I still love seeing these little facets of people displayed in public.  (Disclaimer: the French government cuts of the locks when the bridge is too full). Also, there was no one on the bridge selling padlocks.  No one!  If you're looking for a job in Paris, this is a seriously untapped market.

I love that living here lets me break out from the typical guidebook spots and see elements of Paris the typical tourist wouldn't necessarily see. On that note...

The line to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower is insane.  I judge anyone who waits in these lines for the Empire State Building, but hey, when in Paris…

After an hour-plus long wait, we finally bought our tickets to head to the top in an elevator/terrifying contraption and I pressed my face to the glass as we ascended into the air inside of Paris’ most renowned building.  The lights started blinking like fireworks on the frame, and then entire crowd below us started cheering. I want to describe this as magical, but that would be cliché.  Instead I’ll describe it as extremely magical.

It took a few seconds to set in that I was in the Eiffel Tower.

And it wouldn’t be study abroad if I wasn’t yelled at in French for standing on the railing of Paris’ tallest building, risking plummeting to my death in the Seine.  But I needed to compensate for giving up ANTM with a few model shots.  Yes, there were many cameras and flashes surrounding me.  And my five minutes of celebrity atop Paris’ cultural icon were completely worth it.