It’s foggy and grey today.

It’s foggy and grey today. A light cold rain outside. I’m thinking of other places.

I’m kind of wishing i was in a heated car driving down one of those single lane roads in the middle of California. I’m thinking of a stretch of road just south of Santa Cruz, past that weird town known as The Artichoke Center Of The World. You know the part of the drive where the blue sky is brilliantly set off by the bright green of endless rolling hills. Sometimes you can see the rain in the distance. You speed along on the wet road, in and out of sunshine. You’ve exhausted all your tapes so the radio’s tuned to a country station, the a only one that comes in, but it’s kind of good. You light a cigarette for your friend at the wheel. He nods a thanks as you light one for yourself. You’ve also exhausted conversation with your driving buddy, but the silence is a sweet one. And you wish this road with its sunshine and green hills would never ever end

IHT: Inflation Could Crash the

IHT: Inflation Could Crash the Euro’s Party

No shit – the euro prices are all just a bit higher than the francs were: the magazine, the lunch, the baguette, the cheap red wine by the glass, the cover charge. Did they all think that no one would really notice? Bastards.

On the brighter side, Darleen’s put her Paris pics up which she’s charmingly named Missed You Something Eiffel.

Feeling slightly overwhelmed today by

Feeling slightly overwhelmed today by the multiplying financial attachments tagging along my ankles. In the abstract, the unmarried and childless twenties-ish urban lifestyle requires only rent, and the obligatory few dollars for booze, drugs, and clothes. Not so, friends. The student loan payments, the out of the blue rent hike, the cat expenses from across the ocean, the domain name renewal, the dsl… ok i can’t possibly go on with this list [sigh]. I am also feeling like i am getting jacked by everyone and anyone. You know that feeling?

And now that we’re bitching, my desk at work has possibly the worst feng shui imaginable. Directly behind me is the door, the printer, and the water cooler. There’s a constant stream of people poking their noses into my computer screen, making gulping noises centimeters from my ears, and reaching over my shoulder to borrow a stapler and shuffle their papers on my desk. Grrrr. That’s it, i am just going to start growling at them, like my cat does when she’s reached her boiling point on my refusal to let her sleep on my keyboard. Oh my high maintenance cat, how i miss your furry princesse attitude.

Ordinarily i’d take the evening to go home and stew; but now with my shiny new Acme Brand Social Life, i’m not going to stew, no sireeee. Going to the opening of the Palais de Tokyo [warning: this is one of those sites that decides to hijack your desktop]. Actually Paul was nice enough to send this NYTimes article which talks about the Palais and other wonders of Art making appearances in my adopted step-child of a city.

As 16h rolled around today

As 16h rolled around today (10am EST), i noticed the relative emptiness of my AIM buddylist. Naturally my first thought was that all my slacker friends had coincidentally overslept on the same day. That thought is pretty well within the realm of possibility. Later on today i saw my calendar and realized it was MLK jr. day.

A coupla days ago darleen and stephen and i listened to an old This American Life episode on Americans in Paris, and one of the segments was a really good one on a black American, Janet McDonald, who has permanently moved to Paris and her thoughts on the perceptions of race here as opposed to the good ol’ USA. It is a really good one. Even though you should brave real player and listen to it yourself, to sum up she talked about how here in Paris she’s seen as an American. Whereas in the States she is seen as black, first and foremost. As white as i am, i can concur that living here is the only time i’ve really felt like an American. But when i actually give it some thought, it’s not so much that i feel like an American. It’s really more that i am consistently reminded that i am *not French*. And all of these group labels, whether race, nationality, social descriptions are not really about what one is, but rather about what one isn’t. It takes a city of frenchies to make me feel American. It takes being the only white girl at a party to make me a white girl. It all is much more acute when we talk about race in the United States however; The history is so painful and the politics far from being resolved. In a white country, white is nothing; and black is black. It’s easy to see from any random conversation. Race becomes a descriptive adjective (without any racial meaning persay) only when the person is non-white.

Do French people here feel specifically French? I will have to ask around. Of course in Europe countries are much closer together and share more history, thus the need to define oneself against another group is much more present than in the States. I would imagine anyway. I was aware of being an outsider from all these groups at a really early age. Spending a formative early portion of my childhood in the whitest suburb ever, Orange County California, as an immigrant and a Jew had the potential to be destructively isolating. But my first grade self assimilated into the narrow society of suburban American elementary school children with a vengeance. This included consciously abandoning any connection to either my Turkish or Jewish culture. In a way it was even sort of fun. I would make up entire new histories for myself every so often. Sometimes i was born in the local hospital in Irvine. Sometimes it was names of hospitals i heard on daytime television. I don’t know why but we kids were obsessed with pointing out the hospitals we were born in. Once i said it was in Minnesota because i had just learned how to spell that word. I liked to say i was Roman Catholic because i thought just saying those big words made me seem refined and smart. Luckily we moved a lot so i could lie with impunity. Plus kids have either short memories or just short attention spans. No one ever caught me in my fabricated history.

This also all coincided with the years in which i was changing my name constantly. The name on my birth certificate is Nil Yvette Hillel. None of these names now appears on any of my IDs, credit cards, checks, or correspondence. Now i call myself nil from time to time (thus the title of my blog). It’s neat to be in Paris with my family here who knows me as nil and calls me by that name. When i hear it, it’s a good feeling. Like there’s someone who knows me. Which is also odd, because my family here doesn’t know me *at all*. In some ways i’d like to have nil back, but the weird part is that the acceptance of my given name coincided with the fact that i kind of just stopped caring what people called me all together. Nil is good, neille is just as good.

I remember the feeling of listening to politicians on television talking about The Immigration Problem, which in California translates pretty directly into The Mexican Problem. But i remember the feeling of fear i would get at these speeches as a child. This feeling that a certain important They didn’t want me here. And then i precisely remember a moment as a freshman in college listening to a similar speech on tv in the lounge of my dorm. I listened and disagreed in my little liberal mind about whatever it was he was saying. And it struck me that this old fear was gone. I had completely assimilated. I was just like everyone else. Of course there were always the explaining-to-my-friends-where-i-was-born conversations. But those only came up once or twice in the course of the friendship. It was right about then too, when i was fitting in easily with whatever group i wanted to fit in with, that i made a pretty conscious decision that i’d stay out of groups as a rule. Which i have. I float on the edges of certain circles, removing myself if i ever feel like i’m getting even slightly swallowed up in them. And it suits me just fine.

Even amidst the recent patriotic frenzy, i’m not entirely comfortable being described as an American. As with all of us, it’s a lot more complicated than that. But i recognize that this description is just another way of saying Not French, and hell if i can argue with that!

It’s brilliantly sunny outside and

It’s brilliantly sunny outside and 54 Farenheit. Wow, upon walking outside to lunch, i caught myself in the middle of the thought, “It’s Spring”. Quickly i calculated the date as January 21 and my latitude as as 48. Spring? Here? Now? Not bloody likely. But it is an amazing day outside, and i may escape the office on the pretense of a Kit Kat, but really just go soak up some unseasonable spring.

In the meantime here are some great lil apps to make OSX a little bit more yours:

- Visage: Customize your your Boot Panel, Boot Strings, Login Panel, Login Screen Background, Dock Poof, and Dock Transparency. It’s cool really. And easy.

- ASM: Rocks. Gives you back the “Application Switcher Menu”, meaning the Hide This, Hide Others, Show All stuff in the top right corner menu (woo hoo). And will allow you to use a bunch of other OS 9 system goodies that OSX just threw away for no discernable reason. This thing is such a relief that if i weren’t running extremely low on US Dollars, i would most definitely donate to the dude. I swear.

- Sosumi: Replaces those irritating watery NyQuil pills that pass for buttons on OSX. I haven’t actually installed this one yet because of my fear of the command line. I should probably get over that. Then again, maybe i shouldn’t.

Jeezus i’m tired. Since Darleen

Jeezus i’m tired. Since Darleen and Stephen’s visit, i think i’ve gained 10 pounds, half of it consists of phlegm that’s attached itself to my esophagus from navigating smoke-filled bars and parties for the last 10 days. I’ve also managed to empty my bank account of an equal weight in euros.

Also, my longing for New York has returned with a vengeance. I have a ticket for February 22, which seems like years away. Yesterday I received a card from my airline mileage program offering a reduced miles ticket to the states. I am strict about flying the same airline, using the credit card program, the long distance carrier; i even once collected 5 coupons from certain kellogs cereal brands and mailed them in for 500 miles. I have a lot of miles. I have been planning a trip to Thailand with some of of them, but the friends involved seem to be flaking like so much pain au chocolat. Even with that trip i would have enough to also do another New York trip. But only two seconds of logic tells me it’s ridiculous to do a long weekend to New York, wear myself out, screw with my bio-rythms, and use up 35,000 miles when i have a ticket for 10 days in one month.

I attribute the recurrence of this wave of homesickness to the surprising appearance of a social life. Because, as my parents have been telling me all my life, once i have a little i always want more. More more more, damnit! Last night we went to a hole in the wall club near Place D’Italie (on a street we decided to call the “Rue d’esperation”). We walked in and confronted non-stop 60s obscure acid rock, and more mod style mullets in one room than… than… than what, jeez? Darleen exclaimed, “It’s the 60s!” I exclaimed, “It’s Williamsburg!” The 60s and Williamsburg aside, it was a really damn cool place. The vibe was good, the crowd was hot, the music was unique, the drinks were strong. But i couldn’t possibly bring myself to subject some unlucky Parisian to my broken small talk over the loud music. And i was the french speaker in the group – ha. This is easily why i am on a search for a club where i can just dance, and feel like i’m participating without having to speak. Of course no word from the french class i’ve again applied to this semester. If i don’t get in again, i either need to buy some Berlitz course on CD or get the hell out of here.

– This was written around

– This was written around quittin time yesterday –

So i’m sitting in the office trying to decide if i should wait for this disk image of Office X to mount and then install it today, or screw it and go home and deal tomorrow. I haven’t written this week because my computer is tormenting me. My watery, drop-shadowed, command-line enabled OSX machine. For the record OSX does crash. I have already crashed it 3 times in the 4 days i’ve had it installed. So far i am not rilly happy with the way this whole thing has gone here. There’s not so much software out for it yet, and the shit that is out is all buggy beta crap, and mostly i just hate all the damn anti-aliased text and drop shadows that make me feel like i’m going blind.

:: aside – it seems my swiped version of office X does not work – blech! ::

So needless to say i’ve not spent much time actually *doing* anything on the computer besides dealing with the computer. I am half considering uninstalling OSX and going back to the carefree days of 9.1. God but that pisses me off, all this wasted effort now… We’ll see.

It’s already thursday and i haven’t written at all about the fabulous party that i went to on saturday in the catacombs. I’m posting a silly picture of darleen (from nyc) and me and nils (de paris) posing in that catacombs sorta style.

Clearly the three of us need to start a band so that this can be the album cover. Anyway it rocked. There was dancing, there was wine, there was cheese, there was champagne, there was drumming, and there was a really cute but very weird guy who kept diving into the muddy floor and rolling around for no discernable reason. Check out anne-marie’s pictures of the fun. Mine will be up someday soon.

– back to today –

So it’s the last of a very long work week. The kids have been wearing me out with activity. I keep having to explain to them that my solitary self isn’t used to this much stimulation. It’s lunchtime now and i’m off for another round of battle with my bank.

More later.

The Archives are finally done

The Archives are finally done

The Friday post (down there)

The Friday post (down there) was supposed to appear on Friday – but blogger was down so finally got to it today.

Today isn’t really going to be a post but only to re-emphasize that i am all wrapped up in upgrading both my work and home computer to OSX. The upgrading itself is done, but getting all the software together is a task and a half. It goes without saying that i’m not going to actually buy any of it. But the swiping is made difficult by the fact that my office barely has licenses to any of the things i use, and of the things they do have, there’s a pretty good possibility that it will be a french version. So my future productivity is in the hands of the Hotline gods.

The weekend was plain fun, owing that i’ve got 2 good friends in town. There’s been a lot of wine and shopping so far. Also a rockin party in the catacombs on Saturday night. I’ve got lots of pictures that i should be posting any month now.

My friends Darleen and Stephen

My friends Darleen and Stephen got into Paris today. They’re are spending a little over a week in my “adorable apartment” so updates may be sporadic. We had a hilarious lunch today, cracking up, being loud and American. C’etait super! I can only be funny in french if i make some sort of word mistake (like asking the waiter for the sin soup, instead of the fisherman’s soup, those words are very similar). And any sophisticated sort of humor requires a much greater mastery of the language that i have. I think if you can be witty in another language, you’ve totally mastered it. I am so many moons away from that.

After the last MacWorld, i’ve been inspired to install OSX on my laptop at home. I’m itching to try out iPhoto. Now that i have a digital camera, i take so many pictures – but i am so backed up in cropping, correcting, and uploading them – that they just gather the proverbial dust on my hard drive. So that will be this weekend’s projects, whenever the kiddies are exhausted from trecking around the city in search of LaCoste underwear (not kidding, not kidding at all). Luckily i’ve got a partition so if i fail, all will not be lost (i hope). Either way, i’ll be doing a lot of backing up first.

It’s also sale time here in gay Paris. There are only two times a year that stores are allowed to formally have sales (“soldes”), and this is one of them. Exciting indeed. I need new winter boots, badly. I’ve worn through the soles of last years down to nothing. I swear i could feel a pea underneath them, not too mention the cold cold sidewalk. Here’s to a weekend of shopping and humor and OSX…