There was also the young men working at West Side Stationers on Broadway and 99th street. They were polite and friendly just a mite too much to be sincere. When I went there they said "Long time no see" as if they had missed me, and for not being conceited, I couldn't explain to myself why they would be so friendly. Then rouble started. Once I was told that a tall young man was Moroccan and spoke French. He did speak French and I told him about my experience of his country. It was at Club Med in 77 and there had been this incident at the night club where I had thrown my glass to the floor after I realized that the guys who had called me to talk to them were in fact harassing me. While some of them said they worked at the theatre workshop and asked me if I wanted a role in the next show, and another explained that I would have to mime sex with a woman to make shadows behind a white curtain, while this conversation was taking place a man by my side was touching my bare back with a branch from a hanging plant. When I realized that they were harassing me and insulting me with the lesbian show, I threw my glass to the floor and left. But a piece of glass flew into the sail-boat instructor who happened to be there clad in nothing more than his French bikini and sectioned off his Achilles' tendon. But wait now I wonder if this hasn't been another ploy of my enemies to make my life miserable. If a simulated accident was among the repertory of my family's dirty tricks, why should they do it only once if it had worked the first time? What makes me think that this 1977 accident might well be a simulation -which I had until now taken at face value, with all the anxiety attending to being sued by the French Social Security- is that it seemed that the only purpose for presenting me to this so-called Moroccan young man at the stationary store was to elicit from me this story of the severed Achille's tendon back in 1977. And if it was a bona fide accident, why would they make me speak about it if not to verify whether or not I believed or not that it was? Because the young man, while I was re-telling this story, kept his head down the whole time with an air of intense concentration instead of looking at me and asking me one or two questions. After I finished the story by saying that it was one of the worst experiences in my life but that it had nothing to do with Moroccan people, I made my purchase and left with a strange feeling. I had actually become passionate about this story and the young Moroccan man hadn't given me a word of sympathy. He had remained cold and remote and it was unusual. The last time I went to this store, I needed ink for the stamp I use for my voilů label. One of the young men told me they didn't have black but they had blue. I said ok. He gave me a bottle that had a red dot on it but I thought it was part of the logo. When I opened the bottle at home it was red ink. But I needed to print new labels and I used a little of this $4 tiny bottle's ink. Then I bought another $4 bottle at another stationary but this time black.
So a new pattern of harassment has appeared. It is extremely petty but the devil, like god, is in the details. Shopping for food or stationary are humble parts of one's life that can't be avoided. And the malice of my family extends into these episodes of everyday life to pollute them and make a mini-nightmare out of them instead of letting them be the enjoyable experience they could be. It ends up in a big nightmare where stores have to be avoided and a neutral activity becomes hazardous.
I returned to the supermarket shortly, asked to speak to one of the managers, a tall Dominican man, and told him that I was fed up with the trouble that his personel created. In the space of about a month all this irritating incidents had happened when I had never had any problem before. I told him that these errors were intentional because someone was going around paying people to harass me.
This combined with the Law Journal irregularity. How about that to become a nervous wreck? By the way I have received all the issues this week, after I accused Bonarti of messing with my mail. When I brought my rent check I wasn't thinking, for once, about the LJ, and it's Bonarti who told me "Your newspaper is here." Maybe I've won this battle.
Yesterday a woman called me to ask if I could sell her a beret. First the telephone rang and there was no message on the machine. Then there was another call and a woman with a soft, calm voice said she'd like a beret. I pick up. She asked if I'd heard the beginning of her message and I said yes. She said her husband bought a green one. I asked what green. She said olive green, with a silky lining. I said it's pure silk. She wanted a black beret. I say I have black on black embroidery or cashmere. She'd like cashmere. To make sure the model is the correct one, I tell her to measure the height of her husband's beret, it shoud be 3.5 or 4 inches, and to call me later so I know what style she's talking about. I also tell her I'll give her the price later. In the meantime I start to ponder whether it is a bona fide buy or a hoax. It's strange that she request a wool hat in mid-April. Shall I pick up and transact over my home phone or shall I tell her that I'm on the other line and that I'll call her right back? She calls with the measurement. I have a 75% cashmere with silk lining black beret. I tell her $48 dollars. She wants to pick it up. She says that she works at the Museum of Modern Art but I don't want to go out of my way to sell a beret and I don't want either for her to come here. I think about a coffee shop where I could meet her in my neighborhood and then, interrupting the anxious mental review of a public place where we could meet, I insist that I mail it to her. She says that she wants to try it first. I ask if her head is unusually large and she says no. I say in this case you can adjust the beret exactly to your head-size thanks to the drawstring. If her husband really has one of my berets, how come she doesn't know that it's adjustable? I say that the perfect fit is 95% of the comfort and the trim is made with a very soft material that won't itch like the wool of cheap berets does. She doesn't sy anything then she says ok, and agrees that she will send me a check. I say I won't charge her sales tax because at the point where my business is I can only call it a hobby. I'm sorry to hear that. So $48, no tax, plus $4 registered mail in the total amount of $52. We exchange addresses. I ask her apartment number. It's a house.
Then I ask if she wouldn't like a summer beret. I have them in burlap, black and natural, in canvas and in terry cloth. I say that the terry cloth acts like a sweat band that's concealed inside the beret. She says that she doesn't wear a hat in the summer time and I say that my berets are particularly comfortable when the weather is hot and humid. It keeps one dry and well ventilated. So first let's see if I get the check.
I have found a better greengrocer, a better stationary and a better supermarket. If salespeople are hostile with me, I'm not going to give them my money. I shop differently. I buy more of the same thing when I find it in a store where the price is good so I won't have to buy it again any time soon and all I have to buy on a bi-weekly basis is fresh produce.
This morning I went to buy the newspaper. There was a group of guys at the entrance of the store and when I approached the door a man who had been talking with the others lifted his arm to slap another guy's hand and his elbow hit my left breast. It wasn't painful but it was my breast and I felt vaguely that my femininity had been insulted. I acted as if nothing had happened and ignored the guy totally as he apologized. After I left the store with the newspaper the guy was walking ahead of me. By his physique and his dress, he didn't seem to be of the neighborhood.
Sun. 04.18: My next door neighbors are a couple of dominicans recently arrived. The woman is dark and small. She babysits for a living. They're rather quiet except if they leave their door open when they have an animated conversation. I praised the peace and quiet to her when she moved in and I asked her once or twice to close her door when the talking gets loud. Once she was cooking (in the communal kitchen) and I couldn't resist telling her it smelled very good and a few days later she gave me a plate with her rice and a few "albondigas" (meat balls), delicious. I don't volunteer to talk to her except a hello. She commented twice on my hat. "What a nice hat!" The first time I heard the hat thing I was on the alert. I knew I had been attracted to a creep the day after my arrest first thing because he wore a beret. A few days later she said that next saturday whe was going to make a good meal. I was walking down the hall and I said, as an afterthought: "You 'll have to show me how you do it." The following Saturday she was out most of the day and I had half expected that she would play a food trick on me. And there it was. I never hoped one minute for a good home cooked meal, wehich was what she wanted, to disappoint me. Then a few days later she made another comment about my hat, saying how beautiful it was. "It's a rain hat." I said and walked away. It is quite possible that she is trying to find a handle to get closer to me because food and hat are two subjects I have responded to spontaneously.
I returned to the supermarket and complained to one of the managers that his employees were harassing me. I complained about the guy asking me why I wanted to check my newspaper, and about the two cans of cat food that had not been packed. I was furious. I told him somebody was paying people around to harass me. He said to see him again if I had any problem.
The next day I spoke to the guy who had question my checking the newspaper. I asked him how much he was paid to harass me. I was furious. I talked to him in English but he doesn't understand it much. He only understood the dollar amounts I mentioned. He said he didn't know what I was talking about.
Today I went to the laundry. It was overdue but I was reluctant to leave my place for the time required and I had overstayed my welcome between the sheets. All went well. Everything went normally. When I left a guy I had met last summer in front of the building and who acted bizarre waved to me from the chinese take- out wher he was eating. I looked at him and pretended I didn't recognize him. He had said to me that he used to be a big coke dealer, had been arrested and done time and had stopped, although he still knew where to find the real good stuff. He told me that one of the singers of Cojunto Clasico had formed his own group which he called 444. This seemed a direct reference to the number 666 which was surfacing every now and then.
And when I reached the top of the porch stairs with my laundry bag in a two wheel cart, I stopped to look at Central Park that was starting to green. A black man arrived and opened the two-way doors and I moved to take advantage of the opening. I had my keys right at hand. He moved to open himself then said "Let's see who can open fastest." He seemed to expect that I would rush to beat him to it but instead I waited. He tried to be funny but wasn't. I entered and went to the wing-door. "I have the key also" he said when I already the key in the lock. "Oh, you live here." I said and then I understood he was the man who was doing all this loud chanting that seemed to be trance-inducing. I didn't like his face. "Yes I live right here" "and I live in the back" I said. "It must be nice to have the sunlight" "Yes it is, at least I have that." "May I ask you one question?" "No."
I knew I had to do it and I hadn't been able to eat for several days because I had to do it, there was no way around the dreadful ordeal. Call my siblings and ask them to explain what this six-way split meant. I saw it like plunging into a sewer inhabited by piranhas, but I could avoid emotional damage if I avoided getting emotional.
Sun. 04.17: I call my sister Veronique.Here's the transcript: Wed. 4.27: As I return from Columbus avenue between 105 and 106 with my breakfast in a brown bag (coffee and cinnamon bagel with cream cheese) and the Daily News under one arm, someone behind me calls "Princess". I keep going. Then "Princess" again. I keep going. OK I dressed nicely today, a long black cotton chiffon skirt and an ivory slinky long sleeves top, and my black Clergerie sandals, but wouldn't it be conceited for me to believe that it's me who's being called princess? Immediately after the first call I remember my phone conversation with Veronique where she says that my father should have treated me like a princess when he came to New York in 86 and I am certain that it's not a coincidence, just a few days after I talked with her the memory is very fresh. She had said they should have treated me like a princess but they are not even able to treat me like a human being and that's the reason I fled to the US in the first place. Maybe Veronique intended to sensitize me to the world, make me realize how badly I had been treated, and then when that guy called "princess" I would react and get acquainted with him in the hope that he would treat me like a princess. How devious this is. But now I have understood the modus operandi and they can't catch me at this game any more. They're trying to get a handle on me through some weak spots but I have enough self esteem that I am impervious to flattery now. All it does is raise my suspicion.
From my home phone I call the Blumberg store to know if they have affidavits of service and after getting their address I take the subway. On my way to the store on Church street, I see some baseball caps made in african fabrics, some of which are the same as I used for my berets. I stop and take a look. There are some african fabrics with gold prints that are truly beautiful. I ask the price. $15 for a baseball cap. I say I have made hats in african fabrics, but not baseball caps, berets. "Are you French" the black man asks. "Yes" I say. Then he asks if my berets close behind and I feel like he's trying to make me speak about my drawstring system as if he already knew about it. Without getting into details, I say that it's hard to explain how I make them, it would be better if I showed him a few. Then I say that my price is maybe too high if he retails his baseball caps for $15. He says that if people see something they like, they spend the money on it. I say I'll return in a few days to show him some of my berets, but just after leaving him I have the impression that the guy already knows about me and I decide not to follow up.
In the Blumberg store, I see some self help legal books which I decide to buy, and then I ask for affidavits of service. I put the books on the counter. I see a button with a bright orange background that says "I'm confused, are you an asshole or a cock- sucker?" I don't pay attention. Then I ask a young man who has appeared about other forms I might need. He gives me a catalogue. I put it on top of the books on the counter. The woman cashier is touching and moving the button as if to draw my attention to it. I read it again and smile. Obviously these insults are intended for a man and I don't take them personally. While I look into the catalogue a blond man in his fifties approaches the counter. I notice that he has a very bad breath while I keep looking in the catalogue. He makes quite a fuss so I stand back up and look. He has an embossing seal in his hand, and he has tried it on a piece of paper that's in front of him. He says that the seal should read "Republic of Panama". Here we go, Panama again. I understand that the guy ordered a seal and they made a mistake so they have to do it over again. I wonder how an official seal of the Republic of Panama could be ordered and made in New York. The blond guy with bad breath speaks in an irritated tone of voice but it sounds artificial, not heart felt. How likely is it that a reputable house like Blumberg, a legal printer, the legal printer, would make a mistake on an embossing seal? While I observe the scene, the guy never looks at me. He dictates, still the phony irritation in his voice, to the young man who writes down on what looks like an order form. "REP. (r, e, p period) OF PANAMA". I look at the guy with doubting curiosity. He has stepped back from the counter. With all this fuss I haven't been able to spot a form that I could need so I decide to look at the catalogue at home and I ask the young man to check me out. He looks at me strangely.
Back home, I realize that this was another staged incident. I had called Blumberg from my home phone and there had been time to set up the episode. So the insults on the button were intended for me. And the strange look the young man gave me was because he was trying to figure if I had understood the trick.
Fri. 4.29 I go to ACLU after calling from a pay phone. I buy six different books on civil rights.
Sat. 4.30: Go to Columbia University book store. Buy EVIDENCE, CODE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE and CRIMINAL LAW.
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