The Amnesia Memoirs and Diaries
JULY 1994 - 2/2
Could she be trying to deceive me, keep me uncertain until the last second just because she enjoyed watching my distress? Could she be sending me a false document to make me believe that she hadn't sent any money when in reality she had? That's the conclusion I draw while on my wayto 123 Photo. My mother couldn't pass up an opportunity to torment me, and if I complained she could always say "What are you complaining about? Didn't I sent you the money as I said I would?" and make me feel ungrateful and guilty. The time is not the only strange thing about this fax. When I look at the date and time received at the top and bottom of the page, I see markings that are different from the usual identification of 123 Photo. Actually, usually the identification of 123 Photo is at the top, with the international numbers dialed from France, but on this fax, the top says in French "Fax sent by (fax number of the bank) (name of bank) date and time, the time sent being 16:37, but it doesn't say sent to whom, and there is definitely no indication that it was sent to 123 Photo. It is no surprise to me that the people at the fax service would be bribed to get into some mischief against me. So I think I have to go back to the shop and ask questions but I feel like this is another line of investigation altogether that is only peripheral to the matter and you've got to pick your fights. Not every slight is worth spending so much energy on and besides I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. So I resolve to believe that this fax is the proof of the transfer, even if it's obvious that it was not sent to 123 Photo. Maybe I'll get the answer to this little mystery some day. The way I put pressure on my mother had been to show her how convenient it would be for her if I died: she would have all my money and she wouldn't need my signature anymore to sell property. I wanted to show for the records that she had a lot to gain by my death, and that she was pushing me towards suicide by depriving me of any power. If these two points became established, it made my accusation of attempted murder all the more plausible. I would say it was incontrovertible evidence. When I finally became able to disconnect myself emotionally from my mother and could restore the scientific curiosity I was born with, I understood that to her I was nothing more than a head of cattle, and because she was a human female of childbearing age in the Nazi French era, she made it a crime for me not to have children. But I know perfectly well, and I had the intuition of it the first time my period was late after having sex, that if I had a child it would chain and entangle me with my family in a hopeless situation. Because I would be ready to sacrifice everything for my child, and being a mother could cost me the devastation of my life. If I had a child I would be thrown into the power of my parents just after they had rejected me in a way that almost destroyed me, and now I would need to beg for their help and they could make me do anything they wanted. That's why I decided not to have children unless I could afford them. But finally I realized that I would not have any children because I love them, I love humanity too much to impose on an innocent the deadly environment of my family, and allow my child, or rather not being able to prevent, that he be violated in some way, and also turned against me. It is quite easy to imagine some horrendous scenarios of emotional and financial blackmail where my mother has all the money and all the power, and me the newborn child. Oh! How I suffer sometimes when my cat is so sensuous and so selfish, not to have a child who would walk in and hug me and... how painful it is to realize that this heavenly bliss of being loved unconditionally like only a child can love, I had to give it up to preserve my integrity, my human dignity! And I love children so much in general as a result, that given a chance I'll be nice to a child, sometimes maybe just smile to him when his mother is yelling at him, to show him that some people think he's not all that bad and that they love him, and since early childhood experiences are so influential in the mental development of a person, that maybe fifteen or more years form then, the grown up child, in the middle of his desolate landscape of worthlessness will remember the loving look and smile of a woman in a bodega when he was a little kid, that this tiny memory might make the difference between hope and despair. I know in my quest for love I looked for signs of appreciation outside of my family and when I remembered how these people loved me when I was a tiny tot, uncles and aunts, maternal grandparents, and how entertained they were by me because I was experimenting with language and rhyming from the start, how they repeated my bon- mots, my neologisms, passed around my letters, and how warm they were towards me as a person in general, then it proves me that the problem is not within me, but within my family and it relieved me from a great burden. And that's why my mother acted in the background so as to isolate me from society and allow me to encounter only those people who had a hidden agenda that my mother had paid them to carry out. Not only with men, not only in my sexual life, which already is a major part of life and the most intimate one, but with my professional life as well, whatever I did. It was she who had me fired so many times from my jobs. She wanted to make me be believe that I inspired hostility spontaneously not only within the family but in the outside world as well, that the problem was within me, not her, by thwarting my attempts no matter what I did, by uprooting every seedling I had grown before it could mature, even before it could blossom, she relentlessly tried to discourage me from being financially independant while glorifying motherhood and show preference to my other siblings. When you could look at it dispassionately, which was the major hurdle for me, you could see how simple it all was. Paying people to show me hostility and contempt was her way to cover up her hatred of me. She wanted me to believe that this attitude was universal, normal, that I couldn't expect anything else from people because of the way I was. But I don't feel any burning hatred towards my mother. I shall face her in court to the extent of my power because I value myself enough to enforce my rights, and because death is the only alternative, but without animosity. After all before the law we are two individuals of legal age and as her daughter, I have more claims towards her than she has towards me. And what happens when you give up too many of your rights is you die.
I feel like my mother and I are in a strangle grip where she has the strenght to strangle me but can kill me only at the cost of her own life. It's like I'm taking her down with me if she takes me down. And if she doesn't take me down I'll take her down anyway because she just won't let me live otherwise and that's the price she put on my life to begin with. It was me or she, because she always assumed that she would win. It is a dark vision with terrifying close-ups of a mother strangling her daughter in the mud, the sweat and the female emanations, that the mind avoids to contemplate. While acting on the outside like they had abandoned me, leaving me at least the expectation of freedom to do as I chose, they shadowed me all the way since they dumped me at 183 avenue du Roule in September 1971. Wow! I could assume that my phone had been tapped not only for the past year, but for the past twenty years. That guilty knowledge, with my mother's intent to destroy me, was the key of my whole life for the past quarter century. What else can I do for love of a child but protect him from having me for a mother? In the evening I concluded that the black woman in the diner had been waiting for me and saying that she was an attorney made it logical for her to know the process server in the basement of the courthouse, and the woman down there had been waiting for me, and had the mission to read the contents of the papers I wanted to serve. I had become inured to the trick of someone whom I thought was a fortuitous encouter giving me an address, and me trusting the person at the address and doing what they suggested I did, seemingly for my own good but actually to draw me into a trap.
Since I have started this suicide note that evolved into a diary a year ago, I realized that i have shifted my priorities, which is a major effort in anybody's life. I had to look reality in the eyes and realize that all my attempts at a love life or a professional life were doomed as long as I hadn't taken care of the major problem that underlied my lawsuit. I had realized that I was so easy to penetrate, with my eagerness to make new friends, that anybody I expected anything from turned out to hurt me and hamper me. The obvious solution was to become self sufficient and this is what I have done for the last year: I have stopped waiting for help to come from the outside and instead I have looked into myself for the resources that I needed and it has given me a lot of self confidence. I have stopped assuming that everybody always knew better than I did. After all the majority of people whom I met were crude and ignorant. All they had was a bit of authority due to their status... maye, and more and more I became my own hero. I felt that it was quite an accomplishment to have survived as many traumas as I did without permanently losing any major component of my being. My achievement was that I hadn't become a criminal.
Mon. 07.25: I call the electronic customer service of my bank from a pay phone to know my balance. In the din of traffic I hear "The balance is 64..." and I don't hear the rest and hang up. Shit, I think. I thought my balance was at least $200. Some rent checks I thought had cleared must have cleared since I last checked my balance. Tues. 07.26: I decide to file my notice of appearance and my motion to quash today. I change a few words in my affidavit and go to the Chemical branch at 96th and Columbus to notarize it and from the ATM I get a printout of the last five transactions and this is where I see that my balance is $64,201.49. Yesterday I didn't hear the word "thousand" after "64" and I spent another day in anguish.
Here's the text of my affidavit in support of my motion to quash the subpoena:
SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK COUNTY OF NEW YORK -----------------------------------| Index Number 21980/90 Brigitte Picart | Plaintiff | | against |AFFIDAVIT | New York City Transit Authority | and Anthony Pizzimenti | Defendants| -----------------------------------|Brigitte Picart being duly sworn deposes and says: - that she is the plaintiff in this action and that she is now representing herself after dismissing her attorneys on August 20, 1993 and after having her case taken off the trial calendar on August 24, 1993 before Hon. Alfred Toker in part 22, 71 Thomas Street in the County of New York; - that she is submitting this affidavit in support of her motion to quash the subpoena duces tecum served on her by defendants on August 18, 1993; - that during her representation by Leonard and Ira Slavit, of the law firm Levine & Slavit until August 20, 1993, plaintiff has always at all times and to the best of her ability complied with her counsel's requests for physical examination, for signature and for the production of documents; - that upon receiving defendant's subpoena duces tecum (Exhibit A), plaintiff was extremely shocked and dismayed that a compulsive measure would be used to obtain information from her and moreover by a method of disclosure which can be used only against a non-party; - that the exchange of correspondence in Exhibits B and C represents the only instance when counsel initiated a discussion regarding plaintiff's claim for lost earnings and when counsel notified plaintiff of any request from defendants for the production of any documents; - that what follows is a detailed account of the efforts plaintiff made to document her claim for lost earnings: "After receiving Ira Slavit's letter (Exhibit B) requesting tax records, I called him on the phone. During the conversation, after making sure that the periods considered were indeed 1989 and not 1980 as written, and 1990, I said that I had no tax records for these periods. My understanding was that defendants wanted proof of my past income in support of my claim for lost earnings and in the absence of income tax returns, the next best thing was pay stubs and a print-out of all the checks paid to me in my previous job. So I offered to send -and did send- to Ira Slavit my pay stubs documenting my three-months career as a bicycle messenger, and I said to Ira Slavit that he could obtain a print-out of all the checks paid to me during 1989 and the beginning of 1990 while I worked at James Cummins, a rare books dealer, as a multilingual, computer literate administrative assistant, gofer and bookkeeper. I explained to Ira Slavit that I was studying music as a jazz singer and guitarist, that I had taken a part time job to have a lot of practice time, that I had been supporting myself by working three days a week at James Cummins Bookseller but that, due to disagreements over money, I had to leave the job and the only work I found was a bicycle messenger job. Ira Slavit sent me release forms to sign, one of them to obtain proof of income from James Cummins, Bookseller, and there was no indication that my proofs of income were unacceptable; I returned the release forms and wrote Ira Slavit (Exhibit C) providing all the specifics to facilitate the retrieval from the data base of proof of income at my former employer, in particular that I had the checks written to Brigitte Lettieri, my married name, and that at that time I was still going under the nickname of "Axelle", so that when Ira Slavit called Tim Johns, the assistant manager, both would know whom they were talking about right away, and by entering the exact payee's name, Tim Johns could get a printed list of all the checks paid to me in 1989 and 1990. In addition, I took the initiative of requesting from Quick Track a letter stating that, had I worked past the few months of training, I could have earned approximately $400 per week, because with experience, my income had been increasing week by week. I asked Quick Track to send this letter to Ira Slavit. Shortly before trial on July 13, 1993 at the end of a session of preparation for the upcoming trial, I myself brought up the subject of compensation for lost earnings and explained to Leonard Slavit that I had not filed any tax returns in 1989 and 1990 because my employment status at James Cummins Bookseller and later as a bicycle messenger was that of an independant contractor, and that the burden of filing quarterly returns was on me, and that although I had tried to comply I had been overwhelmed by the paper work, and that with an income close to the poverty level anyway, ($432 every two weeks equals $11,232 per year) I could not afford to hire an accountant to take care of my tax returns. While we were speaking on the subject, Leonard Slavit showed me a fax of the letter from Quick Track regarding my earning potential as a bicycle messenger but at no time did he notify me that defendants requested any tax returns or any other document whatsoever." WHEREFORE, the plaintiff prays the Court will, pursuant to CPLR 2304, quash and nullify defendant's subpoena duces tecum served on plaintiff on August 18, 1993, because it violates her right of due process by denying plaintiff's status as a party in this action, (CPLR 3120 (a) 1.(i) governing the Discovery and Production of Documents and CPLR 2301, Scope of a Subpoena); AND, pursuant to 22 NYCRR Section 130-1.1, the plaintiff prays the Court will direct defendants to pay plaintiff attorney's fees in the amount of $2,500. ___________________________ Brigitte Picart, Plaintiff Address: 19 W 103rd St. #5A New York NY 10025 (212) 662-7734 To: Wallace D. Gossett Attorney for defendants NYC Transit Authority 130 Livingston Street Room 521 Brooklyn N.Y. 11201 (718) 694-3826
I return to the process server's office at 123 Livingston. I tell the man with white hair that I left the other day because I found him expensive but I had to serve these papers anyway. He told me to get my papers ready, and when I said everything was in order he asked "Do you come with me?" and I said yes. In fact I wanted to go with him to prevent him from reading my papers, and he wanted me to go with him not to leave me alone in his office. I was ready to insist about going with him but thank God, this fight was spared me. Back in his office he filled in the affidavit of service I had prepared. He said that he was doing the work his son was supposed to do because his son was lazy. Then he had to notarize his affidavit and said we would go to the courthouse basement. I said I didn't like the woman very much because she had disappeared to read my papers. He said process servers were not supposed to read the contents of the papers they served and I agreed with him. When we arrived downstairs I said I would wait for him outside the office so the woman wouldn't see me and he said ok. He was back in a minute. I felt relieved, excited and a bit playful, like a kid. I told the man that the papers I had served made my case active again one month before the the deadline after which my case would be dismissed for failure to prosecute. I thanked him warmly and said I would have more papers to serve "not to long ago" and then I say "no, I mean..." and he said "In the near future" and I said yes, shook his hand and walked to the subway. On the way back I got off at 81st and walked to Columbus avenue. At the corner there was Charivari on sale. I bought two tailord pants suits. First one with a long, curvy jacket with the body made of black and white glen plaid in 100% linen, and the sleeves and the pants in a viscose and linen blend, that is the fabric is a bit shiny, and in a dark grey and black pattern of stripes. I bought it mainly because the jacket is so well cut and tailored with fine workmanship and exquisite details and looking at myself on all angles I felt I was really lucky that fine cloths fit me so well. Lucky enough to make some women green with envy. My idea was to buy clothes I could wear to court but would I have the nerve to go to court with this suit which is after all a kind of humorous tweak to the nose of the business suit? After looking at some other stuff I told the saleswoman that I was in the market for suits and she took me back to the suits rack and pulled out an ivory suit in a clear plastic and handed me the jacket which I slid into. It was a long, long jacket, almost a 6/8th, with a beautiful collar and curve and fine workmanship. I had an aesthetic shock and returned to the rack holding my heart with my right hand and my mouth open as in a final exhalation and I said "It's so beautiful!" and then I tried the pants. Both pants needed hemming and I paid and left with a receipt for the suits and an alteration ticket for the pants. I had to go twice to the cash machine across the street: first when I brought the suits to the cash register and told the cashier that I had to get cash, and just because I had over estimated the amount of cash I was already carrying, I had to return for another hundred. I felt funny after forking out over $700 in cash to leave the store with only two pieces of paper. The two suits would be ready in a week. It was funny because the week before I had gone to FIT and bought several books, two of which were how to tailor a jacket, and how to make a pattern. I read them with fascination. A fine tailoring is one of those things that restore your faith in the human race because there is something divine about the details. It is really the excellence of the unseen parts of a garment that give me a hint of the godlike part of man. Unfortunately it is more difficult for women to obtain the fine tailoring that it is to men. Too often the woman's garment will emphasize her sex appeal to the detriment of her professional qualities. Even some women's buisness suits have odd cuts or details that a woman can't wear when she's dead serious. Somebody, at some time in history, invented the notched collar, the placket, the bound buttonhole, and how about the weavers who invented all these delightful fabrics? Anyhow I realized that I'd like to tailor myself a suit but to do it right it took a lot of time, and it was certainly expeditive to buy them ready made. But making my own patterns and sewing myself things is definitely something I have in mind. After all if the possibility of making money from my sewing skills is denied me, at least I can use those skills to clothe myself and save a lot of money, and dress myself in my own chosen style. Hopefully, all the beauty I see and my sense of childish wonder in fine clothes makes up for the ugliness of my fight with my mother over my inheritance. In the evening I lay on my bed reading as usual, with a Beck's within reach. My reading is interrupted by flashes of realization that I have now approximately three years of living expenses in my bank account, if I don't overspend. I realize that I don't have to call my mother anymore and hear her tear my heart out on the phone and I feel an emptyness. It has taken me several months of intense efforts to obtain a lump sum without signing away any rights in the bargain, and my mental energy had adapted itself to this demand. Now the demand was satisfied and my mind was released from the building tension like the elastic of a sling after the throw. I realized I had won. But before my mind shifted to the next goal, there was a moment when I thought I was about to go berserk and act out in a shrieking bedlam within the confines of my room. At some point I really felt that I couldn't help it, but I mentally threw a cold bucket of water on my head and calmed down, and decided to act no different than before I got the money, not change my life style like by going out a lot for instance and spending money like there's no tomorrow. So, I had won, I was the victor but the popular imagery of a fresh faced and exultant victor didn't apply. I felt depressed, exhausted, with my soul bloodied, black and blue. As usual my mother had sent me only a little more than half of what she had promised: FF350,000 instead of $600,000. That was enough for me to pursue my lawsuit, but it was too little, too late.
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