Sun. 09.04: Balmy day. Maybe it's my last chance to wear my new white suit before the end of the season so I dress up. I wear a striped Breton jersey underneath and it looks great. I complete the get up with black-and-white shoes, and my straw hat with a black ostrich feather. I look very dandy. I get out around ten a.m. and walk to Broadway. I feel elated without knowing why. The suit feels incredibly light, I feel like dancing. It can't be just the suit. As I cross a side street, who's there in his car waiting for the light to turn green? Bonarti. I don't aknowledge him and cross the street with a half smile on my face. I wak all the way to 79th street and buy some books. Shot in the Heart by Mikal Gilmore, among others. I have lunch somewhere and I walk back and reach home around 4 pm. I leave my books at home and go out again to buy the New York Times. They're out of it at my usual newsstand so I walk to the next one on 100th Street and return home through Central Park.
The Amnesia Memoirs and Diaries
September 1994 - 2/4
At the exit of the park on 103rd street there is, on the right, a photographer sitting on a bench with a very long lens on his camera set on a tripod and a woman sitting next to him. I look at what he is shooting on the other side of the exit and ten or twenty yards away on the sidewalk is a black man sitting on a bicycle with one foot down, wearing a shiny white metal helmet and a suit with the new long jacket. I hesitate to speak to them because I have perceived a faint alarm go off in the back of my mind, but against my better judgment, after crossing the photographer's field to reach CPW, I ask them what it is that the model is wearing on his head. The model pedals to our group.
-"I think it's French" the woman says.
-"Well, I'm French", I say, "and I don't think I ever saw such a helmet in France." I ask if I can have a look. The model takes off his helmet and hands it to me. Inside is some original leather and fabric cushioning but no engraving on the metal, no inscription. Then I see a tiny label in English that says something like "sanitary cushioning, size Medium".
-"It's not French", I say, "because the label is in English." and I move to hand the helmet back to the model who's on my right but the woman has stood up and is next to me and she takes the helmet from me in a swift move and upturns it again and she pulls the label I've just read and she shows it to me. This time at the bottom of the label I read what I had not read the first time, it's a date, it says "March 2 1926". There is actually a space between the 2 and the year that makes it look as if a number had been erased after the 2. Then I look at the model's jacket fabric, giving in to my passion for the extraordinary variety of suit fabrics in business colors. This one is grey with burgundy pinstripes.
-"Nice threads." I say. There's a brief silence.
-"She said 'Nice threads'" the model says.
-"It's by Jean-Paul Gaultier" the woman says with precipitation.
-"Ah" I say, thinking about the comment I made to the saleslady the day I bought my white suit. Then I move to the edge of the sidewalk to cross CPW.
-"Are you in Fashion" the woman asks me.
-"No I'm not, I'm just an amateur" I say, thinking about the reservation I had just paid for at the WBGO's Records and Crafts fair to sell my berets. Then I add: "But sometimes I like to make clothes for myself". Then I cross and get home thinking about the date on the label. My mother was born March 26, 1926.
How strange that the day had gone so well so far and just after I made my last purchase of the day around 4 pm, after deciding impulsively to walk home by the path in Central Park instead of the noisy Central Park West, I had this strange encounter. Once more I wonder: chance or purpose? In favor of purpose ther is that date, the long jacket and that reference to Jean-Paul Gaultier, and the French helmet that wasn't French. In favor of chance, ther is my inability to answer the question: "How could this be set-up when I didn't know that the newspaper would be sold-out and when I didn't know that I would take a walk in Central Park? But how could chance alone account for all these direct references to my life?" Once more I decide not to try to elucidate everything right after the event and I read on my bed. I have taken off the jacket and I spend the rest of the day in my white pants and long sleeves navy-white striped jersey. I see in the mirror that even the pants look very nice although a tad big, but even with the waist a bit dropped they look great. I like the well-cut looseness, with narrowing legs and cuffs and the color most of all, after wearing it several hours, refreshes my soul and makes me feel that I am a deserving human being, that I am totally innocent of any wrongdoing past or present, that my life goals are legitimate and this feeling gives me the deep motivation to pursue my case in court whatever it takes.
Mon. 09.05: I have become aware of the power of the colors I'm wearing. I want to use this power to project and establish myself to the outside. Since I'm closely watched, I want my clothing to give a message. And right now I want to project the idea that I'm confident and secretly rejoicing, and this is exactly how I feel, although I don't know what I'm rejoicing about.
So today I'm wearing the same jersey and white pants, very baggy ones, and a bright red blazer. I realize that even for myself, it's uplifting to dress well. I have the mental image of how I look in the clothes I'm wearing, and if the mental image is pleasing, it gives me strength.
In this attire I go out to buy some beer. Bonarti and I pass each other on the way. He says "Hi", I say "Hi" coldly. In the bodega the clerk, a man in his fifties, a small clean-looking Dominican, with a kind of repressed sense of humor, hands me back two quarter with a hand-flourish that makes me smile as usual. He never fails to give me the change with an airborne arm movement, not the same all the time, and I wonder that he would bring to such a conventional job this little touch of fresh-ground creativity. That's what makes me like him. I chuckle and say to him: "Siempre haces algo asi. Es muy divertido comprarle algo." (You always do someting like that. It's a lot of fun to buy something from you.) and I walk out and almost bump into Bonarti who sees the smile on my face. He makes room for me. I'm glad he saw me smile. I'm sure it disturbs him to see that I don't look like a wreck after the oral argument. But I still can't explain why I have this inner sense that a force stronger than my enemies'will and money is at work, and that if Nature is to have the last word and the last laugh, I'll end up in triumph.
In the evening I remember the judge. Every time I had looked at him, he didn't look neutral and relaxed like a judge is supposed to look. His eyes had been wide open, his whole facial expression angry and threatening. But there had been more than malevolence in his eyes but what was it? Yes, definitely, it was not just anger. The question remained in the back of my mind.
Tues. 09.06: I wake up in a good mood and during the day I have a flash back to September 1st, oral argument: Except for foundation, I'm not wearing any make up, and deliberately no lipstick. I don't want the judge to become distracted by my luscious lips, but even in their natural color his eyes are focussed to spy on my lips, he stares at them like I'm possessed and toads, slugs and snakes might come out of my mouth any second. Now I can define what was the other emotion in Judge Lippmann's eyes: It had been fear. And what he's afraid of is not repulsive animals coming out of my mouth, but the naked truth. He's spying the contours of my lips to catch the first syllable of the unspeakable pronouncement, as if he were ready to pounce on me.
We're arguing over discovery on a moot issue and we all know it. What he's afraid to hear at any moment is:"Anyway this is not a negligence case. This is a case of attempted murder." and there is a claim of lost wages only in negligence, not in intentional tort. But in the intensity of the fear in his gaze there is more. This is what I read: "Has she found out? Does she act like she doesn't know, or is it true that she doesn't know? Is she going to find out? When?" And because he isn't sure whether I'm acting or being sincere, he hates me for the uncertainty I make him feel. He hates me for being very cunning and for my innocence so that either way I lose. But what is it that he's wondering whether or not I have found out?
Again my thoughts return to Judge Toker and all of a sudden I realize: he was in the conspiracy too. He knew the subpoena was illegal but he signed it. Of course, and since in my motion and my argument I didn't mention that the Court had violated my right of due process, but just the defendants, Judge Lippmann was wondering if I did it on purpose or not and that's what made him uncomfortable and furious and afraid.
But even if the subpoena was the proper way to obtain documents from me there was still a lot that was wrong with it: the next issue after due process was the relevancy of the evidence requested, and next the defective service because I hadn't been given a one day notice, and fourth the inherent invalidity of the subpoena because there is a minimum of twenty days between the service and the date the person has to appear in court, whereas my subpoena gave me only one week. And to my knowledge, after viewing my file several times in the records room, I haven't seen any motion by the defendants to obtain this subpoena, even less a court order, and you need a court order to subpoena someone.
We were back at the stage of disclosure and evidence-giving and gathering in the form of documents, and if each document had to be fought over, so be it. Intimidation no longer worked with me. I was ready to fight, I knew my rights. So now, this subpoena, instead of being a Damocles sword above my head, shifted over their heads, because it was a documentary evidence of conspiracy between the defendants, my attorneys and the court to deprive me of due process. And if this was a negligence case as my lawyers asserted, or if I had done anything wrong like the defendants said, why did they need to conspire against me?
In their answer to the complaint the TA states:
FOR A SEPARATE AND DISTINCT AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE TO THE ALLEGED CAUSE OF ACTION OF PLAINTIFF, AND IN DIMINUTION OF DAMAGES, DEFENDANTS ALLEGE UPON INFORMATION AND BELIEF:
4. That whatever injuries or damages the plaintiff may have sustained at the time and place mentioned in the verified complaint, were cause, in whole or in pqrt, by the culpable conduct of the said plaintiff, said culpable conduct having contributed thereto.
5. The amount of damages recovered, if any, shall therefore be diminished in the proportion which the said culpable conduct attributable to plaintiff bears to the culpable conduct which caused the said damages.
WHEREFORE defendants demand judgment dismissing the verified complaint of the plaintiff with costs.
I had never known that the defendants denied liability and that they said I had engaged in "culpable conduct" until I got my file from the record room last july. My lawyers had never told me. If I had known of course I wouldn't have accepted to lie regarding how the accident happened. So they wanted to make it look like I was the one who had something to hide, and they would prove my cover-up by pointing at the inherently flawed account and impeach my testimony, and say that I had attempted suicide.
Well now they're gonna have a hard time to prove that I attempted suicide because I'm still alive and kicking more than ever.
This perception of myself as totally innocent was the result of the horrendous pain I suffered in the course of my recovery. I mean the physical recovery was actual but it was also a metaphor for the recovery of my mental and emotional balance. And the physical pain also was a metaphor for the mental and emotional pain.
But surprisingly, the physical pain had never been real bad, intolerable, and I had never hesitated to consume pain-killers even after I had started drinking Palo-Viejo rum with Arturo, whereas the mental and emotional pains drove me to the edge of insanity and suicide several times between the accident four years ago and now. The invisible pain was present wherever my true self was concerned. While taking actual steps to realize my potential, and I mean particularly in the music field, the fact of breaking the silence, asserting myself as a live organism, working, spending time in the pursuit of my self-determined goal caused my invisible self to endlessly writhe and squirm as if under torture, as if pursuing my goals was an assault against the natural order of life and my pain was the price of my assault, of my guilt, as if my need, my eagerness, my desire to participate and find my rightful place in society was an affront to the human race. But I knew now that this negative perception was intrinsically flawed, and I had learned to make my choices, to base my acts on reality, not on ideals that couldn't stand the test of reality. I knew I had been deliberately distorted into believing that there was an admission charge to life, and that the non-negotiable cost of my acceptance was self-sacrifice and ultimately, self-immolation. Supposedly for a higher cause, a cause that made my annihilation a necessary and unquestionable step to its achievement for the benefit of all, which was an inherent contradiction, because how could I benefit from the ultimate good that was promised us all if I had to die first? You mean I'm not part of the other guys who're to benefit? But what's different about me? Why should I personally be designated to lose my live for the greater good of other folks? What kind of folks? Do I know them? Do I owe them? Are they friends? Do I love them enough to die for them? I see them in my mind waiting in a silent and motionless group with an expectant and tense expression. What emanates from them is "You'd bettter..." What did you do for me after all that I should die for you? What did you do to deserve my love? Do you think that just because we are blood relations you're entitled to my blood? You bloody vampires! Why do you need to kill your daughter, your sister to survive? Can't you survive without killing me? Is my blood your elixir of life? Do you die if you don't score me? Why is this so, pray tell? Do you have a prescription? Your daughter's blood, your sister's blood, how sick do you have to be? What awful pathology deprives you of the use of your free will, of your reason, of your humanity and who are you that your disease entitles you to this rare therapy? I don't care reading about it in a book but I don't want in real life to be the victim of such a heinous scheme, because I just plain want to live.
In the pursuit of my recovery, I had accepted the invisible pain. I had realized that I had been warped and that it must hurt to become straight again, and at times when I was suffering particularly acute agony, I would break out of self pity and swear to myself that I would master and harness the psychic energy of pain to my ultimate advantage. And that was the reward I promised myself for allowing nature to take over again.
Now I undertand that the degree of fear determines the degree of hatred. Guilt and hatred feed on each other. The guilty are afraid to be found out and they hate whomever could point the finger at them. That's what makes them so aggressive.
Thurs. 09.08: I return to Part 52 to see how it goes when I'm not on the motion calendar. This time there are hardly ten people in the spectators area. I look at the calendar and there are very few names compared to last week. Only three or four pages unlike a dozen last week. And these pages are not even full. There's a lot of white space on them. And the people who are there are moving around instead of sitting, most of them leave. When the first case is heard, there's only one woman left in the spectators area and a sit down to hear the motion. I see that the woman has a very thick, about one and a half inches thick brief on her lap and she leafs through it. I pay attention to the motion. The attorneys take turns to speak, the judge doesn't interrupt, nor does he speak angrily. Then they leave the bench and the room and only the woman is left in the room. I go to the door and look again at the calendar while listening to the woman who, from the specator's area, starts to speak to the judge I don't know about what. He looks at her benevolently and invites her to approach. She goes into the well and continues speaking to the judge. She's a fiftyish woman with short red hair. She wears a navy pants suit with a bomber jacket with gold buttons. She appears without an opponent. Strange. I leave. It's ten after ten. The clerk, his huge paunch barring the way, is answering someone's question while holding the exit door open. I'm in luck. I wanted to ask him a few questions.
- "How come it's already over when last week there were so many motions on the calendar?"
- "I don't know. It's the way the cases are distributed by the court. There's nothing that can be done about it."
- "Oh, I see. He has started downstairs and I follow him in silence for a few seconds.
- "Oh, I meant to ask you, who was this woman?"
- "I don't know what woman you're talking about."
- "This fiftyish petite woman?"
- "Oh! That's the judge's secretary." He opens the ground floor exit door, I thank him and move ahead towards the exit but hesitate. He shows me. I walk a few steps and remember another question I wanted to ask him. I turn around. He's walking towards the exit too and is just a few steps behind me.
- "Just one last question! I say with a smile. Tell me, are the motions heard in alphabetical order?"
-"Thanks" I say and I let him walk ahead of me. That's what I thought. So why was I called second? It was to give the judge's statement that there were a lot of people waiting for their turn behind me more weight than if he had called my case at its place in alphabetical order, two-thirds of the time into the session. Surprise and intimidation.
After court I decide to window-shop on Fifth avenue. I mean to check out the Aquascutum store. I'm wearing my grey linen pants suit and low heel pumps. I enter the Botticlelli store that has its summer collection on sale. I find a pair of men's style lace-up shoes with a toe-cap decorated with punch-holes, and the vamp made of braided leather. I see the comfort factor in the braided vamp. These are beautiful shoes, and I try them on. I tell the salesman I'll never again wear pumps. "I don't see why women should squeeze their feet into pumps that hurt them." You get used to foot-ache, it's something, as a woman, that you nearly take for granted, but
after all, why should you suffer, and a pain that disables you? If you can't walk and keep up with the men, you lose. How can you think on your feet if your feet ache? Women with sore feet are disqualified from the start. I ask for a half-size bigger. There was a time I rejected myself by hating my feet which I thought were too long, and I always bought shoes a half-size too small. That was from adolescence to my mid-twenties. I buy the shoes.
At Aquascutum I try a midnight blue trench coat in wool gabardine. I tell the woman I won't buy it today but that it's exactly what I want and I'll return to buy it in a little while. I ask her how they compare with Burberry's. She says that their quality and class are superior. I say "Yeah, that's what I thought. What bothers me with Burberry's is their lining. I hate this lining, it's so tacky!" She laughs and says "You wouldn't be caught dead in a Burberry!"
I write Slavit requesting information about what they did after I sent them authorization to obtain work records from Cummins and what defendants mean in their cross motion by saying that they served "various subpoenas on plaintiff's counsel" and if they could arrange to let me have a copy of my file.
I write to St. Clare's Hospital requesting copy of my chart.
Sat. 09.10: It's been bugging me for a long time why the Slavits didn't want me to testify that there were vehicles parked in front of the Research Library. And it's only today that I realize the meaning of the presence of the vehicles. The countless acts of mental and emotional violence which have followed the physical violence of a bus against a bike and in particular the turning around of the death wish and the rape of my ethics forced a split in the middle of my mind so that I became unable to relate causes and effects. My mother certainly had not expected that I would survive. If there were vehicles illegally parked in front of the library on that day, it was to make sure that I had no escape to the right. But now the moment comes back to me, the moment of sheer terror when, glancing ahead of me for an escape, I saw that if I made a sharp right into the bus lane I would crash into those vehicles, and fall and be ran over by the rear wheel of the bus. And I always clearly remembered, without being able to draw the conclusion, that the vehicle nearest to me was a tan van, and I had seen this tan van being overhauled inside-out and outfitted with dark windowss. I saw the progress day by day but rarely did I see anybody actually work on it. After a new tan paint job was done, the driver's door had been lettered with "Val's van" and a phone number which I didn't take, and I didn't know anybody by that name except Agnes'husband, short for Valentin, which is the name Agnes gave him. His real name is Michel Girot. And since I had cancelled the date out of fear that they would harm me, maybe murder me and dispose of me at their ease, the break-up had been cold, me calling two hours before to say that I didn't think we got along well enough together and I didn't think we should have dinner. I was on the verge of sobbing when I talked to her, facing the devastation of our relationship when I realized that she had not outgrown her childhood rivalry, and kept scheming to terrorize me and defeat me. She had said when we met a few days earlier that she would stay until July 10, but I knew I couldn't believe anything she said. She talked to me only to mislead me. They had never talked about acquiring a van but could I reasonably believe that there was no relationship between "Val's van" on the street and my brother in law? So when I saw it I tried first to brush off any link, thinking it was only a coincidence, but it was really quite an extraordinary coincidence and I had to bullshit myself that's what it was.Anyway when this van was being renovated and park on the block I walked along to and from work, and it happened in late of June 89 just after I had cancelled Agnes' and Val's dinner date alone with them in this cavernous apartment on CPW. And they expected me to bring one of my cameras to loan to Val to give me an incentive to come! So in the back of my mind, although "Val's van" had never been clearly established as belonging to my brother-in-law, I couldn't help connecting it with the van that was parked in front of the Research Library. And since they didn't expect me to survive they didn't take the precaution to use a vehicle I didn't know. So if I testified that there had been vehicles parked, they would have been found to be illegally parked, giving evidence of premeditation. There we are.
And in this light, I can understand why I leaned against the bus instead of veering to the right. I had often imagined a jury doubting my truthfulness about leaning against the bus because this was certainly an event without precedent, and the sheer horror of the instant prevented me from putting two and two together. I have been back to the location many times since the injury and I never saw any vehicle parked at that place, but I was NEVER able to draw the conclusion. So that's also why the Slavits wanted me to say I had fallen close to the curb, to give the idea that there was no vehicle parked there, because the vehicles illegally parked in front of the Resarch Library were an evidence of intent. Eh eh.
I have bought a table at the WBGO radio station annual fair but I don't think I'm gonna go. Last night I decided against going after buying four rattan mannequin heads for display and trying to update my price list and make new labels on the computer (I have lost the touch for making labels. Endless aggravation instead of satisfaction.) However I felt compelled to go through the motions and calling up my "Berets" file and viewing all the documents I have created brought-up all the bad memories, a feeling of deep pain for something that could be but is prevented from being. All the frustrated urges to create, to get approval and reward on the market place.
But since the radio staff has called on my phone and the conversation was tapped, it can be safely assumed that a lot of harassment is waiting for me.
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