Thursday the 5th: It's been hard to bring myself up to writing considering what I am going through, which is a deeper and clearer appreciation of the absolute horror of the betrayal of my mother and my landlord, and my employers and my lawyers but most of all the first two.
I remember asking my brother Fran‡ois when he visited me on December 1st, 1993, why he and my other siblings should obtain by fraud what was theirs by right. But of course there is the "caisse noire" and the illegitimacy of it makes all the estate laws moot, because it is impossible to assert a right to dirty money. So this dirty money is parceled out by mother according to the compliance by my siblings to her demands. She has a right of veto against any activity that is not in line with her agenda. And her hidden agenda which I have brought up to light is to eliminate me.
I have remembered a lot of events in my past which I had not understood at the time and which I understand now because my mother's agenda has become clear.
As I continue my research in constitutional rights, I realize that due process and free speech have been denied me not only in the law suit arising from my injury, but since I was a very little kid, around two or three. I remember the following:
It must have been the first time when she unjustly accused me and denied me the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Maybe I had dropped or broken something, and she accused me. I had absolutely no clue why I would have done the deed intentionally because I had no concept of evil but she showed me, she explained why I could have done the deed intentionally, with malice aforethought, and I understood her devious reasoning. She made me aware of the criminal that lied dormant in me as in every human being. She impressed the effect of bad faith and guilt simultaneously, by making me guilty with a bad-faith reasoning. And I understood that from now on, she would always ascribe me the worst intentions whatever I did because she would always find a bad motive behind my actions.
Another episode around the same time was when I came to complain to her when one of my elder sisters tormented me. My sister came into the room as I was explaining her what had happened. Then she looked at my sister and said "T'es rosse!". I was learning to speak and this was a new word I understood meant mean or nasty. It is actually a slang word. And a few days later, I leart the word "recette" which my mother pronounced "rossette". I knew that the suffix "ette" meant "small" and I wondered what the word "rossette" meant. Did it mean "small nasty"? As far as I knew a "rossette" was a slip of printed paper that came in the box of La Vache Qui Rit cheese.
But after I complained to mother about my sister, she did not console or hug me or tell her that she shouldn't do that! So that my sisters, by the absence of any consequence, were encouraged to torment me, and this is exaclty what my mother wanted. It served her purpose if my sisters tormented me, because she had already decided that my life would be short.
I remember that when I was in France in 1990, after family members had left and I was alone with her, I reproached my mother that she had allowed my sisters to harass and torment me mercilessly, and I told her that not even animals were so cruel. And what she had answered has eluded me... till now. She had answered that I was wrong, that chicken were cruel to chicken, but that they ganged up only against the chicken that were deformed. In other words she was saying that my sisters'cruelty was a natural behavior dictated by natural selection, and at the same time she was saying that I was unfit to live!
No matter whom I complained of, she
alwaystook the side of my tormentors. She always had a rational explanation to convince me that my tormentors were right to torment me.
I guess I had already rebelled against her authoritarian, military regime. I guess she understood that I had an innate sense of freedom and self respect that made me reluctant or rebellious and she didn't like it. I remember how obedient my sisters were. I had the perception that they had already been made compliant, that an essential part of their being had been cut off. There was something terrifying about their docility. I wanted to urge them to revolt, but I felt powerless.
There must have been a scene between me and my mother, of which I have no recollection, when I realized how evil she was, and maybe she had to restrain me physically and I looked at her in terror and it made her hate me even more, because my terror proved her that I had understood what she was really about. But this scene must have been so traumatic that it is still buried in my subconscious, maybe making its slow way up. But I know that she must have been very upset to see fear and terror on my face and she must have punished me for it. Anyway...
She knew that I wouldn't give up my free will without a fight and that was going against her plans. So she decided around that time that she would put me on my way to the next exit. Because for her, motherhood was not a labor of love but a money-making enterprise, and her children just the most profitable kind of cattle, and in her view I was defective because I fought for my freedom and this jeopardized her plans. She obtained all the discounts allowed to large families. I remember the 75% discount on the train fares. She had all our photos stapled to her own card. I remember when she took me to the photographer to have my picture taken. There was no way to make me smile. The photographer showed me a white stuffed rabbit and made it jump behind his camera and the black veil, but it didn't amuse me, I found it puerile and I wasn't even three years old! My mother was getting nervous and angry because I wouldn't smile. I couldn't understand the concept of pretending. Why should I smile if I had nothing to smile about? And the more nervous my mother became, the less reason I had to smile. She probably thought that I didn't smile to spite her. Finally a faint smile is on my face on the photos, my plump, chiseled lips slightly parted. Had she had my teeth drilled already or was it before?
And when the government agent was due with the "Allocations familiales" she was waiting for him feverishly. On the other hand I wore only hand-me-downs from my three sisters, I never had the school supplies that were needed and I believe she built her nest- egg on the money she saved from the allocations by not spending it on her children. Even in "Terminale" I didn't have the Gaffiot Latin dictionary that everybody was using and sometimes entire verses could be found there already translated, but I had to reinvent the wheel and I only found out after I had done the work.
As for the betrayal by Sy Bonarti, I find it absolutely evil also. And the betrayal started when he put an ad in the New York Times that said "artists and musicians welcome" and I, thinking that it was an artist place, was happy to rent a room there. I remember asking him, a few months after moving in, where the musicians were, and he told me there were some on the fifth floor. And along the way, some artists that I met who lived here and whom I didn't like at all: this fiftyish jew with horrible crooked front teeth who seemed to wait for me before he engaged conversation, and who later told me he was an artist, and that he had done time in jail but who was becoming religious and was seeing a rabbi every week; he said he needed slides to show to the galleries, and he lead me to offer him to take the photos for him and I made appointment to go to his room but in the evening I realized that I hated the guy and that I would certainly hate his art. After all maybe it was pornographic or violent, and what would I say if I arrived with my camera and had to spend time with this guy taking photos of art I found horrible and offensive?
There was also a short white guy in his thirties with long brown hair who talked a lot and was a beer addict. I went up to his room one night, not long after my cast had been taken off, and he showed me his art. He showed me actual paintings and also slides. It looked like acid art. There is a graphic style that is associated wih the acid trip which I find unmistakable. A kind of obsessive doodling with a specific kind of curlicue. But I liked it for what it was. His room was very small and filled with art material. He was sitting on a mattress on the floor and introduced the black woman sitting next to him as his girl friend. At one point he offered some beer and when the woman opened the refrigerator a horrible smell came out of it.
When he came to my room, the guy made me speak about fashion and made me talk abundantly about it. He said he had worked for designers or at least some kind of work in the fashion area and shared my enthusiasm about clothes. I spoke about fabrics, I showed him some clothes I particularly liked in my wardrobe and showed him a book of sketches by K. Lagerfeld and he waxed enthusiastic. But I felt after expressing so much enthusiasm that I still didn't trust him really and I treated him like a brother, as if I had nothing at stake with him. He did something that irritated me in my room: he patted the back side of my cat until she became exasperated. He did this twice. The second time I told him to stop and I was furious. Anyway ok, he was an artist, but he was a beer alcoholic. He told me so. He said he pissed his money away. Very sexy. He invited me to go with him to an underground bar where beer was cheap and I went and met him at the bar, the beer was served in tall plastic goblets and he introduced me to a black friend of his. At some point there was a thick tide of young people that filled the room in very little time and it became very uncomfortable. I had to scream to be heard, there was no place to sit and I hated the cheap beer gig. I said I preferred to pay more to drink beer in a real glass and that I didn't feel well in that place and I left over his protests. After that I avoided him.
Also there was a musician, a rock guitarist in his twenties with dyed black hair. Like the two artists, he initiated contact with me. One night he came to my room to see my guitar and he grabbed my guitar and played uninvited. He played nice rock chords which I didn't know. But somehow I didn't expect him to play and I was very tired and after a while I told him that I wanted to sleep and he was a little miffed. After that I didn't see him. When we talked before he came to my room, he had told me that his girlfriend was a make-up artist and that someone had robbed her equipment and she suspected the woman neighbor and they had fought in the hallway like cats.
In those three encounters, I had felt there was something fishy about the guys, and I didn't like any of them. I had not sought them and there was something artificial in them but I didn't know what it was. Now I Know! It was to make me believe that I was not the only musician/artist in the building. Why should I believe that? So that the ad in the newspaper seemed to be bona-fide, when in fact it was there only to lure me into the place and fall within the power of Bonarti, who was already under contract with my family! When I asked him where the artists were, he understood that I noticed the discrepancy between the actual tenants, who are mostly hispanic and black lower class, and the promise of the ad. Now he didn't want me to wonder why the difference.
It is very painful for me to realize the extent to which I was manipulated. To think that it was my mother who arrange for me to get a job and lose it when it was convenient for her, to find a place to stay and then to lose it when he plan required it. Sadistically, she controled my life, inflicting upon me countless suffering at the hands of abusive bosses, lovers and roommates, the anguish at the loss of work or housing, she made me stumble relentlessly from one desesperate situation to another in the hope that I would fall into deviant behavior or despair or madness. When she says that I am "hors-normes" (not to say "abnormal") what she means is that I am incredibly resistant and resilient, that she is pissed that I am still alive and kicking after all the atrocities she visited upon me, and that any normal person would have committed suicide a long time ago. But she can't say that, she has to pretend that she loves me and that she only wants what's good for me. But it is abundantly clear now that she had counted me out of any inheritance a long time ago because she assumed I would be dead by then. And why did she assume? Because she did all she could to ensure that I would die young. But here I am.
Now all the events form a chain, and particularly from AgnŠs'visit to New York in 1989 when she made me feel like she wanted me dead and appraised my valuables in front of me as if I didn't exist, to the present legal cover-up, all the incidents are part of a logical whole the essence of which is my elimination from the heirs of my father's estate.
So I have decided to work again on this account starting with my move to Jessie's and fill in more details which I had kept out because I had not understood their importance and impart a logical flow which eluded me before.
Joey, the super, was exceedingly reverential with me starting monday the 2nd, calling me "Miss Picart" and saying thank you when I told him the toilet was blocked. The toilet is still blocked.
S.B. has left a message offering to work out an arrangement. Let him sue me. I know that whatever arrangement he or my mother proposes, is going to be self-serving, and to my disadvantage. At this point, the only self-serving thing they can do is to kill me, so I can't expect any help from either.
The terrible duplicity of my parents is that whatever they wanted me to do, saying it was for my own good, was in fact to further their goal to eliminate me. "She has to die before Dad" was the whole point. That's why every time they accepted to help me, they ended up forcing me to do something I didn't want to do because it was not good for me, but then they would help me only if I did what they wanted me to do. They never had my welfare in mind for one second. If they could not use me, I was only a useless mouth to feed, and their nazi efficient mindedness dictated that any useless mouth to feed should be eliminated. Yes, yes, they, both of them, my father and my mother are nazis, although my mother never openly admitted it. She just uses nazi language all the time. And to think that I grew up among them, and that they treated me as if I were from a race inferior to them, or had some inherent mental or moral flaw tham made me undesirable.
Our whole youth was taken by rituals. Great hoopla was made of catholic events, even minor ones like Pentecost, and my mother particularly was always more interested by religious people or people from outside than by her own children. I really always felt that I was not interesting to her. Other people who were nothing to her always deserved high praise, but me not ever. She never found anything to compliment or encourage me about.
Friday the 6th: In fact I have observed that the guiltier my mother feels the more vindictive she is, in order to cover up her misdeed because if she convinces me that it's my fault then I won't question her. So she compounds one offense with an amount of accusation proportional to the offense. And the way my lawsuit has unfolded is no exception. If Pizzimenti were innocent then why not deal with the problem like gentlemen. The very fact of all this accusatory attitude of the TA, the obvious bad faith, their attempts to disparage my character. At this point the more they violate my rights the more they prove my point, because they violate my rights to cover up their guilt. If there is nothing to cover-up, then why a cover-up?
But while they were setting-me up behind my back, I was recovering from psychological trauma which were anterior to the TA incident, and little by little, the realization and acceptance of my victimization restored my self respect and self confidence, so that by the time the trial was just around the corner, I realized that a trial was a very important event in my life, and because I cared enough about myself, I decided that I was not ready for trial and that I didn't trust these lawyers with something that was so important to me. If I had not "worked through" my earlier trauma, I would not have disabled the guilt button and still feeling worthless I would have had the careless approach that my mother had taught me to adopt regarding my life, and I would have thought "To hell with it! Let's go ahead and get it over with!" What a disaster I have avoided!
Monday the 9th: I went to the Chinese take-out and ordered shrimp with lobster sauce. The guy asked me if I wanted baby shrimp or jumbo. He said there were about 6 jumbo or a lot of babies. I had never been offered this choice before, between baby and jumbo. I said I would return in a few minutes and went to buy the paper. When I was back, he asked me again if I wanted baby or jumbo shrimp. I was surprised that the order hadn't been prepared yet. I repeated that I wanted jumbo shrimp. He said the cook had made a mistake, he had used baby shrimp. I was getting angry and asked him why he asked me what I wanted if he was not going to do what I asked. He said he was going to ask the cook to make another order for me. Then he added that "usually" shrimp in lobster sauce was baby shrimp, which is untrue. I asked him "Then why do you ask me and then you don't do what I ask?" He repeated the word "usually" (we use baby shrimp) and he had a hard time with the word. Someone had told him to say this. I didn't feel like waiting for a new order to be prepared so I said the baby shrimp was ok. He packed everything, asking me very politely how many packets of sauce I wanted, (a question that is never asked) as if he were eager to please a difficult customer. First he made me angry, next he tried to make me feel like a fool to be angry at him when he was so eager to please me, and to put the icing on the cake he gave me a discount of 25 or 50 cents "for you" as if he liked me so much that he gave me preferential treatment.
On the way back, the loca Cuban woman was walking towards me on the sidewalk and she smiled to me, so I wouldn't miss the gap of her mising tooth, she called me "mamita" and said she had a beautiful pair of glasses to sell me. I ignored her. This was two or three days after I wrote the episode in the optical store.
And when I opened the food container at home, the sauce was not lobster sauce but a brown sauce.
Tuesday the 10th: Last saturday one of my teeth (artificial) came off. I have pondered whether or not to go to Dr. Herbin but after he acted disgusted and ordered unnecessary oral surgery last july, I don't think it would be a good idea to go to him. And I've had such bad skin that I have stayed indoors these past few days. I didn't go out at all for two days. I am really a prisoner in this place. I have been reading a lot, including law books.
I felt elated after my last entry. I had overcome a block. The theft of the data on my hidden diskettes last november almost succeeded in discouraging me from continuing writing, but if I stop writing what am I going to do? I can't play the guitar all day long. I know it's a nazi thing to disgust people from pursuing their creative endeavors. I have read about an actor who, after he was liberated from a concentration camp, gave up his acting career. And it happened to me also with the guitar. I gave it up for seven years, I believe, and it almost killed me.
Thursday the 12th: Call Dr. Herbin's office. The first thing his assistant asks, even before asking my name, is "What's your insurance?" It's not the first time this happens. I ask the assistant if she knows that a lot of people don't have insurance, and even less have dental insurance. She says that yes, she knows. "Then why do you ask me what's my insurance?" "Because Dr. Herbin told me to ask this question to everybody." "But if you know that a lot of people don't have insurance, why don't you ask first if they have insurance?" Silence. Make appointment with Dr. Herbin for 2:45 same day. Half an hour later his secretary calls and asks if I could come right now so he would see me at noon instead. I say I can't make it and agree to come at 1:30. Then I have another change of mind about Dr. Herbin and call Dr. Paley who wecomes emergencies and he gives me an appointment for 3:00. Now I have to cancel Dr. Herbin's appointment. I tell the secretary that I have scheduled my time in a way that I cannot change the original time of 2:45. She says "Then come tomorrow at noon." I say ok.
I pack my tooth in a Tic-Tac container and first go to the library to return books that are due today, then walk to Columbus and 96th and take the cross-town bus through Central Park, and transfer at Lexington. I sit in the front row against the wall, and I see three LPs that are wedged between the bus wall and the back of the seat in front of me. I pull them out. All three of them seem to date back to the sixties and one of them is a record of Carly Simon. Unlike the other two, it's the back cover that's facing me, and it is a close up of the singer with a broad lovely, happy smile, and perfect teeth.
Well she's a singer-guitarist just like me, but her dad is the publisher at Simon and Schuster. I suppose he didn't maker her learn to type and take shorthand and he didn't see anything wrong with his daughter being what she was, and he helped her and here she is, with a twenty-plus years career behind her, successful records, and now she diversifies into children books or something. But why on earth did she have her teeth capped? Now she has big teeth that look fake and she didn't need it.
Dr. Paley himself opens the door and there is nobody in his office but him. After seating myself I hand him the Tic-Tac container with my tooth in it. He says he's only going to make a stop-gap procedure and he puts my tooth back in with white cement. I ask him if he doesn't think that the root is decaying because it is not white but grey. He says that to take care of that he would need to completely rebuild the root but he can't do it today. He makes a fuss about my not touching my tooth while the cement is hardening and puts some cotton against my gum. "It's for your lip." I ask him how much it would cost to rebuild my tooth and he says $650. I am surprised and he says "That's my fee". But in his ad he said that his prices were reasonable! $300 more than Dr. Herbin!
Friday the 13th: I hadn't seen it coming this one, yet I should have but somehow it eluded me until some time in the afternoon. I knew it was Friday, I knew it was the 13th, but I didn't connect.
At 12 I'm at Dr. Herbin's. One of his assistants says she's looking for my chart and can't find it. There's an old man asking Dr. Levine something about hydrogen peroxyde mouthwash (last July the Dr. had told me to wash my mouth with a solution of it) then there's a guy who comes out of Dr. Herbin's office and at the reception window starts speaking about his insurance. Next Dr. Herbin's assistant comes to see me and speaks to me behind her mask so that her voice is muffled. Then I'm asked to the tiny sanctum. I say I have seen another dentist who put the tooth back with temporary cement and I want him to do the serious work. I couldn't hide the fact that I had seen the other dentist since he had put my tooth back. I told Dr. Herbin about the root that doesn't look healthy. He said something about the duty of a dentist not to do the kind of thing like putting a crown on a root that's not healthy or treated, and that anyway it was against the dentist's interest to do that since it would bring him more money to do the job completely. Dr. Herbin looked at the tooth but I was not ready to go through a new session and I said I didn't want anything done today, but just wanted to discuss the matter.
As I'm leaving his room, he says something about my fancy suit. It's the houndstooth one with the pleated skirt. I say "You call
this "fancy"?" He says he doesn't know, his father would call it a Philadelphia lawyer suit. "I don't know what you're talking about." I say. He has no business talking to me about my appearance. I come to see him about my teeth.
In the waiting room I had started to read an article about the mob and how the young generation is fucking up and doesn't play by the old rules. For instance there was a taboo about murdering their blood relatives but now this taboo has been broken. Since the issue of the New Yorker is current, I go to the next newsstore to buy the magazine but next week's issue is there already and the current issue has already been sent back. I complain about this state of affairs to a man who works there, protesting that the week isn't over yet, and a black man who was standing close to me, neither looking at anything nor buying, enters th conversation and after a few words he speaks to me I see that one of his front teeth is missing.
I'm back home and a letter is slipped at the top of my door. Since I'm receiving the LJ I open the door. "Oh, I didn't want to disturb you." Glenn says. Well, he always knocks on the door when he brings the newspaper. He gives it to me, with a post card. The post-card is from the Housing court, and it is a notice of eviction, the dreaded disposess. I don't feel like going to this court because I have read about it recently and it doesn't look like a pleasant place, plus a Housing judge has been arrested for asking bribes in exchange of a favorable rulings and God knows, I believe the press. I decide that I'll pay to stop the proceedings but I have to go to answer the notice. When I step outside I see Bonarti's car so I go back in to talk to him about it. First I ask him why I haven't been served properly and he says that the papers are served by mail or by a process server but I haven't received anything. I complain to him about the problem of privacy, that I can't make a living if someone is tapping my phone and about the noise downstairs. He says the EPA is responsile for enforcing the laws against noise, and that he is ready to start an action against the tenant of the club but that I would have to be a witness and that I'm the only one who's complaining but I don't want to be his witness and there is no way to win without my testimony. I say that I would much rather move to a decent place so I won't be incommodated and nobody will complain anymore about the noise. But he says there's nothing on the market, and that anyway he has nothing that I can afford. I tell him I can pay double of what I pay now but that I want a decent place. While this is going on Joey comes in and almost steps on my toes, then Richie comes in, and to my right is a young man the size of a wardrobe who has been standing there silently since I came in. Actually he was there when I came into the office. Bonarti offers him to sit down but he declines. "He's afraid to crush the chair." I say. "But I'm not heavy." he says. "He's a butterfly." Bonarti says. And then we resume the conversation about my being a witness if he sues the club downstairs. He says that I wouldn't have anything to fear from the people downstairs for about two weeks after I testified against them.
He says "What is this? This is coercion!" "What is coercion?" I ask. "You want to force me to give you an apartment somewhere else by not paying the rent here." I say it's not coercion, but the situation is impossible to live in, if someone snoops on my phone I can't make a living, I can't make a living in this place, and he owns property in the Upper West side so he could give me a better place. I say the situation is one of constructive eviction and he says that he has never heard about that.
He says "I wanted to help you with the studio on the east side but you didn't want it. I say "But it is in Spanish Harlem and I'm a white woman. What do you want me to do in Spanish Harlem?... What do you want me to do in Spanish Harlem?
I have realized lately that I had assumed that non-white people wouldnt be prejudiced against me because they would realize that I wasn't, but I was wrong and some non-whites may hate me just because I am white, and a woman.
Finally I go get the two check I wrote, for a total of $1,500 and give them to him. I ask him to give me a receipt and to call his law office to discontinue the proceedings. He makes the call. I'm glad I didn't have to go to housing court and come out of his office smiling, saying "settled out of court" and see Glen and Joey, one standing, the other one sitting on the stairs, motionless, silent, and looking at me.
Well, I had told him that if he sued me, I would countersue for violation of my right to privacy, inter alias. So if he didn't sue me because I had said this, it would be justly interpreted as an admission of guilt.
Sunday the 15th: Tooth comes loose again in the evening.
Monday the 16th: Take X-ray of tooth at Dr. Herbin's. Dr. recommends a two-teeth bridge for strength. Make appt for next day at 2, a good one-hour session.
Tuesday the 17th: I calculate the amount due to be up to date with the rent and write a check for $477.60 and bring it to the office. I ask Bonarti to calculate how much I owe and he comes up with the same amount and smiles when he sees I had the check ready. I ask for a receipt with the stamp of the office on it and he says that the proceeedings are discontinued, that lawyers would be disbarred if they allowed proceedings to continue after rent was paid and I said sometimes people got away with a lot of stuff. Deep inside I knew that the thing was stopped but I couldn't help being anxious nevertheless and since I was going to get a copy of the order on my motion of Dec. 1st, I could also check at Housing court. But when I got out of the subway I clalled Barbara at Bonarti's lawyer's and she confirmed that it wad discontinued so I didn't have to bother.
On the way back I don't feel like going to the dentist. There's only so much of dentists that I can take in a week and I feel I have reached the limit, and I'm not ready for a one to one and a half hour of dental work. I call at 12:30 and ask to reschedule the appointment. I say I'm not feeling well. The assistant is very friendly and says she hopes I feel better, and gives me an appointment for Wednesday the 25th at 10:30.
I have been thinking again about my toilet training and some more details have emerged. I remember that when I had to take a shit in the potty after my three sisters had already used it, there was so much shit in the pot that I was afraid it would touch my behind and stick to it when I sat down on the potty, and it wasn't even my shit, it was my sisters'.
Another thing was that Madame Andr‚, the woman who took care of us while mom helped at the store, didn't empty the pot after the four of us had used it, but put it underneath a piece of furniture, and the smell fouled the air in the area. That's why none of us liked this woman. But there's more.
The vagaries of our games and movements would always take us, at some point, in the area where the air smelled of shit and instantly the spirit of the game would vanish and the thought of shit would impose itself. Now considering that my mother had attached a lot of shame to the shit, smelling it was enough to feel a burning sense of shame right in the middle of a game. And then one didn't feel like playing anymore.
There came a point, after I had crossed the invisible limit into the foul smelling area one time too many, when the mental suffering caused by the shame became unbearable and my reaction was to sit near the potty, bathed in shit smell, and not play at all. Smelling shit continuously was preferable to being reminded of it unexpectedly in the middle of a game.
That was a perfect double bind: the thing that is shameful, you are not allowed to forget about for one minute.
Madame Andr‚ was a woman who was rough and in a constant bad mood. But I cannot think that she left the potty full of shit under a piece of furniture unless my mother had told her to do so. I know we complained about it to my mother but it didn't make a difference.
Around that time I had a nightmare about Madame Andr‚: I dreamed that she was slicing carrots on a board, and that after she had reached the end of a carrot she kept on slicing, and now she was slicing her finger under my horrified eyes, and she didn't have any reaction of pain. It shows how inhuman and insensitive she was. It also shows that at the time I didn't know there were bones in fingers.
Still when we were living in Annecy, when I was approximately between 2 and 4 years old, I noticed there was something over- emphatic about the way my mother hid her body from sight. Let's say her bath-robe belt came undone, she would hurriedly drape herself again as if something terrible would happen, should I catch a glimpse of her skin. It made me wonder what it was about her body that had to be hidden at any cost. I felt that she hated her body because if she took such precautions to hide it, she must think that it is horrible. I know it irritated me that she didn't trust me enough to relax in my presence, and the more she hurriedly covered herself, the more I wanted to see what she was hiding. Now I wonder if she wasn't doing all this on purpose, maybe to teach me modesty, because there are ways to secure a belt, whereas it seems that her belt was coming undone all the time and it always interrupted whatever she was doing.
Now, this happened before I had realized that people came in two kinds, male and female, and before I had realized that me and my mother were of the same sex. After I had realized that, I wanted to see my mother's body to know what I would look like when I was grown up. Once, while she was talking with "les grandes", my three older sisters, and paying no attention to me, I crawled on the floor to peek under her bathrobe and see her pussy but she caught me and I didn't see nuthin'. I believe this became an obsession to see my mother naked because years later, when I was around 8 or 9 years old, the lock of the bathroom broke, and I entered the bathroom while my mother was taking a bath to see her breasts, pretending that I didn't know that she was there.
If she had not acted this bit of prudishness to begin with, but had behaved naturally instead in our mother-daughter relationship, I don't think I would have paid attention to what she was always failing to hide, but being of an inquisitive turn of mind, and curious just like any of Blue-Beard's wives, I wanted to see more than anything else, what was forbidden from sight.
And because what she was hiding were her breasts and her pussy, she concluded that I was a born whore. I suspect she might very well have pushed this game of peek-a-boo to some extremes where I tried to rip the damn robe open in a fit of frustration and nervous exasperation, and feeling rejected that she would not trust me enough to let me see. And it made me very unhappy too that there was something horrible about her body, particularly when I realized we were the same sex, it was bad news for my body too.
But obviously, even when I was two years old, she thought my curiosity was prurient and that I was sexually deviant, because her reaction when I went to kindergarten without a panty on was to make sure I didn't do it again by lifting my skirt with a suspicious frown, humiliating me before my three sisters, before we went out, when all I wanted was that she help me get dressed in the morning and pay a little attention to me. (continued)
Monday the 23rd: I believe it's a legitimate expectation for a child at that age that her mother help her get dressed, and in my case this need was not met, producing anxiety. But my anxiety was increased exponentially by the fact that I had to hide a certain part of my body but I didn't know why, but it was horrible and it looked like if I failed to hide it, all hell would break loose. I wanted to know why it was so important, so much more important than any other part of the body that is also covered by clothing, but she wouldn't tell me, and what really upset me the most was that she didn't seem to care what would happen to me if I failed to hide it, because she let me get dressed alone.
By going to kindergarten without a panty, I think I was trying to provoke an explanation from my mother why exactly etc. I didn't feel comfortable having to do something without knowing why, particularly something obviously so important. Until my mother brought it up, it had been a matter of indifference.
This is the earliest "acting-out" that I can remember, and like the other incidents of the same nature, they were last-resort attempts to communicate with my mother regarding matters of importance to me, to obtain guidance and information, after all attempts at verbal exchange had failed. Particularly at that age when I was unable to express myself verbally.
But contrary to my expectation, there never was a little chat between me and mom, and my anxiety remained unrelieved. Yet this acting-out had cost me so much in added anxiety, physical discomfort and shame. And all hell did break loose.
My father and my sisters never said a word about it but I could feel that they knew from their attitude. It was contempt that they showed me, cold, distant contempt that colored from now on all their interactions with me, and contempt that quieted their conscience when they tormented me. They could always tell themselves "After all she has this character flaw so what I do to her is not really wrong." With this rationalization, they indulged their envy towards me because I was prettier, and later I was good at creative writing, music and graphic arts.
With the passing of time, the no-panty incident went to the background and I forgot why exactly they despised me, but they never let me forget that they did. The slightest request I made was met with a severe expression and silence, or I had to explain endlessly why I needed what I was asking for, whether what I was asking for was really so important, whether I really believed that I couldn't do without it, whether I had studied the alternative of not having it and did I think that not having it would really be a big problem for me. Sometimes the request and the discussion would require my father to be asked his opinion and permission, so I brought up the subject at lunch or dinner and he would have to think about it. "On en reparlera." But if I didn't bring it up again myself, we would never talk about it again. So I waited a few days first to see if dad would say that he had thought about it and give me his answer.
The color pencils for instance. I was dying to have color pencils. It took several weeks. It was I who brought up the subject, and in my father's silence and stern expression, I could tell that he didn't think I could have them. It really seemed that it would be a great act of clemency for him to give his permission so that I could have the pencils. His first reaction was that I didn't deserve them. So I tried my best to deserve whatever it was that I requested by being a good girl, helping with meals etc. But no matter how good a girl I was, it was never enough to offset the tremendous liability of being inherently contemptible.
Dad finally had a grandiose gesture: he gave me eight or ten color pencils that he used himself when he was a boy. The pencils were half used and ugly looking because the wood was unpainted, and I was straining my eyes to tell their color just from the lead point. There was no box, but I had to pretend that I was happier than if dad had given me a new box because
he had used these when he was a boy, so they were unique and more valuable than the store-bought pencils.
And the more I wanted something, the more they tortured me with their questions, hesitations, evasions, adjournments, and their implication that I was unworthy of any expenditure and that I should not have a good time. They never said it. But their silence was eloquent enough. I fact it said a lot. It said : "I know that you have done something utterly despicable that shows that you're a bad person, and you have to pay for what you did but you'll never have paid enough, and I must punish you for your own good, so that you will be less in debt to the world, and by denying your request I'm doing you a favor."
This is a mind twister that makes people masochistic and self- destructive, because it demonstrates that what is bad is good, what hurts is good for you, deprivation is an expression of love. I was like Mr. K in the Trial. It reached a point where my parents had convinced me that if they allowed me to live it was only because they were specially nice people and I was lucky because anybody else would not be so magnanimous. I realized that I was indebted to them for allowing me to live and I felt grateful. I knew there was nothing I could do to repay them enough for their generosity, but I would try my best, I would try not to make them regret.
Tuesday the 24th: But there is more to the bathrobe-wrapping- unwrapping than met the eye. There was an aspect to this that, like with my toilet training, involved the sense of smell. Because at the same time my sense of sight was stimulated by the peek-a-boo game, it also happened several times when, standing next to my mother, I could smell a horrible stench wafting through her skirt and this terrified me. From the smell, I imagined that her pussy looked like a devil, some kind of monster with a malevolent smirk on its face that was threatening to jump out.
At the same time that she refused to show and that she impressed the quality of "bad" to that part of her body, she put me in a double bind because I was thinking about something quite different, the smell of her pussy irrupted into my train of thought and the sense of shame which had been inoculated was activated by the smell. So I had to suffer in silence because I knew it shouldn't be talked about.
And it became a Pavlovian reflex into my teens that each time I would smell either shit or sex (or any similar smell) I would experience so much shame I was near fainting, even if the shit was only an old dog doo in the park.
It was like an artificial obession, as if a foreign thought imposed itself, and a shameful and guilty thought at that, but it didn't come from inside my brain, it came from a smell outside of me. But since I had to pretend that what smelled did not exist, and since you can deny smelling anything because you can't see or touch a smell, it was all very confusing.
But there is still more to this thing. Now it is clear that my mother established dominance over my mind and emotions by manipulating the air I breathed. By releasing specific smells into the air she induced shame and guilt which knocked me out and diminished my will. But she went one step further. She made me feel ashamed even to smell, to use my nose as a sensory organ:
The four of us girls slept in a room, and mom had made us nightdresses from the same fabric. On the other hand our nightdresses happened to be in a heap on a regular basis, instead of each being put under the pillow, and the only way to distinguish them was by smelling them. I could tell which sister owned the nightdress by sniffing it, and when I didn't smell anything it meant that the nightdress was mine.
I remember that once my mother was looking at me while I was performing the sniffing routine, and there was contempt and disgust in her smile. So using one's nose was wrong? That's what I understood. I learned later that it was animal-like and primitive at best to identify things with one's nose and that human beings did not behave that way in life.
Wednesday the 25th: That was something that affected me very much when my parents let me understand that I was hopelessly unfit for society, and all along it was a leit-motiv that came up every time I did something that they found objectionable. Because of the absence of privileges due to my young age, or rather to my low status as the fourth born in the family hierarchy, I looked forward to growing up and be on my own and integrate the wide world outside, but this hope was crushed every time my parents made me feel that there was something inherently bad about me, that they were ashamed of me and would keep me away from society to hide my flaw, not so much to protect me as (and that was the stinger) to protect society from me and that without them, I didn't have a chance. This was a very depressing thought.
I remember going to a child psychologist. In the waiting room there were small chairs for children and big chairs for grown ups, but I wanted to show mother that I was big enough to sit in a grown up chair, because at home I was considered too young for the good things.
The psychologist was a young friendly woman who asked me to draw trees and houses and people and she gave me a lot of color pencils, a lot of paper, and I had a great time. It lasted all day and I had never had such a great time in my life. I hoped that I would return to do it again but nothing came of it. Maybe the psychologist told my mother that she was the one who had a problem, when she had taken me there to have confirmation about my defect.
There are a few more memories of that period when we lived at 41 rue Carnot in Annecy: - the changes brought about by Veronique's birth
- how mom put dots of red nail polish on our nails, and what I picked up from her about being a woman.
- the privileged moments when she taught me "Brave Marin" and I made my first rhyme, and how music was my only toy. - the toy stove.
- why my father married my mother.
But first I want to conclude, from these early memories, that my mother used techniques of mind control similar to those used by the nazis against whoever it was they didn't like, not only Jews but also intellectuals etc. etc., and that technique is called "rape of the senses", whereby the victim cannot escape conditions where the five senses are assaulted by detestable stimuli. And that the conditions of living I find myself in can come under the same heading, and moreover it has been somewhat the same refrain all my life. For that reason I feel like calling this early period of my life "Little Auschwitz". Even the fear of death-by-gas was there, with the pilot light of the water-heater!
While all this was going on my mother helped my father in the store. She left a little before him to prepare meals and take care of us kids. She was always in extreme hurry, had absolutely no patience for the slightest delay and we had to do everything on the double. I watched mom while she was busy, hoping that even for a split second she would look at me and it could take until dinner time before she aknowledged my presence.
When dad arrived after closing the store she asked him how he was feeling. My dad had come out of the sanatorium cured of tuberculosis after a one year (or so) stay, but he was not exactly in tip-top shape when he started "La Maison de l'Electricit‚" selling electric appliances. So many an evening when he returned, he answered my mother's question by saying "Je suis mal foutu" and from the look on his face I could tell it meant that he was very tired and not feeling well. So this put a damper on the already strained atmosphere and we had to be quiet and go to bed fast.
To enforce silence after lights-out, mom dangled the cat o'nine tails in the opening of the door while hiding behind the door, as I have stated earlier. This happened two times.
I observed mom getting ready to go out into the world, that is, helping my father in the store. She was a beautiful woman and I adored her. She put red nail polish on her fingernails and took care of her hair, having it bleached and permed and set in rollers, and I understood this was part of being a woman. One day she put red dots of her nail polish on each one of our fingers, that is forty little nails to paint a red dot on. So she started with my sister AgnŠs because being the oldest, she always had first turn and first choice, and we all waited for our turn and of course I was the one who waited the longest. But when my turn came I had had the time to think and I asked mom that instead of painting a red dot on each nail, she paint completely one nail only. I didn't think the little dots were pretty, and this thing had lasted long enough already. She did as I asked but I felt that she resented me my request. But she stopped altogether painting her nails, busy as she was with four young girls and a newborn and her helping at the store.
She also put creams on her face, foundation, lip-stick. I noticed that seen in profile, her mouth had the exact shape of a heart lying on its side and sometimes I tilted my head to see it straight. She also accentuated her eye brows with a reddish brown pencil in a continuous line that exaggerated the arch and gave her a mean expression. Many times I watched the transformation from sweet-looking to mean-looking while she traced her eyebrows, amazed at what little it took to completely alter the emotional landscape of her face. I wanted to tell her that everything was great except the eyebrows and that she shouldn't arch them at such a sharp angle and not so heavy, but I didn't have the words.
I believe that she posited many of her actions, making her face up among other, as privileges that she had because she was grown up and our mother. She positioned herself vi-a-vis her children as the one who had the power to give or not to give everything that we needed and to decide the quantity of what she gave. It made our survival a matter of politics right from the start. Beside earning privileges, there was not much about life. Since I was at the bottom of the totem pole as the fourth born, even after Veronique was born because new borns have new born privileges, I started the race with a severe handicap and besides, I had an inkling that I didn't really want to compete for privileges. I knew it was a time consuming activity that could take a whole life and then there would be no time left to do the interesting stuff. But I tried to earn privileges anyway as a matter of survival and kept count of at what age my elder sister got what she got, so that when my age came, I could expect to have the same. But it happened that after waiting several years, the expected privilege didn't materialize and then I found out that it had not been a matter of my being too young but of simply being. Their whole attitude towards me was one of resentment for my existence.
During the same period, my mother taught me to sing and on that occasion, I discovered the world of music, my ability to make music, to sing words, the concept of rhyme and how pleasant it is to the ear in addition to the pleasure of sounds. The lyrics of that song went like this: Brave marin revient de guerre, tout doux (repeat)
Tout mal chauss‚, tout mal vˆtu,
Brave marin d'o— reviens-tu?
Madame je reviens de guerre, tout doux (repeat)
(bla bla bla bla)
Brave marin se mit … boire, tout doux (repeat)
(bla bla bla bla).
From what I could make out, it was a man who arrived at the woman's door after walking for a long time. I asked what it was he was coming from, and he was coming from war. His shoes were worn out and he was ill-dressed. But didn't one say "habill‚" for dressed, and not "vˆtu"? The word I knew for "dressed" was "habill‚", not "vˆtu". And God knows, with all this fuss about dressing and hiding one's body, I was positive that the right word was "habill‚". I didn't like "vˆtu" at all. So I had an idea. If the man had been walking for a long time with worn-out shoes, he was probably very tired, and instead of singing "Tout mal chauss‚, tout mal vˆtu" I sang "Tout mal chauss‚, tout mal foutu." But then I saw my mother's face lose its relaxed expression and her eyebrows came close together and there were three deep vertical furrows between them and her mouth was pinched and she looked overall very displeased. What had I done? I had replaced one word with another that ended the same and didn't destroy the rhyme, and the meaning was even enhanced. I was rather proud of myself.
I wasn't sure why mom reacted that way and we started the song again, and again, and every time I sang "mal foutu" there was the same reaction. What was wrong with that word? Dad said it almost every night when he returned from work. I had learned it from him, this word. I was utterly baffled. She looked at me as if I had deliberately done something very wrong but she didn't say what it was.
Years later I learned that the infinitive of the verb was "foutre" and "foutu" was the past participle. The word was very vulgar and used as an insult, for instance "Vas te faire foutre". But still later I learned that the meaning of this verb refers to homosexual anal sex and Sade used that word in all its variations. So when one said "Vas te faire foutre", as an insulting way to say "get lost", one was in fact calling the insultee a she-man. But what then did my father mean when he said that he was "mal foutu"? From his outward appearance he meant that he wasn't feeling well and was tired, not that he was badly fucked in the ass. So finally I understood why my mother had been so upset when I substituted the words "vˆtu" with "foutu". It was because she had assumed that I hade made the substitution not to avoid a word I didn't like, but with the guilty knowledge that the word was an extremely vulgar one and with the intent to use it because of that. And when I asked that we sing again, she believed that I repeated the word not to make sure which word it was that upset her, but to deliberately shock her.
In fact everyhing that I did of my own free will was received by my parents as an affront to their sense of propriety, it was as if everything I did was offensive to them, and in self-righteous indignation, in the name of the greater good of society compared to my own welfare, they ruthlessly retaliated for any affront to their sense of propriety. In my early twenties, it seemed to me that my very existence was an affront to the average man and I was ashamed of being alive. I thought that the world wouldn't miss me if I died. But I never actually contemplated the idea in the how-to of it. I felt as if any contact with a fellow human being was like a cactus prick, and I wasn't sure, at the same time I felt I was the walking cactus that helplessly pricks everybody who comes into contact, but I felt the pain of the pricks too and every human contact hurt me.
When I saw myself through the same lens as my parents did, this feeling was very strong, of being an unwelcome liability to society, but at the same time I was writing movie scripts for short and long films, bubbling over with plot ideas, camera movements, one-liners, writing synopses feverishly and believing that I could make a career as a film writer. But I could find no legitimacy to my existence in my parents'opinion, and having to support myself as a beginning secretary, I didn't have much time to launch a career in the seventh art.
Friday the 27th: .... speaking about shit, and music: I had taken to singing like a duck to water. Now I had a toy to play with that was my own voice and that, unlike toys you can see, nobody could break. (At least I believed so, but I realized later that someone can actually break your voice). I learned the songs my sisters learned at school.
There was a rather silly song that went:
"En ‚t‚ j'men irai dans la Martinique"... and the song went on saying what the person would do there. He would ride a dromedary and he would eat what? "Des carottes … moiti‚ cuites", that is undercooked carrots. So one night getting ready for bed, Sophie and I were jumping in rhythm on our bed while singing this silly song. Mom came to put us to bed but we were having a good time and kept jumping and singing, and she sat down on the bed and all of a sudden she grabbed my sister by the arm and jerked her body so the dance stopped, and she gave her a not very heavy but a very angry slap on the arm and in a split second the ambience was changed from relaxed play to a disaster situation. What had Sophie done? I was with her, we were just playing innocently. What had she done? "Qu'est-ce que j'ai fait?" The eternal question. "Qu'est-ce que j'ai fait?" One always did unknowingly terrible deeds which warranted severe punishment. Life was like a booby-trapped place where the most innocuous thing can blow up in your face. In fact it even took the turn where one felt one had done something bad no matter what one did, even if one's motivation was legitimate. And in the end, it seemed, there was nothing at all that was legitimate. One felt guilty for being alive.
So what was Sophie's sin? She had said "des crottes" instead of "des carottes". I was positive she had said carottes because I was singing with her. But mom was extremely upset and insisted that Sophie had said "crottes". Even if she had, what was the big deal? But it was a very serious offense and Sophie cried and we went to bed downhearted.
Several years later Sophie and I still spoke about this incident occasionally, but we could never make sense of it. It was a sense of great unfairness, good time ruined, unexpected chaos, but we couldn't aknowledge that our own mother had caused us such distress probably. But basically she wanted to put us to bed fast and she wanted to make us stop playing, and she made up my sister's use of a "dirty" word just to have an excuse to put an end to our play. After we were scolded, we were very obedient. Silent and fast, doing what mom asked us to do, trying to make up in obedience for whatever misdeed we had committed.
In fact this incident bears a striking resemblance with the "Brave Marin" song incident: in both songs, mom pretended that we had put a "bad" meaning in the lyrics, or she had heard a bad word that was related to shit or sex which were taboo and in both cases the enchantment of singing, the wonder of words, music and movement turned into a nightmare.
In fact is seems she spends a good deal of her life reminding people what they shouldn't talk about. Like "It is forbidden to say shit".
Now the toy-stove incident is one the meaning of which has remained a mystery for over forty years. Sophie and I played kitchen with toy saucepans and this little electric stove that heated only to a very mild temperature. I was delighted by this toy, yet one day I destroyed it. I have finally understood that I did this to relieve the anxiety about the toy being broken by someone else. I feared that sooner or later I would find the toy vandalized and I would never know who did it. So by destroying it myself I put an end to the excruciating wait and I knew who did it. This is the first self-destructive act that I remember and I also remember how utterly unhappy I was when I destroyed my dearest toy. Yet what I avoided by destroying it was the lesser of two evils. And nobody said anything about it, it was like something not to speak about when I needed so much to speak about it and be comforted.
About the nail polish, I was wondering why mom sat us down to go through the little dot-painting scene, and I think now I've got the message: it was part of her privilege thing. Personally I had never envied her the privilege of painting her finger nails, but she made it a desirable prerogative by dispensing it sparingly to us and making us wait for it while giving us the impression that she was breaking the rules in our favor. Maybe she had intentionally painted big dots on my elder sisters'nails, and she intended to paint only tiny dots on mine, expecting that we would compare later but I upset her plan when I requested only one fingernail completely painted. But what she made clear also was that she had control over the nail polish supply, and control over its dispensation. She was saying that depending whether one was in her good graces or not made all the difference. Then all you had to do was find out what it was that pleased her.
We went to le "Pƒquier", a flat public garden on the shore of the lake. There were expanses of lawn, and alleys, and trees. We fed the swans stale bread but these are mean birds I was afraid of. But the most fascinating things were the little horse tricycles and the peanuts and the funny cart of the peanut vendor. I would have loved to ride one of these, it looked like so much fun, but mom never bought a ride to anybody, and she never bought us a bag of peanuts, so that I had the distinct feeling that we were a special family, there was something about us that made those simple things right under our eyes totally out of reach. The other kids would remain strangers. We didn't mix with other people. We didn't do what the others did. It was unthinkable that we ride a horse-trike or eat peanuts. Mom just pretended she never saw any of these treats, they were not part of her world, and I walked with my eyes to the ground, scrutinizing every peanut shell in the hope of finding a stray peanut. Years later, when I learned how cheap peanuts are, I just couldn't believe it. I was totally floored. Same things for melons. I found a half melon served in a restaurant was wildly decadent, when at home I had always had had no more than one eighth of it. I had assumed that melons were a delicacy and I realized they were plentiful and cheap.
Tuesday the 31st: Thinking further about the nail-painting episode, I saw again the four of us girls sitting and all of us looking at mom. It seems that this is the only kind of situation where she feels comfortable: everybody's attention focused on her. And she, feeling in control because she holds our life in her power. And us, taking cue from her facial expression, to know how we should feel.
When she started the dot-painting, I didn't find it pretty, and I knew that only mom could take it off with that liquid in a small bottle. So if I allowed her to put some red on each of my fingernails and I didn't like it, I would have to ask her to take it off and she wouldn't like it. So that, not daring to ask her to remove it, I would have to suffer every day with this ugly paint job on my hands and it would go away only with nail growth and chipping. Because this was an ugly paint job. It's just that because there were so many little fingernails to take care of, she didn't have the time to do it right at all, that's why she was not painting a dot, but more exactly just giving one tiny brush stroke on each nail, dipping the brush in the red bottle from time to time with as much solemnity and exaltation as would require a ritual, giving intense emphasis on exactly what quantity of red landed on whose nail and how thick the coat, how intense the red, depending whether the brush had just been dipped or not.
Now I see this red paint as a symbol for blood and guilt. You want to wash it off and
it just won't go away! And while appearing to do us a big favor, she actually forced it on us by making it look like something great.
On the home front, the music has been playing starting thursday night till sunday late at night almost uninterrupted, sometimes very loud particularly late at night, sometimes loud, sometimes faint. Meanwhile I listen to a lot of classical music.
The shower has been moved from one end of the bathtub to one side of it so that the water falls against the shower curtain. There's no way to take a shower and the faucet has been eliminated, just after I had started to rinse some handwashing there. I was outraged when I found out what Jose was doing. He said he was only following orders. There is no rational explanation for this plumbing job, except the malicious desire to inconvenience me and deprive me of human dignity. Meanwhile the leak underneath my kitchen remains unattended.
I've been more active at the stove lately, cooking stews and soups and vegetables when I'm not hungry so that when I'm hungry I only have to re-heat and I can eat right away. This might be a consequence of my having stopped drinking beer. It used to be when I was hungry I would drink instead of eating, I would start eating only when there was no beer left and by then it was late, I felt tired and I improvised.
And now that I don't have the beer to quiet my hunger, I must eat when I'm hungry and I want to know in advance what I'll eat.
It's not taking me any will-power not to drink. I just hated so much the last beers I had. I didn't enjoy them, I felt I was drinking only out of habit because I needed that habit to comfort me and then I felt I was a prisoner of the habit and I hated the feeling.
- la vogue
- la foire de la Saint-Andre
- the family cars