DIARY OF A MARKED WOMAN


October 2004

Sat. the 16th: Had the flu all last week and didn't go out much. Mom left a note where she expressed "extreme indignation" at my attitude. (she says I'm not doing anything to try and improve my situation. Apparently Norbert spoke to her but he and I haven't talked in more than a year except about my stereo sys. for a few mins. recently. So how could he tell Mom that I'm letting myself go to seed? Actually I'm not. I keep learning new skills in textile arts. Studied Blackwork embroidery and started my first thing yesterday: a horizontal double helix, and today a friese of flowers. Results encouraging. Also did a crochet netting square (spoke about it last month) and it came out nice after some early difficulties.

On Fri. the 1st saw Mrs Lecas at Daviel center about re-starting my RMIU allowance. Signed a "contrat d'insertion" (they make me laugh with their "insertion" obsession. Very French!) where I'm supposed to get re-inserted into the mainstream thanks to an activity. So I said I'm doing textile arts, embroidery, crochet etc., hoping to sell my creations. Beats trying to get appointments for a secretarial gig. Spending days, months, energy, money (in France you need pictures besides your resume) trying to get an interview and when you get one having a sense of triumph just because you got the chance to be interviewed... all to no avail bec' you don't fit exactly what they're looking for (too old, not enough this, too muich that blah blah blah). Well in the meantime I could have crocheted an entire blanket of granny squares!

On Fri the 8th there was no money in my bank acct so on Mon I went to the office rue du Chevaleret. To make it short, the secretary of the CLI is advising me to go to the social service of the 13th district where I live to ask for an "exceptional allowance". That's what Ms Hervieux advised me to do last April or May. And I went there then and was treated very badly, like a piece of garbage (well, that's what you are after all your money has been stolen from you by your folks) but made an application and on the day of the appointment, early in the AM I woke up suddenly with a vision of me coming out of the Social Service office in the shape of a bunch of cans of pet food. Yes, me, as pet food. Moist and tasty for your furry friend. I take these visions seriously because I almost never have any. The last one I can think of was on May 23, 1990 when I looked at my blood against the backdrop of the anthracite-grey of the street and found the color combination beautiful until a voice screamed at me (inside my head) to wake up and realize that my very life was flowing out of me. So... no social service for me, thanks but no thanks.

Anyway it doesn't make sense to send an RMIst to this office. If the person is eligible to receive the RMI why shoul s/he go to yet another city service, fill out an application for a different kind of allowance, tell a sob story to another person... all because the allowance hasn't been credited yet. And anyway "exceptional" means that you can't ask for it too often (well, of course, if you're cat food you won't ask again) but supposing you're still alive and you've got it once, you can't go back six months later and ask for it again, I think not.

Besides, the law says that once the "contrat d'insertion" has been signed and validated, the "représentant de l'état" (the Prefect) may authorize an advance. So a few months back I asked but they gave me the runaround at the CAF and the RMI office, advising me to ask for the "exceptional allowance" instead. And this time they're doing it again. Since my contract was validated on the 11h, just after the usual date of money transfer (the 7th or 8th of the month) I'll have to wait until next month bec' they want me to ask for the "exceptional allowance". I said I was badly treated and if I'm going to give my address and speak of my family situation I expect a minimum of respect and courtesy, so no way I'm going back there.

Mon. the 25th: Home all day doing Blackwork and Sashiko embroidery. Someone knocked on the door on two different occasions. Think it was Norbert. Went out 'round 5PM with a shopping bag hoping to find money in my mailbox but no luck, so I stayed in front of the bldg a few minutes looking at the clogged traffic then went back up and did some more work until nightfall made it impossible. Awakened several times by eye pain during night, as usual since end-July.

Tues. the 26th: It seems these sleazebags at Melville library are eavesdropping on what I write while I'm writing it and if they don't like it they prevent me from saving the text by having the computer display an error message, so the text can't be saved and is lost. It has happened twice recently, last time on Sat. and both times, I was writing something about my mother.

The first time was in September. This is a do-it-over of what I wrote:

On Sat. the ?? around 11AM I heard my mother knock on the Arab neighbors' door. She's their landlady. She said "Bonjour" in a jovial tone that sounded fake. It was something like "Bon-hon-jou-hour". Of course she prefers people who give her money to people she owes money to, that's why she visits them and not me.

Around 11:30 AM the next day I saw her cross the avenue. She was with Norbert's children, Léon, 2 and Hazielle, 6 or so. Mom was wearing a grey flannel pair of pants and a long sleeve thick sweater, while the two children were wearing summer clothes: Léon wore a pair of shorts and a short-sleeves T-shirt and Hazielle a sleeveless cotton dress. The little boy was crying and refusing to walk but his sister talked to him and convinced him to go. Mom let her deal with it and didn't interfere. I suppose the poor boy was cold. Why was mother dressed warmly, according to the weather, and accepting that her grandkids wear clothes that guaranteed they would suffer from the cold? This reminded me of the Easters of my childhood when we wore unseasonably light dresses and ankle length socks and felt cold and miserable all day with our bare legs and bare arms and only a thin button-front wool sweater to keep us warm. This is one of the ways we learned that there was always something more important than us, than our well-being, tho personally I had assumed that we would be my mom's primary concern. No, there were the neighbors to impress with little girls in spring dresses (an no coats whatever lest the folks missed the dress-show). This in my view is a very serious breach of duty on the part of a mother as it undermines the child's self-appreciation and after repeated experiences of this sort where his/her assumption are proven false by adult misconduct, the child ends up feeling like s/he's worthless. Hence depression, substance abuse and a host of identity crises and social trouble.

The other thing I was writing about that got lost in cyberspace was about the eye torture I've been suffering every single night since end of July or beg. August. I mean that every single night these past three months I've been awakened by a sudden, violent pain in my left eyeball that makes me sit up in the dark. When I wake up in the middle of the night to go to the loo for instance, when I open my eyes I feel like a tiny dagger pointing inwards is attached to the inside of my eyelid and lacerates my eyeball at every blink. So I have to prop myself on my elbow and manually keep my eyelid open, and after a while I got the habit of urging myself every time -almost every time- I wake up "DON'T OPEN YOUR EYES!" which is pretty hard not to do when waking up.

Afterwards my eye is so hot it hurts to close my eyelid so I can't sleep, plus there's the sensation of a foreign body under my lid that makes my eye produce abundant tears, plus my nose starts running... every single night. The only thing I can think of is that someone is sticking a pin in the eye of a doll representing me bec' the sensation is so much like a sharp object driven into my eyeball.

I used two boxes of Kleenex in no time so I switched to 3-ply tissues and in the morn' it wasn't rare to throw away 4 to 6 tissues.

Mom's letter of Oct. 4 was also a subject I wrote about, and also I wrote that Ms Lecas of the rue Daviel RMI center wrote me on Sept. 20 asking to see me on Oct. 1st and that the day after I rec'd the letter, on the 22nd or 23rd, I visited her (having no money to buy a 7 euro phone card) and asked her to set up an earlier appt out of concern that Oct. 1st would be to late to make the CLI that meets during the 1st week of Oct. But Ms Lecas said that it wasn't at all like I believed, there was no CLI meeting on the 1st week of the month, the validation of the contract was not done by the CLI and anyway she couldn't set up an earlier appt. Funny that she had written at the end of her letter that it the date wasn't convenient to make sure and contact her at (phone number) to set up another appt. Since all the rules seemed to have chnged since I last read the Code de l' Action Sanitaire et Sociale I asked her "Are you sure? Because I know the Code pretty well..." And also... why are there only three pages in my file that got transfered to her from Chevaleret?

A white truck with a fresh graffiti saying "NARK" was parked in front of my window.

When I returned from the library my Arab female neighbour was in front of her open door rummaging in her bag. I didn't pay attention but she called me so I said I hadn't recognized her -she had her hair bleached a bit. I asked if she could loan me a few euros but she said she couldn't, she was broke. She was just coming from a shopping trip to Tati, judging from her shopping bags. She asked why didn't I come in for coffee and a little something to eat but remembering that she is mom's pal and that the last time she invited me over for coffee she heated old coffee in the microwave oven and gave me a can of OJ that was impossible to open while in front of me was a 1 Liter bottle of same already open. So I said I was not in a mood to talk. Her man -Hakim- was inside. Eh eh. Imagine the lady hostage to these kind people...

Wed. the 27th:

No slipped a note under my door, saying he would be home from 4 to 6 PM aprox. and he had money for me + 70 euros from "douchka" (sic). Douchka is mom's fancy name. Her grandchildren call her that instead of Grandma and her friends call her that too. He also said that he wanted to get his sound equipment back after giving me the dough so it seemed like he had enough to clear his debt but I didn't want to go to his place, nor did I want him to come to my place so I didn't do anything. Around 7 PM I went downstairs, thinking maybe he had at least put the 70 euros from mom in my mailbox but it was empty so I went back up just as Tina showed up and asked me how I was doing.

Thu. the 28th: Asked the conservatrix of the library why my libr. card is blocked since I returned all overdue books and the letter of reminder said failing to return all books might cause card to be blocked. She said it's be' I owe 34 euros in overdue fine. I asked why don't they send me a letter asking for payment. She laughed and said if they did this with everyone who owes fines they would be swamped with work. She said it's conform to the regulation to ask for payment verbally. She said she would give me a receipt and she accepts only checks, made out to Trésor Public. I said I can't write checks. Then, I'll have to go rue Reaumur to pay cash, she said. No mention of paying by money order. Why? Is it legal to refuse payment by M.O.? Why should I have to go to Réaumur?

Among the books displayed (you never know exactly what are the criteria to display some books) there was one whose cover showed a middle aged woman having her face licked by three grey wolves. Wow! You don't want to get on that lady's bad side!

Looks like we've come full circle in fourteen years and mom is running out of tricks: as I rode my bike from the libr. around 7 PM a car I was following stopped abruptly so to avoid a collision I moved into the next lane on the left with no time to signal my move. And a minute later as I rode on Av. Choisy a man driving by with his window open remonstrated to me, saying what I had done was dangerous. So it looks eerily like the little shtick back in april 1990 when an old man walked backward into my rear wheel and lay on the street with a huge pool of (fake) blood around his head, and a crazed woman in a business suit yelled at the entire category of bicycle messengers as people to be feared and hated. She was almost foaming at the mouth with fury, the poor thing. Now this man in his car is blaming me for a maneuver I did in response to another driver's intentional faulty driving. Looks like the intent is to do it again and to make me take the blame, and once I'm injured to call a renegade ambulance team, and spirit me who knows where by means of medic-looking kidnappers equipped with an ambulance.

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