Diary of a Marked W•man



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Paris, November 2006

Fri the 3rd: Go out - Woman neighbor from facing apartment comes out just after me and urges me with a friendly smile to go downstairs ahead od her, meaning she'll wait behind me, but I insist that she goes first. Inside door has no lock. 2 big garbage containers are out of the closet. No mail except Irish crochet lace book by Maire Treanor. Nothing from RMI admin. Street door has no working lock though the digital key pad is now installed, as it was already last Sunday when I went food shopping at G20.

Pick up Staudigel card weaving book at post office and mail color samples to Guido Gehlhaar.

Food shopping at Monoprix. As I push the cart to put it back in the line to get back my coin I see at the bottom two items that I didn't pay for: electric cords and a cord with 3 inlets. It's not the first time this happens. But cashier is busy with another shopper so I ask at the desk if I can pay here and immediately the woman leaves the desk. I go put the cart back in its line and get back my coin and by the time I'm done the woman is walking back to the desk and I pay for the two items.

Buy some red burlap at Toto. The saleswoman hurries me up while I'm mentally calculating the yardage I need. She says she's allergic to this material, it makes her cough when she cuts it! I spend fifteen minutes at internet spot where I used to go before I had this computer. I have a few hours left on my account I'd like to use to view videos but today is not the good day.

Orrder some chinese food to deliver and while I'm sitting outside I see the delivery van and the tall Afro man stepping out to go to my apartment so I get up to meet him at the entrance but he pulls his cell phone and has a conversation on the sidewalk while I wait for him at the door. When he's done, I ask him if he forgot where I lived and had to call up his HQ for directions. He answers that no, he received the call, he didn't make it. Then why didn't he turn on his answering system at this time? Imagine having phone calls while making deliveries. Duh. I follow him upstairs. Of course he reaches the third floor before me, so he asks if it's ok to leave the groceries there in front of the apartment so he can go downstairs right away. I say no, I'd like him to bring the groceries into the apartment, besides I'd like him to take out a big garbage bag of wrappers like I ask him or his white fellow to do sometimes, and moreover, why does he want to leave before I tip him? "You're not going to leave before I tip you, are you?" I ask. He answers "No". So a few more seconds while I arm-wrestle my way upstairs and here I am.

Mon. the 6th: Guido Gehlhaar, the German tablet weaver with whom I've been in touch about weaving straps for my backpacks, answers that he has received the color samples I mailed him but won't have the time to study them until Wednesday.

Wed. the 8th: I check my bank balance on the internet thanks to the password I obtained recently. I see that the RMI allowance has been credited to my account.

Sun. the 12th: Go out to G20 around 12:30 for food shopping. Except for a letter from the RMI office informing me that my contract has been renewed for the next five months, (at last they came around and signed the damn thing on Oct. 30 instead of Oct. 4) my mailbox is empty. It's my birthday today, I'm 54 years old and nobody in the world sent me a card for my birthday! All I got was an e-mail from Sophie last Friday which said something like "Happy birthday! Where there is life, there is hope!" You bet, I don't have much besides life. And with my sarcastic turn of mind I couldn't help thinking "Yeah, you mean as long as there's life in me, there's hope for you to take it!"

I returned home with a heavy backpack and it was only several hours later that I realized I had forgotten to buy butter and pasta, so I went back to the store. Finally at the end of my day I noticed my phone had a blinking signal to inform me I had a message on the answering machine. It was Mom wishing me a happy birthday. She said, with that warm, seductive voice of hers, that she had put a little more money than usual on my bank account. She kissed me many, many times, and finally she said that my aunt Colette (the wife of her deceased brother Bernard) invited me to the restaurant but I had to make the call first. Strange that I left the apartment only twice for a short shopping run and she chose one of these times to call and leave a message instead of talking to me directly.

Mon. the 20th: While I'm in the kitchen I hear a metallic rattling noise in the courtyard -or rather, the former courtyard-. Since the beauty parlor has been extended into the courtyard it is now its roof with two large skylights that I'm seeing from my window. I identify the noise as the step-ladder being moved. This step-ladder has been there for about a month. Half way up the stairs between the 2nd and 3rd floor there is a door opening into the void, courtyard side, and this door gives access to the roof provided one has a means of descending. Normally, for security reasons, there is no way of getting to the roof from that door, or up to the door from the roof. The distance is about 2 meters. Besides, not everybody has the key to open that door. When the new ventilation system for the restaurant kitchen was installed last April-May, the workers had access of course, and they used, I noticed at the time and wondered why, a ridiculous little ladder that had only four or five rungs and didn't allow them a free movement between the building and the roof since they still had to clamber up and down. (Why didn't they have a ladder among their work instruments since their job by definition, required accessing roofs?)

In normal times, only the cleaning service people are authorized to open that door, because they are supposed to remove the trash from the roof once a month. Other than that, no one is supposed to open the door or get to the roof.

I hear the same noise a second time so I open my window to have a look. In the darkness (it's after 6PM) I see a man dressed in kitchen whites (white shirt, large white apron but bare headed) standing at the door. Never saw him before. Apparently not Asian. He's not doing anything. I notice that the step-ladder that used to lean, folded up, against the wall to the left of the door is now to its right. I ask him what he's doing. I never saw before anyone from the restaurant kitchen opening this door. I don't see what business the kitchen staff has on this side of the building. I tell him this step-ladder should not be here and to please remove it. He answers that if I have a problem, I should talk to his boss ("mon patron").

After this exchange with the man I got back to my tablet-weaving. You can tell I was upset because I made a lot of mistakes. I could not concentrate. My mind was busy trying to figure out what he meant. I finally gave up and went to bed, wondering:

"But why is it his boss's responsibility? I know he owns -oh! Excuse me, he's not the owner, he's only the manager!- But the rooftop is not the private property of the restaurant as far as I know so if it's not private it is a communal area, a service area similar to the garbage closet but a restricted service area, accessible only to a select few for maintenance purposes. Under the law these communal areas are the responsibility of all the property owners. Therefore this guy is lying, and he wants me to believe that my family has nothing to do with the step-ladder being there compromising the security of the inhabitants and my own in particular, in addition to the new electronic keypad locks still not being functional more than four weeks after their supposed date of installation as announced by the Parry building manager, making the building accessible to anyone off the street.

And since this kitchen man (or maybe he only appeared to be a kitchen man, in which case, whom did he refer to when he spoke of "mon patron"? Was is to deceive me that no woman was involved?) has the key to the forbidden door, then it is not hard to conclude that anyone with a hidden agenda can get it too."

It was only the next day that I think I understood what the message from the man in whites was: "Your family has nothing to do with the step-ladder being here". So of course the truth is exactly the opposite. What do you say to the step ladder providing a means of escape after I've been attacked, and the crime being blamed on someone off the street who just happened to find the 2 doors with disabled locks downstairs. So he finds a woman walking upstairs with a pair of crutches and just can't help himself. Makes sense, no? And no, officer, nobody saw anyone come out of the building, because the assassin had the key to the service door and found the step-ladder waiting for him so he could disappear the back way.

Tues. the 21st: Went shopping to Monoprix. At the fruit and vegetable section, an entire shelf, which usually is loaded with leeks, packaged carrots, lettuce and many other salad items, was completely empty and it was 5:30PM. At the bagged potatoes section, only one bag of the taters I usually buy was left, and that was not enough, I needed two, and the loose potatoes that were available had received an "anti-germination" treatment, whatever that means. (Nuked?). But, BUT!... all was not lost because a black clad gentleman, not wearing any uniform nor name tag but apparently busy with the empty shelf responded in the affirmative when I asked him if he worked there. So I showed him the bag of taters I had and asked him if he could get me another one of these, and he said he'd try and walked away. I resumed my shopping and inched my way to the "charcuterie" counter and while I was looking the man in black returned with a bag of potatoes in each hand, and he came to me and offered them to me, so I asked him to put them in my shopping cart that I had left some distance away, but which was easy to identify with the pair of crutches sticking out.

The cashier was a young woman I had never seen before and wouldn't you know it, when I looked up just after I took my credit card out of my bag she had disappeared! But just a few seconds after I noticed her absence she reappeared from underneath her station where she had been crouching andI completed my purchases without further problem. All in all I could tell this time the Monoprix people made it a point to be helpful, even if, in order to help me, they first had to create a problem.

Back at my building I think I'll have a little chat about the step-ladder with the restaurant manager (Mr Hung) just in case my conclusions are wrong and he sets me straight. From outside, I see the dining room bathed in a soft light, and white table cloths on the tables, unusual for this rather cheap restaurant. I don't claim to be up to date with the goings on at this place though. Maybe there was an upgrade, a better chef, maybe he's aiming for a star in the Michelin Guide? Two pretty Asian women are at the counter, a maître d' I don't know, his back to me, is watching the room, but where is Mr Hung? He's always, ALWAYS there. Since I moved here there hasn't been one time I went out or back without seeing him, and just this one time when I wanted to ascertain whether the man who spoke to me was from his staff or not, he is nowhere to be seen!

The two outer doors at my building are still not locking. What was it about the former building management company that my mother was complaining of and which motivated her to fire them hire the Parry co? "They aren't doing anything!" she said, exasperated. What did she mean by that? What exactly did she want them to do? At least under their watch the outer doors locked properly.

Mon. the 27th: The day after I wrote about the step-ladder bit, the step-ladder had disappeared and has remained out of sight since then.

I think mom, seeing that I didn't take the bait of her restaurant invitation, for which I had to do some work yet, looking for my aunt's phone number and calling her, and asking if it was true that she wanted to ask me to lunch or dinner -but of course, that's part of the psychological trap, to get me involved and committed to an outcome I had no interest in to begin with, and maybe, to that end, auntie Colette would have feigned ignorance, and played hard to get and finally consented as if I were twisting her arm- and in this manner I would be so concentrated on the goal to attain that I would disregard other considerations, like the safety violations in the building and my vulnerability to attack...

So I was saying mom, seing that I didn't take the bait of the restaurant meal, decided to nudge me a little bit by giving me reassurance, in the form of that guy wearing a white apron, seeming to work for the restaurant and saying the presence of the step-ladder was due to his boss, implying it was not, as I might fear, due to my family (in which case it was very suspect).

Maire Treanor, author of Irish crochet book with whom I e-mailed some, stopped writing after 5 or 6 e-mails, leaving questions unanswered. Guido never got back to me after receiving color samples to weave backpack straps. kivrim gave me wrong weaving pattern and I stopped writing to him. Staudigel (author of Tablet Weaving Magic) wanted me to contact French museums but after I asked him what he wanted to ask them he didn't respond.


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