He would not charge me for one week at19 W 103rd. I ask again what are the conditions of the lease and this time he doesn't mention a one month back-rent. He mentions the grills, saying he'd like to discuss this point and get the problem out of the way. Fifty-fifty. We agree to do the paperwork on Friday.
The Amnesia Memoirs and Diaries
November 1994 - 3/3
I call again PC Warehouse and ask the man if he has any precisions about what happened to my computer. He says the virus formatted the hard drive, that's why the hard drive is empty. I ask how the virus got there. He says, with a tinge of anger and reproach in his voice, that I shouldn't let other people use my computer or use diskettes that are passed around. I say that I do not allow anybody to use my computer and that I don't exchange programs or diskettes. He says that he is reformatting the hard drive to clean it of virus and that I can pick up my computer on Friday, tomorrow being Thanksgiving.
In the evening I have a change of heart about the studio. The place is not worth moving to, and as a matter of fact I hate it, particularly the funny door. It is only a little bigger than my present place, and the private bathroom, which is the big change, is repulsive. Besides the entrance door with the intercom and the buzzer are right there outside, and I can imagine myself, after moving in, finding out that as far as noise is concerned, it's just a different kind of hassle. Door slamming, conversations in loud Spanish on the intercom, buzzer, instead of merengue and salsa. And maybe young people are hanging out outside the pizza store next door.
No sleep because of loud music.
Thurs. 11.24: Thanksgivings. Cold and sunny. Wear new black and white houndstooth suit with long pleated skirt and fuschia cotton turtleneck, and black patent oxfords.
I meet the new (male) neighbor in the hallway.We start a chat. He complains about the lack of exit signs for when the power is cut out, that the landlords uses old bathroom fixtures (when in fact there is three new toilets waiting to be installed in the kitchen). Complains about the roaches. Says he has put powder along the walls in the bathroom. I had noticed some Combat baits but no powder. I say I haven't seen any powder and he says it's a brown powder and he shows me along a wall on the floor. I see dust but no brown powder, but I say that the Combat baits are doing a good job.
We commiserate over the state of the bathroom, with its torn shower curtain and the floor that's full of patches and stains. I say that to my knowledge I'm the only one who cleans the bath-tub and the toilet. He says he cleans sometimes. I ask him what is this black shit in the sink (he and his woman use it and I don't). He says it doesn't go away. But I am positive they have not cleaned this sink even once since they have moved here. He says that he uses two boxes of cleaning powder: one for his room and one for the bathroom. I just happen to have two boxes of cleaning powder at home, that I use at the same time but indiscriminately.
Then we talk about the rats, and he says he can hear them (so do I) and then he bangs against a broom closet that is unused and closed in the bathroom and asks if I hear the rats scurrying and I say there are no rats in this closet. Then he speaks about the old black man whose room was a garbage dump and who got evicted a few months ago, but at that time my neighbor hadn't moved in yet. He only came later.
He says that somebody has entered his room when he was out and he found his TV set turned to another station. I say that as a matter of fact I remember two employees come into his room one day and that I watched them through the peephole. (They didn't turn the light on and went out almost as soon as they entered.) And I add that people come to my room too, and that hardly three months after I moved in here, some photographs were stolen from my room, and it's a big loss for me because I took them when I was relatively new in New York and... "And this happens only once!" he said with a big smile. I say that I have changed my lock to an expensive stuff but that right away there were signs that someone had entered. He says my keys must be expensive and asks me if I'm still using this lock. I say yes.
Then he shows me something with his door. It's a chain that you can lock and unlock from outside and he demonstrates, stretching his arm inside his room. I ask if I can see the trick and he shows me inside his room. He says that not many people know this trick, they assume that somebody is in when they find the chain on the door. He offers to buy one of those for me. He bought his in Queens, you can't find this just anywhere. I give a doubtful ok, thinking that he's got a lot of nerve to offer to buy a lock for me.
He says he's from a good family, that one of his parents is Cuban, and that he was educated in the Ivy League universities. I ask which. He says Columbia. He says he's a computer programmer and we start talking about computers. He says again that he is Ivy League but he doesn't pronounce the "gue" of League so that it sounds "Iveelee". "What?" I ask. He stammers the two words with difficulty. Would a true-blue Ivy League man have difficulty pronouncing the magic words? "What are you doing in this place?" I ask.
He says he has used his company's DOS disks to install the system on his own computer. Unavoidably I tell him about my computer crash the day before. We talk about viruses and I still don't know if the data on my disks have been lost and I discuss the hypothesis that there was a virus on a new diskette I started using and what has happened after the virus got into my system. I tell him what was the command that triggered the crash. I don't know if my diskettes have been wiped out too and try to assess the damage. How many thousands of irreplacable words does it take to make it a considerable loss? Once again I disparage what I have lost to minimize the sense of loss. That's a reflex that I have acquired in my childhood, and that lead me to lose my self- esteem. But I'm aware of this trick and stop myself. There is still the hope that the loss was not catastrophic.
Fri. 25: Go buy antivirus software and pick-up computer. Get bill. Software is on 3.5 in. disk and my drive is 5.25. I call and ask if they have the program in my size but this size, I learn, is getting obsolete. I buy, after calling, a 3.5 in. drive at the Software etc. store on Broadway at 83rd, install the drive, it works. Second night with no sleep.
Sat. 26:Re-install Wordpefect plus the French language module, install Antivirus software. Everything works fine. I see that my diskettes have not been erased. Whew! I play the guitar. Now that I've become familiar with the fretboard, that I've memorized the changes and have an organic knowledge of them, I'm able to improve the singing. As a matter of fact, the horrendous things that happen to me seem only to improve the quality of my voice. Now that I have realized the extent of my mother's treachery, I feel as innocent as a newborn lamb and I have absolutely no shame, no emotional hang-up whatsoever that holds my voice back. All my voice needs is technical improvement that only practice can bring. I no longer have the psychological barrier in front of me. Sometimes tears well up and flow down my cheek, but I keep singing with my voice taking a color that cannot be achieved any other way, for instance when I sing "Say it isn't so", "You don't know what love is", particularly now that I face each dawn with sleepless eyes. So I can say that I know what love is, now. That's all I still needed to learn about love.
Until then my sleep had been undisturbed in spite of everything except by loud sounds, but on the third night, the only sleepless one that had happened in silence, I became aware that my circadian rhythm had been reached and upset too, and this is another encounter, I realized, with a life-and-death situation, because one can die from lack of sleep, and before one dies, one becomes mentally impaired.
Tampering with someone's sleep, someone's circadian rhythm should be therefore considered as an assault, if not an attempted murder, because it injures a vital bodily function even if you can't see it on an X-ray.
But if I allow myself to feel every word that I sing, then my voice resonates in a different part of my body, more in the head, which is best, and my throat opens up. Or I should say: Because my throat opens up, my voice resonates in my head. I think it was the shame that I that constricted my throat, which prevented the sound from coming out.
Having rid myself of guilt, I am no longer ashamed of my feelings. I am no longer trying to cover-up my sadness, my mourning, my grief, my sense of rape, loss, abandon and betrayal.
Having recovered my dignity
in my own eyes, I am able to aknowledge my feelings and to give them free rein in my singing. After all I'm not playing for an audience and I can produce any sound I please and I feel free to explore the avenue of total surrender to emotions in singing. If it becomes too hard I can always stop. So I sing and my body adapts to the emotion instead of it being an act of will. And there I learn a lesson: control through surrender.
Mon. 28: I install the Direct Access software I had bought in late February, with the following reasoning: I thought the program had been tampered with but now that I had a 3.5 in drive, I could install it, because when I bought the software I had only the 5.25 drive, therefore the the 3.5 disks must not have been tampered with. I install the program from my new drive. [When the program asks what greetings I would like to appear every time the computer is turned on, I type: "BONARTI, YOU FUCKING CRIMINAL, STAY AWAY FROM MY COMPUTER!"]I go to the supermarket five or ten minutes. When I turn the corner in the hallway I hear my neighbor's door close softly, then no more noise. I restart my computer and now I am unable to start any program, strange messages appear on my monitor and it looks like my system crashed again. The paranoia from the antivirus software manual throws a tentacle at me from the open book and tries to suck me into despair. There's no music downstairs tonight but anxiety keeps me awake anyway. Third night without sleep. Even when I have tried to nap during the day I couldn't fall asleep for one minute. I turn the light on again, read the DOS manual. But I soon realize that I cannot compete against a programmer intent on disabling my computer. He doesn't even have to be very smart to wreak havoc, because I only know a few basic DOS commands. I close the book, turn the light off and remain awake. I get up and turn on my computer again. I'm asked to type the date and time. Then it's "bad command or file name" or "access denied". I turn it off, go back to bed, turn off the light and remain awake. I am too overwhelmed to feel anything. At least I can enjoy the silence.
Tue. 29: Since Bonarti himself said that he resented me for having started a sexual harrassment lawsuit (through the Human Rights commission) and answered that "some day he would explain it to me" when I asked him why he had courted me two years ago, I call up the commission and ask about the status of my case. The woman ends up by promising to send the reply to my complaint. They never sent it to me and the case has been dormant for almost a year. Just curious.
In the afternoon I start to realize that all these computer problems might be a red herring, that these problems might have been created to distract my attention from more important things. I have already spent considerable mental energy searching for a solution, maybe buying a portable hard drive, but I have to spend another sizable money and I'm not even sure it will really protect me, and I need to get technical information and computerese is not exactly something that I feel like getting into just now. I just can't deal intellectually with a computer problem because I'm already in overload.
I have done all I could, I have done my best, I have helped myself, now I tell God that the ball is in his court, it's his turn to deal with it. I have honestly done my best and I'm once more in a state of total powerlessness, faced with a new problem that utterly defeats me. So I calm down, and a while later I pick up "Civil Rights Litigation", lie down on my bed and open it at the chapter about statutes of limitation. And there I learn that a civil rights violation is considered as identical to a personal injury action as far as the status of limitation is concerned, and that notice of claim must be served withing ninety days after the cause of action accrued to defendants that are government agencies. So I'm thinking of the violation of my right of due process on September 1st during the oral argument on my motion to quash the subpoena and I start counting on my fingers whether there were two or three months that had elapsed since then. September, October, November. Now is the end of November so it's three months. After double and triple-checking I realize that tomorrow is the deadline to file a notice of claim.
Wed. 30: I call the city law department to get confirmation about the status of limitation and know where to file the notice of claim. The guy says the status is ninety days, and I shoud file with the Secretary of State in Albany.
I look for the ad in the Law Journal that gives the connection to file with the secretary of state. First I ask if it's possible to file today and she says yes if I fax it and Fed-Ex the original so that she can file it tomorrow. I ask what's the deadline for her to receive the fax. She says one. It's eleven. I pick up the notice of claim in the negligence action and adapt it to the present circumstances. I'm done in half an hour. I take a cab north to Kinko's. I know that their computers are Macintoshes, but I don't have the time to go to 5th avenue and 52nd where they have IBM compatibles. I have used a Mac at James Cummins and haven't forgotten everything. I can handle it. I get a station and start to write from the draft. A little black girl comes and stops by my side, close to the monitor. I say hello. At one point she starts hitting keys and I tell her not to do it. She stops and remains there. My complaint reads as follows:
TO: THE SECRETARY OF STATE, STATE OF NEW YORK AND
NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that I, BRIGITTE PICART, hereby claim damages against the State o New York and New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) in the amount of $5,000,000 for the deprivation of my rights of Free speech and Due Process of Law suffered by me by reason of the bad faith and conspiracy of the officers thereof.
The violations occurred on September 1st, 1994 in Part 52 of the Supreme Court, 80 Center Street in the County of New Yorkm on the occasion of an oral argument on a motion made by myself to quash an improper subpoena duces-tecum.
On that day, the clerk of the Court called my case out of turn, that is my motion was the second one heard. Then, while I was arguing my motion, Judge Lippmann, his Law secretary and NYCTA attorney Dawn Reid-Green interrupted me instead of letting me speakm in an attempt to intimidate me and make me lose my train of thought. Judge Lippmann talked to me angrily and threateningly and said that a subpoena was not a threat. Judge Lippmann denied my motion to quash the subpoena although the subpoena is replete with violations of the CPLR and is invalid on its face.
Judge Lippmann did not address NYCTA's cross motion for sanctions.
After denying my motion Judge Lippmann told me that "this case wasn't going anywhere" until I produced my tax returns, after I had stated in the affidavit of my motion that I hadn't filed the tax returns requested by the subpoena, but Judge Lippmann did not put this order in writing.
These violations of my righ of Free Speech and Due Process of Law result from a conspiracy between NYCTA and Judge Lippmann to force my case into a dead end, in an attempt to conceal the true nature of this action which is not, as has been pleaded by my former attorneys a "Motor Vehicle negligence" but an assault with intent to kill, which I survived with relatively minor injuries due only to my presence of mind and a strong survival instinct.
As a result of the occurrence of September 1st, 1994, I have lost a great deal of faith in the Justice system, I have become depressed, insomniac and anorexic and I continue to be the target of threats, intimidation and invasion of my privacy.
Unless this claim is fully adjusted and paid within the time prescribed by law, I will commence an action against the State of New York, the NYCTA and their officers to recover the said sum of $5,000,000.
Signed Brigitte Picart, Claimant Pro-se.
In the second half of the notice of claim, I had to assert the cause of my damage, and I was ready to assert conspiracy, but then I had to tell what was the purpose of the conspiracy. While I was thinking hard and typing feverishly because I had to send the fax at 1pm latest, the little black girl started to wail next to me. I looked at her. Her mouth was wide open vertically and she looked very unhappy as if some harm had just been done her, but her eyes were dry. "What happened?" I ask her gently but she does not answer and keeps wailing while looking at me. Then her mother's arm appears in my field of vision and I hear her tell her daughter in a soothing tone to come to mama, as if I were a bad woman who made children cry. Or maybe it was just my personal vibration that upset the child. No wonder after all, considering what I was just concentrating on.
But the incident didn't break my concentration more than a few seconds and I returned to "in an attempt to conceal the true nature of this action" and finished the sentence in a flurry of keyboard strokes.
I couldn't do anything else but putting down black on white the motif of the conspiracy to cover-up. The allegation of conspiracy couldn't hold unless the motive thereof was provided, and given the motive of the cover-up, that is the absolute baseness of it, it is no wonder that any means to cover it up would be resorted to. First the fact that the crime is committed by a mother against her daughter, second the motive of the crime, which is financial gain, third the diabolical deviousness of the way the crime was perpetrated, while hiding behind the Transit Authority, and corrupting around me the people who had power over me, my employers, my landlord, people who had a special duty, a fiduciary relationship with me, this is the most horrendous crime, the most shameful crime.
So she thought first that I would die, and when I survived she tried to make me commit suicide by depriving me of law, of work, of friends, by torturing me emotionally, by starving me and by forcing me to live in this dangerous place where I have no privacy, or she tried to drive me crazy but anyway I would never find out. But I did after all.
So I decide that instead of making a decision to spend money and spending it in a state of panic, I'd better cool down, wait and see.
I feel a provocation to make me spend hundreds of dollars only to realize that all the money spent still doesn't prevent a criminal from fucking my computer up, just like all the money I spent on locks and grills did not prevent anybody from entering my apartment.
When I told Bonarti that I wasn't going to take the studio after all, he reacted as if I was being unfair, as if I had made a firm commitment on which he had relied and now I wasn't keeping my word. Then he acted miffed, saying that it didn't bother him after all, that somebody else would be glad to rent this studio, that it would not stay vacant for long. Instead of saying it straight to his face that he was trying to attract me into a death-trap, I just whined: "But I'm a single white woman! What do you want me to do in Spanish Harlem!"
Of course this was so monstrous that it did not sink in right away. When I saw the funny door inside the closet, I just couldn't believe the implication. I just felt a little disturbance of my sense of safety, not a great alarm, and I didn't ask any question about this particular feature of the studio while I was there. But the ease with which the board could be removed meant that anybody could enter the studio by removing the board! And wait for the right time to pounce on me while hiding in the closet! And the guy Bonarti said was the super, it must have been him, my intended assassin. He already had access to the building!
Thinking about the precipitation with which Bonarti turned around to open the front door for the boy, I understand that he didn't want me to hear the noise of the buzzer and the clanging of the door, because since the studio was right next to the lobby and the windows right next to the front door, all the noise might have deterred me from moving in. The discussion about the installation of grills on the windows was just a red herring, to give me a false sense of safety. So he wanted me to move there
real bad. And of course Bonarti was encouraging the loud music to force me to move to his death-trap in Spanish Harlem!
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