MARCH 1997

Well, I was proud of myself. I was able to suffer, sustain, undergo, survive, whatevever the right word is, all this near-death experience without losing it, although one night I nearly did, and came out smelling roses (with blemishes on my face), not going bananas, not erupting into incoherent anathemas, redundant vituperationahs, like the guy in the song crying his heart out and ending "but I was cool", yes, like nothing happenend, knowing I was fooling nobody in the know.

Yes, one night, I really felt that I was at the mercy of a demented woman, my mother, a woman who didnt' know anymore where her best interest lie and who when in doubt inflicted more misery but who, at the bottom of the column, finally realized in a flash that it wouldn't look good if she let her own daughter die of starvation and homelessness while she was a millionaire. Because a dispassionate look at the situation wouldn't excuse anything that she inflicted upon her own daughter, me.

There's a point when you feel that death would be a kinder fate, rather than be at the mercy of a lost mother, a mother torn between nurturing and torturing, beween saving herself and saving her offspring. Can you really count on her, when you're starving but still can go on on watercooked starch, (no sugar, no butter) when you can't afford one more can of catfood unless you go through ALL th pockets in your wardrobe fishing for a quarter, a dime, even a goddam nickel, and failing that, redeem two bottles so that your last cent buys your cat an extra day of comfort while you foresee the future as a homeless woman, vulnerable to the first assault, humiliated by the necessity to beg for her life, to beg for your life, goddammit, while your mother is collecting rent and lives in opulence?

I have thought many times about the time in July or August 1993 when I thought that the only thing that prevented me from committing suicide was my squeamishness about "putting to sleep" my kitty. It was as if I valued my cat's life more than my own. And I never stopped to thank my cat for this. Indeed, it is no easy matter to take one's pet's life. So it was unavoidable to think, "If the life of a cat is so precious to you, why wouldn't your own life?" And certainly, at the time, the balance between survival and self-destruction hinged on nothing more than the sight of a peaceful cat. And for this I am eternally grateful to BB-Kat, and am willing to sacrifice my own dinner table for her sake.

But sometimes you feel absolute terror and you wonder "What does this cat know?" But still, the animal knows nothing of the perversions humans are capable of, and it seems that survival is the name of the game, no matter how scarred you end up. Some cats have been adventurous and in the process have been maimed and scarred (just like me) but still have kept an innate faith in life. But when life is a ceaseless combat against cowardly enemies, enemies who fight by proxy, it makes me wish for a day of reckoning when what matters is not what you own and how you look, but how you came into it.

Mon. 3: Go to service Notarial at French embassy to inquire about things I don't understand about the estate. The first woman is not of much help and brings in another woman. This woman speaks so loud she's almost screaming. What's the matter with her? It's all I can do not to put my hands on my ears. She says I should have no qualms about selling the Pantin building because the money goes to an account controlled by the notaire and there is no way to fool with that. I am very dubious. I wanted her to explain to me a certain passage in Art. 7 of my parents' marriage contract: "En cas d'existence de descendants et si la réduction en est demandée, la présente donation sera réduite au choix du survivant à la plus forte quotité disponible entre époux soit en toute propriété et usufruit, soit en usufruit seulement en y comprenant les rapports." Well, in addition to talking loud she talked a mile a minute and not very clearly so that I left without the enlightenment that I sought.