APRIL 2000

1st: At library a homosexual man is showing a woman how to sign up for free e-mail. He starts showing her five minutes before the end of her session. I’m just after her. Of course when her time is up he’s not finished and he takes my time. He asks me to be patient, says that he needs just a few more minutes. Finally I get angry but cannot do anything except storm off and sign up at another computer.

At the hostel, a woman who is new in the room 328 welcomes the “weary traveler” when I get in. She is very solicitous. She offers to put my suitcase in the back of the room, then she offers to move the beds, for what purpose I do not know, except to let me know that she knows that I moved the bed myself in the previous room.

She speaks Portuguese with the woman in the bed above me then speaks in English about conducting a seminar in psychotherapy through children’s songs and asks if I remember songs from my childhood. I say I do. She says that she needs French songs for her seminar. I ask if there are French people attending and she says no. “Then you don’t need French songs” I say. I felt like she was trying to get me to sing children’s songs to make a fool of myself. Just a few days before at the coffee shop the usual customers hummed “Frere Jacques” so there must be a connection. The woman changes tacks, saying she needs French songs not for psychotherapy but for ethnographic purposes. So is she a psychotherapist or an ethnographer?

07 : In room 312 when I enter there is a young woman who immediately asks me what I did today, what the weather will be tomorrow, then she asks if I have eye make-up remover. I give her a towelette of Pond’s make up remover though it’s not specifically for the eyes. She looks at it puzzled and makes a disparaging comment about it. Then she asks what I’m doing here.

08: At the library a young woman comes to my corner then her cell phone rings with the melody of a French military march and as she answers the phone I’m obliged to move somewhere else.

At the hostel the same woman as yesterday says “Hi” when I enter the room. The intonation she uses to say this one syllable is full of implications. As if she was expecting me and is happy to see me, as if we were old friends. I remain distant and uncommunicative.

09: Go to the Chinese take-out around 9PM. When I’m close to the store two or three Haitian men rush to get there before me then they block the entrance, forcing me to say “excuse me”. Then the counter woman takes a phone order and she repeats several times “without vegetables” and I feel it’s a reference to the fact that I never order a dish with vegetables. In fact I alsays order the lo-mein house special which does not contain vegetables. There is no such thing as a dish “without vegetables”. Even if you order beef with broccoli but don’t want the broccoli you don’t say “without vegetables”. That’s why I feel it’s a reference to my eating habits.

19: At the coffee shop a woman with misshapen teeth wears a red sweat shirt with the word ‘REDRUM” emblazoned on the front. That is, MURDER spelled backwards. I think it takes a very sick mind and an awful nerve to wear this.

I’m transferred to room 217 which is coed, no all-female room being available according to reservation staff. The man who’s there, a thirtyish Italian, offers to move my suitcase for me as if he was being very respectful of a woman. I feel this is improper as in this place people are supposed to be autonomous with their luggage. So he’s laying it a bit too thick for comfort and it raises my mistrust. After he has left another man comes and hides a briefcase under the pillow of his bed. So one is pretending to be friendly, the other unfriendly. Later the friendly one returns and it’s obvious they are together. The third bed, judging from the toiletries on it, is occupied by a woman and the fourth bed, above me, judging from the mess that is spread on the floor, by a third man. I’m somehow reassured by the presence of another woman in the room but the attitude of the two men gives me concern. It’s as if they are acting a variant of the “good cop-bad cop” game and if they are acting they are hiding something. They want me to believe something that is not the truth. They leave while I’m washing my clothes in the laundry on the same floor. While I’m folding my clothes an oldish woman speaks to me. She acts very friendly and smiling. She says that she’s the only woman in a co-ed room. Why is she saying this to me? She must know that I’m in a coed room myself. After I’ve finished my laundry I lie on my bed reading a book but I’m disturbed because I don’t like the vibes of these two men and of the room. So they’ve gone out for the night and will come back late. Maybe they intend to kill me while I’m sleeping. There was this REDRUM shirt this morning, not by chance. And this woman who spoke to me a few minutes ago, maybe she was trying to reassure me so that I would feel safe in this room, knowing that she was the only woman in a coed room, so not alone in the situation.

Around 11PM I go to the reservation desk and say that I would like to change rooms. The clerk asks me why. I say that a man there is too friendly. She protests but I cut her short, saying that there’s friendly, and then there is too friendly. Surprisingly there is a bed available in an all-female room but in order to make it look like it’s coed, a woman comes after me and says her boyfriend is with her so do not be surprised. And the man is the only one in the room. In the morning his fat wallet is sitting on the window sill. A Brazilian woman makes an awful fuss about her credit card. In the shower room she keeps speaking about it so I ask her to shut up already.

20: Call mom to ask for money. Answering machine. Mail letter to tax auditor reporting 8 million francs in cash money with two enclosed copies of letters proving the existence of this money.

22: I have no more money to stay in this hostel or anywhere else. Call mom. Answering machine. Beofre the library opens one woman waiting talks to another about corrupt District Attorneys and judges. I walk away.

At 2:30PM I take the train to Van Cortlandt Park and from there the bus to Yonkers. I intend to go back to St Joseph hospital. I get off near the train station and walk a deserted street in that direction. A man passes me and says hello. At the train station there are police cars parked everywhere. I get into the station not knowing why. A sign says that the train coming from somewhere will be thirty minutes late. It depresses me, then I realize that I’m not waiting for anybody and nobody’s waiting for me but this realization depresses me even more. Now I have to act. I call an ambulance from a pay phone and shortly later I arrive at St Joseph’s where I’m admitted.

I’m given a room with a woman whose mouth is busted. She fell while drunk. She is homeless, about my age. I’m glad I won’t see Dr Neschis for two days.