Tues. the 7th: Returning from shopping around 11 AM I hear mom's voice in the stairwell then reach her on the second floor. She's speaking to the worker who's installing the water meters. I say hello. Shortly afterwards the worker knocks at my door and I let him in and lead him to the bathroom. I ask Mom to come in too. Right away she asks to go to the bathroom, explaining that she has drunk some coffee and me, not thinking that the water has been cut off by the worker, I ask her to wait because I have to use a pair of pliers to turn the toilet water on. And it's only after working on it for a while in an uncomfortable position that I realize that the worker has turned the water off anyway. I can tell from her faint smile that mom has got her wish: to inconvenience me with an unpleasant business of piss-and-no-water-to -flush.
She gave me a check for 150 euros. I asked if it was a Christmas present. She said "No" and made no comment and there was a heavy silence. I should have been glad to think that I would get more money for Xmas but the mood just wasn't right.
The worker who had gone out comes back in and asks me if the stuff in the hallway is mine. "No," I say. Why? Does it bother you?" He had no reason to be bothered by this stuff so why did he ask? Once in the bathroom he says that the humidity and infiltration is my upper neighbor's fault and that I should file an insurance claim. "If you're insured, it's worth it!" he says. Tho some of the pipes are hidden behind a wood-agglomerate partition, I know that some of the humidity comes from behind this partition, and that the very reason of its existence is to hide the bad state of the wall and the leakage. I know that this has nothing to do with my upstairs neighbor. So I ask him if he's an expert in water damage. He says no, he's not, but if I file an insurance claim I'll have an expert examine the bathroom.
Turning my attention to Mom, I asked her opinion as to why the toilet leak started so suddenly. "You can guess that I don't sweep the floor behind the toilet every week but I just happened to do it the Saturday before the leak started, and I'm positive the floor was perfectly dry then. How do you explain that the leak started so suddenly? That it was literally pissing water when a few days earlier there was not a drop leaking?. She made no reply.
Then I asked her why the two computer repairmen I saw from two different stores said my hard drive was dead and needed to be changed when there are at least twelve tests to do to re-start a stalled computer due to software problem before coming to this conclusion. She made no reply.
She proposed to talk to EDF about my power outage. I said these gangsters had cut the power off less than a week after I paid 65 euros, that it happened at midnight while I was in the toilet. I explained to her that EDF has been overbilling me and showed her as an example an estimated reading for September 03 that I reached only in November 03 and showed her that on that bill I was overcharged 58 euros just for electricity (not gas). She took notes and said she would talk to them.
She said that my left eye looked congested. I said that I've been having these "attacks" since end of July, that last night I got about twelve of them, the last one around 7 AM, whose effects still linger at 11 AM. I said that lately the jabs come in groups of two or three, extremely painful, like jab-jab-jab. Without accusing her frontally I said that I thought it was black magic because I had no other way of explaining the sensation of my eyeball being pierced by a sharp instrument, and my total lack of eye problem heretofore, except age-related shortsightedness. She said accusingly that if only I received sacraments and prayed I would be protected. I didn't want to justify myself and tell her that I prayed but didn't go to mass. Maybe she was distancing herself from my unspoken accusation of black magic by accusing me back of neglecting the sacraments. I said that I was protected anyway because if I was not I'd have lost my life or my reason many times over. She said I had only one thing to do: to see an eye doctor. I said the reason I didn't do it was that all the doctors I had seen so far had violated the Hippocratic oath (and I mean ALL OF THEM, including the shrinks) and I didn't want to find myself with my head thrown back, showing my eye to a doctor who takes advantage of my vulnerable position to betray me.
About my computer she said I should see my cousin Jérôme de Nève because he knows a lot about computers. I thought about him for a moment and remembered immediately the bad trip he took me to at the Rosay castle somewhere in Normandy in 1979 or thereabout. So I smiled and said "Jérôme? Naaaah!".
I showed her crochet and sashiko and blackwork I've been doing. She was impressed at all these tiny handmade sashiko stitches. About my new product, the soft sculpture that needs a clothes-iron to stand, I explained how convenient it was because it made it unnecessary to put the iron in a closet so one didn't need the unpleasant business with a dripping cold iron nor the cord etc... "A new product for people who already have everything!" I said proudly. She said that it was dangerous for little kids. She seems to stick like glue to her mother-character so of course, the first thing she thinks of is the safety of the kids (Yeah! My foot!) "Oh, come on Mom," I said, "there are households without under-age children, you know. Lots of adults live alone, single people. That's the kind of people I was thinking of for this new product."
She said that she had been thinking that what I needed was a market where I could sell my things and right away I saw what she had in mind from the way she spoke. She meant it as a put down as if selling on a downscale market was the best I could do, after I had shown her a new product of which I was proud. I said I didn't have enough merchandise anyway. "What about your bags?" But these bags are spring and summer bags, not winter bags. "I already told you that they all need to be unsewn and sewed back together because they're all defective." I showed her two backpacks whose strap had broken where it met the bag at the bottom and explained to her that it was the construction of the bag chosen by Viviane without consulting me, the biais all around the bottom that took in four layers (shell + lining, side + bottom) plus the strap, that was defective, because the five layers were too thick for this narrow biais. She was adamant that it was not the seamstress's fault. "So where is my fault? Tell me what I should have done!"
I should have thought about it before having all these bags made. "But Vivianne said that she was a professional and I trusted her, and anyway how could I know that she was going to take in only one centimeter of the strap? I had no way to check and it seemed so obvious it went without saying. I told her that I had no experience so I had to trust her and anyway she never asked me any questions. Since she did an excellent job with the zippers and the pockets and the rest I had to believe that she knew what she was doing. Besides, the straps are not the only things that she sabotaged, wait..." and I brought her from my room two bags in an Indonesian print, turquoise and black, where the print becomes darker towards the edge and where the biais is black but where Viviane let the bright turquoise selvage line visible all around.
Before I said a word mom said "Oh! What a pretty print!" to make me believe that she had never seen it. But what I think happened is that Viviane showed her everything that we were doing with the camera on her cell phone (she showed it to me once and laughed nastily without saying anything) and with mom in Normandy they discussed how to ruin my work. So now I was accusing mom of conspiring with Viviane to sabotage my work and she asked how dare I to accuse her. She didn't deny! As usual she reacted as if it's an intolerable agression for a daughter to accuse her mother. But after all, child abuse is done by a parent against a child, and she never pulled her punches when it came to accusing me of heinous deeds even when I was a very young child. So why should she have the right to accuse me and shouldn't I have the right to accuse her?
I told her that because of the lack of radio I've been singing a lot to entertain myself, and that after such a long time I have remembered how as a very young child I was delighted by the discovery of the art form called SONG from then on all I thought about was to learn new songs, and how I made up nonsensical lyrics when I only had the melody, because my speech being unevolved I was unable to make up lyrics that meant anything. And I insisted that I was struck by the memory of this quasi obsession. I know that this was almost all I thought about to entertain myself because I didn't have toys. I wasn't doing mischief, I wasn't bothering anybody, looking for trouble with my sisters, all I cared about was to learn new songs, new lyrics and new melodies. "And," I added, "it was your duty, you and Dad, to help me find my way in life, and since it was so obvious what I was interested in, I don't know what you were thinking." My memory is that they were always blaming me for something as if I were a vicious rapscallion. Now that I had the proof that my pursuits were exclusively peaceful, I could ask why did they make a problem where there was none?
I added that music comes to me naturally, that I'm not attracted to it out of vanity to be onstage and looked at, but that it's part of me (and there my voice started to catch) and that it's not a defect but a talent, so why should I disregard my talent and try to make a living with another occupation? I said that I am so much imbued with music that I have to consider getting a guitar and look for work as a singer-guitarist. "... and this time I hope that you won't interfere," I said. Then I added "But you won't let me do it... Everything I've tried doing you've always destroyed in my back" . "How can you say such a thing! And to think of all I did to help you!" Mom replied. "Yes, and behind my back you ruin, you dig a pit for me to fall in..." "I did not come here to listen to this!" mom said.
The worker came in and asked me to come over to the bathroom. He showed me the meter he had installed. He opened the flap that hid the dial "And don't tear off this piece here!" (from the French verb "arracher") he said. "Why should I want to tear this off?" I asked.
It just happens that this verb "arracher" has been popping up in my reading and conversations (even in songs: My heart belongs to Daddy! a little more often than mere chance would warrant and I suspect some kind of terrorist manipulation on my mother's part.
Then he came into the living room with a paper he asked mom to sign as if she was the inhabitant of this apartment. But he knew it was me, not her who lived there, since we had talked previously about the water problem and I was the one who opened the door. So why did he pretend he didn't know who lived there? After a while he went out saying he ws going to turn the water on and mom left shortly afterwards. She said she was waiting for the worker to give him a tip but he was too long coming back so would I give him the tip for her? She also said several times that Mr Phung was mad at me because of the leak from my toilet into his hair salon.
Before leaving she said that she would call EDF ASAP and let me know. Then she said "How much did you say is the overdue bill?" "But it's not overdue! I've been explaining to you that they overestimate my power usage..." I thought that if I got the power back I wouldn't need a lot of explaining, so it sounded as if she knew in advance that the power wouldn't been restored.... She gave me a five euro bill for the worker. I really don't see why she should tip a worker who works in an apartment she doesn't live in... except to make me believe that this is ALL the money that changed hands. In other words she and him were in cahoots, and out of my sight she had paid him to say certain things:
- to make me think I'm nuts by asking about the stuff in the hallway that doesn't concern him at all,
- about the water infiltration being my upstairs neighbor responsibility,
- to use the verb "arracher" to intimidate or disturb me.
So that's what they were talking about when I returned from shopping. As she walked out the door I told her I had seen Norbert recently and that he was foolish to say that his two children were delighted that he and his wife had split. "Because children always blame themselves when the parents split." I said. "Yes," she added, taking the first steps down, "but when the parents stay together and yell at each other the kids are unhappy too..." and there was an overtone of glee in her voice, as if a child in a no-win situation was all she wanted for making a little psychopath out of him.
And now that mom was gone the worker asked me to rate his performance and I gave him the highest rating and the five euro bill saying it came from my mother. He said that there was a radio transmitter in the meter he just installed and that the meter will be read remotely.