Diary of a Marked W•man

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Paris, October 2006

Les sanglots longs des violons de l'automne
 bercent mon coeur d'une langueur monotone.
Tout frissonnant et blême quand sonne l'heure,
Je me souviens des jours anciens et je pleure.

                             Paul Verlaine
For latest update as of November 4th, please scroll down to this sign:

Sun the 1st: Sophie calls to know if the water has stopped dripping from upstairs. It stopped several days ago, actually the day after I last spoke to Zokpe the tenant above me who was positive a plumber was coming next morning. So it's old news, why is she calling about it? Why is she showing concern over a rather minor incident, whereas when I was terrified that the dentists were conspiring against me to let an assassin strike me while I was reclining in the chair, and besought her to help me, she didn't lift a finger. All she did was, she said, fax to mom the e-mail I had sent to her where I said something she should have kept confidential because it pertained to mom's criminal conspiracies with doctors dating back to my infancy. It's not the first time I experience that anything confidential, she rushes to make public. What a sicko!

I said I suspected this leak was intentional to harass me. She countered with feigned sarcasm that the leak came from one of mom's tenants on the fourth floor (as if she were trying to accuse mom). So I say Zokpe (who, incidentally, is also one of mom's tenants but I don't mention it to Sophie) told me that the pipe had broken inside the wall. How did he know it was inside the wall? I asked. The absurdity of this statement from a non-professional proved to me that he was anxious to distance himself from the problem because he felt -and was- guilty. She replied that all these apartments have plumbing problems, that I'm not the only one plagued with leaks. (Same excuse as with the criminal doctors: nothing personal.)

I insist that just like the flooding in January 2005, it's a malicious incident and to prove it tell her that when I asked the man who lived with Zokpe in the Spring of 2005 (after I was able to go out with my crutches) what had caused the flooding, he said that it was because water had been seeping between the joints of the ceramic tiles in the shower stall. Ha ha, as if seepage through such narrow joints could have caused this massive and sudden flooding. Obviously the man did not expect my question when I crossed him in the staircase, and he just answered anything that came to his mind.

So by saying that the leak came from one of mom's tenants on the 4th floor she was trying to distract me from the fact that Zokpe above me is ALSO one of mom's tenants because she was attempting to protect mom from my ire and suspicion which, to me, is proof enough that the two flooding incidents were indeed instigated by mom and malicious, and that Sophie, poor actress that she is, is unconvincing in her vociferations against mom, but convincing in her efforts to help her despite words to the contrary.

Excuse me if I thought intentional flooding was one of mom's favorite techniques of harassment! How could I forget the noise of a cascade tumbling from the ceiling waking me from my nap, the very fist night I spent in my new studio at 19W103 in NYC in late August 1989, and during the following year, approximately once a month if not more often, the same thing would happen, and when I asked the woman who lived above me what caused this, she said she couldn't help it but promised she would be careful and every time I saw her she gave me a big smile. (Not to mention all the subsequent numerous water incidents over the ten years I spent there... see diaries for 1993 and later.)

We also talk about my medical situation (knee, teeth) and like before she says that all health professionals are gangsters and criminals, only in it for the money, implying that it's nothing personal. But the right to health care is a fundamental right, inscribed in the preliminary to the Code of Public Health! How can doctors, dentists, who have a mission to preserve the health of the public, disregard it for other interests? She says maybe it's because my health coverage is the CMU, the poor-guy's health coverage but I say No! No! They acted with me in this horrible manner even before asking me what my health coverage was, and anyway, I paid by check so they didn't even have to deal with my health insurance, it was me who had to do paperwork to get refunds. And if it was true that it was nothing personal, then one would see a lot more cripples in the streets than is actually the case...

And wouldn't you know it, each time I went out afterwards during the month of October, I saw people in wheelchairs: a young man with cerebral palsy in a million-dollar motorized one at the post office, a polio-victim with her deformed limbs walking with canes ahead of me turned around and walked towards me! Yes, but these people were, unlike me, suffering from a condition that is inoperable. These cripples were not the victims of criminal doctors who refused to treat their conditions. The reason I walk on crutches is only because the docs I've seen have not deigned to operate a minor lesion inside my knee, following the attack of December 31, 2004. Which proves my point.

Fri. the 13th: I go to the shopping mall next door to stock up on fruits-veggies but first I go to the Giant supermarket to check out the press. Instead of entering from the ground floor to face the same problem as before -having to walk to the other end of the store or sneak through the check-out stations and risk unpleasantness with the security staff, I first take the escalator to the second floor because I know that upstairs the entrance is right there. Fashion magazines do not attract me anymore. I realize that the interest in fashion is motivated, deep inside and unconsciously for the most part, by the need to be found sexually appealing by the opposite sex (in order to make babies for the survival of the species.) Arts and crafts, even the subjects that interest me are not interesting in the form they are presented. The crochet and sewing and embroidery projects are particularly horrible. I don't envy the young people who have never known any better. Since I found reprints of old books for crochet etc. at Dover Publishing and others, I shun the magazines.

The bookstore on the other hand is awash in new releases on President Chirac and how the immunity he enjoys as president protects him, for the time being, from criminal prosecution for a host of misdeeds. There are maybe four different books about him and his crimes to chose from. Other books about the French economy are not optimistic either, nor those about the crisis in education. I stay there for quite some time, reading the back covers, the tables of contents, and end up putting two books in my backpack -because with my crutches I'm not using a hand basket or a push cart-. But at the robotic express check-out I put the books in a reject bin because, having not received the letter of validation which would ensure my income for the next six month, I am not sure I can afford the 40€ the books cost. Without the books my bill is less than 10€ and I feel much better that way. To hell with Chirac!

Mon. the 16th: Call up Espace Insertion to ask why my new contract, which I entered into and signed on September 28th during Ms Eveillard's visit at my home, has still not been validated. Because I asked, she sent me copy of my new contract bearing her mention that I had fulfilled my previous contract and that she approved the new one. Usually the letter confirming the validation of this new contract is dated on the 4th of the following month. A woman says that the person in charge has been delayed and will sign the letters today. She suggests I wait a few more days and I say ok.

Fri. the 20th: When I reach downstairs I see my neighbor Buquet. He says hello, I say hello. I ask him if the new security system has been installed. He says no, someone broke the lock, and he points to a threaded piece of metal that is lying on the rounded part of the first step, where the first metal rod supporting the handrail is anchored. This piece of metal is rather large, it doesn't look like any part of a lock, plus the metal seems to be aluminum, and though I'm no specialist, I don't think locks are made of aluminum. I'm worried that anyone from the street can just walk in but my neighbor doesn't share my concern. He sounds rather upbeat in the face of this blatant violation of the law by the building management.The letter of validation of my contract is still not in the mail when I go out. Besides, there is a hole in the outside wall next to the front door of the building, where the electric lock used to be. I have been careful to save the letter, dated September 11, from Parry Immobilier, informing me that a new security lock with a digital code would be installed on the 16th, and that the old code on the inside door would be changed, but instead of more security, I am appalled to see this big hole which, I am sure, beckons to anyone intent on mischief.

I go to the bus stop on av. d'Italie, and there, 2 cops, a man and a blonde woman with a pony tail, dressed in their action gear -high laced boots and narrow pants, bomber jackets and baseball caps, look downstream and only a few seconds after I get to the bus stop they signal an unmarked navy-blue car to stop and the car stops immediately. I don't know what stint these cops are doing. They don't look like traffic cops to me. Maybe they were looking for a "terst" and, just by looking, they found one? "Hey, you in the navy-blue car, aren't you a terst by any chance?" Who knows. You never know with the po-lee. Or maybe I should feel safer?

At Bricorama I buy two C-clamps to make myself a rudimentary loom for tablet-weaving. I have these past few days renewed my research on the subject, and found in the Yahoo Groups a Frenchman -the only one- who does this, so I wrote to him, asking for guidance and he was very happy to find a French person with the same interest, so he gave me advice for getting started. Hence my shopping trip to Bricorama.

I hobble back down the avenue d'Italie to Monoprix where I buy groceries to be delivered. I don't remember any incident of harassment this time. What's going on? Then at the restaurant downstairs back home I order Chinese food to be delivered and while I'm sitting on a chair outdoors in front of the restaurant, resting my sore knee while leafing through a book I received in the mail -a catalogue of embroidery samplers from the Fitzwilliam museum- I see the delivery man from Monoprix come out of the building with his trunk on wheels so I call out to him and he comes back. I didn't expect him so soon. At the bottom of the stairs he invites me to go first but since I'm much slower than him and he's loaded with heavy bags, it makes more sense for him to go first so I ask him to, he refuses so I insist, and finally he goes first and I follow him. After he has deposited all the groceries in the box on the floor I reserve to that purpose, I tip him and apologize for delaying him. A few minutes later dinner is delivered and all I've got to do is eat in bed while reading the news on the internet. No more walking.

Mon. the 23rd: Call up the Syndic de copropriété -building management- to ask why is the new security system on the street-door still not installed when a letter informing me of the new codes promised such installation for the 16th. The man says that someone broke the system before the installation was complete, then he changes the subject and complains that the new cleaning company has complained that some tenants spit on the floor and drop cigarette butts. I say I believe the people who leave the cigarette butts are the Chinese because I've seen some of them smoke in the staircase. He says he's going to complain to the apartment owners -my family members- that they should be more selective in their choice of tenants. I steer him back to the issue of the security system on the front door, and ask him why, by the way, the inside door isn't closing either? He says this lock is constantly breaking and he's tired of it (How strange, he just got hired!) I say "What are you waiting for? You have a budget..." he cuts me off and says that this door is no good anyway and with his budget he's going to replace it with a metal door that's wider, and he'll have that door open the other way (so that one has to pull it open when going in instead of when going out). I steer him back to the front door system. Why is there a hole in the stone where the electric lock used to be?Why didn't the locksmith complete the installation? I forgot what he answered by again he veered off and talked about something else, as if he had not understood that my concern is for my security and the rest is secondary. "I'm not suggesting you are in bad faith," I say, precisely because he's beginning to give me the opposite impression, but why couldn't the locksmith complete the installation of the keypad in the wall? I don't see any reason why he didn't do that. At least it wouldn't attract the eye like this big hole does, which is like an invitation for criminals to step in," I say. "I know," he says, "the locksmith called me on Saturday to tell me that someone had torn off the (whatever). He says to me Joe, someone's gone and torn off the (whatever) I can't help it if people go behind me and tear-off that thing, he says to me. ["arracher" in French]. Oh, the dear even works on Saturdays! What abnegation! What faithful sense of duty! He's not promising the job will be completed any time soon because the vandalism of the tenants is not something he expected, is not something he's prepared to deal with, and it's not his job to post a guard to make sure nobody destroys property. This is insane! I was promised more security and what I get, under the guise of an attempt to provide it, is an invitation to any street criminal to enter the premises.

Next I call up the Espace Insertion and say that I still haven't received the "validation" of my contract. The woman who answers the phone says that she is new here, and asks me to homd while she tries to get the information I need. She comes back to tell me that the person in charge has been deluged by a large number of new RMI recipients and been delayed and hasn't had a chance yet to validate my contract but not to worry, even if I don't have my contract validated I'll still receive the RMI allowance. I am somewhat relieved but nothing beats having that letter. Besides without it I think I lose my secondary rights -health insurance for one.

I call the social service rue Daviel where Ms Eveillard has her office. The receptionist asks "Does she know you?" then she puts me on hold for a long, long time and comes back to ask my address, then tell me that the organization is being re-structured, that nothing is like before, that the office now responsible for my sector is the one on Place d'Italie, that I should go and have another interview... I say I'm folloing up on an interview I had with Ms Eveillard on September 28 and that she should be able to answer my question, otherwise what does it mean for her to write on my contract "We remain at MS Picart's disposal for any further help". Besides this lady never talked to me about re-structuration when I last saw her. She never said it was the last time we met because there would be someone else next time. "Hold on" the receptionist puts me on hold fof maybe the fifth time. She comes back and asks also for maybe the fifth time "What's your name?"

Finally she transfers me to Ms Eveillard who explains that the City and the Prefectoral administrations are being merged and that her office is in upheaval at the moment and she is unable to access my file. I say all I want to know is why is my contract not being validated? She says "But Madame Picart, I did what I had to do, I sent it in the mail to the Espace Insertion the next day, Madame Picart. Don't worry, Madame Picart, it's probably only a minor delay, Madame Picart, I can't tell you when they'll send it to you, Madame Picart but it shouldn't talke long, Madame Picart." I ask how come social workers keep changing, she's the third social worker I've been dealing with. I explain that it's more humane, from the allowance recipient's point of view to always deal with the same person, who is also better able to judge if progress is being made, and it'sd also in the administration's interest. "But Madame Picart, the phone number does not change!" I remain silent for a time because I don't understand, then finally I get it: "Oh! I see, you're saying that as far as human relations are concerned, it doesn't matter if social workers keep changing, as long as the phone number remains the same?"

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