Saturday, May 12, 2007

An Update From Far West Oahu, Act I

Some of you have stayed in close touch regarding the incidents at “Nanakuli House,” by phone, Instant Messenger and email. I can tell you your support has been most gratifying and helpful. Some days were darker than others and although this saga has a few more days before concluding your being there was the many bright spots. Thank you…

Before I begin a short history to date, I must take my hat off to anyone involved with resolving anybody’s issues or problems, anybody in the human resources industry. For example, I’ve been working my way through the judicial system as I filed a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the female tenant (FT) and as I responded to a TRO filed by the FT, herself. Without exception, everyone I met and worked with was a delight, helpful and sincere. These court clerks and administrators daily have to deal with horrific stories and--without prejudice--guide abused and shattered people to carefully prepare legal paperwork (TRO’s) prior to presentation to a judge for approval. They do this day-in and day-out. I saw them as kind and gentle throughout the time I spent with them. My hat is doffed.

All I had to do was get my thoughts together well enough to be coherent when I put pen to paper for my TRO against the FT. I was at least smart enough to bring those tracks of words to the TRO “Training” session and put them in between the appropriate paperwork before the judge saw it all. These clerks had to hold hands and dry tears as the “plaintiffs” struggled to describe why they were there. I saw a part of humanity I’ve never been exposed to; indescribable physical, mental and psychological violence between once seemingly loving people. I thought my TRO—albeit containing a reference to violence against me—was just not comparable to the stories I was hearing from others in this classroom. What I found was that violence is violence no matter the source or delivery method. My TRO was approved by the judge as the “kick-out” type meaning should the FT appear on the premises I was to contact the police and they would immediately kick her out of the house.

I waited all night and into the next morning, barely asleep, listening intently for any door creak that might indicate her return to the house and my signal to the cops. I was exhausted from the waiting but mostly from the FT’s aberrant behavior over the last several months which intensified daily. I was eating poorly and what I did get down didn’t stay down for long because of my strained nerves. My concentration was strictly on how quickly I could respond to anything the FT said or did. I thought of little else except how to counter her every word or deed and to protect myself as best I could. I leaned folding steel chairs against the house doors that would crash to the floor and awaken me, warning me that she had returned and I was to call the cops to serve my TRO.

But you sometimes can’t wake the dead from sleep and that’s what happened to me.

I didn’t hear the chairs clatter to the tiled floor when the door opened and I barely responded when the cop was shaking my shoulder as he stood over my bed. I had slept maybe an hour when I was so rudely awakened. He announced he was here to serve a TRO on me filed by the FT. What a wake up call.

The TRO was addressed to one “Richard California.” I pointed out this discrepancy to the cop but he dismissed my comments by telling me the FT didn’t know my last name and just entered my birthplace. I told him I was from Brazil. It didn’t matter to him. I was Richard. He was here to serve the TRO and I was “it.”

I was in a stupor from the lack of sleep, lack of food and the effects of daily medicines I took for my cancer, diabetes and high-blood pressure. I couldn’t think well enough to realize I could reject the TRO because of incorrect name. The cop asked for my ID and told me where to sign. I followed his directions. It was early Tuesday morning and I decided to go to the supermarket and get something to eat.

On returning, I turned into my street from the highway and saw the FT trying to cross from one side to the other—outside of the crosswalk. I stopped my car and waited for her to clear the roadway, watching her every step. She appeared confused as she then crossed in the opposite direction while now at the crosswalk and even attempted to cross the highway as heavy morning traffic waited for her to get across. She turned around and went back to the sidewalk and stood there waiting for a bus to pick her up. I went home.

The next afternoon, cops came back to the house to speak to me. Apparently, by waiting for the FT to safely cross the road, I had violated her TRO against me by “…making contact.” I had to explain my actions in writing waiving my right to attorney which didn’t concern me much. This whole episode in my life was a simple test of confidence and I had plenty of that, I knew.

When the FT moved in some five months ago she irritated me by never staying on any subject for very long, simply starting to talk about something else literally mid-sentence. Too, virtually everything she said was a commentary on her life, delivered in such a way to have the listener feeling sorry for her. There wasn’t a conversation with her that didn’t have its focus on her. It occurred to me that if an opera were to be written around her self-centeredness, it would be called, “MeMeMeMeee!” I finally gave up communicating with her at all and spent most of the following months ignoring her.

Over the recent weeks her behavior became more bizarre and inexplicable. When I tried to tell others what the FT was doing, virtually everyone asked if I knew anything about her medicines. One cop even suggested I contact her doctor and get him to either “…up the meds or down the meds.” I didn’t even think about prescriptions on her part; I just thought she was weird. For instance, she would turn all the house lights on in every common area at night such as the kitchen, bathrooms and hallways and if any of us—like myself—turned them off, they’d be back on in five minutes. Or, she would turn all the water taps on full so that splashing water resounded throughout the house and especially into my bedroom, which had two bathrooms just out side my door. When the trade winds blew, the FT found a way to prop doors so they would bang open and closed with every gust. How about this one? I toasted my bagel in the toaster oven for five minutes each morning. One day, sensing the five minutes was about up I returned to the kitchen from my bedroom to find that she had extended the toasting time another five minute, scorching my last bagel.

The FT would become active in the kitchen at 11:00pm and wouldn’t let up until 4:30am or so when she would replace the pots and pans banging with KGMB radio loud enough to disturb the household. She wailed and wept as she prayed or read aloud from her bible. She…well, you get the picture—she was not well and I’m a layman.

What I didn’t expect to happen was a surge in confidence to confront this FT at any time. If words needed to be uttered, they formed at my lips and issued forth with my hearing them for the first time as they vibrated in the atmosphere. I thought of nothing when I approached her, I simply watched myself interact with this person, dominating her entirely. There was not a single word or phrase that she could say that was not met adroitly. She just didn’t just meet her match in me, she was so overmatched, so intimidated that she was reduced to tears and statements like, “You’re, you’re no good!” That’s original, wouldn’t you say?

I kept a journal of these behaviors—physical and verbal—and recorded as much as I could remember at the time it happened, even if it was two in the morning. I had an idea that journal would come in handy; I just didn’t know when or how. I even transposed cell phone messages left by the FT on another housemate’s voicemail as a part of the record. The more I wrote down the more bizarre and unreal her actions seemed to become. I’m not sure she wasn’t already doing some of the things I noticed at an earlier time (when I was ignoring her) though it did seem the intensity increased.

By now, she managed to alienate everyone in the house and they all wanted her out. One even threatened to deduct one day’s rent from the monthly rental for everyday in May she was still in the house. That got the landlord’s attention more than the constant barrage of calls from all of us complaining about this nuisance, the FT. All that was really needed was a spark that would light this tinderbox and she could quite possibly be gone.

She delivered that spark to us on a Friday with her attack on me.

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