Things I Took For Granted Before Living in Solitary Confinement

Life in the Paris ghetto

It would be 9 P.M. Time for a run. I’d get ready and remember talks with fellow inmates.

“Go outside! You?! Alone?! Girl, it’s 9 P.M. it is not safe! Don’t do it. No way, girl DO NOT go out there alone at this hour.”

I would always weigh it in my head. Were they just being overprotective? Was it ok to go outside alone at 9 P.M.? I would be oppressed by the usual questions, but I would always want to go for a run at that time.

A few times I went. And every time I regretted it. Any time I went for a run in my never hood, it felt so overrun by the toxicity of poverty that I felt worse than when I left. My legs turned to cottage cheese in 7 months. Before I was ghetto-ized, I was in the best shape of my life.

Why why why you ask, why???????!!!! Because my street was The Black Market. The same street that the biggest flea market on earth bursts out from. You could buy anything there. Napoleon’s penis and Pompadour’s greatest portraits. Iphones, designer brands, corsets from the 1800s like new, a Renoir or hand painted party trays that I would have bought if I had a thousand euros. All the books. Used suitcases that were stolen straight off the baggage claim. And also, flesh. In the same block radius there is prostitution.

The Paris high speedway (la Périphérique) is less than 30 seconds away too, so it is an ideal spot for any crazy shit to go down.

It is also worth noting that going outside in daytime hours was dangerous as fuck, also.

Here is an excerpt of something I wrote on July 24th about this.

The Way [Some] Men in My Neighborhood Occupy Public Space

‘WE’RE DRUNK BUT IT’S NOT A PROBLEM” a group of men shout *in my ears* when we are walking different directions on the sidewalk.

“MADEMOISELLE, MADEMOISELLE!” *grabs my arm* this time it’s two men and I respond “please don’t touch me,” and the men continue to harass me. I am lucky that my body language tells them to cut it the fuck out because they purposely postured in such a way as to grab and trap me.

But men obstructing my way, attempting to physically intimidate me and force their will, to express their sense that they are entitled to my time, a smile, a conversation, to threaten me with their superior strength and size is an every fucking day phenomenon.

I have to deal with men getting in my face, shouting, calling after me. Following me to where I am staying and shouting through the windows, feeling completely entitled to harass me in this way. Grabbing my arm or wrist and trying to pull or force me to do what they want.

I always feel so jaded seeing new arrivals from the USA speak openly to strangers in Paris, because I am so used to every pretext imaginable being used to force interactions, for men to tell me they wish to have sex with me, I have been mistreated so much that I am traumatized: to respond to any strangers entails danger, in the past months it has been a justification for further harassment and torment.

Apart from being able to go outside alone, another thing I had taken for granted before was social contact.

Living in the residence, day in and day out, I almost never saw anyone. Once I realized a guy who negged me really hard had a sister who lived on my floor and she made me dinner once. That was the only time I shared a meal with other residents in my building (but I ate the meal alone, as usual).

Finally, some other people who had the same job became friends with me. They were the best. Sometimes we would go outside together.

The other thing I missed a lot and took for granted before was recycling. There is no recycling at Francis de Croisset and I would take an hour of time to periodically go to the recycling center, with bags and bags of recyclables. I would savor looking like a homeless person, because there was a serious economic degradation thing happening this year.

But you know what else are the French gonna do besides put all the foreigners in poor, crime-ridden ghettos. That’s just what they do.

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