Monday, October 30, 2006


Sleep brought me absurdist isolation, figuratively, dreamily. I was on a ship somewhere far – couldn’t tell if it was the ocean or space or an island or desert. I shared a bed with a woman, a co-worker. She and I were both married but we both lusted after the ship’s luscious first mate, a guy who looked like a guy from Lost, the television show, and this guy wanted us in return but was respectful of our marital states. He was supposed to look like the guy from Lost, but in reality looked like David Lee Roth of Van Halen. His face morphed through the dream, moving from Lost’s Sawyer to this aging, grey-haired David Lee Roth. The transformation put me off track – the attraction lessened. I simply couldn’t bring myself to lust after DLR. Nevertheless, he tossed a bunch of books to the side from his cart and hopped into our bed. I was concerned about the books, curious to know what books he had brought us. He kissed me, he kissed her. Over his shoulder I spied the Captain’s assistant who reminded me very much of Freddie Prinze, Jr. and it occurred to me that really, he should be the one kissing me as opposed to this Sawyer-wanna-be.

Finally, in my dream, I got up and took a shower. When I emerged from the tiny bathroom, drama had taken place. The reluctant DLR had moved away from the bed and the woman was in tears and another woman who had wanted in on the action was shaking her head. I shooed them away and I got back into bed, happy to have the space back and happy to be rid of the drama, when my cousin walked into the room and asked me, “What happened?”

“Just silly stuff. Nothing. Stupid. Don’t worry about it. Where do you want me to work today? The factory room? The bridge? Kitchen?”

“Doesn’t matter, Adriana, just keep your nose to the grindstone.”

I woke up, knowing I had oodles of papers to grade, Halloween eve to tend to, dinners to plan, exams to write, and no desire to socialize with anybody. Gotta keep to the grindstone. Gotta forget about DLR because he’s just not the same anymore, you know? I don’t think any one of us is the same.


We visited Farmer’s Market yesterday in Los Angeles. The kids were clawing at me, literally, as I sat on the couch Sunday morning, trying to watch Shirley Temple’s “The Bluebird.” My favorite movie next to the Disney’s Aristocats. The movie didn’t interest M. She stretched and made noise and complained and whined and wanted to change the channel to something dumb, something really dumb like Sponge Bob.

“They’re looking for happiness, M, how can you not like that? They go to these lands and see all kinds of things and the cat and dog turn into people and isn’t that dog just like how Sassy would be if she were a person?”

“I’m hungry!”

“What do you want to eat, then?”


“Not for breakfast…”

"Spell the words, Mommy, and I'll write them."

"You can't write here on the couch - go to the table."


She was bored, that was all. D said he wanted to shop at Kohl’s, wanted to leave the kids home with J as their babysitter and the thought of it made me want to pull hair out. “We need to go someplace…with the kids.”

He grumbled and fussed and I hopped in the shower. Made it out in ten minutes flat. We hit the road, intending on Chinatown but deciding on Farmer’s Market because it was next to the Grove and that might be fun being we’d never been. We left J at home because he wanted to skateboard with some buddies and eh…it might be better because he tends to aggravate the others.

The weather was crisp, warm, and sky-blue, as if wind had mopped up Los Angeles leaving a bright, shiny floor behind. We parked up high and spied the Hollywood sign on the green hills. The four of us marched down the stairs from the sixth floor and emerged into an outdoor mall, with the brightest, shiniest spot on the floor: the American Girl doll store. M walked through the place, determined to buy something. Anything. I promised her Emily, maybe, for Christmas or her birthday. She sighed and with a shake of her head we left, heading into the noise of Farmer’s Market. We ate hotcakes bathed in butter, Panini, hot dogs, and a slice of greasy pizza. We fantasized about fried alligator and when we got home later, we were sorry we didn’t pick up that alligator for J. Would have been fun.

Our afternoon closed with a tour of the Grove on the Trolley and a milkshake for the ride home through Los Angeles. A had rasberry ice cream - the best ever. We both agreed. We’d hit Little Ethiopia on our way in and exited through Korea and Central America, down Beverly.

For dinner we made our usual, tacos. I didn’t have any salsa, not my salsa, the stuff my mother used to make. I felt its absence, her absence. The kids were down early. Bathed, washed. Halloween is Tuesday and A, this morning, said, “Don’t you wish today was over and it was Tuesday already?”

“Definitely wish the days would move faster…I’m thinking Snickers and Buttercups…I think I’ll be myself, though. No costume.”

“Meow,” M said from the backseat.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Drive By

Perhaps it's my quirky sense of humor, perhaps it was the exalted language, but with a vision of a naked man running down the halls of a government building in my head, I found the lawyer's closing comment funny.


I received a phone call last night from one of my best friends, a former paralegal secretary, who gave me a good link to the heads of Verizon as a means to resolve my insanity. We laughed, I ranted, she suggested I get over my hopeless problem, I cried, we recalled the good old days of working in a law office and feeling powerful. In the end, I realized I should just enjoy the benefits of a good screwing and move on with my internet life. Thank god I CAN post this entry, thank goodness I'm living in a 30-day timezone with no fees for the time being. Forget battling the big guy, I will lose.

We all do, really, because of the way we've been living.

The problem I've been going on about for weeks now is our fault. "We/our" being the suburbanites. We've been sleeping our days away and when we're not sleeping, we're on the hamster wheel, running our kids to school, chasing our paycheck, paying our bills, filling up our cars with gas, chit-chatting about Tom Cruise. Voting? We vote the way our parents did, we vote for the guy who has the most money, the most ads on television, the one who pushes our false issue buttons (gay marriage, abortion, blah, blah). We've been living in a Matrix that we helped create in order to give ourselves a pain-free life...and in the meantime, our support system, our employers, the computer that keeps up the Matrix, why, they've taken over.

And we let it happen by not paying attention.

So yeah, I'll let the screwing happen like so many others - lie back and enjoy the sweat, the heat, the darkness of the room, the calories being burned away, the shivering, reluctant orgasm of internet connection, or a full tank of gas, or a good show on the television. When I get up and get my clothes on, when the big guy saunters out of my bedroom, I'll realize I've been fucked by all the big guys...Arco, Verizon, the Government...and jesus...what woman doesn't want to get fucked by a big...guy?


By accident, I erased years of saved e-mail. With one swift click, I deleted years of friendship, constructive criticism, love, high-fives, births, deaths, information. For long minutes I searched the folders, finding nothing...gone, gone, all gone.

An empty mailbox stared back at me. Clean, full of promise. Full of forgetting.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Modern Life: Part 3

God, DSL is fast. Fast, fast, fast. Faster than dial-up that’s for sure. I was scared, don’t get me wrong. When I sat at my desk, my computer on the floor, swiveled out for easy access, a flashlight at my side, I worried that the modem sent by Verizon wouldn’t work. I already knew what their technical support was like, so the last thing I wanted was a software program that would tell me, “Remote computer doesn’t respond,” or some such demonic message. I'd had my fill of inept technical support through EarthLink.

What a relief when the modem connected without any problem. When I saw the Verizon website on my screen, I got on my knees and thanked the computer/telephone-wire gods. The first thing I did was check my account on that infamous Verizon website that their automated phone service repeats like the proverbial broken record.

Hm, I thought, as I glanced at the section regarding webspace. The website stated that I got 10 MB of webspace with my account. Their advertising page said the same thing. The two agents I’d spoken to however told me 110 MB. A misunderstanding? Couldn’t be. I was very specific with the agents.

“EarthLink gave me 10 MB per screen name, making it 80 MB. How much does Verizon give me?”

“110 MB of webspace.”

“Are you sure?”

“Sure as pie. Sure as I can be.”

“Now, I don’t want Verizon unless I have the webspace. EarthLink gave me 10 MB per name.”

“110 is eleven times more space! All for $17.99 a month!”

“Can I order it now?”

“You need to cancel your other DSL service first.”

“Consider it done.”

“And I get all this for $17.99 a month.”

“Provided you agree to a one-year contract.”

“Not a problem.”

I hung up the phone and proceeded to cancel EarthLink. The cancellation/installation nightmare began. The conclusion was a clean, crisp connection. After checking my account page and seeing the 10 MB bit of information, Dennis called me to inform me that DSL was up and running.

“Yes, yes, I know that. I’m online as we speak.”


“Well, not so much. I have a problem.”

Dennis agreed, “Bad Verizon! Bad! Misrepresentation!”

“So can you get me what they said I would get?”

“Can’t do that. I’m just technical support.”

“Who can I talk to?”

“Billing. But I tell you what, I’ll do that for you and call you tomorrow.”


Next day, Dennis called but I wasn’t around so he left a message on my phone, “Okay, for $17.99 you get 10 MB. If you pay $4.95 you get 50 MB and for $9.95 you get 100 MB.”

Dennis called again and I ripped him a new one as I hitched up kindergartener paintings on the outside window of M’s classroom to dry, “Thanks for nothing, Dennis, as I can read The problem is that I relied on what the agents were telling me as I did not HAVE an internet connection. As soon as I got off the phone with the first agent, I cancelled my internet! I didn’t read I wasn’t directed at the time to check their website. They sucked me in, they made me rely on them, and I trusted the information I got not once, but twice! So were you able to resolve my situation? Get me the webspace I was promised at the rate of $17.99?”

“Can’t do that. They’ll only give you a credit of one month free-DSL.”

“But that isn’t acceptable. I was told…”

“I’m so sorry for the inconvenience. You’ll need to speak to billing yourself.”


My trouble ticket according to the Verizon website was, "closed."

I called Verizon then the next day about the 110 MB I was told my account included. They said, “No. We offer 10 MB. You must have misunderstood.”

“I didn’t misunderstand. One agent explained I’d have eleven times more webspace with my one screen name than EarthLink offered per screen name. That’s pretty specific. The second agent repeated the same information. A completely random agent.”

“They both must have misunderstood your inquiry.”

“They didn’t misunderstand. I explained I wanted more than 10 MB for the one price and they assured me that’s what I would get. Two agents on two separate occasions told me the same thing.”

“Let me transfer you to a supervisor.”

Needless to say, I got disconnected twice, sent to the same automated system, got shifted to technical support, finally landing on a non-supervisor at billing.

“Let me transfer you to a supervisor. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

“No transfer! Don’t put me on hold for a half hour like the other agent!”

She laughs, “Oh no, I wouldn’t do that.”

Forty minutes later, I hung up the phone.

The next day I tried again, finally reaching a supervisor to discuss the “situation.” Ms. Frances was speaking to me. I explained the situation. I told her the misrepresentation.

“All I can offer you is one month free of DSL service.”

“But that’s not acceptable.”

“I apologize but it’s all I can offer you. Do you accept?”

“I want to speak to your supervisor.”

“She’s not available.”

“You make her available. I have a problem and you’re not helping.”

“I’m making an offer. Do you accept?”

“Let me talk to your legal department.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Give me the address for your legal department, physical, e-mail, phone, whatever.”

“Do you want the $29.99 credit for one month free of service?”

“Why can’t I speak to your supervisor?”

“I am the person handling your problem and my supervisor is unavailable to speak with you.”

After ranting a bit, I finally relented and said I would accept a credit as a temporary fix. I'd be calling the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission next. The matter online, the "escalations" matter, was deemed, “closed.”

That’s when it hit me. $29.99? No question, I do have a tendency sometimes to be a bit slow on the uptake. So, wait. $29.99? My credit should have been for $17.99. I e-mailed Verizon.

"Can you confirm the cost of my DSL connection?”

Here’s the e-mail I got back:

Thank you for contacting the Verizon eCenter. My name is Paul, and I will be handling your request today.

This message is in response to your email dated October 9, 2006. You inquired about your current DSL rate. I will be happy to assist you.

I understand how important it is to manage your Verizon account. We currently have a request in place to credit your account for a month of DSL service at $29.99 per month. That should appear on your statement in 2 billing cycles.

Your DSL account is still currently set up on the $29.99 3.0Mbps/768Kbps package. I can process a request to change your DSL to the $17.99 plan. I need to share some information regarding that package first.

The $17.99 per month Verizon Online DSL service is available to you when you sign up for the One-Year Commitment Plan. Under this plan, a $79.00 termination fee is applied if you cancel the DSL service between the second and twelfth month of the service agreement. At the end of the one-year commitment period, your rate will remain $17.99 on a month-to-month basis.

You may want to carefully consider your decision as the $17.99 Verizon Online DSL Service is provisioned at a lower connection speed of up to 768K/128K. You currently have a connection speed up to 3.0Mbps/768Kbps.

If you would like us to enroll you in the $17.99 one year commitment plan, please respond to this email and I will be glad to assist you.

Although additional follow-up is needed, it has been my goal today to address your concerns related to your Verizon Online billing rates. I hope I have succeeded in meeting that goal. In the meantime, if you have any other questions, please let us know. We look forward to serving you.

Slow DSL? SLOW DSL? What SLOW DSL? I'm not even going to get into the "two billing cycles" crap. Why should it take two months for a credit to go through? Anyway, nobody mentioned anything about the $17.99 being associated with a slower rate of DSL. Look, I’m just a regular gal, not a computer know-it-all. DSL is DSL as far as I was concerned. I had no idea that DSL came in different flavors and Verizon never attempted to explain that to me on the telephone when I placed my order. I never mentioned the rate of transfer, I never asked about it, they never spoke of it. EarthLink also never indicated there was a speed issue (they had one rate and what that is, I have no idea), so as far as I knew, when Verizon said DSL was being offered for $17.99 if I agreed to a one-year contract, I assumed they were talking about…whatever speed DSL was offered at. They DID mention the higher cost but that was only if I didn’t agree to a one-year contract.

When looking at the Verizon general website, not my own account page, Verizon hints in the fine print that here are different rates of transfer, but they don’t specify what speed the $17.99 brings you as they only offer a $14.99 deal for ordering DSL online and THAT apparently brings a "slower DSL" I am familiar with. Prior to that, the language would have been Greek to me.

Yeah. So I e-mail back, basically saying, WTF? Give me a physical address of Verizon DSL so I can complain. And who can I talk to from the legal department? To which I get a response.

Thank you for contacting the Verizon eCenter. My name is Paul, and I will be handling your request today.

This message is in response to your email dated October 10, 2006. You inquired about contact information regarding your DSL service. I will be happy to assist you.

Our corporate headquarters address is:

Verizon Corporation
140 West Street
New York, NY 10007

The department to which we have referred you will be able to assist you. If you have any additional questions, please let us know. We look forward to serving you.

Thank you for using Verizon. We appreciate your business.

Verizon eCenter

“The department to which we have referred you?”


Not exactly that, but pretty close to. I'm still waiting for their response. Maybe I should have asked, "What freaking department?!"

Ahh…modern life. What do I anticipate will happen now? I fully anticipate a morning full of sunny skies, birds singing, and a cancelled account. I’m pretty certain Verizon will offer me a cancellation as a remedy to their alleged false advertising…no, no, their “misinformation or miscommunication.” Oh and the vodka. Did I mention the vodka? Yes, yes, I anticipate a few shots will take care of the migraine I have.

In the end, I’m to blame really. I figured if Verizon owned my phone lines, they’d be able to handle the DSL aspect the best of all of them. Why use another company who’d only have to access Verizon’s wires? Cut out the middle man.

The only thing getting cut here is my last nerve.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

General Thoughts on Sunday

Typing away on an old novel of mine - words coming easily. I listen to the house. I hear a television. I hear the dog barking outside. Cars driving past. The front yard is decorated with stuck-in-the-grass signs, pumpkins with our names on them, witches, black, arched cats, spiders, Boo! Halloween hasn't hit the inside of our house fully yet. I hear the neighbors laughing.

What I don't hear are J's tics. He's not done a single one all day and it's been days now of quiet. The final say will be when he sees his teacher. If he's quiet then, and quiet for a week, he'll be in a position to go back to school.

I'm torn about sending him back right away. He likes being at home. He likes not having to comply with dull, mindless rules, getting to bypass the tedium of running from class to class to be on time, standing on numbers for roll, tying shoes, acting in accordance with a vague standard of proper conduct. He doesn't have to sit in a seat for designated time periods without doing anything "productive". Doesn't have to do the work specifically when told to do so during the day.

He sleeps until eight in the morning. Drums a little, runs a little. Comes in and works on some homework unless he'd been ambitious and decided to do it all the night before. We'll talk throughout the day. He'll get on the computer and play with music. He'll read for a half hour and write in his notebook some thoughts on the reading. He'll skateboard. We'll have lunch. Sometimes he and I will go to the doctor or visit my grandmother or my sister. We'll pick up the siblings. He'll wait for the teacher by doing chores around the house. He'll drum for a longer while. He'll meet with the teacher and then go out and skateboard, sometimes with friends.

Am I cheating him by keeping him out of the system longer than necessary? He's gotten A's and B's on his exams - I think when he goes back, we'll see once again the low grades and the failed responsibilities. This works. That doesn't. Should I work harder at indoctrinating him to the ways of Verizon? Or should I bite the bullet and try home-schooling which does scare the hell out of me? I don't know. I really don't.

I think of new words to describe a world run by machines with no heart, no brain. Verizonous. Verizoniac. Verizonish. We're being trained to function in such a world and the first place we learn that is in our schools, public and private alike. But is that such a bad thing?

M cried on Friday when I had to leave her classroom. She does it every time but it doesn't stop me from volunteering in her class every Friday morning. I love it - her tears though make me weep. I won't stop though. I won't stop to save the extra pain. I didn't get to do volunteer with the boys (other than in A's second grade class) because I always had to take care of a baby. So this is wonderful. A special opportunity. Our special time. The mornings there are sweet. I sit at a table and help the kids paint pictures with the smooth, drippy yellows, reds, blues and blacks. The children all have to paint a picture following the picture the teacher drew - not a lot of creativity necessarily, but it does help them. They don't struggle with the how-to. I do notice though with each attempt, the paint strokes differ, the sizes, the exact shapes. Everyone is different, yet the same. They're identifying themselves within the sea of sameness.

They sing songs together. They march in place together. They do everything as a group. Obviously it makes for organized education of a large number of children. Any less than that opens the door for unfathomable chaos.

I love the independence within the system. When the children are all listening to the teacher talk about body parts, their skull, spine and falanges, Mary sticks her hands in her back pockets and shouts with complete delight, "My hands are on my butt!"

The whole class laughs and the teacher does too, commenting that her hands are on her glutteous maximus. There is a lot of joy in the class and I suck it in. Yes, they're learning a sense of sameness and yet they rebel against it constantly. They don't just retreat to a corner to read when they're done, they chat and lie on their bellies and backs as they flip through the pages of various books. Each child that comes to me to do their painting tells me something about themselves.

"I cut myself, look."

"My cat is red."

"Yesterday, my daddy came over and stayed while Mommy went to work."

"I like spiders."

"I threw up on my birthday."

"You're M's mommy."

"I like to paint."

M cries when I leave and I hold her. She's got to follow the rules and buck up. I kiss her and assure her I'll be right back. She'll be just fine. And she is. She will be. But it's hard to walk away from her. I often feel like just grabbing her up and taking her with me, except I can't.

It's against the rules. This is something she's learning early.

Short Fiction: Insanity

She must be crazy, I think, as I pass her by in my car, my silvery, rolled-up-window car, with the heater hot and airy and the music loud enough to drown out sirens and the back and forth swish of windshield wipers. Her powdered-white face despite brown arms, neck and legs, and a short satin skirt in the rain make no sense, umbrella or no. Trudging up the steep street in tall shoes guarantees a spill. She has to be crazy. I wait at a stop light and she stands on the corner, her face blank, unblinking, as she stares at me through the misty window. Why does she wear such thick and unyielding white makeup, red lipstick a prickled pear fallen in a snowy desert? She’d look like a geisha in another time, with more care, with grace and silk and cultural intention. I press the gas, and zoom away. She stares at me still with her masked face as she crosses on the yellow, disappearing from my view.

She must be crazy, a mental patient wandering, I think, as I scream songs within the car’s walls and worry about my gas mileage, driving past the newspaper fronts showing death in desert markets as innocents buy food and toothpaste and nod to their neighbors before blowing sky high.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Up and Running

A miracle of miracles. I received the DSL kit yesterday and this morning I received a phone call that I could connect, that my account was going to be billed right away. Isn't that rich?

Now, now...I was worried about connecting because after all, EarthLink said most likely my problem was in my house, a DSL killer in my own home, so I figured I'd get the modem up and wouldn't be able to actually connect. I anticipated more hours with technical support.

It's so nice when my pessimism loses out.

Got the filters on, got the modem connected, got the software up and running, and a crisp, operable connection. No problem, no sweat. Which made me glad as hell to have quit EarthLink because they were truly incompetent.

I'll give Verizon credit where due - they got it up and running a day before the date I wrenched out of them, a full six days before the date they initially set. I will give "Dennis" credit for calling me several mornings in a row to update me on the progress.

I'll slam Verizon still for their uber-lousy telephone system and terrorist-cell departments. When I checked online for the status, I learned that my account only offered 10 MB of webspace. However, when I ordered DSL, two different agents told me I'd have 110 MB. When I called this morning to ask, "WTF?" I was told it was 50 MB by one agent, 10 MB by another, and still another put me on hold for twenty minutes before cutting me off.

I'm reserving my question then for "Dennis." We'll see how he does with THIS new problem.

SO...I'm back, still building my favorites links, still recovering from the Great August Computer Crash.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Watching Water

The tentative date for DSL installation is October 5, which has turned into a day of dread actually being that it might mean another two weeks of technological support hell to figure out why it won't work on my phone line since that's why I called Eart-Link in the first place. A failed DSL.

Today, however, I have dial-up service through Verizon. At first I thought Charlotte at the billing department was just being a nice girl when she promised I wouldn't have to pay for the first 30 days considering all the trouble I went through, and she did that without ever putting me on hold, but then I realized that was just Verizon policy - you don't pay for the first 30 days. Not bad policy, but still. I'd been hoping for more personalized Princess treatment. You'd think they do SOMETHING for me, right? But why would they? Considering I'm a blip in their system, not even a blip, less than a blip. I'm a dot. Just a dot in a series of billions of black or grey dots on a blank white page, or on a tray of emptiness. Anonymous without the beauty or mystery of billions of lighted dots in a night sky.

We are far less than the breathtaking vision of infinity.


Where have I been? I've missed my fellow bloggers. One peek at one website and I learn life changes have taken place for some. I’m standing in the middle of a stream, feet sinking into a rocky sand-bottom, life’s water rushing past me.


Last night a friend of A’s called, near seven at night. The friend was bored, wanting someone to play with, and called A, his best friend. Since J was out and the house was quiet and D and I were feeling relaxed, easy, we said sure, go on over. Play video games a couple of hours. We’ll get you at ten.

We’d never been to the father’s house before but we’ve known the dad a long time, having seen him at open-houses over the years, having met him when picked up his son at our house from parties and play dates. The mom doesn’t speak well of him but we knew that was politics. He’s a homeowner and doesn’t pay child support, but he does support his son. They are all rather…rough around the edges. Feeling relaxed, we said, sure, go on.

Later, A called, asking to spend the night, and he sounded happy and I said fine, sure. Then I talked to the dad and he said the boys were having a blast, playing video games and all was well until the dad said in his inimitable way, “Well if they start acting up, I’ll just tell them to shut up. I’ll just tune ‘em up a little.”

I’d already said yes. All my comfort and relaxation fizzled away into a blast of paranoid conceptualizations. Swallowing hard, I countered, “Hahaha…I’m sure they’ll be fine.”

When I hung up the phone, I stood in front of D, chewing my nails like some the freak I just knew the dad to be, “What have I done?”

“They’re fine, honey. The guy’s a mechanic from the underside of Irwindale – of course he’s going to say odd things. Not everyone is as fortunate as you to be born to a U.S.C. professor and self-educated mother. He’s not a child killer.”

“You must drive there now. You must drive by his house and be sure that everything is copasetic.”

“You want me to drive by.”

“Drive by, park, and peek into his windows to make sure he’s not molesting and killing my child.”

“It’s ten-thirty.”


With a sigh, D dragged himself off the couch and got into the car. I stood at the open door of my house as Sassy dashed past me onto the dark street, running like a greyhound. I screamed, “God DAMNIT,” and ran, too.

Things were fine. Certainly, D had to duck and avoid a police car driving slowly with a spotlight shining into the bushes, but things were good.

“They’re playing video games and are happy and loud. Things are fine.”

Needless to say, sleep was rocky, transient, dark dreams rolling within, scraping my insides. There in the silence of the house, as I half-slept in my bed, my mother came to me, laughing open-mouthed from the floor of a mountain creek. She wore leopard underwear and lay in the chilled water, grass and vines and trees hanging low, close to her. Water cascaded over grey and brown rocks and she was delighted with her circumstances, alone in springtime, her long legs kicking the water, her body rising and falling with the current. She looked at me and said, “Mija, come in, how cool the water is! How exciting!”

I said, no, standing as I always did during her life, waiting on the shore, waiting for her to get out and watching for poisonous snakes in the bushes.