Sunday, September 30, 2018

Marshmallow Strategies

I don't usually write in the evenings, but it's the end of an intense week, and the end of the month, so, it's time for a little reflection this Sunday evening...

I. All the Problems
My boss (the one I like) came back to work on Friday after attending a mid-week retreat for executive directors of thrift stores--(he has newly been made the assistant exec.). He told me it had been good to hear the problems the others had with their stores. 

"Were they the same as ours?" I asked.

"We have all their problems," he said. 

"You mean, they would talk about one or two problems each, and we had all of all of them?"

"Yeah!" he said. "I just kept quiet..."

We laughed, but I was surprised how relieved I felt--relieved to be externally validated after our current exec., Tom, the week before had dismissed my concerns––in front of my boss––when I had suggested that we have certain problems that need addressing. 

That Friday evening, I watched a snippet of the Kavanaugh hearings and felt enraged, quivery and sick, at the reminder that the dismissive way Tom had treated me is NORMAL for the way some men of power treat women and other people they do not esteem.

Of course I knew that, but the conjunction of events made me see so clearly that my current nervousness about speaking up at my workplace is not a problem of my own making, is not my personal neurosis--it is simply a sane reaction based on my experience that men in power DON'T LISTEN and DON'T BELIEVE me.

And sure enough, Tom didn't.
He's a good guy, insofar as he does real, good work getting food to food shelves. But when I watched Kavanaugh (he's so repulsive, I could only watch briefly), I flashed on Tom––Tom getting so defensive when I said it would be nice to have new plumbing because this is the SECOND time in three months that I've waded through toilet overflow, to plunge a plugged up toilet--him getting so upset that he stood up and started pacing as he went on the offensive, EXPLAINING in an exasperated tone to me the history of the building's plumbing problems. 

Like that means we don't need to address the problem NOW?
Or grant me some intelligence?

. . . Or buy me some new shoes???

Well, surprise, surprise, right? Who doesn't know that men in power act that way.

I DO know. But these hearings... they hit home surprisingly hard.
Specifically watching
how CAREFUL Christine Blasey Ford was to present a clear and reasonable case... I was reminded of myself, as I expect quite a lot of women were. 
Maybe if we are just nice, and reasonable, and draw a frikkin picture ("across from the bedroom is a small bathroom..."), they won't "accidentally" smother us to death.

Talking to Tom, I was careful to explain why it's a PROBLEM to have the toilet overflow every six weeks, ("not good for business"), in the hopes that this man who could do something about it might just consider taking that under advisement.

He never even got back to me about it and my offer to do some online research into solutions.
I really wondered if my boss wouldn't follow Tom's lead, since the two men are close colleagues of many years (my boss is the junior partner), and I am just some dame who has showed up with the temerity to complain about things nobody ever had a problem with before.

(They did. It has become clear to me, my coworkers just don't tell the management squat. "Nothing to be done," as one of them said. And they're sort of right, in a general way.)

II. The Culture of Patience

So, yeah, I'm resentful. And rightly so!
As ever, I don't want to cultivate that resentment in a Petri dish. 
But while most of my life I've flown under the radar, solo, as much as possible, at this advanced age (almost sixty! in two and a half years), I wonder if I could find a way to be effective at this workplace and not go down in flames. 

I'm trying to come up with a strategy.
My first point of strategy is to stay away from Tom. I wouldn't even bother trying with him, and I don't want to negotiate with him.

And I don't have to. My boss wants things to work better, and he seems to respect my opinion. I'm surprised. Without thinking about it, I expected him to align himself with Tom, especially after Tom treated me dismissively.
Can I trust my boss?
I don't know, but I think I can afford to risk trusting him.

My second point of strategy is to cultivate patience, not expect everything to happen quickly, and not take set backs as major losses. 

And--related--remember it is far from just me who wants change--many other people want and work to make the store keep going, and have for 25 years before I showed up. 
So... take the long view.

I have not really thought of patience as a virtue until fairly recently. I was the kid who would eat one marshmallow now rather than wait 15 minutes to get two.

I wouldn't regret it either: 
the pleasure of the one marshmallow outweighs the discomfort of the 15 minutes.
I don't know why they don't credit that in those tests, as if the children who choose the one marshmallow are just stupid---not everyone weighs costs and outcomes the same.

And honestly, given the law of diminishing returns, is two marshmallows all that much better than one?
Eat the marshmallow and leave! 
Go do your own thing! 
That's worked beautifully for me, much of the time.

Well, but at this juncture of life, in this job, it's a different set up. 
If I can cultivate patience, everybody could get more marshmallows.
That's a very different goal.

You know? I'm not exactly doing this for myself. I mean, it would benefit me if even a few of our All The Problems were ameliorated––certainly I would like it if I never have to plunge the toilets again.

But that's not what motivates me. What motivates me is that this store does REAL good things, and we could do them a lot better if we'd ask for help with our problems.

The other day, a day it was only in the 50ºs, a guy from the park next door wandered in the donations bay (where customers aren't supposed to be), found a coat that fit him in a bin, and came and found someone to ask if it was free. 

This guy SMELLED. And he was very, very drunk. 

Another coworker said, "No, it's not free," but I said,
"That's OK, you can have it," and patted the guy on the shoulder and kind of pushed him out the door.

Then I regretted not telling him I would help him find some clean pants too. But I didn't have it in me to go find him...
I know there will be another chance, and I'll be a little more prepared. There are so many people in need like that...

My boss told me he wishes we had showers for the folks who live in the park to use. "And washing machines," I said.

Anyway. I am no Mother Teresa! I am not on a crusade. But if I could wrap myself in the marshmallows of patience, I might be able to repulse the insults of egotistical executives and (with others) help the store run a little better, and keep running.


P.S. Bubble soccer. I want to.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Some Shelves

 From My Books Area in the Thrift Store

 I was excited to find that ^ ship-shape electric clock, standing on top of the Cool Old Books shelves, and the print of Don Quixote too.
The other day a shopper asked me if we had a copy of that book, and I knew our one copy had sold, so I had to say no, which made me sad––not that people expect a thrift store to carry a particular book...

But a few weeks ago, a woman had mentioned Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, and it just so happened I had recently put it out for sale. She was amazed––and so was I.

I don't get to enjoy the coolest things for long––that ship clock sold overnight, ($6.99, a good deal, I thought, though the top of one mast is missing). And the golf lamp sold in a few days--not that I was attached to that, but it was a nice prop.

I write "not for sale" on certain things, but that doesn't work--people take the stickers off and take the item to the cashier as unmarked...

There are a couple things I'm going to write on with paint, because I would be very sad to lose them---a lumpy iron frog, and that canoe bookshelf (that holds Minnesota books), though all my coworkers know not to sell that.

I actually argued with a customer about why he couldn't buy it--he was insistent that everything in a thrift store should be for sale.

I'm stopping with beautifying the area, however, beyond these little things.
Marz was talking about how some people find bookstores intimidating, and while mine is arranged in sections like a bookstore, I hope that its general grunginess is welcoming to all.

The ugly spray-painted shelves, for instance, that came from a video store and that I despaired of at first, I now think are good:
if you love books, they won't put you off; if you find the idea of books a little intimidating, they are reassuringly unswank.

Kirsten mentioned censorship.
I do practice a little of that in one specific area---I have thrown in the garbage a couple books that were old-timey racist:
books about the "happy jungle natives" and "fierce Indian squaws" type of thing.

 Julia suggested I find homes for them--perhaps with teachers wanting to teach about how perspectives on race change? I'm open to that, but there were only a couple so far, and it's low priority.

I send to recycle/resale hundreds of pounds of pious Christian books that, frankly, just don't sell.
bink has come twice to sort and put out Religion & Spirituality books, and she puts a wide range out. The section is full up, and it doesn't empty very quickly. Pema Chodron books sell immediately, but not much else.

Oh--and King James Bibles. People have twice asked me for them, and we were sold out! I was surprised, but Marz told me that's a standard for evangelicals.

Unlike my predecessor, I put out all the cool, old little prayer books and missals, and those do sell--because they're cool? or because someone really wants to use them?
I don't know.

I think some of both.

Otherwise, I put out books of across the political spectrum, but recently I culled some Glenn Beck books that were on the shelves when I started and didn't sell over the summer, and some of Michael Moore's too––ditto.

It's not so much censorship as weeding and pruning.
The History/Social Sciences books sell, but could use more space.

Fiction sells, and I can't keep the shelves full---that's why though not a single copy of All Quiet on the Western Front has sold since I started in June, I allow myself the pleasure of having three different paperback editions of it––they make me smile.

Thursday, September 27, 2018


When I worked at Goodwill last summer (2017), I was told not to put out any donated books that were torn or dirty--those went to resale-recycling. 

GW didn't assign anyone to sort & select books---if they looked in good shape, they went on the shelves. So you got shiny copies of Real Estate License Study Guides from 2005, but no ragged Grove Press publications, like the Becketts I posted the other day, or this random collection I put on the Cool Old Books shelves:

☞ a warped Four Days about the John Kennedy assassination, with newspaper cuttings from the event tucked inside
✫ a tattered Thirsty Evil, by Gore Vidal (––according to the back cover, a novel about "a twilight zone of sexual inversion")
◆ Macaulay's Historical Essays
❧ and the novelization (I presume) of Disney's original 1969 Love Bug.

SVDP has long paid someone to do books, 15 hours a week. (I work 20 paid hours: my other 5 hours are for online & writing work--the store's newsletter, FB, and some ebay.) 

Even though book sales have almost doubled since I started, it's not like they make that much money above and beyond the Book Lady's salary to exactly justify the position.  
The store would probably make the same profit if they just dumped books on the shelves... My nonreading boss said part of the reasoning behind paying a sorter is that a nice books section brings people in: 
"If they buy a book, they might buy a couch."


I don't want to push my boss on this, because I'm not sure my job is economically defensible, strictly speaking.

But it is HUGELY defensible as Good for Civilization.
And people say they like the book section. Today a guy who comes in regularly (I think he lives in a nearby low-income high rise) told me, "You can't beat your books section with a stick!" He was showing me he was buying the six copies of the Economist I'd brought in (25¢ each): "An informed mind is a healthy mind."

People like bookstores.
I recently read that more independent bookstores have opened in the past three years. I can see that in my city.
Even Amazon has opened bricks-and-mortar stores in some cities (not here), though I hear (from Orange Crate Art & others) that those are pretty sterile.

Anyway, since I have time to take care of the books, I reject lots of shiny books and wipe down lots of dirty books. I do some basic repairs too––mostly gluing spines and taping ripped dust jackets. (I know how, from my art-college library days, but I don't repair the antique books.)
And sometimes it's worth it to do a little extra.

I was excited yesterday to nab from a Little Free Library a copy of a recent (2017) Y/A novel, The Hate U Give [T.H.U.G.].
The spine was stained, however, and, worse, the jacket was gone. If a reader didn't know the book, they'd have no clue that it's about a teenage girl who is the sole witness to the police shooting to death her unarmed best friend, a young black man.

I faded the stain with bleach, and I printed out a copy of the jacket and glued it on.

And here's the book, ready to go on the Y/A shelf, for 99 cents.

An ethical dilemma about sharing books

Thank you, everyone who commented on my nervous posts--it truly helped a lot, to get your perspectives (and offers of help)!

Yesterday I did a thing I'm not entirely sure of.
I biked through the rich neighborhood (of mostly beautiful, single-family homes and even mansions) that rings the lake, about 4 miles from my thrift store,
and I stopped at all the many Little Free Library boxes, where people put books out to take.
And at each box, I took one, two, or three books (out of say, 20–30 per box) to donate to the thrift store.

Hm, when I wrote it out that way, I am ethically OK with it.
I just felt funny because the donors' idea is they give the books away free, but the thrift store (me!) will charge money for them--mostly 99 cents.

The donors are not just the people who own the houses where the Little Free Libraries are. They are anyone who drops books off. I believe the boxes serve as recycling conveniences as much as anything---you don't have to drive to a thrift store, for instance. I would be happy if I were a person who hosted or donated to a LFL box if some of the books went to SVDP.

A complimentary idea is that it is good to redistribute the books from a wealthy area where the receivers will mostly be other wealthy people ["wealthy" being a relative term; I mean, here, people who have jobs that pay much more than minimum wage]

to a poor area where people live in the park that's next to the store. 

And the money we charge just keeps the place running, so it can continue to provide low-cost good things to people who need them. Or just want them--
rich people shop there too! A couple in the books section the other week told me they'd paid $600 each for tickets to go see Hamilton that night. They bought a 49¢ manga for their grandson.

So, yeah. I believe I am honoring the larger idea of sharing books--like a squirrel shares acorns by moving them around.
I'm going to be OK with it for now--if you have an opinion, I would like to hear it!

These are the seventeen books I took for the store:

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Do It Nervous

What a week.

It was not like this, no. >

I knew reentering a workplace would involve facing conflict. 
I was ready, I thought, (or willing, anyway) to "feel very uncomfortable," as my Russian job coach warned me I would be.

And now I am. 
But in the way of these things, the conflict came in an entirely unexpected form.


Fundraising, what do I know or care about fundraising?

Furthest thing from my mind. 
Except that it gradually dawned on me that my thrift store is desperately in need of funds . . . and no one is raising them.

I had a come-to-Jesus moment last week when I went into the janitor's closet to get supplies to mop the bathroom floor (after cleaning up a toilet overflow for the second time in three months), and there was no floor cleaning product.

"Use this," said a coworker, handing me a bottle of donated carpet cleaner.

Later that same day, I kid you not, the Church Ladies who were washing dishes asked me if there was any dish soap, they'd run out.
I went back into the closet and came out with a bottle of donated liquid laundry detergent.

"Use this," I said.

Soap is soap, to some extent, but this is ridiculous.

Meanwhile, the women's toilet-paper dispenser is held together with Velcro (which comes apart); 
my coworker in the furniture room told me he buys fabric spray out of his own pocket;
 the food bank is renting a refrigerator truck to haul donated food because ours broke down and there's no money for a new one; 
the floor linoleum is peeling; 
the donation receiving & sorting area is not insulated . . . 

And, worst of all in my eyes, most everyone who works there is working-part-time,  minimum-wage, no-benefits, and is a middle-aged and older person living below the poverty line.
A coworker told me he doesn't eat at Subway because they're too expensive. Here's their menu of footlong sandwiches:

So on Friday morning, I went into the office of the manager--who I like--shut the door behind me, and said (basically), like I was a prophet of old or something,
God wants you to feed his sheep.

I said (more or less), You need to start thinking like a rich white person (he is neither), and assume there is bounty out there, which there is, and you are entitled to it (on behalf of the sheep), which you are. 
Be a good shepherd and go ask for it!

And he said, "I am receiving you."

"I'll help you," I said, "but I'm not going to do it. I'm just the Book Lady, and I'm going to stay that way."

He said, "You know what God thinks when you say things like that." 
I laughed. I do.

But, no. 
I am not going to BE the fundraiser. 

It seems I have, however, set some balls in motion...

Today at our usual Sunday morning coffee, bink told me she'd had dinner last night with a couple longtime church friends of ours.
A rich, white married couple, as it happens ["rich" being a relative term here--they were not silver-spoon babies]: 
good people who have always used their power for good, so far as I've seen over twenty years.

When you have a sense of entitlement, that's a GOOD THING. Everyone should have it!
It means you can do things like our friends have done: 

they started a P-FLAG group at the Catholic Church, for instance, when their daughter told them she was gay, some twenty+ years ago, which is almost like setting up your tent in bear country. 
This is a liberal parish, but still, it's brave. (P-FLAG = Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)

I'm always saying, "I don't believe in God, but I do believe in fill in the blank [serendipity, coincidence, flow, mystery, cognitive biases which lead us to separate out and focus on what we want to see]"---all of which could be called God.

And what bink told me was a nice pile up of God stuff.
The friends had taken her and Maura out to a good-doers' social club they belong to, and the theme of the evening was the introduction of the new club president, who got up and sang the praises of the old club president––who had fundraised a million dollars last year.

When this speech was over, bink turned to our couple friends and said,
"That reminds me of Fresca and her new job."
And she told them all about the overflowing toilets and the coworker who buys his own fabric spray,

 and the executive director who doesn't like to ask for help [this was revealed to me, though not by an angel of the lord, . . . bink did not add that this executive didn't seem all that interested in accepting my help]
and our friends were aghast, until finally Mr Friend said,
"I am going to contact An Important Person on Monday to talk about this."

OK, then!

I was all excited to hear this, and then I just felt overwhelmed and kind of stunned. What have I set in motion?

I think this is just what I want--and could also be heading toward the "very uncomfortable" realm the job coach was talking about, in which I could be expected to pull heavy things across rocky plains IN PUBLIC-- 

which could lead to being "really, really very uncomfortable"!

I had told my boss that I don't want to do fundraising or anything like it. 
"It makes me nervous," I said.

He said, "I always tell myself,  do it nervous."

P.S. I found how to insert these little typographic radishes/ spitting whales over at Orange Crate Art. Thank you, Michael! 

My Mother, Gay Pride Parade, 1978, Madison, Wisconsin

I mentioned last week that my mother's one-time lover Mary had contacted me out of the blue, first time in 37 years... 

I'm wary of Mary, since I heard nothing from her when Lytton (my mother) died, but I'm also getting something out of reviewing the era when she was with Mary, which started shortly after my parents divorced and ran for six years (c. 1975–1981), the years I was fourteen to twenty years old.
Coincidentally, this also covers the years Starsky & Hutch ran on TV.

I don't have many photos from that time, but some are choice. 
This morning I dug up this photo of my mother at a Gay Pride Parade in Madison, WI. 
Talk about history! 

Lytton is second from left (in tan blazer):

Photo crop:

Some Books at the Thrift Store, & Susan Sontage in a Bear Suit

"Susan in a Bear Costume" Paris, New Year's Eve 2001, by Annie Liebovitz

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

My New Motto: "Always Carry Scissors"

Tuesday is the beginning of my working week. It's helping, to have two days off in a row (Sun & Mon)--often it takes 24 hours for my brain to stop thinking about work.

I want to try to get back to blogging in the mornings--it anchors me a bit, like, in yesterday's "How to Darn" post, the first step is to sew around the hole, to provide an anchor to launch your other stitches from (as well as a stitching guide).

I was disappointed that tutorial didn't get many likes on the thrift store's Facebook page (which I'd made it for).
But Julia, the model & inspiration for the post, said that even if it gets low "likes", it serves to introduce the IDEA that you can repair your clothes.

That's a pretty foreign idea to many of us, since it's easier (and so cheap) to buy new ones.

The post did get one beautiful comment: 
"My mom used to collect sock darners so I have a bunch of them. Now I will actually use them!
That was worth it, if someone is inspired to try darning.

But it galls me that the darning post got 3 likes, 
while THIS cartoon >
got 22 likes.

The Development Director posted it. 

I don't like her anyway, but this cartoon is ...

1) about the Disneyfication of Winnie the Pooh, 
2) captioned with feel-good gobbledygook:

Mickey the Giver is greater than poor Pooh, the receiver?

It could instead read something like, 
"Sharing makes everyone better!"

Or,..hmmm, "Now we're both half-dressed!" 

Or, hey! maybe most helpfully: "Always carry scissors!"  

Yes! That's such good advice! I love my friends (like Julia) who carry little kits of useful things, including things that cut––I am often borrowing them.

< Here, I fixed it.

By posting the cartoon, are we (subtly) implying that the people who can afford to donate (esp gifts of money) to the thrift store are greater than people who need financial help?

In fact, yes. 

It is pervasive in thrift store literature, the Charity mindset that casts "The Poor" as OTHER people that "we" are [humbly] good for helping.

It's like the pretty colored lawn signs that sprang up in my city after Trump was elected that say, ALL ARE WELCOME HERE, and other such slogans--(the sort you find emblazoned on coffee mugs of Development Directors).

I understand they are meant to welcome refugees, but in themselves, they are nonsense.
If my former neighbors, the murderous meth addicts, moved next door to someone with that lawn sign, I doubt they'd be welcome. I certainly didn't welcome them! 

Trauma and Desperation do not make pleasant neighbors.

My country should invite refugees and immigrants, but not because it's the pastel-colored thing to do.

The store doesn't feel condescending like that, on the ground. (Not usually.) Last week the executive director was so dark and down, in fact––no chipper blather from him––I liked him more than ever. He's on the front lines, and he doesn't come back with reports of Disneyland.

Actually, I'm a little worried about him. He isn't usually so down about how bad things are.
He reminded me of me during the time I was writing a geography book for teens about the Republic of Congo, a couple years after my mother's suicide: 
I'd gone to a dinner party and hadn't even mentioned rape as a tool of war or anything like that, but at the end of the evening, the guy who'd sat next to me said,
"Are you always this dark?"

Not now that I have my scissors!

Monday, September 17, 2018

How to Darn a Sock

I spent this morning photographing with Julia a "How to Darn a Sock" tutorial for the thrift store's Facebook page.

1. Gather your supplies: Some woven thing (sock, mitten, sweater) with a hole; yarn or thread to match (or contrast, for fun!); a needle with a big enough eye-hole; and something with a hard surface to put under the hole, like this white vase or a cup (or, properly, a darning egg.)

2. Put your hard surface inside your sock, under the hole, so you have something to sew against (besides your finger!).
Stitch around the hole---this provides a guide and an anchor.

3. Anchoring each stitch on the firm edge of the hole, draw the yarn across the hole.

4.  Use your needle to weave in and out, across the stitches you've just made. And that's it. You can leave the loose yarn ends dangling, or weave them in.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

On a Happier Note...

Pondering my mother's death is heavy. Fair enough, eh?
Just wanted to add that I am very happy these days!

Here I am a couple weeks ago, photographing tiny doll furniture in the parking lot at work, for ebay:

Movies I Have Loved, 9, 9, 10, & 11

From my FB page. I don't know what my 90 FB friends' favorite movies are, but they don't seem to coincide with mine.

LIVE LINK to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

My Mother's Things

The woman who had been the love of my mother's life contacted me on Facebook a few weeks ago. I had heard nothing from Mary, that's her name, since she and my mother broke up when I was twenty, thirty-seven years ago.

This is my mother, Lytton, about 45 years old, sitting with Mary on my mother's back porch, around 1979. Smoking was cool back then... 

Mary was cool. She was a police detective and had a gun and an unmarked car.

They were together six years, though they never lived together.

This is one of five photos I have of the two.
Remember when people didn't take photos every day? Or even every month? 

My mother didn't have a camera, and I didn't have much money to spend on film & developing.

"Did you play Danny Boy at Lytton's funeral?" Mary wrote. "Danny Boy" was the favorite song of my mother's mother--and had just been sung at John McCain's funeral, so I heard.

We did not, I told her. Our mother's suicide hadn't left us in a sentimental mood. My brother wanted one of the psalms where bones are groaning. Against his wishes, we chose the kinder Valley of Death of Psalm 23. I believe that is one of the things he never forgave me for.

But I told Mary about the funeral––except I couldn't remember a single song or musical piece we chose... (Since then, I've remember the recessional was "Love Divine, All Love's Excelling"––set to the Welsh Hyfrydol tune––because I love singing, Changed from glory innnnntoooooo glo-o-o--reeee...)

I FB-messaged:

" I (with Domenica) chose the story of the woman taken in adultery for the Gospel reading-- because it shows Jesus's infinite compassion and mercy: --"neither do I condemn you”-- not judgment, & L always craved not to be judged harshly, I would say.

The priest, who was a pal of mine at the time, said he'd never read that at a funeral but it was beautiful and perfect.

I just can't remember a single song we chose!
But they were standard Catholic hymns--the liturgist being old school did not allow secular music at Mass.... (I'm not in the Church anymore, btw. But it was a good place to be at that time.)

Oh, yes, and we had BUNCHES of white lilies--those trumpet-looking kind.  She would have loved it---and since I was working at the basilica, my coworkers pulled out all stops--a procession with incense and candles.
And it was TWO HOURS!
I felt sorry, upon reflection, for the friends who showed up just to be nice to me & Domenica--esp. the non-Catholics who must have been half-comatose by the end.
But we had nice snacks afterward---with real china cups--I told my coworker who arranged that that my mother would NOT want styrofoam! 🙂
So, yeah, it was a good thing in a bad time..."

And then Mary asked what I had of Lytton's, so I put together a photo essay of the main things. 

I could say a lot about each thing, but I'll just say that my mother stole the Horn & Hardart forks [3rd photo down] when we were there in New York City in 1968, 
and she bought the Renoir print [last photo] when she was twenty-one, visiting her sister who was on a fellowship in Paris.


I'm glad Mary contacted me to spark all this––I'm glad I took these photos. 
And it was . . . comforting? to hear that Mary considered Lytton the love of her life too––I suppose because it was added proof (not that I wasn't clear on the point) that loving someone doesn't protect them, isn't, in itself, enough.

Afterward,  I felt in a way I haven't before that I am done with this story. It is my mother's story, and while there are a lot of beautiful things in it, all these things are covered in very fine ash.

I have my own things now. 

If you go to this website ^, the phone link (below) is live--you can click on it.