Eating Sandía in Bernabela with Ana la Gorda

Cuidado con Ana La Gorda,
everyone says,
dicen que es tortillera, and
they point with their chins to
the neighbors who are
said to have
said that about her.

She roars up to the
house on her red dirt
bike in a cloud of sunshine and
dust, beeps twice and says
Vamos donde me tío a
comer sandía.

I get on.
No tengo miedo de las
tortillas ni de las tortilleras
ni de las fat girls who
drink beer in the cantinas
like men.

Ana La Gorda parks the moto in
deep mango shade
beside Tío Lencho’s watermelon fields in
Bernabela.
Fat green fruits lie in the sun like
luxurious crocodiles
basking between the rows.
On a makeshift wooden bench, Tío
Lencho lops monstrous melons into chunks
with flicks of his slick machete.
Coma, he says.
Coma, Ana explains.

We sit there slurping
like las locas, sweet sandía juice
dripping from our
elbows and chins, making
mini moon craters in the
dust between our feet.

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What Happened to June?

My plan for June blog posts was interrupted in the last weeks by two wonderful things: first the arrest of Bill Ulmer, and second, a two-week trip to Italy that my husband and I have been needing to take for the last ten years. I say “needing” because he is from Italy and it has been fifteen years since he has been back to visit friends and family.

As for Bill, my understanding is that he is being held in federal prison in Atlanta at this time, waiting for a hearing in North Carolina. This information trickled in to me through the fog of jet lag while I was in Italy, so I do not know if it is completely current or what, exactly, we are waiting for. I would love to hear from any of you who have a story to tell about your friendship with Barbara or with Bill.

As you can see, I have decided to use his real name at this point. He has not been convicted of anything I have suggested in “Remember Barbara,” but I think it is clear that I have not made this story up out of my head.

Only a few short weeks ago, I supposed that the only thing I would ever be able to do in honor of my friend Barbara’s disappearance is stand here waving this flag of her story, hoping that it might find its way to the people who need to hear it in order to remain safe. So for me to learn of Bill’s arrest about 10 days before I left for a vacation was like a beautiful gift from the universe. I know that as long as he is in federal custody, everyone is safe. I do not mean that I think he goes around with plans to physically harm people–I mean “safe” in a broad personal sense.

We had the best time in Italy! Jet lag is horrible and coming back through US Security/Customs is a dreadful experience even for US citizens with clean a clean conscience (!), but the trip was wonderful! We spent several days in Milan visiting brothers and their families, then we went to San Remo where we spent a few days with my step daughter. After that, we came back to Milan but flew to Sardinia where my brother-in-law has an apartment in a coastal town called Alghero. Definite highlight of the (too few!) days in Alghero is that we got to surf. The waves were terrible and the boards we rented were even worse (mine was a tri-fin missing the middle one!!) but the sun was hot and the water was close to warm SO CLEAR that you could see the rocks and sand in water too deep to stand in. Wow. I took hundreds of photos, walked for miles every day, ate like a horse, gained five pounds in two weeks, bought a whole pile of cheap, cute dresses at the markets and was pleasantly surprised at the prices of things. I was sure that with the Euro stronger than the dollar, everything would be terribly expensive. Not even. Go out to dinner at the beach: get an appetizer, two main courses, a carafe of wine, two coffees, a grappa, a zambuka, a tiramisu… you can’t spend more than 40/50 Euros. Amazing.

Now it’s time for me to get ready for work.  Let me see…what still fits after 2 weeks in Italy? Happy Monday, everybody. Unless something incredible happens, next week we’ll be back to The Open Book Test and other revelations…

Random street in Milan. No, it is not a movie set. Yes, random streets actually look like this.

Random street in Milan. No, it is not a movie set. Yes, random streets actually look like this.

 

Il Duomo di Milano. Freaking scary. I get it about the art, but this place has a vibe that is TERRIFYING.

Il Duomo di Milano.
Freaking scary. I get it about the art, but this place has a vibe that is TERRIFYING.

 

Public street in the old section of San Remo. Kind of blurs the lines between what is "inside" and what is "outside."

Public street in the old section of San Remo. Kind of blurs the lines between what is “inside” and what is “outside.”

West coast of Sardinia. Punto Torres, maybe? Remains of old look-out towers on every point.

West coast of Sardinia. Punto Torres, maybe? Remains of old look-out towers on every point.

 

The Crimson Flag of Silence

I have news to share!  I had a different post planned for today, but it can wait.  

Six months ago I posted the story of how my friend Barbara Struncova disappeared.  The story contains some small errors, some speculation and an immense amount of research.  Whereas, technically, it must be considered fiction, it is a result of my profound and continuing effort to understand the truth.  The segments of the story, put together, have received thousands of reads—far beyond anything I ever imagined.  I can only understand this as the world answering back to me and to Barbara, “You have touched us.”

Many of you wrote back to me.  I heard from Barbara’s friends, past friends and acquaintances of “Jim,” and many who have no connection to the story at all but are moved by this tragedy.

It is therefore with great joy that I share with you this piece of public information:  “Jim”was arrested on May 28, 2015 in the airport in Denver, Colorado.  He is being held, as I write these words, on charges of passport theft and identity fraud.  There are no other charges at this time and it is not in the best interest of justice for me to speculate or further comment on anything that is not related to the existing charges.  But it is safe to hope and pray, and it is safe say that I am jubilant as his lies begin to unravel!  I feel that it is important for me to continue to call this individual “Jim” in this forum, as what I am suggesting he as done goes far beyond fraud.  If you would like to know his real name, your friend Google will be happy to provide that.

There a poem that I want to share on this happy occasion.  I wrote it months ago when this day was only a dream.  It is for all of who have reached out to me for the sake of Barbara.  Words are power.

 

Crimson Flag of Silence

We will raise for you
a monument of words.
We will build a tower
to the sky here
in this city of Babel
where all the voices
gather into one language
speaking your name,
Barbara.

We will not be
quelled.
We will pile word
upon word up
to the doorstep of God,
constructing for you a fortress
a mountain
an indestructible testament that we have
not imagined your life
or your death.

From its highest pinnacle we will
fly the crimson flag of
your silence.