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  • " She always invented at night, after settling her house down...in her other hand, my mother held a pencil that looked like a pen with a little cylinder of lead inside.. the thing looked peculiar. Once, I mistook the spiral of a corkscrew for a nautilus shell, but it could just as well have been a galaxy forming" (Alvarez 899).
  • "My sisters and I would seek her out now when she seemed to have a moment to talk to us: We were having trouble at school or we wanted her to persuade my father to give us permission to go into the city or to a shopping mall or a movie..We wanted to become Americans and my father—and my mother, at first—would have none of it'' (Alvarez 899).
  • "“Thanks, thanks a lot, Mom!” I’d storm out of that room and into mine. I never called her Mom except when I wanted her to feel how much she had failed us in this country. She was a good enough Mami, fussing and scolding and giving advice, but a terrible girlfriend parent, a real failure of a Mom" (Alvarez 901).
  • "This was my time to myself, after I’d finished my homework, while my sisters were still downstairs watching TV in the basement. Hunched over my small desk, the overhead light turned off, my lamp shining poignantly on my paper, the rest of the room in warm, soft, uncreated darkness, I wrote my secret poems in my new language" (Alvarez 901)
  • “The famous one, famous only in hindsight, was the stick person dragging a square by a rope—a suitcase with wheels? “Oh, of course,” we’d humor her...Come on now! Use your head.” One more wrong guess, and she’d tell me, pressing with her pencil point the different highlights of this incredible new wonder..Yeah, Mami. You should patent it"(Alvarez 902)
  • "We resented her spending time on those dumb inventions. Here, we were trying to fit in America among Americans; we needed help figuring out who we were, why these Irish kids whose grandparents were micks two generations ago, why they were calling us spics. Why had we come to the country in the first place? Important, crucial, final things, you see, and here was our own mother..." (Alvarez 902).
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