I am sitting in my mother’s red Bonneville station wagon. Mamá’s hair is still black and long and flows over the back of the seat. She pushes in the lighter then pulls a cigarette out from behind her right ear, puts it in her mouth, and lights it with the hot tree-ring glow. Rows and rows of cotton whir past: flat green leaves on stocky plants with puffs of white beginning to appear. She takes a drag off her cigarette and cracks the window open. Yellow moths from the alfalfa field on the left smash against the windshield; the smell of cut alfalfa and the menthol Salem fill the station wagon. The highway is mostly empty, except for a truck up ahead. “Guantanamera” comes on the radio and I start to sing. Mamá sings along in a deep loud voice and looks over at me once in a while with her big wide smile. Her teeth are still young.

A yellow biplane is spraying the cotton field far up ahead. We come up behind an old flatbed truck stacked with chicken cages. White feathers blow from the cages out behind the flatbed, and one of them gets stuck on the windshield wiper. It jitters back and forth against the windshield in the wind.

A rusted brown Buick station wagon jammed full with farmworkers and riding low comes up on the left. All the windows are down, and the men are looking over at Mamá. The guy in the front passenger seat turns toward her. He yells in Spanish and motions her to come over. She looks straight ahead and takes another drag off her cigarette, then cranks her window all the way down, looks over, and yells in Spanish that he’s too ugly. The men start hooting, and the driver honks the horn. The guy keeps yelling, and Mamá yells back at him. We go along like this for a while. She is smiling, but flips them off, then cranks her window back up and speeds ahead.

A red-tailed hawk is sitting on a wooden fence post. The yellow crop duster roars overhead and begins spraying just past the hawk. The plane surprises me; it must have circled back over the highway when I was looking at the men. We pass the chicken truck, and there is just open road up ahead.

Later, when I am older––

I hear Mamá crying and come out from behind the garage where I have been playing with my G.I. Joe.

Maybe someone died. She cried when her father, my grandfather, died. Maybe she has to go to jail again. She used to work in the fields but now is an organizer for the United Farm Workers and had gotten arrested. She and some of her friends chained themselves to a gate outside a pesticide warehouse. The police put the handcuffs on so tight they broke through the skin. She was embarrassed by the marks. She said someone might think she tried to
kill herself

I walk across the lawn toward the house. The house is a stucco, painted adobe, with turquoise trim. Peaches from the tree in the center of the yard have fallen on the grass, and the air smells of them; some of them are beginning to rot. When I come close to the house, I touch the stucco and run my fingers along as I walk toward where she is sitting on the back steps. The stucco feels cool and rough.

I walk toward her, looking mostly at the ground. I tear a leaf off one of the red rose bushes to the right of the steps. Three brown spots—her tears—mark the concrete. I look up into her face. Her eyes are glassy lakes, black and brown and red.

“Mamá, are you all right?”

“Oh, Roberto.” She reaches down and puts her arms around me.

“Did someone die again?”

She is leaning forward and rocks back and forth, holding me close against her chest. Her hair smells like honeysuckle, even in the dry heat of the afternoon. She takes a deep breath. “No, honey, no one died.”

I push back from her. “Why are you crying?”

She takes another breath. “Oh, I don’t know. Sometimes Mamá has to cry.”

My father comes up the driveway in our car, an Impala. His shoulders are hunched forward. He’s a sociology professor at Fresno State. He bought the Impala from a cholo in Tulare because it was what he could afford and it was still in pretty good shape. It’s light green and has white seats. He took the chrome wheels off and put on regular rims. He’s wearing his dark brown suit, a white shirt, and a thin black tie. He looks down at Mamá.
“What’s going on here?” he says to me.

I shrug.

Mamá wipes the tears from her eyes. She rubs her left thigh where it has been hurting. She tells Daddy that the doctor called. “He said people in Tulare County have been coming down with something in their muscles. He wants me to go to Fresno tomorrow and have more x-rays taken.” She pushes her hair back with the palms of her
hands. “He said they can treat it.”

“I’m sure they can treat it,” he says, each word a different note. He wipes the top of his forehead with his fingers.

I lean across her lap.

“Will you be here tomorrow when I get home from school?”

“I don’t know, honey.” She looks at my father. “One of us will be here.”

“I want you to be here.”

About two months later, I go into their bedroom to feed the goldfish in the bowl on the dresser. The curtains are drawn. Mamá has been having terrible headaches and even the soft orange light from the late afternoon sky hurts her eyes. I hear the toilet flush in their bathroom. When she comes out, my mouth drops open. She has a terrible rash: large blotches, as if someone had tattooed her neck, arms, and legs with the deep red pieces from a jigsaw puzzle. She is pale and starts to wipe her mouth with a hand towel, then asks me how I am.

“Okay, Mamá. How are you?”

Bien, bien,” she says. She walks over to the curtain and cracks it a little bit. She squints at the light. “Have you been having fun with Daddy?”

I tell her yes, yes, he took me to see the Visalia Mets, the local farm league team for the New York Mets. But I am lying too. The Mets lost five to nothing and he drank too much beer.

When we were leaving, three men asked him where he stole our Impala. He tried to ignore them, but they stopped their car in the street next to where we were parked so he couldn’t pull out. They got out of the car and started yelling at him. He just sat there hunched forward, looking straight ahead. After a while, a police car came cruising slowly up Giddings Street. They got back into the car, pretending to be real friendly to us, and drove slowly ahead.

I walk over to the dresser and sprinkle fish food flakes into the water, but I stare at the floral wallpaper behind the bowl and put too much in. I turn around. Mamá is watching. I look at her knees and see the rash on her legs. I walk over and put my arms around her hips, my head turned to the side. “Will you be okay?”

She tilts her head down toward me. “Es que no me siento bien en este momento, Roberto.” She rubs her eyes. “Yes,” she says, “of course. That’s why I have to take my medicine.”

“Johnny asked me if you are going to die,” I say, looking up at her.

Johnny, my best friend, and his little brother, Stephen, live behind us, on the other side of an avocado grove.

“Just because someone asks doesn’t mean it’s true.”

“I don’t want you to die.”

She runs her fingers through my hair. “I’m not going to die.”

“If you die, can I live with Aunt Celia?”

“I’m not going to die, and even if I did, you would need to stay here and live with Daddy.” She is still stroking my hair. “He would take care of you.”

This is not what I want to hear. Daddy can be very embarrassing. The week before, he didn’t show up for the student-parent-teacher conference. Mrs. Sylvester and I sat there for twenty minutes watching the clock. Every so often she would look at me and sigh.

“He can’t cook.”

Mamá takes a deep breath. I think she’s angry. “He would learn to cook,” she says, sounding calm. “Mrs. García would bring over her chiles rellenos,” she says, her voice high like she’s trying to convince me. “And Mr. Olivo would let you go over to his house and eat with him once in a while,” she says, her voice low again.

I know she’s playing a trump card. Mr. Olivo has a mynah bird and knows how to cook, and his house always smells good from whatever is on the stove.

“I want to live with Aunt Celia.” She has a house with a porch and a lawn and an oak tree in the front, and an above-ground pool in her backyard.

“Roberto, look at me.”

I look at her.

“The doctors are very good. I am doing everything they say.” She looks over me toward the bathroom door. The rash on her neck is raised up and darker in the middle, like a black eye. “Worrying about it just makes you feel worse.” Then she leans toward me and her pupils dilate. “Besides, I’m not going to die.”

She smells like lavender, and I feel better. Then I go outside to find Johnny to tell him she is going to be okay.

I let her hold me for a while. She smells like lavender, and I feel better. Then I go outside to find Johnny to tell him she is going to be okay.

Mamá’s hair turns gray, then starts to fall out. She doesn’t want to go out of the house. She refuses to wear those tight little caps and says she would rather be seen bald than wear a wig. “You can spot a wig a mile away.”

When she is feeling better, she goes to Fresno to shop for scarves. Other women in the United Farm Workers begin wearing scarves too, even women who haven’t lost their hair. Daddy says it’s an expression of solidarity. Several members have come down with strange cancers. They start having meetings about the dangers of the chemicals that are being used. Sometimes Mamá goes and speaks.

One morning I come into their bedroom to tell her I’m leaving for school. She always gives me a kiss before I leave in the morning. She’s showered, is buttoning her blouse, and leaning over a drawer in her dresser, looking for something.

When she stands up I stare at her for a second, then laugh. It is the first time I have seen her that way since her hair has fallen out. She is undergoing radiation treatments.

“Roberto,” she says, sounding hurt.

I walk over to the open drawer and pick out one of her scarves––white with purple and blue flowers. I put it around my head. “I like this one, Mamá,” I say and tilt my head.

She looks at me for a long moment. I start walking like a girl. She bursts out laughing and slaps her good thigh.

I stretch my arms out and start to sing Tomás Méndez’s “Cucurrucucú Paloma” for her.

She sings along with me, smiling, but then I remember what a sad song it is, so I finish the first verse and head out.

She follows me and stands on the concrete porch as I go down the driveway with the scarf on.

“Roberto! The scarf!” she calls out, laughing again.

At the sidewalk, I turn and look at her, still bald. I wave and put the scarf into my pocket. I want to show Johnny and head up the sidewalk for my school.

I’m having trouble sleeping. I wake up in the middle of the night and need to pee but can’t get out of bed. I think there’s a lion just outside my door. Or underneath my bed. I overhear them talking—

“It’s the new medication,” he says.

“It feels like a creature inside my skull, a white-hot worm that’s digging into my brain.”

I want to get up, go in and hold her, but one of them closes the door. I lay there for a long time worrying.

The next morning, Daddy is teaching an early class and has already left. I am sitting at the breakfast table eating my cereal. I ask her about the new medication. She looks out the window and tells me I should not eavesdrop.

“I was just lying there, Mamá!”

She leaves the kitchen. I hear the toilet flush in the bathroom. When she comes back, she is wiping her mouth and tells me I should never eavesdrop. She tells me to go to confession on the way home from school.


“Roberto, you do as I say,” she says, her voice shaking, her eyes lit up and fierce.

I go to confession. The penance is light, one Our Father and two Hail Marys. I haven’t been that good but Father Pierce knows my voice. Mamá has been talking to him and he knows what’s been going on.

I’m sitting in the shadows near the confessional when Daddy comes in. I don’t want him to know I’m here. He and Mamá have fights about me going to church.

Daddy looks strange. I’ve never seen him in church before. The light, speckled with yellow, red, and blue from the stained-glass windows, colors the side of his face.

He strides up the center aisle, then slows when he nears the baptismal basin in the center of the church. The basin is made of white marble. Monsignor Fox, Father Pierce’s boss, thought the basin was a big deal. It has a big bronze plaque on the side of it listing the people who paid for it. They had a big ceremony during Mass one Sunday. I couldn’t believe how long it took.

Daddy stops at the basin; he touches the holy water with his right fingers and crosses himself––I can’t believe he’s crossing himself––then he walks slowly up the center aisle and kneels down near the front. I can’t believe he’s actually kneeling.

I get up from where I’m sitting. I’m careful not to kick the pews. Kicking the pews in that church makes an awful lot of noise. I go up the center aisle behind him and try not to let my sneakers squeak on the floor.

Mrs. Ortega, one of the regulars, comes in through the door up on the right. She sits on the far side of the same pew as Daddy and says a prayer.

Daddy is hunched forward with his head in his hands. He wipes his eyes with the sleeve of his black jacket and looks down at his lap. Mrs. Ortega notices. She reaches into her purse, slides over to him, and offers him her handkerchief. He looks at the handkerchief, then at her. He reaches out and takes it, wipes his eyes, then hunches forward again with his hands against his face and brow, like an embarrassed girl sitting at a desk at school.

His eyelashes are wet, and the pockmarks on the side of his face cast little shadows on his skin.

I stand right next to him. He opens his eyes. What are you doing here, his face seems to say, but he doesn’t say anything and slides over. I sit down next to him. His eyelashes are wet, and the pockmarks on the side of his face cast little shadows on his skin. I don’t say anything, and I lay my head on his lap. I can hear his stomach and his breath; Mrs. Ortega is down the pew praying her rosary.

“Mamá is dying, isn’t she?” I say.

“I don’t know,” he says. He looks at the cross behind the altar, then back down at me. He gently wipes the tears from my cheeks with the back of his fingers.

I don’t believe him.

A few weeks later, Mamá is in the hospital, and Johnny and I are sitting on the branch of an avocado tree in the grove between our two houses. Specks of light break through the leaves when the breeze blows. It’s Stephen’s birthday, and Johnny and I climbed up here to get away from the five-year-olds. Once in a while Johnny picks a baby avocado and throws it down at one of them. Stephen is wearing a purple hat with “Happy Birthday” written in
yellow on it. It looks pretty stupid. I throw a baby avocadoat it and knock it off his head.

“Hey,” Stephen says looking around, but he doesn’t see the avocado on the ground right next to him. I look at Johnny and grin.

Over Johnny’s shoulder, across the way, I can see the peach tree in our backyard. Daddy’s car comes up our driveway. He does not get out. He is supposed to be at a friend’s place watching the Rams game. I climb down. The limbs are as big as barrels.

As I come up to Daddy’s car, the church’s faded blue Plymouth comes up our driveway. Father Pierce is driving the Plymouth, and I start down the driveway toward him.

“Come here, Roberto,” I hear Daddy say behind me. I turn around; he’s gotten out of our car and is standing next to it.

“Father Pierce is here,” I tell him. Aunt Celia comes out of the house. She was taking care of me while Daddy was at his friend’s.

I am looking at Aunt Celia when I hear it.

“Roberto, she’s gone,” Daddy says.

“What?” I look at him, then back at Aunt Celia. She is crying and holds her arms open to me.

I forget Mamá is at the hospital and start heading for the back door; I want to go into their bedroom and make sure she is alright.

Daddy grabs my arm as I go past him. He pulls me close to him and hugs me. He kisses me on the cheek. He never kisses me in front of anyone except Mamá. I look
at him: the whites of his eyes are lined with red, like little
creeks flowing with blood.

“No.” I push him away, but his arms are around me, and his face is just a few inches away.


He looks down at the ground. “Roberto,” he says. When he looks up at me his tears are flowing down his face, saturating his mustache like the fur of a small, wet mouse. I hear Aunt Celia crying.

I break free and start toward the back door, but Father
Pierce is blocking the steps to the porch.

“I want to see Mamá!”

Sounding just like Mamá, Aunt Celia says, “Oh, Roberto.” Daddy picks me up and holds me tight.

Daddy and I drive around Visalia for a long time, sitting close, both of us crying. I move to the other side of the car near the door. I stare straight ahead at the dash, worried someone might see us and think we’ve been crying. After a while, I look out the window. We drive up Giddings, past the baseball field, then he turns left and we drive past the park. An old Mexican man wearing a cowboy hat with a cigarette in his mouth is squirting lighter fluid on one of the barbeques across the way through the trees.

Two months later, the photos start to disappear.

The pictures of Mamá, Daddy, and I together, the ones from Christmases and Easters when I was little, the photos in the hallway of a trip we took to Sacramento to see Grandpa before he died, the picture of her and Aunt Celia in Maui—they are all gone. I don’t say anything to Daddy at first, but I notice it right away. The ones in their bedroom are gone first. I search the whole house, go through all the drawers and the closets looking for them.

I tell Aunt Celia about it. She is peeling cucumbers for gazpacho. “Maybe they make him sad, Roberto,” she says, but sounds angry.

“They don’t make me sad.” My face flushes and I sound angrier when I say it than I thought I felt.

I’m playing with my G.I. Joe. Daddy is late again. He was supposed to be here when I got home from school. I had to use the key, hanging from a nail just inside the garage, to let myself in.

His car finally comes up the driveway. He comes into the kitchen smiling. A woman follows him in, and the screen door slams behind her. The woman has on a light green print dress and her hair is curled up in a flip at the base of her neck. She has on orange lipstick and is smoking a cigarette.

“Roberto, there’s someone I want you to meet. This is my friend Margaret.”

“Nice meeting you,” she says.

“Margaret is going to stay for dinner.”

I don’t look at her.

She takes a drag off her cigarette and asks where the bathroom is. “Don’t you have anything to say?” he says after she is out of earshot.

“Where are the pictures?”

“I want her to feel comfortable.” He opens the cabinet over the refrigerator and takes out a bottle of gin.

“Where are all the pictures?” I say, demanding to know. “We have to move on.” Then, “Lower your voice,” he says, stepping toward me.

“I don’t want to lower my voice!”

“Roberto, if you don’t stop this I’m going to take you into your room….”

“No, you’re not.”

I run right past him; he tries to grab me but misses. I nearly collide head-on with her as she comes around the corner from the bathroom. I run outside. He yells after me down the driveway, but I don’t slow down.

I have dinner with Aunt Celia. When I get back to my house, Margaret is gone, Daddy is pretty drunk, and I head for my room. I hear him talking on the phone in the kitchen, wonder if it’s with her, go into their bedroom, and lift the receiver.

“You have to take care of yourself,” she is saying. She sounds drunk, too.

“It can’t be anytime soon.”

“Well at some point he’s just going to have to face the facts. You’re still a young man.”

“Margaret, it’s too soon. How would it look? The first thing you know, he’d tell Celia, and then we’d have the whole family to contend with. It’s bad enough the way it is.”

I feel a pit in my stomach as I hang up the receiver. I stand there in the dark for a long time before I go into my bedroom and get into my bed.

I go over to Aunt Celia’s every day after school. I have my snack over there, do some of my homework, then her friend Leona comes by and the three of us sit out on the front porch and play cards. When it’s really hot, Aunt Celia makes lemonade for us.

I’m watching my goldfish on Mamá’s dresser and start thinking about seeing her bald and how we laughed and everything. I open the drawer, but her scarves are gone. I dig through the other drawers, then go through their closet and find the white one with the purple and blue flowers under Daddy’s old bathrobe on the floor in the back. I tie it around my head. I go into my bedroom, turn on my transistor radio, and put both of my G.I. Joe’s in front of the pillow on my bed. I look in the mirror over my dresser and try to smile. Then I turn and perform for them.

At the end of the song, the Joes burst into applause. “Bravo, bravo,” they shout, jumping up and down, then jumping on top of each other. One of them forgets he’s a G.I. Joe and flies around the room like he’s Superman.

At the end of the performance, I stand them up and lean them against the pillow: a standing ovation. Shouts of “¡Otra! ¡Otra!” from the crowd. I bow. One of the Joes takes off his dog tags and gives them to me.

I go by the church after school and pray. I ask Jesus to bring Mamá back. I explain to Him how good she was and about her work with the United Farm Workers, how she helped people and was a good mother. I ask Him to send her home so she can go back to helping people and being my Mamá again.

Margaret’s red Volkswagen is out in front of our house. I come in through the front and head to my room. It isn’t even five o’clock, and I can hear Daddy stirring a pitcher of gin drinks in the kitchen. The orange light that made Mamá squint is coming through the Venetian blinds in my room. I lay down on my bed.

Daddy comes in with a drink in his hand and doesn’t say anything. Then, “I want you to come out and say hello to Margaret.”

I turn over on my stomach with my face toward the wall. “I don’t want to live here anymore.”

I hear the ice clink against the glass as he takes a long sip from his drink. “You better stop this.”

He sets the drink down on my dresser. I can feel him coming closer to my bed. I jump up. The left side of his face is orange, and in that light, it looks like his acne scars
have disappeared.

Margaret comes to the door. She has her drink and a cigarette in her hand. “Do you mind if I put some music on?”

“What is she doing here?” I say.

“Mamá died,” Daddy says.

“You’re making it worse,” I say to him.

“It’s time for you to grow up. Nothing you can do is going to bring her back,” he says.

She takes a puff off her cigarette and tosses her head back to straighten her hair.

Then, without thinking about it at all, I spit on him. He stands there, the saliva dripping on the orange side of his face. He turns toward the window and reaches for his drink. As he takes a sip, his hand is shaking.

“You can’t let him get away with that, Eduardo.”

I run past them, go outside, and grab my bike. I ride down to Johnny and Stephen’s house. Johnny and I ride away before Stephen knows I’m there. We ride out of town through the peach orchards, toward the little lake over by the cotton gin. I’m crying. Johnny sees me crying, but I don’t even care.

We stop outside the cotton gin to pet the dog that is chained to the gate. It’s supposed to be a watchdog, but mostly it watches for people like us to come along and pet
it. I get off my bike and pet it.

“Are you okay?” Johnny asks, his head cocked, his face scrunched up.

I wipe my nose. “No.”

Johnny picks up a rock and throws it at an old truck in the parking lot behind the fence. “Let’s get out of here,” he says.

We get back on our bikes and ride on toward the lake. I pump as hard as I can and pull out in front of him. When I get to the lake, I crouch on a big black stone at the edge, peering down into the water, waiting for a fish to swim out from under the lily pads. My reflection is perfectly still, framed by big billowy orange and pink clouds, the cottonwood trees around the lake, and the deep blue sky. A little fish swims out. My right hand dashes down and I lean forward, tilting out of balance toward the water. My hand hits the surface, then I scoop it back up, but my feet slip, I lose my balance, and fall in.

The lake weeds get tangled around my legs. I surface and catch a glimpse of Johnny, riding toward me: his weight shifting from one pedal to the other, his shoulders, neck, and lower jaw moving from side to side, his brow furrowed. I sink into the water, weighed down by my jacket, jeans, and shoes. My eyes are open, but the lake weeds block out most of the light. Then I see Mamá’s face, her long black hair floating around her head. I feel her pulling me, trying to pull me free from the weeds. She is jerking at the weeds, tearing them away. “Roberto, Roberto!” Then she is carrying me to the edge of the lake, trudging through the mud and onto the grass.

I reach up and touch his lips, and he touches my hand.

I lay on my back, looking up at Johnny crouching over me. His round, brown eyes are wide open, and he’s gasping for air. Water is dripping from his face and his crew cut onto my face and neck. The clouds are tinted orange and pink. His eyelashes are long and pointed; the water makes them look like false eyelashes. His lips are chapped. I want to reach up and kiss him, but I lay there looking at him, watching the orange and pink colors fade from the clouds at the very end of the day. I reach up and touch his lips, and he touches my hand.

I move in with Aunt Celia. Daddy says he thinks she will do a better job, but I know that if I’m at Aunt Celia’s, Margaret can stay at my house. He doesn’t punish me for spitting on him; he never even brings it up.

Aunt Celia is making lemonade when I get home from school. “Let’s go sit on the front porch,” she says. She brings with her some fresh peas to shell.

The big oak tree in the middle of the front lawn reaches all the way to the edge of the front steps. I take a sip of my lemonade. It’s hot out, but sitting on the porch there with Aunt Celia is nice. Some kids ride by on their way home from school. I remind her school will be out next week.

“I bet you’re looking forward to that.”

I say I am and take another sip of my lemonade. She fidgets around in her chair a little bit. It’s very still. She leans over toward me. Her face is flushed and the corners of her mouth are turned down as if she has just opened an envelope containing very bad news.


I am already looking at her.

“Your father is very selfish.” She looks away, out toward the street, then back at me. “He’s also a coward. He always has been.” She sets her glass down and leans close to me. “He didn’t give either of you enough time to grieve.”

“I wish she didn’t die,” I say, tearing up.

“I know.” She reaches over and grasps my arm, her eyes full. “I wish I could bring her back.”

“I do too,” I say and sob.

I flip through the music book that’s on the piano. We have been working our way through the book, and I want to see what’s coming up ahead. I flip ahead and find the one I want, Tomás Méndez’s “Cucurrucucú Paloma.” Aunt Celia sits down at the piano; she smells like Mamá, like lavender, but also witch hazel. I like the way she smells. She puts on her glasses and asks me if I’m ready. She plays, and I sing the song for my audience, looking out the front window, out through the branches of the oak tree.

Dicen que por las noches no más se le iba en puro
They say at night he did nothing but cry….

I look up through the branches at the clear blue sky.

Juran que esa paloma no es otra cosa más que su
They swear that dove is nothing other than his soul,
que él todavía la espera a que regrese la desdichada.
that he still awaits for her to return.

I close my eyes and smell lavender––it’s Mamá. She
is on the front porch, smiling, and her hair is long and
black and flowing over her shoulders.

Cucurrucucú, cucurrucucú,
Coo-coo, coo-coo
cucurrucucú, paloma,
Coo-coo, dove,
ya no le llores.
don’t cry for her anymore.

When I am done, she stands up, applauding, and I
start over to the porch to give her a kiss.

“Versos de mi Alma” by Joseph R. Garrett and the artwork titled Versos de mi Alma: The Voices are Being Heard by Siwen Zhang appeared in Issue 42 of Berkeley Fiction Review.

Joseph R. Garrett’s first short story, “A Place They’d Never Been,” was the runner up for the Wabash Prize for Fiction, awarded each year by Purdue University and published in the Sycamore Review. He is currently seeking representation for his novel, Makena, a love story set on Maui. He is the immediate past Vice President of Lambda Literary, graduated from UC Berkeley, and lives in Northern California with his husband and partner of 35 years.

Siwen Zhang is a second-year Architecture major and a Sustainable Design minor at UC Berkeley. Besides her major, she is passionate about interaction design with an emphasis on user interface and graphic design. At Cal, she is currently the head of the US design team at DECODE, one of the largest tech and innovation conferences within the Bay Area; an entrepreneurship DeCal course advisor for INDENG 198: DECODE Silicon Valley Startup Success; and a production designer at The Daily Californian. Her favorite color is violet, and she loves to watch horror movies.

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