A Civilization Gone with the Wind
Jun 19, 2020 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
A 1940 photograph captured a pivotal Oscar moment between actresses Fay Bainter and Hattie McDaniel. Today, the black and white image is considered politically incorrect as Fay’s jacket held a fox fur collar, the eyes of the animal reflecting its final agonized moment. However, at the time what was politically incorrect was the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences had broken the color barrier by making Hattie McDaniel the first African American to receive an Academy Award for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. Adorned with white magnolias on her hair and dress, Hattie’s sixty-seven second emotional acceptance speech stated she “hoped to be a credit to her race.”
June 14th is National Flag Day
Jun 11, 2020 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The national anthem is consecrated to it, police arrested Abbie Hoffman for wearing it, Neil Armstrong left one on the moon. But who created the American flag?
June 12th is Loving Day
Jun 10, 2020 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The Book of Common Prayer admonishes, “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” Unfortunately, to put asunder was an act the state of Virginia routinely enforced, thereby lending an ironic overtone to its slogan, “Virginia is for lovers.”
The Lion and the Lamb
Jun 07, 2020 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Words are fluid entities; they begin in one guise, and over time, transform to another. As a child, my mother bought me a Barbie House, and I was so excited I couldn’t breathe. As a too fleshy teen, when the scale registered a lower weight, I was so excited I couldn’t breathe. After high school, I left for the University of Edinburgh, and I was so excited I couldn’t breathe. In yoga class, we sat cross-legged on out bamboo mats and followed the teacher’s instruction to “Breathe.” In art history class, the professor projected a slide of the Sistine Chapel in which God’s outstretched finger breathed life into Adam. The 1970s equivalent of, “Keep calm and carry on” was the omniscient poster with its anti-anxiety message: “Just Breathe.”
If You Please
Jun 01, 2020 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
As Shakespeare’s Juliet leaned against her Verona balcony, she posed a philosophical question, “What’s in a name?” Her answer proved she was the possessor of a wisdom that belied her thirteen years when she surmised, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” The passing of the centuries, however, made manifest that labels do indeed matter.
Be a Blessing
Jun 01, 2020 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
On May 24, 2020, The New York Times published on its front page the names of 1,000 people who had died of the coronavirus in the United States. The preface to the heartbreaking list stated, “They were not simply names on a list; they were us.” One of the entries was a woman whose life had been pockmarked by tragedy and yet she retained her indomitable spirit.
Dr. Rodriguez: Office Upstairs
May 27, 2020 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Chiapas was indistinguishable from any other hard-scrabble Mexican town: emaciated dogs wandered dirt roads, women peddled home-spun wares, men with leathery faces sat under the shade of a tree, hope for the future long absent. The sun was a remorseless eye that withered crops, flowers, dreams.
"Ride Sally Ride"
May 26, 2020 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
~Posted in tribute to Sally Ride Day, May 26th
The men who heeded the siren call of the sky are legendary: Shepard, Glenn, Armstrong, Aldrin. Then came Sally Ride, who blazed a cosmic trail when she became the first woman astronaut and shattered the glass dome of the galaxy.
May 25, 2020 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
In 1970, Joni Mitchell lamented in “Big Yellow Taxi,” “No, no, no/Don’t it always seem to go/That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…” The song served as a red flag; in an instant, what we hold dear could assume the quality of mist and dissipate. The lyrics are apropos to the pandemic of 2020 when a virus- with the name previously only associated with a Mexican beer-sent the world scurrying for cover.
The Angel of the Battlefield
May 24, 2020 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Since the inception of the pandemic, the Internet has showcased countless posts of health- care workers with super-hero capes draped across their shoulders. As May marks the month Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross, now is an apt time to remember the heroine.
We Shall Not Sleep
May 23, 2020 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” While Ophelia associated rosemary with memory, a 20th century woman used another flower to evoke the echo of yesteryear.
Memorial Day weekend is a holiday that signifies sales at malls, barbecues, and fireworks. Too often overlooked is the somber shadow that led to its creation.
Prologue Still I Rise
Jun 23, 2019 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
Anyone who has managed to survive to mid-mark of the biblically allotted three score years and ten has had occasion to cast one's eyes heavenward to mutter, "Ya know, God, there are other people." Amidst these litanies of woes can be discerned cries of betrayal, illness, lost illusions. After all, part and parcel of living means treading the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, navigating the Canal of a Shattered Romance. What helps ease the thorny path is the belief that we are not alone in our grief, that loss is part of the human condition. Another weapon in the arsenal of endurance is the hope we can rise.
GREAT SECOND ACTS: IN PRAISE OF OLDER WOMEN Prologue: “The Best is Yet to Be”
Jun 16, 2019 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
With the optimism of youth, there is an inherent belief that, in the words of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, “the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” However, as the calendar pages turn, our aspirations tend to recede into the distance, placed on the back-burner by financial survival, child-rearing, male maintenance. Then, in a dizzying blur, we gasp at the pigment-free image staring back from the mirror reminding us how quickly time passes. It is essential we do not go gentle into our twilight years. Ladies who experience late in life reinvention are the embodiment of what Antony said about Cleopatra, “Age cannot wither her/Nor custom stale/Her infinite variety.”
Behind Every Great Man
Apr 12, 2019 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
The idea for Behind Every Great Man was the result of serendipity-and it arrived through the unlikely person of former First Lady Laura Bush. In a White House roast, she likened herself to a character from Desperate Housewives. “I am married to the president of the United States and here is our typical evening: nine o’clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep, and I am watching Desperate Housewives. Ladies and Gentlemen, I am a desperate housewife!”
Let’s Hear It for the Girls!
Apr 03, 2019 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
No matter how near we are to our biblically allotted three score years and ten, we always remember our milestone firsts: first kiss, first car, first horizontal episode. Mothers are likewise big on firsts: first word their child spoke, first step, first lost tooth. These events constitute the magical moments, forever tucked away in the tissue paper of the heart.
Women Who Launch
Mar 27, 2019 by Marlene Wagman-Geller
As a 1950s housewife, my mother was “a woman who lunched.” The Mrs. So-and Sos-who went by their spouses’ first and last names- were unable to pursue careers. The mindset of the era was a wife who worked meant her husband was a poor provider; a bank- issued paper bearing the words: PAY TO THE ORDER OF were an attack on his masculinity. Moreover, the little lady’s real job was in the PTA, the kitchen, the bedroom. And so she lunched.