Every now and then, as you look at the arc of a day — you can find a theme that runs through its history, sort of a historical Same Time, Next Year.

August 18th is one of those days. Women dominate the day. Naturally, there’s good news and bad news in that.

I’ll start with the bad, because that’s how I usually order my news — kind of like liver & onions followed by a sweet, juicy and flaky apple pie. Roman Polanski was born on the 18th. And in a lovely twist of irony, Nabokov published Lolita a quarter of a century later.

When I think of Polanski, which doesn’t often happen, I don’t completely picture him as Humbert. Thrown into the mix, is a sympathy for Sharon Tate and a horror of that tragic summer. Do you remember reading Helter Skelter? – I finally had to stop reading it at night – I kept hearing noises outside, windows rattling, and weird shadows from the streetlights.

Lolita has always made me uncomfortable, although Nabokov’s use of language is strikingly beautiful. What allowed me to examine it anew was Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran. Her book allows me to come back to some remembered classics with “new” eyes.

Adventure defines the good news segment for today.

Virginia Dare was born today in 1587. You do know Virginia, right? She was the first European child born in the Americas. She was born at Roanoke, NC and became famous as part of the mystery of the Lost Colony. If you ever get the chance, go down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and catch the outdoor drama. However, for my money — as far as adventure goes, I’ll take Elinor White Dare. Born in 1563 or so, this intrepid daughter of Governor John White chucks her conventional life in England and travels into a New World, pregnant. After she gives birth, she vanishes from history as completely as the Colony itself… Why is that good news, you may ask? For me, that means Virginia and Elinor, and the mysterious “Croatan” carved into the lintel always exist in the “possible.” There’s an unknown journey out there somewhere, offering vast scope for history, imagination, science and pleasure.

However, the big news for the day is that in 1920, the 19th amendment to the US Constitution was ratified. Abigail Adams plea for America to “remember the ladies,” was finally granted. I did not know this until a few years ago, but the final state to ratify the amendment was Tennessee. That impresses me about the state — and they never mentioned it when the girls did state history. I love Davy Crockett and Sam Houston — but universal suffrage kind of trumps. And it’s touchable history. Do you realize that means I’ve interviewed people who were around when their wives, mothers and sisters had no civic voice? I’ve taken my girls to the polls since they were infants. As a result, they are curious about the system, interested in the candidates, and willing to listen to all viewpoints.

way back down deep: Ghost of a Dog • Edie Brickell & New Bohemians: this band was one of my go-to college angst-y groups. Brickell’s lyrics are convoluted, and just perfect with a big glass of wine and a group of friends hanging out. Or so they were. Now, a fond smile flashes when one of the songs comes on, and a few stay in the rotation…. and I still wonder about the breakfast conversations she has with Paul Simon.
Mama Help Me; Black & Blue; Carmelito (these 1st three remind me of both Sting & Bob Weir when they wanna play cowboy); He Said; Times Like This (one of my desert island songs, it has everything love, rain, cats); 10,000 Angels (another that I won’t fast forward through); Ghost of a Dog; Strings of Love; Woyaho; Oak Cliff Bra (so short and so odd); Stwisted; This Eye; Forgiven; and Me by the Sea

Well-behaved women seldom make history. –> Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Take care,

2 thoughts on “way back Wednesday – 8.18.10

  1. Hi Aly,

    My internet friend Vince Watkins pointed me in your direction, as I’m doing research on the Civil War, women in science, etc. for a series I’m creating. Hoping to bounce some ideas off of you from time to time.



    • Jared,

      I’d love to chat with you about women in science and history — it’s fascinating and definitely not deeply explored in pop culture…. hope you are having a lovely evening!!

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