Feb. 19, 2005

Sister Ritual

by Ginger Andrews

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Poem: "Sister Ritual" by Ginger Andrews, from An Honest Answer (Story Line Press), 1999. Reprinted with permission.

An Honest Answer

Every morning I
call Mary Beth, Bob Etta, and Donna June. Usually I
call Mary Beth first. When her phone's busy I
call Bob Etta. If she's busy I
know she's probably talking to Mary Beth, so I
call Donna June. If her phone's busy I
figure she's trying to call me, so I
hang up. Wait a second. Push redial. If I
get a second busy signal I
try Mary Beth/Bob Etta again. If they're still busy I
call Tana Rae long distance. If she's busy I
eat breakfast.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of novelist Amy Tan, born in Oakland, California (1952). When she was thirty-five years old, she took her mother to China to visit her half-sisters and to learn more about her heritage. Out of that experience came Tan's first novel, The Joy Luck Club (1989). Other novels followed, including The Kitchen God's Wife (1991), The Hundred Secret Senses (1995), and The Bonesetter's Daughter (2001).

On this day in 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of individuals "of Japanese ancestry" from the "military area" of the West Coast of the United States. 112,000 Japanese-Americans, many of them American-born citizens or naturalized immigrants, were forced to live in dismal conditions, under heavy military guard. Most lost their jobs and homes while imprisoned, and were penniless by the time of their release.

It's the birthday of novelist and short-story writer Carson McCullers, born in Columbus, Georgia (1917). Her original intention was to study music, and she came to New York at the age of 17 to attend Julliard. But she lost her wallet and her tuition fees, so she got a job and took writing classes at Columbia University. Her first and most critically acclaimed novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940), concerns four lonely misfits in a small town in Georgia. Her best-known work, The Member of the Wedding (1946), is the story of a thirteen-year-old girl who is jealous of her brother's impending wedding. Other works include Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941), and The Ballad of the Sad Café (1951). She suffered from poor health all her life, and had several strokes that left her partially paralyzed.

It's the birthday of astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, born in Torun, Poland (1473). He laid the foundation for modern astronomy by disputing the widely held belief that the earth was the center of the universe. Instead, he pronounced that Earth, and the other planets, revolved around the Sun. This theory caused profound shock and a revolution in scientific and philosophical thought.

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