Posted in Caring for others, Children, Friendship, Introspection, Parents

Soul Sister (a.k.a. Cousin Gina) by Ginger Keller Gannaway

“Soul” Sister (a.k.a. Cousin Gina)

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Gina and I in Panama City, 1960

 

     We were walking along a Pensacola beach around 8 a.m., after coffee and before the rest of the folks got up. We aimed to walk to the distant pier and talked nonstop the whole way.  Like evenly-matched tennis players, we served and volleyed kid woes back and forth. “He sneaks out the house so often, we have to hide our car keys now.”  “Her grades have dropped ‘cause she skips all the time.” “His room reeks of pot.”  “I hear ya’!” 

     Somehow letting go of our tales of angst gives us a kind of inner release.  We offer the worry and fear up to the sun, the waves, the breeze, and we become free to laugh out loud. Gina and I totally “get” each other, and for two hours we feel better.  On the walk back to our beach-front rental, we even rush into the surf for a quick swim and more laughter as we jump and dive into the waves. Like a couple of kids!

     Gina is my first cousin and my “soul” sister.  Even though she lived an hour away from my hometown, we saw each other often growing-up.  We shared every Keller family reunion or big holiday party at Grandma’s house for sure.  Also, we had full weeks at a time during the summer when we visited each other’s homes or went to our Indian Village camp with Grandma and Stella.

     During the 1980’s we got married and raised our kids in different states.  We didn’t spend long visits together, yet later we grabbed summer getaways when we both became public school teachers. In 1998 and 2010 we even took trips to NYC to visit my sister Gayle and sightsee and reconnect.  Gina and I snap back together easily, no matter how long we have been apart.  We share our Cajun culture, our Keller connection, and our childhood memories, and our family tragedies. Gina is  a close cousin, a trusted friend, a wise woman, a spiritual guide, and my soul sister.  She has a wit like a whip, yet it’s made of purple yarn or silly string. Her sarcasm is swift, yet stingless.  And we share a deep, honest love of movies that began in 1968 when we were both enchanted by Funny Girl.  Walking from Grandma’s to the Saturday matinees at the Liberty and then returning to sneak cigarettes while Grandma napped were big teenage moments for me.  We also worked in the theater’s concession stand and played tennis, went swimming, and obsessed over cute boys to fill the lazy summer days with good times.

     Throughout the sad, sad times and the glory days, humor has helped hold us together.  Two years ago we shared a weekend in Galveston at her sister Dana’s beach house, and while attempting to take a selfie, Gina and I laughed so hard tears ran down our cheeks as we fought to keep the other bodily liquid from running down our legs!

     Now she and I even have similar living situations. My 89-year-old dad lives with me, and Gina lives with her 87-year-old mom (my dad’s sister). So Gina and I chat and commiserate and explain and laugh over phone calls.  We still “get” each other, and as we face family challenges, we share sorrows and successes and above all we laugh.  Gina is a devoted daughter, a mighty mother, and a strong Grandma GiGi.  Time with Gina is always honest and often hysterical. It can be gut-wrenching and still stay golden.  We connect easily, strongly, and soulfully.

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Gina, Gayle, me, Andrew, Yvette in Pensecola (2009)
Posted in Entertainment, Introspection

Top 10 Movie Moments in my Life by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Top 10 Movie Moments of my Life

My grandma owned the movie theaters in the small town I grew up in. Since I (along with many cousins)“got in the show free,” the Liberty Theater and Queen Cinema were my babysitters, my entertainers, and my employers during my formative years. Is that why cinema means much more to me than just moving pictures and why I connect with movies on a very visceral level?

funny-girl1. Funny Girl (1968) Barbra Streisand’s mix of comedy, music, and tragic romance awakened the film fanatic in my 12-year-old soul. I saw it 11 times over a two-week period and Barbra is still “The Greatest Star” for me.
2.  Psycho (1960) I saw this groundbreaking example of mother/son obsession in 1970 for a 10th anniversary showing, and my 8th grade buddies and I literally jumped from our seats during the shocker scenes. Hitchcock became the first director I adored. (seen it 10 times: thanks TCM)
3. Cool Hand Luke (1967) Even though I did not fully appreciate all the symbolism and complex themes when I first saw this, I did fully recognize Paul Newman as the “natural born world-shaker” he was and continues to be. (Especially in 1972 when my friends and I met him during the filming of The Drowning Pool in Lafayette, LA).

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Paul Newman with Cheryl Manuel,Kelly Keller, and Colleen (I’m taking the picture).

4. The Way We Were (1973) Both Streisand and Redford cemented my passion for the tragic side of love. (I saw it over 20 times in my junior year!) I still swoon and cry over those movie moments that remind me that love does NOT conquer all.
5. Annie Hall (1977) Woody Allen so skillfully balanced neurotic humor and awkward silliness to stimulate my college brain and to reveal the laughable side of love’s impermanence. (Only twice in theaters. I don’t”get in free” outside of Eunice).
6. Casablanca (1942) In 1980 I asked my husband-of-now-33-years, Gary, to meet me at the Varsity Theater to see this ultra-cool classic whose sharp dialogue and superstar performances added moral fortitude to the lost-love theme.(8 or 9 times)
7. Brave Little Toaster (1987) So fast-forward to my life with 3 little boys who tangled me up in the wonder of talking appliances, silly songs, and travel adventures. (I lost count of times we watched it; thank you, VCR).
8. Schindler’s List (1993) The teacher part of me mixed my love of historic heroes, masterful moviemaking, and powerful education when I guided tenth graders to examine Spielberg’s genius after they read Elie Wiesel’s unforgettable Night. (Over 16 close-viewing times & the students and I always noticed new brilliant moments).
9.Boyhood (2014) – Linklater’s brave masterpiece about raising kids in Texas in the ’80’s and ’90’s mirrored my own “small moments make a life” experience with my Shane, Casey, and Evan. (Saw it twice in theaters and 6 times on DVD).boyhood
10. LaLa Land (2016) – I fell completely in love with every frame of its musical magic. Oh those gorgeous yearning looks of lost love at the end! Here’s to ALL  the“Fools Who Dream.” (Paid to see it 4 times in two weeks)

So, what are some of YOUR movie moments?  (The 2017 Oscars air  Sunday night, February 26, at 7 p.m.!!)academy_award_trophy

Posted in Uncategorized

SHIFT HAPPENS by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Shift Happens.img_3280
When I studied poetry with 9th graders, I told them to look for the “shift” in a poem. “Shift happens,” I’d declare. The poem may begin with a young girl crying over a loss in her life, but then end with an epiphany about acceptance of life’s impermanence. “Notice where the poem changes course,” I’d advise. There they could discover the poem’s kernel of truth.
Making sense of this recent political shift is a challenge. I read one comment that stated, “The people have spoken. Deal with it.” However, the popular vote did not go with the guy who won. The majority of voters SPOKE for Hillary. How do we all deal with the discrepancy? I do not believe the election was rigged or flawed, but I feel utter disbelief and confusion that so many voters supported a person I consider a bully and an instigator.
I taught public school for 34 years, and I saw kids from ages 5 to 17 who acted like this person does. I dealt with fearful, ignorant bullies who mimicked and insulted other students who were different. I handled these public assaults by counseling both the bully and his/her target. Other times I dealt with trouble-makers who tried to start fights in classes and in courtyards by using prejudice and hate to spur others to violence. Often these ringleaders would stir up the more impressionable or discontented kids in an effort to create chaos. These were kids and teens. How do we deal with adult bullies and instigators?
Calm and rational words do not tame people full of unpredictable bluster and unnecessary tantrums. How did a person who blurts out immature insults and encourages others to chant asinine threats gain the most powerful position in our government? And how do the people who voted against him handle our new reality? There is no ISS (In School Suspension) or expulsion for this bully. We are charting new territory now. Teachers often guide students who have opposing views to listen to one another and to learn how to compromise and collaborate. Who will guide this self-obsessed bully?
Let me remember that “Shift happens” in life as well as in poetry. Our country has felt a monumental shift. I have given up on predictions and likelihoods. Anything can happen. Right this moment fear and worry rule my head, yet I do not know what this major shift will bring us. All of us need to be observant and vigilant. Instead of whining and crying, let us use intelligence, wisdom, and strength to outwit instigators and out-maneuver bullies. Bullies may sometimes be beaten with hate and violence. However, blustery bullies may also be subdued with clever elements of surprise. If we reach out and connect with those whose views are different from ours, if we seek to understand and to learn from our differences, we may navigate this frightening shift in productive ways. The shift HAS happened. Now let us seek to understand its message. I am still confused, but I do know we all need to learn from each other and work at finding new American epiphanies. More of us have to come together and cooperate to navigate this new SHIFT.img_3282

Posted in Uncategorized

Letter to Facebook by Ginger Keller Gannaway

Dear Facebook (aka Crackbook):facebook2

I don’t (totally) mean to get all up in ya face, but you did begin on an ugly note – judging others on FACE value alone. So here goes.

Once you led teenagers and college-minded kids to follow the cool road of connections.  Nowadays you are preferred by grandmas, shut-ins, and introverts.  Your first followers have moved on down a more snappy,tweety road of instant gratification.

Still, the force in you is strong, but is it light or dark?  You connect us across immense distances and times: to strangers and friends and long-lost relations.  You can be a beacon for social goodness and you may provide millions of ways to ease our loneliness.  Good stuff, for sure, EXCEPT when you give power to the bullies and  the terrorists.

So.  If we don’t succumb to the darkness or the FOMO feelings or the catfishing urges or plain old addiction tendencies, you do help us connect, share, like, and even grow in interesting ways.

Thanks.

Ginger Keller Gannaway