Thursday, December 29, 2011


I really don't get why I am arrested wherever I go? Last week I was stopped for speeding. I was going forty miles over the speed limit. ( Ok I guess I do actually  knowwhy I was arrested.) It was off on some country road where the speed suddenly dropped from 80 to  35 for the distance of one general store. I was told by the polite Canadian policeman that if I get another ticket I could lose my license. OH MY GOD! That made me rattle in my Roots boots. My husband, who was travelling with me, didn't say one word.  (But you know what they're thinking, right?)

I travel all around the Untied States and Canada in my trusty Subaru Outback on a publicity tour for my memoir TOO CLOSE TO THE FALLS and AFTER THE FALLS.  The very next day after I got my ticket  in Yuppitsville, Ontario, I was travelling in the United States near Niagara Falls, New York. I saw a policeman on the side of the road issuing a ticket to some poor  schmuck.  Thank God, for once, I was going under the speed limit.

As I putted along  in self satisfied contentment ,  I heard a police siren behind me roaring up my tailpipe. I ignored it  since I have been properly chastened on the previous day and was now going under the speed limit.  Then I saw two police cars behind me blaring  their sirens as though they were rehearsing a scene from Mean Streets. Well whoever the police is  looking for is really in trouble. I continued on past the New York Power Project overlooking the Niagara River just above the Falls.

Suddenly a police car cuts in front of me forces me off the road.  I was literally the title of my Book, TOO CLOSE TO THE FALLS.  With pounding heart and a Tim Horton's in my hand, I rolled down the window. The robust police man ( I was sure he had another miniature policeman-in- training  tucked in his bulging navy police shirt, said,
'Listen lady I have been trying to get you go to pull over for about 20 miles. I had to call for back up. You have been resisting arrest.
I looked behind me at the parade of whirling red lights.
'Well you found me. What's the problem? For the record, I going under the speed limit.'

Here comes the Kafkaesque  part. He then said:
 'Well I suggest that you just sit there, Missy, until you realize what you have done wrong. You clearly need some time to think of it.' 
I looked  behind me and he had pulled over two other cars with me. One was a custom made suit  in a Lexus and the other was a man  in a rusted truck with a mullet hairdo who looked like Clint Eastwood without the tan. I looked in the rearview mirror and the man in the Lexus made a gesture to me with his hands in the air indicating that he also had no idea why we'd been pulled over.  I returned the gesture.  The guy in the pickup truck hit his head on his steering wheel and screamed out of his window that he was late for work.

Apparently we all had to wait until we realized what we had done wrong.  Hopefully it would  be a quick revelation.  It is amazing what comes to mind when you are told to sit by the side of the road and conjure up your sins-- be they present or past ---But let's not go there.

 Finally after about 25 minutes the man in the pickup truck started screaming 'Fuck' out of his window and telling anyone who would listen that he was going to lose his job if he didn't get to work.  Then after a half hour of our  curb-side act of contrition, the mullet man got out and banged on the hood of the police car yelling what we were all feeling: "What the hell  did I do wrong. Just give me the ticket.' ( Do  you how long a half hour feels when you are pulled over to the side of the road?) At this point two policemen get out of their cars and pin the mullet head to the hood of the car  and spread eagle him. Then they immediately  throw him in a police car and speed away. The guy in the Lexus and I exchange raised eyebrow glances in the rear view mirror.

Finally the Policeman returned to my car  and with arms folded in front of him he rocks back on his heels and asks , 'Know what law you broke?'

When I looked blankly at him, he continued:

'Did you see  me giving a ticket on the side of the road back about twenty miles?'
'Well you pret' near  too off my backside, lady.'
'I could have clipped a lot and he still would have had an ample backside in my opinion-- but having been arrested two days in a row , I decided to keep my opinions on police proportions to myself.

'Well it is the law in New York State that you have to change lanes when you see an officer of the law giving a ticket. It is your responsibility to leave a lane between you and the arresting officer. You did not comply with that law.'

'I never learned that is drivers education in high school  when I lived and grew up in New York State.' 
'Yeah well maybe New York wasn't even a state when you were in high school. Laws change and it is up to you to learn them.' 
'I am from Canada and this is a new law. Can you cut me a bit of slack?'
'Never travel without knowing the law in another country. Ever see Midnight Express ? He didn't know the laws of the land now did he?'
He then issues me a  whopping ticket. ( I now have two tickets within a few days  amounting to almost $700.)  As I am driving away , the suit in the Lexus motions me to  pull over at the next fast food exit.  In the Wendy's parking lot, he approaches my car and asks:    "Did you know that Law?"
'No'. I was now completely befuddled by this entire misadventure.
'Well it's new.  I had just heard about it on Eyewitness News.  However, I couldn't pull over because it was on a curve and there were two transport trailers in the lane and I couldn't squeeze between them. That cop wouldn't listen to me. We should fight this. I mean this is God Damn America!" 

Three weeks from today we have our day in a New York State court.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Delusions in Cleveland

I was just on a publicity tour in the U.S for the paperback release of the second volume of my memoirs titled, AFTER THE FALLS. One of my first stops was Cleveland. Now for most people Cleveland has very little meaning, but it is packed with meaning for me.

Forty five years ago I was a teacher at a ghetto high school in the late 60’s when The Hough area of the city was burning during the riots after the murder of Martin Luther King. In the third volume of my memoir which will come out next year, tentatively titled, ROUND-TRIP, I recount my student teaching experience and how I was nearly fired not only by my supervising teacher, not just by the principal, but by the superintendent of the Cleveland school system.

It is never easy for a tall blond of twenty-one years of age to return to the scene of the crime as a faded blond. let’s be honest I was now a white haired sixty- four year old. (The Beatles have that one right. ‘Will you still need me’, etc.) After my fatally flawed student teaching experience, I went on to do a PhD. in psychology on DARWIN’S INFLUENCE ON FREUD. Then I was a psychologist for twenty-five years.

I decided that even though I left Cleveland nearly under armed guard, I was not going to return bowed and slink into the city. I wanted the inhabitants to know I could still rock with the best of them. I attempted to make the following fashion statement: I am no longer a teacher or a conservatively dressed psychologist. At Fifty I broke out and became a writer. I don’t have to wear the solid black of the aging – as in ‘black hides all.’ I didn’t have to wear a suit since I am no longer a staid psychologist. I can have edge since that is what writers are supposed to possess. Therefore, I wore blue jeans and a really unique brown suede jackets that is covered with multicolored beads and fringe. I had pink Japanese paper book shaped earrings dangling with insouciance from my ears, and my feet were shod in purple pointed cowboy boots with yellow top stitching. I was convinced I had created the perfect writerly image. As far as Cleveland was concerned I was saying to any teachers from my old faculty who were going to attend my talk, I was not the prodigal teacher.

I left the airport and climbed into the cab. Believe it or not the cab driver was named Cleveland. He said his parents wanted to be sure he felt at home. As I got in the back seat he said, “You goin’ to the Rock and Roll Hall of fame?” This museum is Cleveland’s only claim to tourist development in the last quarter century. Even the hotel keys are in the shape of a guitar. The airport walkway is full of large rock and roll photos.

I informed him that I was in town to read from my book. He said that he surprised because I looked exactly like a Dolly Parton fan coming to pay tribute at the Rock and Roll hall of fame. He said he’d seen dozens of them over the years and I exactly fit the bill.

There is such a far cry between fantasy and reality and it took Cleveland in Cleveland to let me know I had to ‘mind the gap.’

Thursday, November 10, 2011

publicity tour in the United States and Canada

Well I've gone from New York City to Sundance, Utah, with many desultory and sometimes interesting stops in between, flogging the paperback edition of my second memoir AFTER THE FALLS.

When on these tours the publisher pays for the hotel, and expenses and they usually provide a handler, a person who picks you up at the airport and takes you to different box bookstores where they can't find your book. Then they take you to your various speaking venues in the evening. I found that the handler was often a microcosm of the city I was visiting.

Handler in New York
When she picked me up at LaGuardia, we were not out of the airport before she told me that handling was not her full time gig. She is, in fact, a performance artist. When I asked her if she would be coming to my event in the evening she said that she was ‘run off her feet’ and I should take a cab. As I got out of her car she said, "Remember Kate, this is New York City. Don't expect a big audience. There is a lot going on.”

Handler in Sundance, Utah
When I arrived at the Airport in Utah, there was a man holding up a sign that read Golddink instead of Gildiner. (He was really handsome so I figured Golddink was close enough.) I knew I was out of New York when he gave me a bear hug while I was still gripping my carry-on luggage. He said, “ I hope more than anything that I can get to your talk tonight. We are all so excited that you’re here.” There are many drivers or 'handlers' at Sundance because everyone stays in a cabin in the Mountains and you have to be picked up for every meal. Each one said they were thrilled that I was there and one said, “Wild horses couldn’t keep me from that talk. Plus I can't wait to read your book.” It always makes me feel good when young people, thirty and under, are excited about my book. I was, therefore, surprised when not one of the eight handlers came to my talk or bought the book.

Handler in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada

Then I went to Red Deer, Alberta. When I landed at the airport I asked the handler if she was going to be at my talk she said, “Of course it’s my job”, as though it was a tough slog but she was getting paid for it. She was there with her entire book club of thirty people and each one bought a book.

You are your own geography

New York
When I was in New York the first morning my handler said she would meet me at Starbucks ‘around the corner’. I went there and she wasn’t there. I went back to my hotel and was informed by the doorman that there were ‘nine Starbucks within the one large block. Yikes. Finally after my Starbucks excursions, I gave up on the handler and decided to sit down and have a coffee and let her find me. Every single person had a computer, as it is free Wi-Fi at Starbucks. There were no seats available. Finally when a man left and there was only a lone man at a table for two I said , “Mind if I join you”. He said ‘Well this is my office and I am just about to have a meeting.” At that moment a man in a suit arrived and the lone man in the chair greeted him and welcomed him as though he had a corner office in Rockefeller Plaza. I guess with high rents and such little space, you take space where you can get it. Starbucks coffee may be expensive but it is cheaper than an hour of New York rents.
After giving up on my handler and a seat at Starbucks, I crawled back to my hotel. This was a really high-end hotel, even by New York Standards, so I was shocked to find out that they were charging over $12.00 a day for Wi-Fi. I said to the clerk at the front desk that they should just add the price to the room instead of nickel and diming people. (I wasn’t paying for it, but the principal bothered me.) I informed him that even at the Super Eight motels the Wi-Fi is free. He never looked up from sorting his mail and said in a thick Brooklyn accent, ‘Well honey, so are the bedbugs.’

At Sundance all of the waiters were handsome and friendly. They knew my name after the first day and sometimes even sat down to join me. In the deli they had what is called in New York City a tip box. However, at Sundance it is called a Karma jar. They even call Robert Redford 'Bob'.

One of the great things about Utah was the space. The restaurants at Sundance are huge and you have ten feet between your table and the next one. The Rockies give you feeling of space. The people are also expansive just like the terrain. They are happy to meet you. They reach out. I made the mistake of thinking that all of their warmth meant they were interested in my work. It didn't. It was just cordiality.

Red Deer, Alberta
There are certain spots in my presentation where the audience ususally laughs --in the United States. No one broke a smile in Red Deer, Alberta or in Calgary. Once my talk was over I didn't expect to sell many books, but we sold so many we ran out. Each person in the audience bought at least one. One man approached me poker faced and said in the most laconic of tones, "You're a riot. I never heard such a funny talk." He never once cracked a smile as I signed his book.

The great thing about North America is the diversity. Once you know what the cues are it is great to travel around. New York City competes with you, but I love how out front they are about it. Once you know the rules for how this tiny island that is crammed with people operates, you can function quite easily.

The space and friendliness in Utah was so calming after New York. Yet I had to be careful not to interpret their expansiveness as interest in me per se. Once I got that down I was fine. When they all said good-bye and said they were so excited for my third volume, I knew it was just best to just wave and smile instead of giving them the publication date.

Good ol' Canada --my home--not all that friendly, or welcoming. It is bitterly cold in Alberta; you have to count on one another or you could blow away or freeze. So what they say is what you get. There is comfort in that.