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.’


  1. Dear Cathy,

    What a story!! I can't wait to see your outfit in person!!! Maybe "Cleveland" from Cleveland will be in your next book??

  2. I've always thought of you as an intellectual's Dolly Parton

  3. Hahaha! I think you look fab, like a rock star, in fact. Resist the black!

  4. They said in my twitter feed you were similar to me .. I thought at first "not" and then I read your blogs. Funny Funny. Joy.The line about the bedbugs. Love this spirt. Will follow you on twitter and look for the book. Cheers. Yes. home.