The Academy: Update

Last summer when I began to write The Academy, I was writing fiction. Certainly, many of the characters were modeled after my personal experiences. (One can’t have a 50-year career in public education and not be affected by students. staff, and parents.) Of course, I took great liberty with poetic license to enhance and speculate about each of the players. But since my book published my fictitious story continues to play out in reality.

What an eerie feeling for me, as I follow a court case in a western state court on monetary kickbacks to school administrators and their families. Further, now the FBI is investigating the role of overseas threats of violence to American public schools, colleges, and universities. This ongoing investigation has identified 250 colleges, 100 high schools, and several junior high schools since early June falsely threatening explosive devices or an imminent school shooting. Corroboration of a product of my imagination is most overwhelming!

Please know, my intent had nothing to do with money. Yes, The Academy is available on Amazon, and yes, I get $1.00 and some change royalty, but my intent was solely to advance the conversation about outsiders creating chaos through random mass massacres in the US and the issue of gun control. I’m not prodding you to read my book, but ask yourself one question: In Uvalde, Texas last May, an 18-year-old high school, unemployed dropout entered Robb Elementary School and executed 19 children and 2 teachers. The shooter, Salvador Ramos, was driving a brand new $70,000 truck, wore $5,000 in tactical gear, and carried over $5,000 worth of artillery and ammunition. Where did he get the money?

RIP Dr. Seuss

In celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday on March 2.

Thanks to my fifth grade teacher, I learned to memorize the required weekly poem. Thus, when my freshman drama teacher handed me a copy of Horton Hatches the Egg, it was easy to memorize the story. In high school, I competed in speech contests with Horton, and he became so ingrained in me that I continued my performances for the last 59 years. By my unembellished, estimates, I’ve performed for over 7,000 children in Ohio, Texas, North Carolina, Colorado, and Arizona and relished every minute. Further, I truly enjoyed the Q and A afterwards, where they ask me about the character voices, the plot, and random things, like ‘can you come to my birthday party.’

COVID ended my in-school student performances, but I was prepared to offer them again three weeks ago. I’d drafted the email to local elementary teachers announcing my availability. Then reality set in. The far right has vilified Dr. Seuss. His books have been stripped from teachers’ shelves and from school libraries. The result of my performance in the second grade could very well ignite a maelstrom. After all, Horton is a guy elephant, who sits on a runaway mother’s egg until it hatches. The result is an elephant bird! Oh, ye gods! Talk about controversy. Certainly, an LGBTQ book, a pro-evolution book, a book that celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion. Oh, not to mention values, like fidelity and honesty.

Quite frankly, I embrace my woke label, which simply means I AM awake, and I AM paying attention. Yet, in contrast, I regret I no longer perform Horton for children. It’s not about me; I could care less about me. But I would never want to bring undue criticism to a teacher, an elementary school, a school district, nor to a public school board meeting.

Now, Alice talked about curiouser and curioser, but I prefer weirder and weirder. With all of the problems in our world, the last thing we should be worried about is Dr. Seuss!


I was telling my friend about me picking up the wrong dog last week from the groomer. She laughed, “Sue, I can tell you a better true story than that one.”

Since I consider myself a good storyteller, I doubted her veracity. “Have at it, Cathy. Let me hear it.”

“As you know, we had to move my mom in with us due to her health challenges. However, she had adopted a male, neutered cat about eight months ago, which we couldn’t house due to allergies. My eldest daughter moved into my Mom’s to tend to her cat. Last week my kid called me hysterically screaming, ‘Mom, there’s something wrong with grandma’s cat!'”

Oh my. This is awful, I thought.

Cathy continued, “My kid yells ‘there’s a kitten coming out of his hind end! What should I do? Pull it out?’ No. I’ll be right over.”

When Cathy arrived, the neutered male had delivered three black and orange kittens. “I searched through my Mom’s desk and found the adoption papers. Indeed my mom had adopted a neutered male, which obviously was not a neutered male. I called the animal shelter.

“Get a load of this, Sue. The gal who answered the phone asked: ‘Did your cat get out?’ WTH? What difference did that make? My mom allegedly adopted a HE, who morphed into a SHE with three offspring!”

I was laughing so hard tears ran down my cheeks. “So what is your recourse, Cathy? You gonna sue the animal shelter?”

Cathy scowled. “No, but I’m making them spay my mom’s cat and take in the three kittens for adoption when they’re weened. You know, I felt bad, for my mom was adamant she’d adopted a male. I doubted her; I thought she was losing her mind.”

Isn’t it rich why people automatically assume people over 75 have lost their minds? Nikki Haley, 2024 Presidential candidate, insists that those over 75 have to take mental competency tests to run for political office. What will be next? Voting tests, driver’s tests? And a myriad of others. Not all of we seniors are as mentally challenged as George Santos, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Laura Boebert, or Anna Luna. We still know male, neutered cats don’t have kittens!


The following is a true story; no names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Yesterday, I took my year-old mini Goldendoodle, Harper, to the groomer. She was such a mess of tangles and dreadlocks the groomer said, “Sue, I’m going to have to buzz cut her.” Of course, I agreed as I’d been unable to brush the matted hair for several weeks.

Two hours later, a new employee called me to pick up Harper. The young clerk was in a panic when I entered the dog salon. Groomed pups of all shapes and sizes were anxiously awaiting their owners and barking so loudly it was hard to hear. “Stop barking!” he yelled, but no dog obeyed. “Which one of these is yours?”

“The blond one.” I paid the bill and attempted to lift Harper up. Damn, she was heavy; she must have eaten a lot of treats today.

“Do you need me to carry her to the car?”

“Sure. Thank you.” He put her in the back seat and the dog laid down. Hmm. I found it rather curious, Harper’s a hyped gal; maybe she’s tired after her spa adventure. Once inside my garage, I opened the back door and looked. The dog’s eyes looked different–yellow and teary. “Oh, shit! I must be losing it. WTH? I don’t even know my own dog? My kids are going to lock me up for sure! For god’s sake, don’t tell them.”

Surprisingly, when we entered the house, the rest of my pack was delighted to see their sister. Until….

Their alleged sister lifted his leg and marked my refrigerator, the wastebasket, sofa, and fireplace! OMG! I was living Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper; I was starring in The Parent Trap or The Princess Switch.

I immediately returned to the grooming salon where I was met by Sprocket’s owner and the clerk. “I can’t believe this happened; I’m so sorry about this mix up,” the clerk whined. “It’s never happened before.”

Both Sprocket’s owner and I made light of the situation, as I scooped up Harper and put her in the car. On our short ride home, I laughed and laughed. I wasn’t upset about the switch, I wasn’t dismayed by Sprocket’s markings of my belongings. I rejoiced! I haven’t lost my mind…yet!

“I’m with the BANneD!”

As a high school English teacher, how could I be anything else? Allow me, to list a few classics that have been banned: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, for its pro abolishionist agenda. Huckleberry Finn, for its “coarse language”–not swear words (Mrs. Clemens edited those out, but for slang coarse words. Of Mice and Men, for using the Lord’s name in vain, morbid depressing themes, and alleged anti-business attitudes. The Catcher in the Rye, for being obscene, with vulgar language, sexual scenes, and moral issues.The list could go on to include The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, and a number of Dr. Seuss children’s books. In addition to literature, history, science, and math books are being censored and rewritten to correct their inaccuracies. Really? We don’t like the outcome of that war or the result of that law, we will just change the narrative? Imagine our children learning that some of the US Presidents had clay feet!

However, the ultra-right is marching ahead in its continued attacks. Their newest bane is LGBTQ and drag shows. In the Arizona legislature a number of bills (SB 1698, SB 1026, and SB1030) are aimed at protecting children from drag performances. In fact, SB 1698 would criminalize anyone who exposes a child to such a performance–a Class Four Felony, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison, and automatic registration as a sex offender. Now this would certainly be laughable if it wasn’t true. Consider these: Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire, Yentl, Mulan, Hairspray, M.A.S.H. , Victor Victoria. Everyone of these productions has a drag character. In fact in Shakespearean times, all female roles were played by male actors. Yet when the ultra-right darling, Kari Lake, ran for governor last fall she had been known to invite drag queens to perform at parties. where her children were present.

So, even though the legislature touts educational choice and parent empowerment, they want to prosecute/persecute parents for taking their child to see Mrs. Doubtfire? Talk about speaking out of both sides of their mouths under the guise of protecting children.

If the ultra-right was truly committed to protecting children, they would outlaw the sale of AR-15’s and other “spray and slay” weapons. They would adequately fund the public schools, instead of supporting wealthy privates. They would enhance the Department of Children’s Services to ensure kids live in a safe environment. Yes, I know. These are taboos for the ultra-right. They would much rather declare me a sex offender for taking my kids to see Hairspray. Have at it! We saw it in NYC.

Next up, watch for the ultra-right to severely restrict internet, cell phone and other forms of social media usage to protect us all.

The Broads’ Weekend

About 99.9% of my friends are married or in long-term relationships; thus rendering me the lone wolf. However, wolf is not an accurate descriptor–perhaps lone ranger, without Tonto is more apt. On occasion, many of my friends have asked, “Don’t you ever get lonely?” A fair question, but how can I get lonely with five dogs, who love me unconditionally, who sit at my feet as I write this blog? I never sit on the sofa alone, nor do I sleep alone. My dogs are my constant companions, which can be burdensome at times, when they tear through my house chasing each other.

But the other curious statement I often hear is: “You’re so lucky, Sue. You are free from all the demands of a relationship. You have no schedule, no meals to prepare, no calendars to juggle, no one to answer to, and no requirements.” Yes, this is a big plus. If I want to eat dinner at midnight, I do. If I decide on a whim to jet off for the weekend, I just have to arrange the dog sitter. No questions asked, no justifying my Amazon bill, no shared decision-making.

Oddly, this weekend two of my besties found themselves in my position–their husbands were away for the weekend. They were both euphoric.”What should we do, Sue?” Wednesday night we went to the casino, gambled, and gorged ourselves on delicious bar food. Thursday night we tried the new pizza place in the “hood and laughed for hours in my family room. Friday night, we went to the neighborhood grill where we play trivia and ate too much clam chowder. When we were about to leave the restaurant, I notice a change in my friends; they were drifting back into the realities of their lives. “This has been a blast, but my son is coming tomorrow night for a week, and I need to get stuff ready.” The other nodded, “And I’ve got piles of laundry to do and mop up all the dog prints before my husband gets home.”

Granted we had a whimsical weekend, but neither of them would trade their realities for mine. Yet, both of them agreed it was a great escape from their routines. Sometimes, we all enjoy a different road. without the usual ruts. Trust me, it’s enlightening to step out of the usual and ordinary!

Collecting Sports Cards

This weekend I was educated by a third grade and a seventh grade boy about the phenomena of collecting sports cards. Now, I’m so old the only cards I collected were baseball cards, which we frequently attached to the spokes of a bicycle wheel to make it sound like a motorcycle or we played a flip game to trade cards. Of course I could buy five or so cards for a quarter and get a delicious piece of bubble gum.

Well, according to my new boy friends collecting cards is a big deal, not to mention a big money maker these days. Special boxed sets can reach thousands of dollars each, while some beginner sets average $50. Cards are available in any sport from the obvious baseball, basketball, football, hockey to soccer and wrestling. Sports cards may be submitted for grading to a number of companies like Beckett, PSA (Professional Sports Authenticator), and SCG where a card’s worth is determined on centering, corners, edges, and surfaces. To possess a score of 10 increases the value when compared to a one or 2. Further, this authenticity service costs a minimum of a hundred dollars per card!

Some cards may feature an actual signed autograph, a sticker autograph, or a piece of material from the player’s jersey. These additional enhancements increase the price of the card. In fact, yesterday when I was in the card store with these boys, they showed me an autographed card of a current football player I’d never heard of that was $3,000! Much more expensive than any of the signed jerseys hung around the store.

Granted I have little experience with boys this age, but it seems to me this is a giant ripoff–a small piece of cardboard printed with a photo and stats sold at the average price of ten dollars. Yet, the more I think about it as the mother of daughters, my girls collected credit cards–far more dangerous!

The Academy

As most of you know, I will launch The Academy, my third novel this week. It is a provocative tale that focuses on mass shootings, in an effort to advance the conversation of the availability of weapons to the public. It is not my intent to financially benefit from the sale of The Academy, which is available on Amazon. If you want a free copy, just PM or email me.

Please know, though, the plot of this book is not as far-fetched as it may appear.In November every national news outlet reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was investigating threats to US schools and universities. Though, the investigation is on going, the Bureau believes 50% are coming from overseas. Yes, that’s a lot to wrap one’s head around. Yet, if one reads reports on the tragedy in Ulvade, Texas, how does an eighteen-year-old, high school drop out, with no job, drive to the scene in a new $70,000 truck, wearing and armed with $10,000 of equipment and kill nineteen children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School? Good question? Follow the money.

Mixed Nuts

Of course, the title brings immediately to mind, the debacle and soap-opera drama played out this week on the floor of the US House of Representatives. Twenty toddlers stalled the election of Speaker McCarthy 15 times. Now, they may have found their antics hilarious, but how could I respect the opinion of one who was well aware of the sexual harassment of Ohio State athletes, or the GED grad from Colorado, or the Floridian who likes under-aged young girls, or the dumbest blonde in Georgia?? Further, while they knew their efforts were in vain, they continued their childish behavior by nominating Trump and other random folk. The only folks laughing were the rest of the world, who thought America had lost its marbles.

Yet, the purpose of my blog today concerns real mixed nuts. You know the kind you’re gifted in a fancy holiday tin, or the can you buy in the grocery store. Forgive me, if I sound boujee, but when I fly distances greater than two hours, I fly first class. At my age, I far too old to tolerate the cattle car mentality of some travelers and crammed-in seating with runny noses and fits of coughing. When I flew last month on American, the flight attendant served each of us a bowl of warm, mixed nuts at cocktail time. Since I had nothing better to do, I entertained myself by watching people eat their treat and discovered I’m an unusual nut eater. Most folk just took a handful and dumped them in their mouths. One dude picked up the bowl and poured the entire contents down! Me? I prefer to savor the taste of nuts by kind. Why waste a great cashew by mixing it with almonds? Or why mix a pistachio with pecans?

I guess it’s trivial how folk eat their nuts. Too bad it wasn’t trivial in DC last week.