Moronic Ox Q&A: Secrets of an Old Typewriter, politics, animal rights, classic films, and just about…everything!

In this Q&A with Moronic Ox literary journal, I talk openly about my book Secrets of an Old Typewriter, politics, animal rights, classic films, and just about…everything!

Excerpt: “I hold out hope for youthful altruism and acceptance of one another and living and letting live. Perhaps, one day, individuality will trump group-think. EVOLUTION accomplished! Preservation of and reverence for the environment and respect for all who live might be a given! Another serious concern is this political divisiveness which becomes more tiresome by the day and which I pray will evaporate and which children either may be bored with or immersed in–anybody know for sure? I see two posturing clumps of climbing humans in both parties who are outdoing one another with ever-larger families, fitting into molds which they believe will assure lucrative futures. Very few appear to genuinely care about anybody but themselves and their continuance of climbing the ladder…to heaven? Ha! No! To newer houses, several automobiles, meaningless chatter, community activism with only themselves at the helm….Animals teach me to understand human nature…to open my heart…to tolerate inexplicable behavior…to meet folks more than just half-way. Loving animals teaches me compassion and empathy and to care about others, whatever species…whatever age…whatever gender…whatever ethnicity.”

Read the rest by clicking here

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Moronic Ox: Susie, congratulations on the paperback publication of your memoir Secrets of an Old Typewriter:  Stories from a Smart and Sassy Small Town Girl. We know you have lived your entire life in Columbia City, Indiana, and the book talks about events in your childhood during the 1950s, so our readers can certainly determine that you are a person of some experience.  Can you talk a little about small town life in the 1950s and 1960s compared with small town life these days?

Susie Duncan Sexton: Funny you should ask. Just hung up a land phone and am reviewing, over the supper table, a fun conversation enjoyed with Louise Easterday.  Wouldn’t Charles Dickens have been enamored with THAT name for his “David Copperfield”,  “Oliver Twist”, ” Pickwick Papers” and “Mystery of Edwin Drood”, etc.?  We are awash with interesting surnames in this community…  Yes, I write of  those years when folks spoke a three digit phone number to an overly curious eavesdropping switchboard operator, got connected and probably a multi-party line chat ensued.  Louise’s school days happened during the depression, and the little girl would arrive with her family at the local Columbia Drugstore to pay a meager rental fee for used school-books wrapped in newspaper and then return to her rural “township school”  — all tidily supplied for the ensuing nine months.  These days even our educational system in this tiny town has gone manically technological, and we only seem to be addressing and fixating upon computer skills.  Books handed down from year to year?  Sounds primitive.  However, we will soon read revelatory published newspaper lists of “dead-beat” financially over-extended parents who have failed to pay the exorbitant costs required of them these days for whatever keeps our cyber-obsessed society whizzing.  My thoughts?  Thank God, I have no children or grand-children precariously riding along this fast track to who knows where.  The leisurely pace, in-depth study of classic literature, insistence upon cursive writing skills, sentence diagramming, math/science proclivity  honed through rigid tiresome repetition, and monotonous concentration upon World/American history and geography via somewhat dated textbooks– all of these disciplines fade into the distance.  Move, hurry, digest a “little knowledge” which “is” possibly “a dangerous thing”!  Google!  Thus, even a “Grover’s Corners”-“Peyton Place” sleepy little community gears up to keep pace, and the sound of push mowers and an occasional siren and children laughing while playing outside until their heart’s content have all been replaced with congested cacophony of bumper to bumper traffic, kids staring mindlessly at iPads and hurriedly conversing on iPhones, and toxic fertilized landscaping kept tidy by an overweight guy steering a riding mower — or lawns covered in over-grown knee-high grass and roofs caving in and porches sagging and nobody’s home cuz all family members are scrambling for a living just to keep food on the table.  On the street where I have lived for 66 years, I see both ends of the spectrum of humanity.  I do not praise the past at the expense of current “progress”, but I believe especially in the glorious 50s, an unusually comfortable era, LIFE in general promised a great deal more than our present state of affairs.  I know…old people tend to think that way!  ;D  I loved manual typewriters…yet I dig this computer world.  Thus, flexibility I count as one of my virtues.  And where did I learn that skill?  Growing up in the 1950s…that’s where!  Oh, and we used to appreciate our citizens for who they were…individuals!  Now, our morals — or lack of them- have become all jumbled with faux-prayer chains and dictatorial insistence upon joining a church “home”/social club …either sign up and pay up/tithe to accommodate the hefty mortgage on these tax-exempt, exclusive pole barn behemoths, Or — go to Hell!  Religion once inspired us in this town…now in its shallow demand for blind allegiance, the current atmosphere both suffocates natural breathing and strangles deep thought… meaningful relationships based on pure friendship have died.  Other than that, I have no complaints?

Moronic Ox: We know that one of your passions is American politics (in ‘Secrets’ you name JFK as a personal hero). What is your take on the upcoming election, and how do you feel about the political climate in the United States today?

Susie Duncan Sexton: As I respond to your question, I have one eye squinted at and one ear cocked toward my plasma-screened television and yearn for a fabulous,  people-oriented  Democrat(-ic) National Convention brimming with suggestions for solving dilemmas both economic and societal.  Totally immersed in 2008 campaigning, phone-banking, canvassing, letter-writing, and advocating to the point of near dementia, my enthusiasm for the fickle arena of politics has waned considerably.  I’ve grown to admire Barack at this point in time but seriously preferred Hillary who has been spectacularly impressive as Secretary of State even though she appears exhausted…yep, ladies tend to give new meaning to that tired phrase once reserved for half-assed male executives…”workaholic’!  I actually fear the simple-minded agenda that the tea-billy mentality is foisting upon the masses.   “Mad-cap” conservatives (oxymoron I know) possibly might buy the presidency (Thanks, Supreme Court!), and, with the help of facilitated (“a member of THE party will register you and drive you and wait for you while you vote the way we want you to”), clueless, angry, unthoughtful masses, walk effortlessly into the White House. Romney seems harmless but his Mister Sarah Palin/ Dan Quayle opportunistic ‘I’ll say any stupid, hateful thing to be viable” side-kick Paul Ryan will — in a possible GOD FORBID victory —  unleash immature “Family” (HA!) MEN on us ranging from dog catchers to Attorney Generals…a huge segment of that “Gen X” age group is so dismayingly plastic and posturing and aware only of each other that our country will be doomed beyond redemption.  The baby boomers should be ashamed that our feistiness and forward looking approach dissolved into a massive puddle of self-gratification somewhere along the way.  JFK’s assassination I point to as the beginning of the end for our later yuppified scrambled socio-economic group.  We emerged as neither dedicated hippies nor successful Babbitts…we suck.  But there is still time…all we need are convictions and the guts to hold onto such.  Obama’s mama almost raised a gifted kid…the one who declared we must be wary of “Bible-thumpin’ gun-toters” and that same young fellow who enjoyed his minister Jeremiah Wright who spoke the truth…not radicalism…but the truth.  In 2012, should President Obama sit upon the throne, I hope his spine has grown back!  We need  a courageous chief executive who does not fear mercurial public opinion. At the moment, the idiotic gab-fest  — which is lightly coating yet eventually drowning this nation — should be hushed by clear thinking, unbiased appreciation for our fellow citizens, speaking truths out loud, compassion, and a determination to lift this nation above the Tower of Babel status which currently amounts to “white noise”, sinking our once promising country into hopeless oblivion…inconsequential and powerless and at our young age, too!  America’s actually still a fresh experiment, recently conceived…yet floundering… threatened by erratically approaching death throes.

Moronic Ox: Surely anyone who knows Susie Duncan Sexton in real life, or from Facebook, knows that you are an avid advocate for animal rights. How did you become involved with this cause, and what progress (if any) can you measure from your campaign? Is an awareness of animals’ rights growing in our culture, or is it, by and large, still ignored? What one message would you send out again and again describing the plight of homeless or mistreated animals?

Susie Duncan Sexton: Truly, I contend that I arrived in 1946 equipped with a built-in respectful awe of any “movement” (literal or figurative) whatsoever within my line of vision…which is a good thing?  Animals especially take me lands away (even according to “Genesis”, those guys got here first!)…my mind no longer on myself, worry-wart-ism dissipates!  My 150% empathy — which arrived late in my life– for all sentient beings occurred to maximum effect too recently (sadly) as a result of facebooking and posting  a tentative handful of “sheltered” yet imprisoned doggies and cats. I grew up with domesticated pets…never been without them….ever — a continual parade of what/who, to my mind, is/are the most  beautiful aspect of our limited universe from as long ago as I can remember.   Poet Walt Whitman spoke of how self-contained and serene animals are…when I myself “look long and long” as he recommended, I see what Homo sapiens are capable of becoming…so free, so instinctive, so fluid, so sensible, so accepting, usually peaceful, so glad to be alive.  My one regret, and what I would do over had I the chance, would be to develop a much earlier and keener awareness of the animal kingdom (and I refer to Ants all the way to Zebras and all variations thereof…feathered, webbed-footed, scaled, all included–any soul who has a father and mother somewhere and — eyeballs!…) and would have pushed myself in real time to  faithfully  tend not only to welfare but also “rights” of all to live unharmed, free, and respected.  I now function like an air traffic controller…posting photographs nearly 24/7 and hoping more and more primates (meaning ourselves of course–we are mammals who choose to brand ourselves “humans”), who otherwise would boast of vacations and share recipes and family photos, to stop and think that with a simple “click” onto the word “share” a few times per day, lives get saved.   Incarcerated innocent beings find homes…beautiful bonds happen.  Children, as a result, would learn valuable lessons about caring for others, for someone outside themselves.  SO what would my most earnest message — which I hope could resonate with more and more and ever more “evolved” human beings– be?  Answer: All who breathe and who are already born and can feel joy and pain and fear and respond to kindness and nurturing must share this Earth in harmony to the advantage of each of us as well as for the ultimate benefit of our precious environment. Peaceful co-existence.A peaceable kingdom. Republicans really ought to join those of us who truly worship Nature and the natural world and all inhabitants thereof.  Why are we so easily diverted from huge, crucial issues such as affordable healthcare, gun control, equal pay, international relations, understanding of other cultures, and job creation via useless discussions of the (impossible to grasp) meaning of “marriage” (an artificial concept and crowd control device) AND at what point sexual intercourse manufactures a definable human “bean” AND whether deer herds (artificially inseminated by your local DNRs to spike hunting license sales) are “dangerous” needing to be “harvested” AND encouragement of wrap around traffic lines of cars holding gluttons doubling as Christian homophobes insecure about their own sexuality, eagerly devouring once live chickens chopped into sandwiches…all the while supporting a supposedly devout business mogul counting his blood money and whose “instant gratification”- demanding customers will develop breast and prostate and colon cancers, heart disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s?  Beef production and consumption, the last time I looked, declined 25%.  My fabulous Facebook Friends now number over 5,300…after three years of kissing braggarts, self-centered wackadoodles, and fluffheads “good-bye” to be productively replaced with conscientious animal transporters, rescuers, fosterers, “failed” fosterers ;D, and serious adopters.  I am just one among perhaps millions telegraphing messages and performing my duty to manKIND and animal kind daily and nightly.  And I strike these keys hour upon hour not because I feel superior…but, indeed, INFERIOR as I view these haunted and haunting and yet still wise, knowing, puzzled  faces of canines, felines, cattle, pigs, geese, goats, chickens, turtles.. in essence the very face of God.  Until we acknowledge the existence of and our responsibility toward every living creature AND our accompanying contribution to the despicable starvation of staggering numbers of children in third world countries due to our importing of their wheat crops to feed our over-reproduced LIVE….STOCK…so that obese Americans can rush about to fast-food joints for their “flesh” fix,  we must classify ourselves as participants in the most expansive and evil holocaust ever perpetrated since the BIG BANG! Ready for the BIG BANG, Part II?  Empathetic compassion I highly recommend– quite a tonic which gives life meaning.  Apathy qualifies as the only sin I have personally witnessed in my rather long life thus far. Frigid indifference.  As Robert Frost wrote prophetically:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Moronic Ox: As an advocate for animals, we understand that you do not eat them – you are a strict vegan. Aside from the cruelty issue in the production of animal-based foods, what are some of the health benefits of eating vegan? And do you think there are mental and/or spiritual benefits as well?

Susie Duncan Sexton: In several Far Eastern cultures, breast cancer and prostate cancer do NOT occur…ever…or DID not…until our western influence introduced our fast food industry world-wide.  We watched a film entitled FORKS OVER KNIVES and learned that particular tidbit this past week-end.  Once Big Macs arrived within targeted markets in China, cancers increased dramatically — from zero to thousands…something to be said on behalf of the advisability of rice and chopsticks.  WE are the devils.  I also recommend the book ETERNAL TREBLINKA which catalogues our country’s facilitation of Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and differently abled souls being massacred in an economically viable mass slaughter via gassing chambers which we originally manufactured to murder animals en masse and then “cook up” our own roast beef and filet mignons and Dagwood sandwiches or all American hot dogs served at our ball-handling pageants.  Three strikes and…you’re out!  PLAY BALL!  What cowboys we are!  Hey, we got Wernher von Braun and ex-Nazi scientists/engineers to design the H-Bomb and create our race to the stars after Germany lost the war, but THEY almost took over the Earth with OUR help and OUR “large-groups” killing machines.  Who ever said Americans are not inventive?  TIT FOR TAT!  Other medical problems we worry, fret and whine about — AFTER consuming the flesh, organs, skin, eyeballs, hooves and anuses of once living beings — are Diabetes Types I & II, Parkinson’s Disease, Heart Attacks & Strokes directly attributable to meat consumption and meat by-products and NOT to gene pools at all!!!!  Another beneficiary of this wicked ghoulishness is the pharmaceutical INDUSTRY. Cholesterol level elevated?  No problem.  Pop, for the umpteenth time, refilled prescriptions of Lipitor into your ravenous mouth.  We each consume annually the equivalent of approximately 90 depleted, diseased five year old dairy cows, artificially inseminated so repeatedly that they never even lie down but stand dazed and pregnant after only one round of grazing in the grass once in their short lives (cows are herbivores as are we — so much for the “we eat cattle for protein” myth!)…those ladies’ natural life expectancy is 28 years of age, not five!  They can barely walk up the ramp to be strung upside down to have their throats slit… often they are bulldozed to their proper station to be butchered slowly, either thunked in their heads like Temple Grandin sanctions after some supposedly soothing sweet talk or as Javier Bardem performed indiscriminately upon humans in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN — thunk…a huge bullet blown through the forehead.  And where are the endlessly birthed calves?  The only mammal (besides typically our own kids) who never drink(s) its own mother’s milk are those infant, frightened calves BECAUSE our human babies as well as scared old dames misinformed that the fearful brittle bone disease is gonna bust up formerly child-bearing hips, spandexed joggers sucking up yogurt, and teenagers gobbling  melted cheese slathered on pizzas drink some other species’ life-sustaining liquid which without fail contains a dropper-full of pus which cannot be removed during the homogenization process. Got milk?  And a cutesy milk moustache? Did you enjoy your veal while dining out this evening?   Ripped from their UTTERLY exhausted milk-spewing mamas, days old calves endure standing room only inside dark crates.  After a bit of fattening up, more throat slitting for “junior”!  Please view the videos…because nobody is filming these nightmarish, Hellish atrocities these days….farmers have wised up…beef barons and Orwellian pork producers have perked up and are paying to get some folks elected who’ll allow these murderous crimes to continue undocumented and unprosecuted.   The Mafia has only changed form…and THEY R US!  As to personal side-effects of NOT practicing cannibalism, I must record here that I am slenderer, smarter, bolder, more spiritual than ever, unafraid of moronic thugs…and best of all I AM SO DAMNED GOOD-HEARTED AND NICE THAT I DESERVE A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE.

Moronic Ox: Getting back to your book, Secrets of an Old Typewriter, what compelled you to pen this collection of essays? Certainly, the essays document you colorful life in small town America, but the book also seems to convey a need within the writer that goes beyond simple documentation. On a personal level, are these essays a summation of your life? Or some sort of catharsis? What satisfaction do you personally gain from your vivid nostalgic musings? And what personal insight was gained in the writing?

Susie Duncan Sexton: Rather than continuing as an elementary education curriculum major, fashioning papiermache molars and/or crafting miniature log cabins from discarded Popsicle sticks during four long collegiate seasons simply in order to baby-sit kindergarteners through fifth graders, I decided to switch and specialize in Speech and English at Ball State University in the odd-ass late sixties when I instead should have traveled to Haight-Ashbury to protest corporate America, vacuous snoots, and greed.  However,  I honestly was just too over-protected and too prudish and too shy to shout WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?  I waited until my forties when I finally began to believe my parents were not as bright and wise as I had originally believed and that marriage is nuts and that having babies is idiotic.  After Life dealt me some rather typical blows, I finally began to recognize and identify the brutishness and self-involvement surrounding us all  — yet operating smoothly unnoticed by us all.  My first so-called “activism” came in the form of WHAT????   A HUMANE SOCIETY IS CONTEMPLATING A  “SHELTER” for “animal care…and CONTROL” and which will be located at the end of the “street where I live”, after I personally rescued animals from heavy traffic from in front of my house year after year — for nearly half a century?  Supposedly a No-Kill facility, house-wives, who adored little kitties and doggies, volunteered precious time spent nurturing the “orphans” and registered justifiable alarm eventually as these women mingled with other citizens over coffee and reported cat cages — full of mamas and newborn kittens — all stacked on top of each other, having been dumped only a bit more lovingly than garbage, and gradually piling up in the aisles…and what with “offices” and a gift counter containing  t-shirts and mugs and key chains, sufficient space was at a minimum.  So the slaughter commenced.  Concerned, I began to compose letters after attempting to converse (a dead art this century) about murdering innocent, helpless, beautiful animals in this predominantly farmerish community where cats have historically been drowned or bagged up and whacked against barn doors, etc.  Need I continue?  So those college skills in speech-making and thesis writing and persuasive reasoning began to come in handy…had tried to teach those disciplines to public school kids who really didn’t give a fuck (I also taught on the college level and since those students were writing checks for ridiculous sums from their own bank accounts, they were slightly more receptive and fun!)  Now, I planned to use what I had studied.  Soon, 2008 loomed, and I turned my attentions to an important election and continued to write about common sense and inclusiveness and kindness and the importance of researching candidates and trying to understand the platforms of both parties and rather enjoyed being labeled a “radical”…for suggesting that gun ownership is insane and eating animals is ludicrous, primitive, unhealthy, unnecessary and mean as hell , and oh, yeah, that women are not allowed to really contribute their talents and what I call THINKing to our society without being called well…radical…or OPINIONated.  The results which I have endured, and also rejoiced at,  are varied and checkered and heart-warming and encouraging and at times threatening.  I currently chronicle a distinct period of time through my observations from toddler-hood to young bride in two columns per month.  I censor myself heavily but only twice have I stepped on deserving toes at long last.  Happy to have done so…my heart stopped skipping beats when, yes, catharsis occurred.  Regular heartbeats resumed…and hopefully a sizeable amount of local as well as personal history got written for my son and for posterity, and gee, how delightful it has been to speak up and to share and to realize how lovely a life I have been fortunate enough to enjoy because I have a pretty wonderful heart, a consistent “follow-through”, and an inherited sense of humor which generally has given me a balanced point of view.

Moronic Ox: In ‘Secrets’ you make numerous references to your favorite films and books. Obviously you consider films and books to be important elements of our culture. Can you name your five favorite films of all time, your five favorite actors or actresses of all time, and your five favorite books of all time?

Susie Duncan Sexton: FILMS:  MORTAL STORM, BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, CASINO JACK, BLACK STALLION, PENNY SERENADE, GONE WITH THE WIND (a given!), THE INSIDER, WAR HORSE, HEAVEN’S BURNING, THE CROSSING, EAST OF EDEN & GIANT….and the MAD MEN AMC series is the BEST television I have ever watched and I have a PhD in BOOB-TUBE-ISM
ACTORS & ACTRESSES:  IRENE DUNNE NEARLY ALWAYS, RUSSELL CROWE, FREDERIC MARCH, SPENCER TRACY, JAVIER BARDEM, BOTH HEPBURNS SOMETIMES NOT ALWAYS, ELIZABETH TAYLOR ONCE OR TWICE, AL PACINO, DIANE KEATON, EMMA THOMPSON, COLLEEN DEWHURST, BARBARA HARRIS. JAMES DEAN, JULIE HARRIS, GEORGE C. SCOTT, TONY PERKINS, CAROLE LOMBARD (a Hoosier!), VIVIEN LEIGH, MARGARET SULLAVAN, JIMMY STEWART at the start of his career
BOOKS:  HAYWIRE, A BEAUTIFUL MIND, BLACK BEAUTY, JUSTIN MORGAN HAD A HORSE, CAGNEY BY CAGNEY, a very sad sadsad biography detailing the tragic romance of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh –I WOULD HAVE TO REARRANGE MY DEN TO RE-LOCATE IT.  I adore movie star biographies and autobiographies. CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, EUGENE O’NEILL’S PLAYS, IBSEN’S PLAYS, THE NOVELS OF THOMAS WOLFE, SLAPSTICK.  ANY BOOK AT ALL ABOUT THE KENNEDYS FROM SMARMY TO SERIOUS AND LOVING.

Moronic Ox: It is probably true that each generation values the artistic products of its members with special regard. How would you assess the arts in the context of the present day? Do you see worthy novels being written? How about films – where are today’s really good ones coming from? How about theater? What turns your crank these days onstage?

Susie Duncan Sexton: I AM TIME-WARPED BIG TIME…SINGERS LIKE LENA HORNE AND AL JARREAU AND JOHNNY MATHIS AND TOM JONES AND STREISAND and BRITISH LITERATURE and SHAKESPEARE PLAYS and  FAULKNER and CUMMINGS and SINCLAIR LEWIS, and BTW not all of the stuff we were told was so wonderful always holds up…THUS, I HAVE AN OPEN MIND ABOUT THE “NEW” STUFF… saw a wonderful film called BOLD NATIVE a couple of weeks ago and MAY start wearing a ski mask and lugging wire-cutters about as an official member of the ANIMAL FEDERATION LEAGUE, better known as ALF…also laughed heartily at CAMPAIGN wondering HOW people don’t “get” how manipulative and money-grubbing and disingenuous “politics” is…no reputable person should ever entertain the idea of running for elective office.  Thus, I am open and flexible regarding  the “arts”, one of the few remaining pleasures of life, and consequently I am not overly selective.  (But generally, the “arts” are a lost art!)

Moronic Ox: As you documented your early life in ‘Secrets’ some might have called you an over achiever. What do you think about motivation within young people today? Is it weaker, or stronger, or pretty much the same as when, say, you were in college? And what are your hopes and expectations for today’s younger generation?

Susie Duncan Sexton: I possess two modes…highly turned on, energized and seeking to be organized.  On the other hand, I tend to give up, relax and not give a damn.  (Thank God for that mood swing…keeps me sane I hope?)  I agree with Tom Cruise!   Whether amateur or legitimate, psycho-babble makes me jumpy.  I detest the psychological labels we too swiftly slap onto folks.  So much of human behavior I  identify as “coping” mechanisms.  If I ever appeared to over-achieve, I balanced that out with sleeping and reading and grooming my dogs.  As to the potential of today’s youth, I believe, barring shallow peer-pressured religious extremism — which young parents currently seem to be enthralled with touting as well as obsessively keeping up with each other in inexplicable ways — really screwing up our future, that the generations on their way to accomplished adulthood are on to something.  I hold out hope for youthful altruism and acceptance of one another and living and letting live. Perhaps, one day, individuality will trump group-think.  EVOLUTION accomplished!  Preservation of and reverence for the environment and respect for all who live might be a given!  Another serious concern is this political divisiveness which becomes more tiresome by the day and which I pray will evaporate and which children either may be bored with or immersed in–anybody know for sure?  I see two posturing clumps of climbing humans in both parties who are outdoing one another with ever-larger families, fitting into molds which they believe will assure lucrative futures.  Very few appear to genuinely care about anybody but themselves and their continuance of climbing the ladder…to heaven?  Ha!  No!  To newer houses, several automobiles, meaningless chatter, community activism with only themselves at the helm. Mattel  “Play Family”  Villages…heaven help them, and all of us, if a TRUE depression/recession…a serious war…or a natural disaster upends their precious facades.  As far as heaven is concerned, should there even be such a location, why wait until landing there to become inclusive and to make up to folks and animals how you ignored them all in “real time” which I insist is the only heaven … or hell … we mortals can ever know?  Hey, I hope for the best from our youth…and if I can be of some assistance, I am available.  But I am keeping my fingers crossed and holding my breath as to our collective future…a lot more compassion instilled in young folks should be a priority if their parents slow down and remember to do so.  At the moment, I sense an over-abundance of racism, sexism, age-ism and species-ism which needs to be addressed…whether inside or outside a church sanctuary.  Maybe the “kids” can eliminate all of the damaging “-isms”!  I certainly hope so.

Moronic Ox: Since ‘Secrets’ is essentially a memoir, can you tell us who has been the most influential person in your life, and why? Whom do you admire, living or dead, and what has that person imparted to you that has made your life and your work more worthwhile?

Susie Duncan Sexton: Answering these two particular questions is both tricky and easy…honesty will probably be met with psychoanalysis…but here goes.  I have hero-worshipped many…and mostly the results were that my ass got handed to me sooner or later.  But they are wafting through my mind still, so I must have been impacted by those folks, living AND dead.  The easy response is MY MOTHER WAS MY BEST FRIEND until I attempted to grow a bit and until she became scared and odd;  by the time she died, I hardly remember why I once loved her so and what about her caused me to admire her for most of my life until I became middle-aged officially.  Don is a mystery to me, and I do not fully understand him.  I would say possibly his personality is complicated…and I no longer have the patience or the personal serenity to even try to figure him out.  He is nicer than most people I have ever known, but he disappears even when sitting in the same room where I am.  When we click, how grand!  But when we do not, disaster!  I believe we inhibit each other in some odd way. Without a doubt, the two ROYS are the most special human beings ever even if I wasn’t related to both of them…consistently kind, hilarious, nobody else like either of them, never smart-asses, a bit naive, usually happy, loyal and protective, obviously my definite support system…but not just MY support system…that is who they are and for many other people as well I presume.  My dad will never NOT be by my side…as eleven year old ROY stated when my dad succumbed to a stroke rather suddenly, “Dadd-ly just didn’t seem like the type to ever die…”  Were it not for those two, I would have no interest in continuing to live.  And I must include that several of the “orphans” I adopted renewed my soul…two dogs named Murphy and one named Purlie…and three cats, one of whom is on the verge of entering my hall of fame.  ALL of them qualified as other-worldly, saintly, angelic and held me together…seriously.  I kid you not.  My admiration for them would amaze you.  Those humans truly close are very difficult to write about for me.  I find that intriguing; do you?  My dad would adore my writing…my mother was an exceptional author, and I have no idea what she would think.  She could be a harsh critic, and I was unsure of her motivations at those times…a line from MARY MARY describes her…”LIVING WITH MARY IS LIKE STANDING IN A PHONE BOOTH WITH AN OPEN UMBRELLA…IT POKES YOU EVERY WHICH WAY YOU TURN!”  ;D  But when Edna was fun, she was the best person around!

Moronic Ox: Lastly, Susie, what’s next for you? More animal rights, we presume, and more columns in Talk of the Town….but what about writing another book? Have you considered a ‘Secrets II’? Or perhaps you have another idea for a future book?

Susie Duncan Sexton: I just float along…sometimes saccharine, occasionally abrasive,  I lapse into feelings of confidence, then I worry that I was too bold.  My “Talk of the Town” columns rely on detailed memories and an appreciation for the past and its lessons, and I serve as an observer of people, places, events.  My “Homeward Angle” pieces allow me to revisit those “letters to the editor” days when I felt a great deal of responsibility to give voice to crucial issues during a transitional time I believe we are experiencing bordering on a descent into apathetic snarkiness or an ascent into responsible thoughtfulness and, indeed, conscientious well-meaning activism and involvement.  I revisit the past  with both sets of columns; however the newspaper essays require a “blending in” of hidden editorializing…not bossiness nor unwanted advice…but an appeal to learn from the past and to bravely address the present and to look forward to an improved future.  I am quite proud of those…with “Homeward Angle” I found a voice I never knew that I possessed.  I feel grown up when I compose those.  Animals teach me to understand human nature…to open my heart…to tolerate inexplicable behavior…to meet folks more than just half-way.  Loving animals teaches me compassion and empathy and to care about others, whatever species…whatever age…whatever gender…whatever ethnicity.  I gravitate toward biographies and autobiographies and political commentary and surveying our world through the instincts of animals…I  am not a fictional type of soul.  Plays, scripts, children’s books…wow, I could never live long enough.  Writing provides an outlet for the free spirit If allowed to soar where it needs to; I still fight inhibitions and sincerely do not wish to offend readers yet truths are divine and freeing and can be fun and funny.  Fellow Hoosier Kurt Vonnegut certainly never restrained himself, yet his characteristic style danced with a dandy gentleness.  I need to re-read the fellow  and unleash my true, native Tourette Syndrome tendencies.  If I can manage to loosen up, I “might just make it after all!”  I am so ready to emerge even further from my shell…I am long overdue!  “Secrets II” sounds like a promising concept…and my final attempt at behaving myself.  You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!


____________________

thanks, all, for these comments!

From Lucy Grant: “I think we have a reborn St. Francis on our hands. Why is love so hard? Thanks again for sharing Susie’s wonderful insights. I celebrate her new bloom!”

From Debra Warrens: “Great post! Thanks for sharing!”

From Bev Sexton: “Amen! Thanks for sending…..”

From Barb Nicholson: “Man, she did talk about everything! Very good reading. Susie is always interesting!”

From Carol Baker: “Absolutely, Roy! Thanks for sharing! …The more I read your mother’s work, aside from bacon, the more I’m convinced we’re joined at the ‘right brain.’”

From Joshua Plant: “How cool! I cannot wait [to receive book copy]!”

From Neil J. Simon: “She Strikes Again!!! She is like the energizer bunny!”

From Caroline Gersch: “Love it!!!”

From Karman Kleespie Whitneck: “I’m looking forward to you signing my book! Congratulations!”

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