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Friday, January 05, 2007

I Interview my Visitors, no. 1

My bonnet pic
just for fun

I Interview My Visitors, no. 1

One of the troublesome areas for a writer is an insatiable interest in people and their foibles, secret wishes, inner and outer selves, and so on. For me, one of the most entertaining parts of having a blog is those brief collisions with Persons Unknown that occur in the Comments. Often one has only a bare sense of who that person is—it might be someone out of the past, wearing a wig and moustachio, or someone who stumbled into the door by a wild series of accidents. Occasionally someone shows up and then returns who strikes me as a character beyond my own invention.

Such is Susanna Leberman, a.k.a. susangalique of Lacey's Spring, Alabama. She has a blog and writes impetuously and rather carelessly on it, and she cannot spell. Her typos and spelling innovations often seem to make a weird sense. Her attire and writing suggest that she should have lived in the Good Old Days Before Spelling Reform came in, and I suggest that her words be read in a pre-30's spirit by any neat and precise speller who happens by.

Susanna participates in strange Southern rites that I do not understand, even though I am a dyed-in-the-high-cotton Southerner and was destined to be so by my stubborn South Carolina and Georgia ancestors for about 300 years or thereabouts. She is terribly opinionated, loves history and her Mike, has gusto, and wears wonderfully outlandish hats.

The instructions to Susanna for this interview were: Please answer all just as you would write on your blog, without puzzling it over much or rooting through the dictionary for spellings, and send them back to me! It should be "you," not you gussied up.


Susanna, could you explain (without worrying about the spelling!) how you toppled or tumbled or deliberately came in at the e-door of The Palace at 2:00 a.m.?


Wow, I m honored that I would be the first to be interviewd, and just for you I will make this stream on conciousness with no spell check. I am writing it as a private post. I am hopping it wont be to rough because I have no excuses. I just got through walking around Target with a large latte and have not had a cocktail or a glass of wine.

how did I find your site. I was googling Howard Bahr to see if he had any new books out and your blog came up. You had been speakers together at a writing festival. I was drunk typing and contacted you. I had never contacted a random blog before and was estatic when you responded.

From comments, I know that Professor Cross introduced you to the books of his friend Howard Bahr. What did Randy Cross say about your spelling? (Sheerest curiosity at work.)

Well, he never said anything to me about it. He was really concerned about comma splices and that one I pretty much have under control. In class I always made a go of proof reading, but I was always slow and in a rush to finish tests and writing assignements. I am not sure what Dr. Cross thought about me. He thought I was very good and once I remember I was crying in his office over something, I think someone got mad at me about something and he told me that if someone knew me they would know I would never knowingly hurt anyone. I think I was outshined by my brilliant partner in crime Greg. We both had the hugest crush on him and got coaught looking through the backseat window of his car trying to see what music he was listening to and Dr. C walked up in his swarthy way and said, "Well Hello!" We wanted to die. But but but! The best Dr. Cross story occured the night my car was stolen. We were performing in 1700s costume and ran down the street in the rain to his house because we were in the historical district and didnt have phone or money. We couldnt have planned it better if we tried. He did make sure I would say Lacey's Spring instead of Lacey Springs.

the night my car got stolen and we got to see into Dr. Crosses house. This was what I looked like. I thought I was ugly and never realized how beautiful I was. Its strange too look back

You are a devotee of strange rites. Could you kindly explain what Eastern Star is, and why you find it so attractive?

Well, lets see. Its something you have to grow up in. I became a rainbow girl when I was 11. We got to wear ball gowns and memorize beautiful speaches about girlhood. It is a service organization set up by the masons for the girls of masonic families. The eastern star is the adult counter part of Rainbow. They are also a service organization where you get to wear sequins and be intoduced to other Eastern Stars. Buisness meetings are structuered around speaches about the different phases of womanhood represented by bible heroins. The speaches are called the ritualistic work and I always took to it. I am the product of an Episcopallian father and a southern baptist mother. My father left the episcopalion church and I was denied all the ritual pomp that inner self loves. I first realised how fabulous religious ritual was when I went to a catholic wedding when I was a child. I enjoy the phraternal fellowship of other women, and I feel that I am covered by a protective umbrella of the masonic family. I stood at an alter and took an obligation, and so did they. I feel like if I was in great need a mason or someone in the masonic family would be bound by the same obligation to protect me and I find that in some way to be comforting.

On the war to an Eastern Star meeting

What is the difference between women who wear outlandish hats and women who will not wear hats at all? Did you, in fact, wear a red velvet hat with burning candles? If not, what is the most radical hat you have worn?

Well, I think the real distinction is those that wear hats to be obnocious (like the red hat society) and those that wear hats for purpose. All my hats have purpose. Thats why I actually wear them out and about.

I have worn costumy hats at the musem I worked at, but the hats I have for real that I wear were easter hats with white feathery plooms, winter hats for warmth, cowboy hats for wearing on the tractor (because we do have a large family farm of my mothers people where we grow hay about 10 miles from our house on the edge of Huntsville). Often I wear whats called a mop cap under my working hats. This is something I learned at the museum to protect the delicate skin on your brow/forhead, so its almost always goes aong with straw hats.

I fear I am going on and on, but I seldom get the chance to actually talk about this shit and the fact that it is thought out, which makes it all the funnier I guess.

I have a two baseball caps that wear to make me feel tough, one that stole from my brother that is black and has the emblum of the sun on the forhead. Its a dominican cigar hat, but it makes me feel like Lara on Dark Shadows who is a powerful phoenix and she destroys anyone who gets in her way. The opther is a pink Dixie Girl hat with a strong bill. My most outlandish hat is a 200 dollar hat that was hand died, hand made by a Huntsville milliner. I like it because the brim is so wide and protective that I can controll who gets to see my face and who doesnt.

I feel like the stupidist person in my department and its a constant struggle of telling myself that I desrveto be there, that I desrve to have the means to support my family just like anybody else there the end of the school year I always have to suck it up and go in for some sort of meeting and have just scrapped by. By August it is miserably hot and sunny in Alabama and I have very white skin. I burn easily and have no desire to tan. I grew up hearing about how my Gran always took care to cover up the face even in short exposure to keep it nice and she looked fabulous till the day she died, so I wear these hats. I have worn the wide brimmed hats to meeting that I thought would be important or embarrasing and I do not remove it because when a hat is part of an outfit a woman is not expected to remove it. SO in the meetingswith a careful tilt of the head they dont get to see anything but my lips and when I am ready they can see my eyes. I think its sad that todays woman has lost the power and pleasure of the lead curl and the wide brimmed hat.

Aside from your own interesting presence, is there any reason to visit the crossroads, hamlet, town, or small city (which?) of Lacey's Spring, Alabama?

Well, I dont know. Lacey is about 5 min outside Huntsville where NASA and Redstone aresenal is so there interesting loners that live in Lacey. We are on the Tennessee river and there are alwyas things to see on the river bank. We always liked this one place that we would read poetry at called the bluff, but it was the bottom of a bluff intsead of the top. Its a hard to reach place but beautiful and magical. We have a great Christmas tree farm in Lacey and there are really weird homesteads and family compounds. There might be a million dollar mansion next to family shanty compound and trailers. We have a complex network of river beads and mountain streams that you can go hunting for arrowheads. Laceys Spring is a nice place to live because its cheap and makes a great home base. There are a wide varitey of people that live here. It is close to several different citys that offer different things and there are always great yard sales and good eating.

on the waterfront: out and about in Lacey's Spring

You appear to be an extremely lively and passionate young woman, possibly a bit tempestuous. How do you think that your husband would describe you and your interests to a stranger--in order to keep a bit of reticence, let's say to an amusing elderly lady of 77, a grand high potentate (surely there is such a thing!) of Eastern Star?

He would say that was the singest little thing you ever saw and I had an amazing memory for movies and literature. He would say I liked him. I think he would say something about my ability to befrind people and accept people for who they were and not expect anything. He would tell them about my blog and "my readers." He told someone in Detroit how this famous author reads my journal to see my spelling errors and he would say I was special and that he never met anyone like me. He had to drink and drug himself into the ground before becomming powerless and nonjudgemental. He finds my acceptance of others amazing. He was the first man to be in the womens studies program at University of Alabama in Huntsvile.

When asked about our age difference, I would say that I was an old soul and he was a young soul. We found each other across time and space :o)

me and Mike: looks a little bit like an album cover from the 1970s

Happy New Year!

my new years eve pic. I call it blowing out the candles



  1. I love this! and have just had a champange toast in honor of me, a....character beyond invention.

    I need to feel good about myself and be kinder to myself. You like me, I need to like myself. Thanks Marly.

  2. God, this is fabulous! What a wonderful interview, what a wonderful idea to DO the interview, and what a wonderful subject! I sure wish I could draw/paint her face for my 101 Faces project--that nose is exquisite. Sorry to speak about you in the third person , Susangalique, but you aren't here and you aren't at the palace either.

  3. Susanna,

    You aren't alone in those needs, although I think that those who have them tend to be kinder to others. Oh, and when I said gusto, I meant it as a very solid compliment, because it is one of the qualities I value most in a work of art.


    Yes, it's special: full of life.

    And since women are always complaining about their noses, I imagine that comment will make her happy.

  4. Yes, fabulous is exactly the word, Laura. You have almost converted me to hats, Susangalique - but I don't think everyone suits a hat quite so well. This has quite cheered me on this gloomy Thursday afternoon. Thank you to both of you.

  5. I am happy to be in such company with these wonderful women.

    I would love to be in your collection laura and I might just find myself on a road trip to do it this summer if it requiers still life. I just throw Mike and who ever else wants to go and off we go.

    I do like my nose. My mom took a profile pic to a plastic surgon and got one, so I do like to pride myself on it :o)

    I am a good artistic model, I once posed for a sculpter.

    Do you think Dr. C reads this.

  6. Who knows?

    You'll just have to wait and see if the amazing Dr. Cross appears by seeming magic, as is sometimes the way of the web. You know, I'd like to see a "Dr. Cross" soft drink to go with Dr. Pepper, as long as we're wishing.

    Yes, Laura-the-artist and Clare-the-writer are good company. And there are plenty more flitting invisibly by... I hopped over to your site and saw that your livejournal friends like the interview; that's good.

    And now I go back to burnishing a little story. See you later, Susanna!

  7. What a cutie! Pretty, funny and original. And plays the accordian too. If she only tap danced she would be perfect.

  8. This is wonderful, Marly..and what a pleasure to read the words of a singest little thing! (and she is pretty besides; oh dear, I can be shallow!)
    Happy new year to you and yours, including all who cluster at The Palace.

  9. You are right Marly. If I was a Freudian I would say there was something, well, Freudian about her spelling errors. They are almost alchemical in their ability to change the dross of misspelling into something richer than perfect. This Susangalique, she is a bird of reputation.

  10. Hello, Anonymice & jarvenpa--

    I have a fascination with those spelling errors and typos. Yes, they are alchemical.

    And thank you for the good wishes, whatever mice you are. Mouse unknown, mouse in disguise, tapdancing mouse...

    I'm expecting magic; I'm expecting that Southern humorist, Randy Cross, to materialize!

  11. Susanna, if you wrote a book, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. You're a true original.

    I've got to read your blog more often.


  12. Jim, what a nice thing to say.

    I dont think I have had this much attention ever!

  13. It isn't what I do, but how I do it. It isn't what I say, but how I say it, and how I look when I do it and say it. --Mae West

  14. Susanna and Marly,

    I do love the interview, and the pic of Susanna in half light gives it a mysterious aire.

    You are truly a unique and interesting person, Susanna. I think you are still beautiful, especially in candelight.

  15. Hi Susanna, my name is N.


    I think that you really like hats. And you're cool. My favorite picture of you is the one where you have an accordion. What is your favorite hat? My favorite of yours is the one with the feather.

    I have a hat that is all purple with horns. I have a silver and black joker hat that's all sparkly with stars. We have lots of hats in a box, and we have one that lights up whenever you put it on in a certain position. On Crazy Hat Day at school, Mrs. McB and I had on the same hat. It was the purple hat with the horns. And there was this other person who had one just like it but silver, and another that was gold. I should have brought my purple octopus that matched, except I couldn't find it. And I still can't find it.

    Happy New Year and Merry Christmas.

    And one other thing: hi again!

    By! Au revoir! Hasta la vista! Dasvedanya!

  16. Dear N,

    Although I was in bed, I was sumoned from my slumber. I think its wonderful that you have had so much fun with the purple hat with the horns. Since you called me from my bed, I will tell you I have a leather boned helmut that I wear around the house sometimes, so it great that you have fun with various hats out there.

    If your hats are in one box you may need to separate them. They may meld into one.

  17. Hah! Buon anno, and it looks like I have catch-up reading to do...

  18. Morning, Susanna--

    Talked to Howard B. last night, and he found the saga of Miss Susanna and Dr. Cross very amusing! He is not on line--very wise of him.

    What a jolly bunch of comments so far. You should definitely "be kinder" to yourself, don't you think?

  19. You could not have chosen a more fantastic subject for your first interview. Susangelique is a ray of pure joy in my life. My times as a blushing sprig of a homosexual in Alabama accompanying Suangelique on her merry adventures were some of the happiest of my life.

    S has a way of infusing everything around her with magic. I've lost touch with so many in the land of my nativity, but not with this one.

    She has honored me with her presence in my life. I am richer for her, and the spelling (as we used to say in Bama) really makes no never mind. The point is to communicate what's in the soul, and Susangelique does that with an exceptional talent. She is nothing short of a miracle, and it is a testament to your intuition and wisdom of character that you innaugurated your Visitor Interviews with this hat-wearing faerie.

  20. Hey M,

    My friend Teoat put up several pictures of our excursion to the abandoned house:

    I cant imagine Mr. Bahr being on the internet. We totally need to get him an online fan base going.

    Dr. C is going to think I am so funny and that I havent changed at all, except for the cursing and all the sex talk.

    Speaking of, what about the anon comment linking my spelling to... Freudian spelling errors... almost alchemical. I kinda like the sound of that. I take Freudian to mean generally sexual. Well, I can see that. I am a spiritual person and spiritual people are sexy.

    Thanks manprano for your glowing review. YOu always have my heart. I would totally fall through the floor for you to.

    I am such an attention whore these days, and loving every min. of it :o)

    1. To the person who left a message here today: Please, please don't leave that sort of message on my blog. If you have a problem with Susanna, take it up with her face to face. I'm sorry that she has had many trials of late with the death of both parents and other issues, and think she has been generous financially to Mike. Anything beyond what she shares online is truly none of my business, as I've never met her and only have good wishes for her--and for you, whoever you are. I hope you can be a forgiving friend to her. Thank you.

  21. Just checking in, and looked over the tributes--brava, Susanna!--including the new one to the galiquan 'faerie.' And I shall do my best to live up to wisdom and intuition for the rest of the day, because one must try to "fail better."

    manprano, you were at Glimmerglass last summer, I see. I did manage to see all four operas... What were you in? I think the book-of-operas is still lying in the butler's pantry (alas, butlerless and a place of frequent squalor).

    This group of people is rather interesting--3 novelists (1 as yet unpublished), 2 poets (well, I think one of the mice is a certain poet friend, and jarvenpa is a poet), artist, sculptor, 1 art teacher starting a year-long art project, and a male soprano. The web is a terrible fritterer of time, but it is also marvelous.

  22. Marly,

    I wasn't hired to sing for glimmerglass (yet!) I was asked to audition for them, which just means that the people in charge are suddenly going, "hmmmm.. who are you? Maybe we should know you."

    I'm in my first semester of grad school, so mainstage roles, while welcome, are not expected.

    As for this being an eclectic group. Susannah is a magnet for the fantastic! She draws the unusual in the Universe to her. That's part of the charm. You never know who you're going to meet around her.

  23. That interview was sensationally awesome.

  24. Hi imani--

    "Dedicatedly silly," wasn't it? I shall go see what you are reading...

    Be sure to slip down the page and look at the Clare Dudman piece.


    I was assuming that the "blushing sprig" was Greg of the merry Crossian adventure! And so you are.

    I'll keep my eye out for you on the Glimmerglass Young Artists roster in the years to come. (Next year: Orpheus four ways...)

    The rambunctious ones have come home. Sleepover. Play date. Overdue Chem labs. Twilight Princess Mania. By!

  25. What a fine project !

    Fleeting portraits of quirky people in out of the way southern places -- it feels like an early Jim Jarmusch film to me.

  26. Happy 12th Night--

    Something Chinese for you next, Chris.

    And now I'm off to take smallish people to piano lessons and Epiphany pageant practice and a Middle Eastern feast and--

  27. Susangalique and Marly, this was so very great I am rendered (or at least drawn and quartered) just about speechless!

    S. may not know that a former boss and current friend of mine has an exhaustive, exhausting polka site where there surely must be tons of accordianistas.

    Have fun, y'all!

  28. awesome! I will have to check that out! thanks!

  29. Hey Marly,

    I put another one of my paintings on my blog and two commissioned pieces I finished this weekend. Please check them out.


  30. Donna,

    If you "choose an identity" in "Leave your comment" as "Other," you can put your name under "name" and the link to your new typepad page under "your web page." You can also add the page to your profile, and it will show up not at the bottom with blogspot but to the left--see mine for an example.

    Will check it out. I'm glad you started drawing your students--that's exactly what I meant, that they would love it and behave. You could have a giant panorama of faces (like Laurelines and her 101 faces) as a display in the school...


    I have a queasy kid-bug coming on. Any talk of polka could be dangerous.


    Much confetti to you--that was a merry and soulful post that many people enjoyed. Some left a note, but many more paused for a while. So feel good about it and about the unique galique!

  31. She is wonderful indeed... quite a character, and I think you could, if she didn't mind it, quote her dialogue exactly in a story or a novel and have it be quite sufficient.

  32. Yes, she is wonderfully sweet and wilds and lively. And now an orphan at 31. It breaks my heart.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.