Susan's "subject matter, context and medium...present a coherent artistic vision"
John Torreano, Clinical Professor of Studio Art, NYU

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Monday, September 20, 2010


MY HEART SKIPS A BEAT when I open the door because I don't recognize my own home. Maybe I have taken leave of my senses and somehow returned to the wrong place. The apartment I find myself in is dismally dark and eerily quiet but for some low growling sounds and another high-pitched, muffled one. The air is thick with the odor of some rotten universal solvent.

As my eyes acclimate to the darkness, I notice a sprawling heap in the center of my living room, with strewn clothes atop and around it. I can see that the bouquet of flowers on the coffee table is now in the garbage. A pungent, past-its-sell-date, fish smell assaults my nose. Something is fishy here, indeed. I discern a scowling figure sitting in one of my easy chairs in the darkened living room. Although the chair is not in the right spot, it does look like mine. I notice its mate is missing. What is going on here? Perspiration runs down my cheeks, my heart beats even faster, I hyperventilate. Should I fear for my life, run, scream?

I cannot move, let alone run and before I can initiate screaming, the scenario becomes clear. "Ohhhh," I sigh. "Ahhh," OK, I can relax. It's only ICG (Insufferable Composite Guest) who's come for a visit. She looks like a CGI (computer generated image) executed by a Photoshop neophyte. She has arrived early for her visit without alerting me. Chaos demystified.

ICG has turned off all the lights with the exception of a small table lamp from which she removed the shade. This irritating, isolated glare she pronounces the proper light for reading at night. She has turned off all the other lights because she doesn't like to waste money on electricity–even mine. All the window shades are down even though there is no need for privacy; the apartment is surrounded by a private garden. The music has been inexplicitly silenced--maybe she doesn't like White Stripes? A pair of easy chairs has been moved so that they are out of their decorative comfort zones. One has been moved about six feet so that it is adjacent to a window with a shade at half mast to facilitate daytime reading.

The other chair is placed in front of the entry hall. ICG is sitting in that one wearing a frown, a white t-shirt and red underpants–nothing else. She had to throw away the bouquet, she explains. There might have been bugs in it. Grumpily ICG accuses Bella, my elderly dog, of pinning her in her chair so that she can't get up and move about the house. I say, "Bella's just safeguarding you." But I think,"Good girl, Bella." No telling what ICG would have done next.

Thinking that I should salvage some of my living room decor, I decide to move ICG's smoked salmon-scented, over-sized suitcase to the guest room. It is currently lying in the center of the living room, flap hanging open like some exhausted, huge, brown tongue. There is another tongue–pink–licking it. The pink one belongs to Blossom, my cat. She is rooting around behind the brown one trying to find the salmon. She digs methodically and meows hysterically every time she thinks
she's close. Eventually, she finds it! ICG leaps up and wrests the leaky package from Blossom, permanently infusing my rug with eau d' smoked salmon. She admonishes Blossom, "No cat is going to eat my well-traveled smoked salmon."

And indeed it is. Apparently ICG originally acquired the smoked salmon at a wedding in Saskatoon at the beginning of the summer, and has been traveling with it ever since. She brought it back to Florida, post wedding, then took it to the Jersey Shore to visit her son. She and the salmon then visited her daughter in L.A. and then flew back to Florida. Now they have both flown up to New York. ... You know ... where is Homeland Security when you really need them? I'm telling you, that salmon had a more smokin' summer vacation than I did!

ICG explains to me that she has decided to sleep in the living room. She does not want to sleep in the guest room because the mattress there is too hard. She further instructs that she doesn't want her suitcase put in a closet because it would be too hard for her to get her things out of it. Compassionately, she notes that a suitcase in the middle of a living room doesn't help the decor and also blocks egress and ingress. Nonetheless, it is more convenient for her there. I allow ICG's clothes-vomiting suitcase to remain in the middle of the living room, thinking I can endure anything for a week.

That's when she springs it. Her visit might be longer than a week, so she has brought enough clothes for a month. She's kidding right? "No," she says, "What if I fall down and break a leg and am laid up here for a month. I'll need clothes." With no segue whatsoever, she continues, "And you're not going to like this next thing I have to tell you, but your husband is going to have an affair." How does she know? At this point, for peace of mind, I silently vow to take impeccable care of ICG so as to prevent any fractures. I also decide to answer any of her inappropriate viewpoints with "Whatever."

Then I serve some wine to take off the edge I am beginning to feel. I also put out a generous plate of hors d'oeuvres. Before I can even sit down, ICG has consumed them all, save one. I reach over so that I can have the last one but my hand collides in midair with ICG's. We do the "No, you take it-no, you take it" dance a couple of times and then ICG says "No, you can have it because I didn't really care for them." Perplexed, I wonder why she has eaten so many if she didn't like them. Guess she just wanted to make sure.

Trying to make lemonade out of lemons, I attempt to cheer myself up by thinking about something positive–like what is the best thing about ICG's visits. After considerable thought, I come up with something: the best thing about a visit from ICG is when she leaves! And when that time finally comes after infinity plus a day....

I do a little dance, do a little dance, get down that night, get down that night.
Do a little dance, the departure dance, get down that night, that's right!!

Paint on,


  1. ***** - five stars, and waiting for Chapter 2

  2. I love this post. What interesting guests you seem to attract.

  3. Heart, in the second Chapter, ICG visits Foxglove; third, ICG Returns. Too much material to cover in one post.

  4. Why do I feel that ICG bears a striking resemblance to several persons of my acquaintance?

    Truth is indeed often stranger than fiction.

  5. Wow... What a Blog ! I need water and a clean shower now... Ha ! Ha ! The room, the fish, the smells, the suitcases... So funny...