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“Susan’s Lament”

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(corrected from version sent to Riechert from one of her graduate students)

I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls, crushing ice, and playing chicken on bikes and horseback. I have been known to remodel bus stations over lunch, making them more efficient in the area of traffic flow. I advise psychiatrists on the sex-life of clams. I both read and speak Latin and Greek; I translate southern dialects for northern refugees. I write award-winning concertos for piano and recorder. I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row. I play Scrabble while I work on data, watch TV, and carry on astute conversations. I win, even when I play while navigating desert mountain roads. I can pilot my mountain bike up severe inclines with unflagging speed and I cook 30-minute brownies in 20 minutes. I am an expert log chinker, my kid and pets are model citizens, and I’m an outlaw in the Congo.

Using a garden hoe and two 2-pound coffee cans filled with water, I once single-handedly defended a small village near Quito Ecuador from a raid of 15 million ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass French horn and am the subject of numerous seminars and documentaries. I am a Distinguished Professor; my students are distinguishable by association. I presided over two international scientific societies in different fields, was Woman of the Year, and the first female to invade the illustrious 80-year-old society, Smokers. I don’t even smoke. US ambassadors travel hundreds of miles to see me when I am working in their countries. When I’m bored, I build suspension bridges for my cats in our yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Sunday mornings I repair electrical appliances, including computers, free of charge.

I’m a person of contradictions. I have a fear of heights: I avoid tall buildings. I learned to pilot a plane. I hang from 80 foot cliff faces in east Tennessee collecting data while completing abstract art panoramas. I’m ambidextrous: I bat 400 from both sides. But, I’ve flunked Piano 1 on every attempt. Carrots, apples, whole-grained breads and yogurt are mainstays. I’m a chocoholic. I once hiked 24 miles on wet mountain trails for a ration of one bar. I have dreams about Twinkies and eggnog. I am a people’s person, called ‘a great communicator’; I make only the briefest of appearances at meetings and social gatherings, even at my own home. There are important things to do: the glove box of my car needs cleaning; the tortoise needs to be taken for a walk. I wanted to compose music. I majored in English. I became a scientist. I know the exact location of every paper and object in my office and labs; I just can’t find my keys. While vacationing in El Salvador, I advised top-ranking military personal on war strategies for their planned attack on Honduras; I advised the Honduran authorities of the plan the next day.

I am a ruthless bookie with game theory credentials, a romance novelist, and a water quality analyst. I can hurl erasers at students in large auditoriums with deadly accuracy. I once read Finnegan’s Wake, War and Peace, and Hawaii in one day and still had time to replace a barb-wire fence row on our farm that evening. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I have been arrested for spying in Gabon, for the harvesting of illegal goods in Wisconsin and for tampering with the balance of Nature in the Great Smoky Mountains. I have never been arraigned. My eloquence has saved an enemy of the people from a bon fire in Lewes England; I was unable to save Ronald Reagan or the Pope.

I am a workaholic: I sleep once a week and when I do, I listen to unabridged books on tape. The laws of physics do not apply to me. I balance, I race, I weave and dodge. I frolic, and my correspondence is up to date. For relaxation, I participate in full-contact baking. I don’t perspire. Critics world-wide swoon over my original line of denim evening wear. Pharmaceutical companies are equally impressed with my line of designer drugs made from spider venoms. My deft genetic engineering of plants with tethered butterflies has earned me fame in international botanical circles. Children trust me. Years ago I discovered and wrote down the meaning of life. Unfortunately, my handwriting is so poor that I have not been able to decipher it. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only cow chips and a gas grill. I have been dragged by a stallion through a straw hut, deftly removed a rattlesnake from the jeans I was wearing, escaped a swarm of africanized bees with but one sting, and outran the nefarious ‘paperbag man’. I have spoken with Elvis.

  1. But I have not yet read the manuscript you gave me.
  2. But I have yet to have met my favorite actor, Sir Anthony Hopkins