I’M ALIVE!!! And other great things about skydiving

I literally have no idea why you’re reading this right now. What are you doing, just sitting there reading this blog post, when you could be experiencing the adrenaline-pumping, gut-wrenching ecstasy-inducing thrill that is freefalling from 15,000 feet? STOP READING! GO! Go right now!

I jumped out of a plane yesterday. And I did not die. In fact… I did the opposite of die.

As a friend of mine eloquently put it, I had a near-life experience.

I started this post with the intention of talking about skydiving. But I find myself at a loss for words… a condition somewhat unfamiliar to me. How can I even begin to describe it? How could a blog post possibly capture the sheer, unguarded elation that can only come from sharing one of the most exhilarating trips ever with some of the very best people in the world?

My day began at the office.

That fact alone seems absurd to me now. How on earth were we expected to carry on like business-as-usual? Concentrating on the task at hand was just short of impossible.

This became especially apparent while editing a job description for one of our manufacturing clients, and I came across a sentence that said “each employee will look at this framework as a way of manufacturing life.”

What they meant to say was, “a manufacturing way of life.” And as the editor, it was my job to fix it. Maybe it was because of my sleep deprivation the night before, or that my thoughts were particularly discombobulated due to my impending death… but for some reason that sentence jumped out of the page at me. It is a measure of my scrambled-egg brain that I dwelled for so long on that simple little mishmash of words.

FINALLY, the van arrived.

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Immediately upon our arrival, we were herded into a room full of iPads – where we signed away our firstborn children, a pint of blood, and any legal claim to our life.

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The facility’s legal department also took this opportunity to educate us about the absolute stupidity of this venture. I can just imagine the court case that led to the creation of this document. “But your honor, my client was never made aware of the dangers of jumping out of an airplane…”

After ten minutes or so of scrolling through pages and pages of disclaimers, IT WAS TIME!

…to wait another hour and a half.

This gave us ample opportunity to get sufficiently more freaked out than we already were. We got to watch as several groups of people boarded the tiny, noisy contraption and then come floating down 20 minutes later. My stomach churned with each whirr of the plane’s propeller.

We were eventually directed to a small training room with inspirational posters on the wall, padded chairs, and a calming blue paint color. We later dubbed this the “insanity room,” since it felt an awful lot like an asylum.

I kid you not, we received exactly eleven seconds of instruction.

But wait… shouldn’t we be briefed on the anatomy of the chute? Are there any emergency procedures? Should we do drills? Is there a test?

No. The test is real life, and it’s pass/fail.

We were then introduced to our instructors. Mine was named Josiah, and wearing a Sublime shirt so I knew I liked him right away.

They got us all geared up, and Josiah had me try on three different conehead hats before finding one that fit.

“We better grab a blue one,” he said.

“Is that code for I-have-a-big-head?”

“No, no, blue is medium.”

“The blue doesn’t fit either.”

“Okay then yes, you do have a big head.”

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Coneheads or not, we were a stylin’ group.

Before boarding the plane, we were interviewed about how we felt, and invited to give a message to our family and friends.

My message should have been “Must-keep-arms-at-right-angle-for-reasons-unbeknownst-to-me.”

The plane took off, but left my stomach back on the ground. My eyes were wide as golf balls, and my thoughts revolved around a single phrase: “Oh my god. This is happening. This-is-happening-oh-my-god.”

We rose higher and higher, until we were actually above the clouds. I stared out the window in disbelief, all cognitive function halted. Every so often I would make eye contact with someone… incapable of articulating our emotions beyond the occasional wide-eyed squeal.

We were also interviewed in the plane at 8,000 feet. And of course, every time I was asked a question I was like a deer in headlights.

That’s right, world. ROCK-PERIOD-ON-PERIOD.

One piece of advice I would give to those considering a skydiving adventure: First in the plane = last out. Have fun watching your loved ones plummet to their death.

DCIM100GOPROMichelle! NOOOOO!

Finally, by the time my heart had wiggled up into my esophagus, it was my turn. We scooted to the edge of the open door, and my feet dangled 15,000 feet above the earth.

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Don’t look down, don’t look down, don’t look down…

I would be hard-pressed to find a sensation quite as indescribable as the one that followed. The tip seemed to happen in slow motion, the sky above me gradually rotating and the shelf underneath me slowly disappearing.

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And then… there was no plane.

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There was just the wind, the sun, the gorgeous, sprawling landscape, and the feeling that my entire body had been electrified. My core exploded into a thousand tingling pieces.

I was weightless. Soaring through the clouds, spinning and laughing and filling up with love for everything around me. The sun, the sky, the lush green earth below, the cool air on my cheeks all came together in fabulous, harmonious ecstasy.

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I forgot about the jump. I forgot that there would eventually be a landing. I forgot about all the apprehension I’d felt, that there had ever been any reason at all to be afraid. I probably forgot my name. All I was physically capable of processing was flight.

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I was Superwoman. I was Peter Pan. I was Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

All too soon, the parachute deployed, and I went from flying to floating. I left the chaotic, noisy world of freefalling and instead got to drift lightly down from the heavens. Just as pleasant, if perhaps not as exhilarating.

I had to take a moment to comprehend what had just happened.

DCIM100GOPRO

Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god

The view was breathtaking.

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I imagine anyone who meditates, or does yoga, or has in any way found inner peace would understand the unequivocally calm bliss that followed. I found myself stunned by the beauty that surrounded me, as we sailed gracefully toward the horizon.

Josiah even let me steer.

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As we neared the ground, I felt myself already lamenting this experience coming to a close. Like when you’re 20 pages away from the end of a good book, and you simultaneously want to rush toward it and away from it.

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That tiny pink spec is me!

I landed, I lived, and I was surprisingly incapable of communicating my thoughts in any intelligible way. I was interviewed again, and could do nothing but make happy shouty-sounding noises and weird hand gestures.

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I’m sorry! I am completely unqualified to adequately express my emotions right now!

I reconnected with my group, we shared hugs and screams and laughter.

…and champagne.

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Having been given time to reflect on the day as a whole, I feel I am better positioned to fully evaluate my obsession with those words a few hours before. “Look at this framework as a way of manufacturing life.”

Manufacturing life.

Can life be manufactured?

On one hand, this could have a very literal interpretation. Obviously, I’m a female. The idea of producing life should be uniquely familiar to me.

But on the other hand, “life” in all its ambiguity could also mean something separate from the simple definition of existence and functional activity. Maybe, in fact, this particular definition of life is a deliberate attempt to combat the former. Life, in this sense, is intentionally chaotic. It’s breaking from the norm, it’s stepping outside the comfort zone, it’s not merely existing, but truly living.

And by this definition, what are the implications for manufacturing it? There’s no literal factory or assembly line anywhere… but figuratively speaking, what would one do to manufacture life? If you were in the business of creating elation – of producing an existence that was true grit LIVING – how would you go about it?

 

Well… I guess you’d go skydiving.

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Throwback Thursday: More Cowboy Poems

Happy Throwback Thursday, everybody.

For those of you who weren’t here for our last Throwback Thursday installment, this week I’ll be continuing with my series of cowboy poems.

I have to chuckle when I read these, because they very literally have no rhyme or reason. There’s no clear plot line, sketchy scenery descriptions, and usually a pretty abrupt ending because my brain started hurting trying to sculpt a cohesive rhythm. So I hope you’ll forgive my total lack of general storytelling etiquette.

But in any case, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying binge-walking down memory lane lately, so I’m gonna share. Here’s another:

A defined black silhouette cut through the brilliant orange sky.
It grew quickly as it neared where Dr. Kelly heaved a sigh.
The man rode hard as beads of sweat ran sideways ‘cross his face,
And fourteen miles away, made Dr. Kelly start to pace.

The woman stirred in bed, and doing so, let out a moan.
The doctor only shook his head and thought, “I should have known.”
The man on horseback yelled a slew of loud, impatient words.
The sky darkened behind him as he raced a flock of birds.

His horse was panting hard when that first star shone clear and bright.
Others like it took their place in the icy threatening night.
He shook the reigns again, last trace of purple drowning east…
The gap closed now to twelve miles, and Dr. Kelly’s fear increased.

The rim of his old cowboy hat was wet with sweat and blood.
The bottom of his boots and jeans were caked in orange mud.
His shirt was ripped, his jacket torn, his face upset and scared…
But Dr. Kelly stood convinced that he just didn’t care.

Another painful moan came from the woman on the bed.
The doctor wandered to her side and felt a burning head.
“There’s nothing I can do,” he whispered with a silent tear.
More followed with the blatant lie, “Your husband’s almost here.”

Eight miles away, a tired shadow pushed against the cold.
He’d been riding for hours, now, from the moment he was told.
The messenger had brought the news that made his heart stop dead.
“Your wife’s in grave condition, sir,” the poor young man had said.

And grave was too cheerful a word to apply in his wife’s room,
For death was hovering nearby, and toward her bed it loomed.
Six miles to go, the ride pressed, and screamed a silent prayer:
“Dear God, I know I’ve made mistakes, but this just isn’t fair.”

My Last Will and Testament (you know, in case I die Friday)

For those of you new to The Nutshell Version, allow me to fill you in: This Friday, on the 26th of September, year 2014… I will be stepping out of an airborne plane and plummeting 15,000 feet toward the earth.

(This is the part where you’re supposed to fall over yourself, shrieking and fainting and gasping for air.)

But FEAR NOT, dear reader. THERE IS HOPE YET. For I will be saved, mid-freefall, by a 15-foot rectangular piece of nylon fabric, supported by a few three-millimeter-wide cords.

(I know, phewwwww, right?)

That’s right, ladies and gents, your dear old pal Susie is going skydiving.

It’s a funny thing, skydiving. It hasn’t even happened yet, but I’ve been doing so much damn talking about it lately that I already feel it becoming a defining moment in my existence. My whole life has become segregated into “people who would” and “people who wouldn’t.” I’m starting to feel like it’ll be an initiation of sorts, and that afterward I’ll belong to a super secret special exclusive club. That later I’ll look back on the experience as a coming-of-age story, and my life before it and after it will have a huge black line drawn between them like chapters of a book.

That is… unless I die.

As absolutely stoked as I am about this adventure, whenever I start getting excited about it, a tiiiiiny little detail begins to nibble at my brain. It crawls in through the back of my neck, nestles in right next to my cerebellum, and slowly gnaws away at my consciousness.

…My mortality.

And I have to remind myself that OH RIGHT, there’s that itty bitty possibility that it will be the last thing I ever do. That my parachute won’t deploy. Or that the instructor will forget to fasten all the hooks. Or that my jumping buddy will have a stroke and I won’t know how to work the pully-thing. Or that a flock of razor-toothed birds will fly by and slice all the strings. Or that the jump goes off without a hitch, but then we land in a canyon of sharp rocks and get shredded to bits.

The company we’re using boasts a perfect record of zero accidents… which I should find comforting, but instead I can’t help thinking it means they must be long overdue.

Fear of malfunction wouldn’t be quite so terrifying if the end result wasn’t certain death. There are really no loopholes here. If something goes wrong, peace out brother. Sayonara. Avedazane. Bye-bye, you’re done. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Which is why, in light of this upcoming adventure, I would like to send the following off into the world:

 

I, Mary Susanne Wittbrodt, being of (relatively) sound mind and body, declare this to be my last will and testament.

I hereby bequeath my estate, live savings, portfolio assets, worldly possessions, and holding properties to my baby sister, Christianne. (That should all add up to like $20 or so, squirt. Knock yourself out.)

I would like the possession of all of my childhood journals to go to my middle school best friend, since she and I have a long-standing agreement on this. (I trust she’ll know what to do)

I humbly request that Mr. Tom Waldron take over my blog, since it is to him that I owe my current love of writing. Try to post at least once a week, Mr. Waldron. Make sure to portray yourself in the most unflattering light possible. Only be funny when nobody’s watching. And above all, close each post in a way that sums up nothing, and leaves everybody unsatisfied and underwhelmed. No one will even know the difference.

To my parents, I leave my eternal love and affection, and the $140 or so I currently owe my dad for car insurance.

As my dying wish, I declare that all of my best friends should have an epic slumber party -slash- scavenger hunt -slash- movie marathon in my honor, and that they all talk in British accents all night and wear funny hats. You also all have to get super nerdy embarrassing tattoos, like the deathly hallows symbol. (That seems like something I’m allowed to request, if Hollywood is any indicator.)

If my life is ever made into a movie, Natalie Portman should play me. It’s really only fair.

From now on, every time anybody mentions my name in conversation you have to touch your nose. And it’ll be a game of nose goes, and whoever is the last to touch has to buy the next round of drinks.

I do hereby declare these to be my final requests, should I jump to my death on Friday. By the power vested in me, I now pronounce myself absolutely terrified. Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil. And everyone lived happily ever after, with liberty and justice for all. Fin.

-Susie

 

P.S. It has occurred to me that if I DO actually die, this will be like the most morbid post ever. But it seems highly unlikely that I would post about it and then have it actually happen, doesn’t it? So consider this my insurance policy. I’ll talk to you guys on Saturday. 😉

HEY, JK Rowling, stop being such a tyrant.

I’d like to preface this post by saying that I am wholly and completely, absolutely, entirely, all-encompassingly obsessed with Harry Potter.

It is, hands down, the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life. (Sorry, little sister being born. Sorry, friends and family. Sorry, moving to the best city in the world and landing my dream job.) It’s just that Harry Potter practically defined my existence. When Harry was 11, I was 11. When he received his letter from Hogwarts, I was scanning the skies for owls for weeks. When he graduated school and became an auror, I graduated school and became an auror a hotel front desk representative. We very literally grew up together.

Not to mention the sheer prevalence of Harry Potter in my life. The books were initially released in the UK before the US, and I had a friend actually bring me back a copy of the 2nd book from London so I wouldn’t have to wait the extra few months. When I was younger I got in trouble for something while halfway through # 5, and my punishment was that my mom tied the book shut with a ribbon. About half of my middle school friendships were built on a foundation of this one, shared obsession. And when the last book was released my senior year, my best friend and I were first in line at the downtown Borders when the clock struck midnight.

Needless to say, my entire childhood – nay, my entire existence would be different if not for this earth-shattering collection of books. I owe JK Rowling my life.

Which is why, now that I spend two hours a day siting in traffic, I figured snagging the Harry Potter audiobooks and reliving these life-altering adventures would be the perfect way to spend my brakelight-filled mornings and afternoons.

That is – until I started looking for them.

If you’ve never listened to an audiobook before (first of all, START. Audiobooks have affected my life more than the inventions of blu-ray and 3D movies and Siri combined), you have a couple of different options. You can purchase the actual CDs from a store, or you can download it the same way you would a movie or song from iTunes. For my audiobook pleasure, I use an app called Hoopla – which works just like a virtual library. I would highly recommend it – thousands of titles available, and you check them out for free and just have to “return” them within a month. It eats away your data plan, but beats having to pay for each and every book book (which I did for the first few months following my audiobook discovery).

I was disheartened to find, however, that despite the series landing the number-three spot of the most read books in the world, I could not find the audiobook version of the Harry Potter series anywhere. To my great dismay, it was not available on Hoopla. I even checked Audible and iTunes, but to no avail.

There had to be some kind of mistake. Harry Potter was the best thing that ever existed (we’ve already covered this), so why on earth wouldn’t it be available for public consumption? Surely JK Rowling, in her infinite amazingness, would want the Average Joe to be able to experience this dynasty of literary achievement.

But then, oh wait… there’s this little thing called a monopoly, which dominates our capitalist world. And JK Rowling is no fool; the product is in demand and she has the supply. After further investigation, the audiobooks are actually available on Pottermore… to the tune of $40 a pop. This feels vaguely akin to Beatles music not being available on iTunes until 2010.

It’s long been known that JK Rowling is richer than the queen. However recently, Contently also revealed that people would actually prefer her as their leader as well. This doesn’t surprise me; her storytelling ability is certainly the stuff of legend.

But come on, Joanne. You’ve already got the world wrapped around your finger… and moreover, I already OWN several copies of each of your seven masterpieces – as well as some of your work as Robert Galbraith. I love you, I support you, I’m one of your loyal & loving fans. Cut a girl a break.

Throwback Thursday: Susie and her cowboy poems…

Hardly anyone I went to high school with reads my blog, but if they did they’d be rolling their eyes right now.

I may have mentioned my obsession with poetry in a previous post… and I believe I also mentioned how absurdly god-awful my poems were. What I haven’t discussed yet, was my perpetual fascination with cowboy-themed poems. (I was reading a lot of Zane Grey at the time.)

There was just something about the romance of riding horseback, kicking up dust and adventuring into the great wide nowhere with nothing but a bandana around your neck and a revolver at your hip.

It grabbed hold of my heart and hung on tight – as it did so many writers before me. And as such, my crude attempts at poetry began to assume the tropes of the Wild West.

In the next Throwback Thursday series, I’ll recount a few of the poems here… as long as I have your assurance, dear reader, that you won’t judge them.

(Note: None of them are titled. I’ve always struggled with titling things – a trait that has followed me into my current writing career. Also, I know I change tenses and I use adjectives instead of adverbs. I’m sorry, okay?)

Late at night, in the dark and the wet
When the light is teased and shunned,
There rides a man weighted down with regret
And the thick metal sheath of his gun.

He slumps on his saddle, tired and worn
His silhouette not but a clod:
A sorrowful cowboy whose jacket is torn
And whose morals are tragically flawed.

Yes tragically flawed are the morals of he,
Who sits in his hollow, on heaps of debris,
And grins as he waits for his poor enemy,
Yes, flawed are the morals of he.

A labyrinthine cavern, just miles away
Was where he’d established his lair.
He had good intentions, although I daresay
That his victim had hardly a prayer.

The hapless approached as his murderer waited
And as he arrived at the den
Sat a man with a pistol, all conscience abated.
A shot rang out once – then again.

Yes, two shots rang out that night, painfully clear,
And out of the cavern, two bodies appear,
The live one discernibly bearing a sneer,
Yes, the shots rang out painfully clear.

And now as he rides, he is ridden with shame
And can taste acrid guilt on his breath,
For he knows that he deserves all of the blame
For that miserable, undeserved death.

 

Happy Throwback Thursday, world!

Stop calling yourself a grammar nazi.

I wouldn’t call myself a grammar nazi.

I wouldn’t do so, first of all, because I think “grammar nazi” has become synonymous with “homophone nazi.” And the whole world has gotten a little homophone-happy in the last couple years.

It’s like everyone on the internet learned the difference between your and you’re on the same day, and after that “grammar nazi-ism” became something of a viral trend. My Facebook newsfeed is flooded with memes about ‘then & than,’ or ‘there, their, & they’re,’ or ‘effect & affect.’

This wouldn’t bother me, except that homophones represent such a tiny portion of the grammar mistakes made on the internet daily… and simultaneously, about 90% of “grammar nazi” corrections.

It’s like once people became acclimated with this one itty bitty rule, they hoisted themselves up onto a pedestal and started smirking down at the rest of the world… meanwhile littering all their posts with split infinitives, dangling modifiers, and improperly-used subjunctives.

For this reason, one of my biggest grammar pet peeves is people using “I” …when “me” is actually correct (“Here’s a picture of John and I at the beach!”), since it seems to me the truest form of blind conceit.

I can only assume that this person got corrected one too many times, and just began to phase the word “me” out of their vocabulary entirely. When they succeeded, they likely congratulated themselves on their achievement, became a self-appointed “grammar nazi,” and began posting shaming memes. (Which, as a rule, I’m pretty much against altogether.)

Just for kicks, here are my other top three:

  • A-whole-nother
  • Your guys’
  • It begs the question

Still, I can’t exactly hold it against anybody. Especially since errors like this exist in language we see more often:

  • Honey, I shrunk the kids (either ‘have shrunk’ or ‘shrank’)
  • All men are created equal (equally)
  • Ten items or less (fewer)

And obviously, nobody’s perfect. Even just in the paragraph above, I used “they” with a singular antecedent, as a lazy form of gender neutrality.

Basically, all I’m saying is this: if you’re going to use an expression like “grammar nazi,” comparing yourself to a fascist national ideology justifying racial hierarchy and social darwinism…

You better be a damn good grammar representative.

What a Lovely Blog.

Something you should know about me: I am the worst person, ever, when it comes to following up with stuff. This is partially because I really want to devote time and thought to my responses to things… which gets me in trouble, because I don’t exactly have a ton of time or thought to spare.

[tweet https://twitter.com/nutshellversion/status/507156581859860480]

This is also true of submissions through my Contact Form.

It’s just that… I really love you guys. I love you guys SO much that I read your messages on the couch in my underwear, and I think, “This deserves a response that doesn’t come from me on the couch in my underwear. I’m going to wait until I’m at my desk, fully clothed, and provide a thoughtful, wonderful answer to this. Because I am a dignified adult.”

But then, days pass… and I’ve have spent time at a desk OR fully clothed – but never at the same time. And every time I walk by my office, my arm extends longingly to all the things I’m supposed to do and people I’m supposed to respond to…. And before you know it, I’ve become one of those awful people who makes you wait a month for me to email you back.

(Happy to report that as of RIGHT THIS MINUTE, I am fully caught up on all contact form submissions – and I would like to thank everyone who accepted my invitation to “geek out over Beatles trivia with me” quite literally. That was absolutely the most fun reading (and responding) I’ve had in a long time. Keep ’em coming, y’all. I’ll be better. I promise.)

All this to say, when the fabulous Sally over at Bungling Housewife nominated me for a Lovely Blog Award, I fell into my usual habits.

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But NO MORE! Here I am, ready to accept my award, and become an active participant in the world around me.

…Fully clothed.

The rules of The Lovely Blog Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them in your post
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Nominate bloggers you admire
  • Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know

Step One: Thank you to the lovely and wonderful Sally. Your blog is delightful, and I sleep with the lights on after horror movies, too.

Step Two: Okay, sure. Seven things about myself.

Thing About Myself # 1
When I was little (and watching a lot of I Love Lucy), I actually thought there was a time in history when the world was black and white. I wondered why we never learned about the transition to color in school.

Thing About Myself # 2
I can’t whistle or juggle. I’ve tried to learn so many times that I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe it’s actually physically impossible, and that every time I’ve seen someone do it it’s really just an illusion of some sort. If I were to ever see someone whistling and juggling at the same time… well that’d be just straight witchcraft.

Thing About Myself # 3
I gained the last name “Wittbrodt” at age 6, right when I was learning cursive… and never did get the hang of the lowercase B-R next to each other.

I got the B down…

animationl_b

And the R was straightforward enough…

animationl_rBut put them together – and then what? The B lands IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LINE. Your pencil is ALREADY UP THERE. Where do you start the R?!

As a result, from a young age I just adopted a capital-W-then-scribble-the-rest strategy for my signature… which still I use to this day.

Thing About Myself # 4
I am intolerant of intolerance, and sometimes I fear it might make me a hypocrite.

Thing About Myself # 5
Fun Fact: The movie “The Break-Up” ended my relationship with my high school boyfriend. We apparently identified too closely with the characters depicted, and argued all night defending them.

Granted, we were 17… and probably circling the drain anyway. But I still think it’s a funny story.

(RELATIONSHIP PRO TIP: If you and your significant other are on the rocks, play it safe – rent something else.)

Thing About Myself # 6
Yesterday someone said, “You couldn’t get all that done in one day, even if you had Hermione Granger’s time travel spell.”

And, to shatter any lingering hopes about my normalcy, I responded: “There’s no spell. It’s a time-turner necklace.”

Thing About Myself # 7
This blog post is what landed me my current writing job. Funny how life works out.

Step Three: All right y’all, here are the bloggers I nominate:

on the road to inkrichment

Just something I was thinking about

pussy has furballs

Blondewritemore

Jennigreenmiller’s Blog

anolivedaily

My Life, But Funny

Thank you again to Sally, and happy Lovely Blogging everyone!

Ode to the Potrillos Burrito

Heaven hath no treasure like the Potrillos Burrito, from Los Potrillos in Camas, WA.*

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There it is. Go ahead, take a moment. Bask in its deliciousness.

See that, drizzled all over it? They call this red concoction “our special burrito sauce,” which is latin for crack cocaine. This is not enchilada sauce, or salsa, or whatever else you’re nodding your head at right now. Don’t act like you know, because you don’t. This sauce is the nectar of the gods, bestowed upon humanity with the tender delicacy of a lover’s caress. It smothers the burrito in a cascade of tangy goodness, filling every discrete crevice and leaving no ingredient untouched.

The tortilla hugs the burrito protectively, reluctant to release the bounty within. One touch of your fork brings an avalanche of tumbling flavors – sauteed vegetables, rice, beans, and seasonings that flood your mouth with saliva.

The pork is so magnificently stringy and moist that I imagine the pig lathered himself up and leaped voluntarily into the fire. The salty, buttery chunks of meat are slow-cooked to mouthwatering perfection.

And oh god… the guacamole.

Every inch of this burrito is dense with absolute, incomprehensible deliciousness. I actually have to take a moment before each bite, to strategize my next approach for maximum tastiness potential.

Meanwhile, each time the culinary masterpiece reaches my tongue, I am elevated to new levels of consciousness. I am in complete delirium over each mouthful.

I become so disoriented that my relationship with this burrito begins to feel like a love affair. What we have is special, sacred. Nobody else eating this burrito has what we have. No one else could possibly understand. I continue stuffing my face, savoring each bite as if it causes me physical pain to swallow.

…Oh wait, it is causing me physical pain to swallow. My stomach has begun to protest. No more!” it begs me. The burrito is likely at least four portion sizes, and my tummy is ill equipped to accommodate this mountain of food.

The request falls on the deaf ears of my taste buds, who are lost in blissful ecstasy. I carry on, each bite pushing on my waistline like a stretching rubber band.

The walls of my stomach are about at their breaking point when I concede with a sigh. Yes, Mr. Server, I will take a box.

The next day, the leftovers fill my car with an aroma so tantalizing, I’m tempted to pull over and devour the thing cold. When I arrive at work, I stealthily hide the styrofoam container in the very back of the office fridge, lest any nosy onlookers get any funny ideas. I give it one last look before closing the fridge door, like a mother sending her child off to kindergarten for the first time. I make sure it looks comfortable and safe, and walk slowly back to my desk.

All day, my eyes flutter toward the clock. Is 10am too early to eat lunch? Probably.

In between projects, my mind wanders to the one-half Potrillos Burrito awaiting me just yards away. I sneak off to get some water from the kitchen, and find myself checking on it. It’s still there. Still calling to me.

Mercifully, lunchtime arrives. I put the cool delicacy into the microwave, unprepared for another two minutes of waiting. I tap my toes, crack my knuckles, and pace around the table in anticipation.

Finally, finally, it’s time. I pull the steaming dish out, its aromas curling into every corner of the office kitchen. I walk tentatively back to my desk, cradling it with two hands.

As I sit down, I become instantly aware of the people around me, and immediately wish I could enjoy this experience in privacy. I feel socially obligated to stifle my immense pleasure with each chew. Can it be, that this microwaved-leftovers version actually tastes better than the original? Impossible.

As I scoop the last forkfull of tortilla, vegetables, and guacamole into my mouth – I let out a muffled sigh and lean back into my chair.

Until next time, Los Potrillos Burrito.

 

*I do not receive any compensation or incentive for endorsing anything on my blog. That said, Los Potrillos, please feel free to START compensating me if you want to. You can pay me in burritos.

Don’t worry guys, there’s still hope for humanity.

The following is a true story. Not that they all aren’t, but I’m just having trouble believing it myself so I felt like I should let you guys know, I’m not making this sh*t up.

I was driving home from work on Thursday, listening to my audiobook of Pride and Prejudice.

I had just passed the Columbia bridge, when all of the sudden a loud thumping noise came from the car to my left. It boomed in my eardrums, and I was sure there was no car in a half-mile radius who couldn’t hear it. I looked over at the driver in complete disbelief. I actually got kinda annoyed, like that episode of South Park with the Harley motorcycle gang. Why does anybody NEED to be that loud? How absurdly obnoxious.

Then, several cars started to pass me. I watched them as they zoomed around – at least four in a row, in fact. They seemed to be taking intentional measures not to be behind me… I had parted my lane like a backwards Red Sea.

This annoyed me, too. WHAT?! I’m going the speed limit, you jerks.

I began to realize that my car was shaking. The travel coffee mug in my cupholder bounced up and down like a jackhammer. I bounced up and down like a jackhammer.

The thudding got louder, and my car shook so violently that my head actually hit the roof. It finally started to dawn on me that maybe it’s MY CAR making the thunderous noise, maybe there’s something wrong here, maybe that’s why nobody wanted to be behind me.

But I scanned my mirrors and surroundings for any sign of danger, and came up short. There was no smoke, I wasn’t leaving a trail of anything behind me on the road, and I still barreled along at 70 miles an hour. Also, on a completely unrelated note, I don’t exactly have thousands of dollars just lying around for car repair. This may or may not have also crossed my mind at this moment, and I may or may not have been floating down a river called denial. Maybe… umm… maybe nothing’s wrong.

I made it about another 50 feet before ANOTHER loud noise, a crack followed by flap-flap-flap-flap started up.

Okay, so something’s wrong. But uhh, maybe I can still get home?

Home was still a good 5 miles away. So between the pounding and shaking and every other car steering clear of me, I conceded. I flicked on my hazards and pulled over to the side of the freeway.

Traffic whipped past me, causing my car to jostle a little with each gust of wind. I held my breath and stepped out to inspect the damage.

I blew out a tire. Not the way you see it in commercials where somebody drives over a nail and the thing slowly deflates like a limp balloon. No, I blew out a tire the way you slash through wrapping paper on Christmas morning. My tire had been stuffed through a paper shredder, a victim of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

I’ve owned my car for almost 8 years now, I feel I should be well-versed in every nook and cranny, and I was 99% positive I didn’t have a spare tire on hand. I double-checked the trunk, and my suspicions were confirmed.

I’m ashamed to admit that I sat there with literally no idea what my next move should be. I had a vague memory of AAA handling things like this, but a quick look at the card in my wallet informed me that my membership expired in November of last year. Is this an insurance thing? Should I call them? Or a tire store? Will I need a tow truck? My absolute ignorance crushed and embarrassed me.

It was then, my owner’s manual lying open on my lap and the Jane Austen audiobook still playing in the background… when a man knocked on my car window. He had pulled up behind me in a big raised truck, and stood outside my car in a white T-shirt, a barbed wire tattoo peeking out of his right sleeve. “I can help you!” he shouted.

Much of our conversation, in fact, took place through sporadic shouts – yelling over the absolutely deafening roar of cars whipping by. Have you ever stood on the side of a freeway before? It’s like Nascar. I think my ears will be ringing for weeks.

We somehow managed to communicate enough, and after looking at my owner’s manual for about a half a second, he went straight to work. Turns out, I did in fact have a spare tire hidden away under a top-secret disappearing trapdoor in my trunk. (I say disappearing, because I absolutely positively checked there) Not only that – he even found a jack underneath my driver’s seat. I was sure next he would pull out a rabbit and a top hat from my glove compartment. (What other secrets are you hiding from me, car?)

In minutes, the old shredded tire was in my trunk, and he was sopping his forehead with the back of his hand as he tightened the last screw. I thanked him over and over again, and made awkward gestures with my hands… not having any idea how to repay him. I was thinking, Is a hug too much? Hugs are too much for strangers, aren’t they? when he turned and got back into his truck.

I watched his car disappear in disbelief, still not even sure what had happened. The freeway continued to zoom by me in noisy, rapid waves.

After a few moments of this, I shook my head to clear it, got back into the car and started home. I’m happy to report that I made it back safely, and as I type this my car is in capable hands at Les Schwab.

Call me cynical – but I just can’t help it, I’ve been racking my brain for ulterior motives. Why on earth would he stop to help me? He even admitted that he wasn’t even ON this side of the freeway – he caught sight of me going the complete opposite direction. Which means he had to overshoot it, exit, and turn around and come back. Then do the same thing again afterward! It interrupted his commute, added 20 minutes to his day, and he got absolutely nothing in return for it.

Nothing, that is, except a girl who will be forever grateful and singing his anonymous praises, and who will probably jump at the next chance to help somebody for no reason. Nothing, I guess, except the knowledge that he did a nice thing for a complete stranger.

Nothing but the realization that sometimes kindness is just kindness… wading through the bad, and making the world a better place like magic. Nothing but the fact that there is (apparently) still hope in the world.