Throwback Thursday: Senior Poetry Contest – The Final Poem!

Alright, y’all… here it is. The final installment of the three-poem series that won me the Senior Poetry Contest in 2007.

I know you’re probably dying of anticipation.

Your lips are plump and crisp, like purple grapes that dot the vine.
And when we kiss, I can’t help but to bite them in my mind.
And their juice flows thick and violet, down my chin and down my spine.

It puddles ’round my toes, and makes a sea of crimson waves.
And two porcelain flower pedals are the only things it saves.
And out of them, the ocean makes two tiny porcelain slaves.

The pedal-salves serve as your eyes, with two black circle-stains.
That gaze at me, and out the window sadly when it rains.
And they cry, because they’re being held by heavy, sightless chains.

They drape around your shoulder blades and dangle to the ground.
Shuffle dirt around your ankles – drag your posture down.
And wrap around your poor weak head, like a pitiful iron crown.

When you sleep, I run my fingers through the tangles in your hair
And I kiss them, like my children when they tell me life’s unfair.
You smile at me, and in my head I scream a silent prayer.

“Dear God, let the man be happy. Let his days run safe and long.
And when night falls upon him, Lord, I beg you. Keep him strong.
And may he never hear the words that litter my mind’s song.

Because his hands are like great diamonds with his palms against my cheeks.
And his voice could rattle mountains in the heavens when he speaks.
And because a single touch from him could haunt my dreams for weeks.

So I ask this in your name, Lord. Do consider this last plea.
Create his happiness a lock, and let me be the key.
I’ll ask nothing of you, evermore. Yours sincerely, me.”

And as I live life next to you, and watch events unfurl,
I’m reminded of a tale my mother told me as a girl.
When on her bed I’d sit with her, and by her leg I’d curl…

She would tell me of a woman who had loved a man to death
And had killed him with the deadly poisoned sweetness of her breath
Which was tainted with her love itself, and all its dangerous depth…

And so I retreat to watching as your eyelids flutter shut.
And I suppress the silent fire burning deep inside my gut.
I’m thinking thoughts about you… but I’ll never tell you what.


Throwback Thursday: Senior Poetry Contest, Part 2

Happy Throwback Thursday, readers!

For those of you who missed last week’s installment, we are recounting the three poems that I read during the Senior Poetry Contest during my final year of high school. I went on to win the contest… most likely because I was perhaps the only person taking the class because I was a legitimate geek, rather than just for an easy A.

Here is poem # 2:

I’m sorry – was I daydreaming?
I do that quite a bit.
Oh, what about? Like I would tell!
Well… this much I’ll admit.

There was a tree. And in its shade,
We lounged like ladybugs.
And our time was punctuated
By a dozen lengthy hugs.

We were by a lake, I think.
(I hadn’t gotten that far yet)
And we were reading Dorothy Parker
…Or Walt Whitman, I forget.

A picnic basket held our things,
Among them ham and cheese.
And we wandered over to our feast
While dusting grassy knees.

NO WAIT! We watched a baseball game.
And I asked, “Who’s on first?”
And you said something witty
And completely unrehearsed.

Then Mark Loretta got a run,
And then we got four more.
The game was legendary!
But… we didn’t know the score.

OR better yet, we walked the beach
With salty, windbown hair.
And we couldn’t look directly
At the water for the glare.

So we settled underneath the dock,
And watched the tide roll out.
We sat there for awhile, and well,
Then we talked about…

Oh – goodness gracious, I don’t know!
It’s all about the same.
I guess that’s just what I deserve
For playing the daydream game.

It’s a nasty cycle,
This imaginary life.
‘Cause you wake up – to the real world.
To death, and pain, and strife.

But I guess it’s better that way.
You know, when all is said and done.
What’s that saying? “Falls no shadow,
Where there shines no sun?”

Well, I’m back inside reality…
And my imagination’s shrinking.
But could you do me a favor?
Never ask me what I’m thinking!

What it feels like when your doctor calls you fat

I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday. Thanks to my recent gypsy-like lifestyle, it was the first one in a looong long time.

I wouldn’t generally categorize myself as a hypochondriac – but I’ll be honest, when you put that much chronological space between trips to the doctor’s office, you start to get a little panicky. Every headache becomes a potential brain tumor, every cough sounds like tuberculosis. Freckles start to look suspicious. And you think: I’m the case study. I’m the cautionary tale. I’m gonna be their example, the “if only she’d made an appointment sooner…” horror story.

I was googling “how to tell if you’re having a panic attack” in the waiting room when they called my name.

A nurse named Brenda, who had to be no older than I am, lead me into the back office. I said, “Hi, how are you?” and she answered, “Great, thanks” without reciprocating the question.

Aren’t I the one visiting the doctor right now? Shouldn’t she be concerned how I am?

I decided not to like Brenda.

She let me know that they would be taking my height and weight, and instructed me to step on the scale – while she stood nearby with a clipboard on her big non-question-reciprocating pedestal.

I held my breath and closed my eyes.

When I opened them, I was absolutely paralyzed by the number in front of me.

It was waaay-hay-hay too high.

I blinked a few times, hoping maybe it was some poisonous speck in my eye that made these numbers appear so distorted. I squinted again at the small display, but it remained unchanged.

I had a moment of disoriented awe, mildly impressed that scales could even go that high. Should I get off? Will I break it? I half-expected to hear a crack and watch the whole thing collapse.

It was a number that made me reconsider my career choice – since I am so obviously better suited for sumo wrestling.

It made me fear the ocean – what if I drown out there, and the waves roll me up onto the shore, and they have to call in big beeping forklifts to clear my carcass from the beach?

If I was a wild animal in some remote jungle, my body could keep a local village fed for ages. They would dance around my roasting flesh for days, praising the gods for such an enormous, blubbery feast.

That number can’t be right.

Here, Brenda, let me take this scarf off. This scarf is like an anvil around my neck.

And these earrings – these EARRINGS! – little dangling dumbbells.

I’m telling you, Brenda, I’m packed like a camel. Let me just unload some of this gear – surely that’s it. That’s all it is. I’ll strip down naked for you right here, Brenda.

I also have to pee right now, which seems important. That’s a thing, right? There is literally excess liquid inside of me. Please, for the love of God, Brenda – let me pee real quick. That number cannot be right.

But Brenda did not let me strip naked, and she did not let me pee. And I swear I saw her smirk a little when she wrote it down.

Fucking Brenda.

She then measured my height – 5’6″ – which is absolutely and totally WRONG. I’ve had 5’7″ on my driver’s license since I was 16, and it’s not like I’m shrinking.

Maybe I’m just feeling a little demoralized after that humiliating weigh sesh, Brenda, did you ever think of that? (Why on Earth don’t they weigh people second? It would add an inch to every medical record.)

As if this whole ordeal wasn’t enough, my actual doctor’s appointment hadn’t even started yet.

When I sat down with my doctor, everything seemed on the up-and-up, except that she had one minor concern she wanted to discuss with me.

“So, Susie, talk to me about your weight.”

Have worse words ever been uttered? Talk to me about your weight. How about you talk to me about your student loan debt. Or your marital troubles. Or the last psychological trauma you experienced.

Talk to me about your weight.

I do not have a weight problem. I’m not skinny and I’d like to be… but I imagine this to be true of 99% of American females, so I’ve never considered it an actual issue. Like many, my weight management story is just schizophrenic, that’s all. I do try to work out semi-regularly… but I also hate running and I hate the gym. I try to eat as healthily as I can… but I’m also the type of person who devotes an entire blog post to a burrito. You do the math.

“I only ask because I’m wondering where we can work to find improvements to help you keep it down.”

It was like every insecurity I’ve ever had was herded together and ushered into the small office with us. My poor body image, low self-esteem, every guy who’d ever turned me down… all shuffled into the room, a crowd of hot breath and elbows. I became claustrophobic.

“Don’t worry, you’re healthy – I just want to make sure you stay that way.”

I thanked the doctor and trudged out of the office – probably clocking in at around 4’11” – and held my official Doctor’s Office Printout to my chest. It was right there, next to all my vitals and prescriptions: “Look for improvements in diet and exercise to keep weight healthy.”

Black ink. On my permanent medical record.

This was vaguely reminiscent of a Louie CK bit, where he recalls a similar conversation with his own doctor.

Doctor: “You’re only cosmetically overweight.”
Louis: “What does that mean?”
Doctor: “It means you’re overweight, but it isn’t affecting your health.”
Louis: “Okay, so you could have just kept your mouth shut then, jackass.”

Why They’re Called Best Friends

You may be wondering why my last two posts have been Throwback Thursdays.

Or how the Egyptians built the pyramids.

Or why Paul Rudd has always been completely overlooked in every discussion of attractive male actors.

paulI mean, RIGHT?!

…What I’m trying to say is, there are a lot of unsolved mysteries in the world. But THIS one, at least, has an explanation.

My blogging absence can be attributed to the fact that I just had the trip of a lifetime visiting my hometown of San Diego, CA last week.

I do not exaggerate when I say “trip of a lifetime.”

First came my family – I got to visit Sea World with my mom, enjoy some of my dad’s famous cooking, and help my little sister with her 10th grade biology homework.

(Side note: I am literally THE BEST at pneumonic devices. She was having trouble remembering the characteristics of living organisms – so we came up with “Hey, Rhinos Love Going Poop Mondays.” Which had us both giggling, because I’m five… and, in turn, helped her pass the test. Let me know if you ever need help with 10th grade biology pneumonic devices, guys, I GATCHU.)

xianneEven 8 days after her exam, she still remembers. Freakin genius. 

ANYWAY. After an absolutely wonderful stay with the fam bam, I then got to spend some much-needed quality time with the group of gals who pretty much dominated my existence from ages 11-23. You can even watch us all age, if you really want to…


(Circa 2003)


(Circa 2006. I know I was awkward, okay? I know. I don’t wanna talk about it.)


(Circa 2010)


(Circa 2012)


(And then, because we’re just THAT goddamn cute, in the exact same spot two years later, on this trip.)

These girls were almost exclusively responsible for the person I am today. Every sleepover, every late-night-crying-on-the-phone session, every birthday, every milestone, every pivotal moment in my life… they were there.

As expected when we graduated high school, different paths were forged. Different colleges were attended, new boyfriends were acquired, and separate lives began to develop. We were warned of this.

Consequentially, our friendship together began to assume miles and miles of radius. One girl is now married. Another lives in Seattle. A third is in the throes of starting a new business right now. Our relationship is tumultuous and chaotic, messy and complicated and hard.

…But there is just something about bringing us back together.

The walls tumble, and the years spent apart suddenly seem so far away. We pick up right where we left off, with the same sense of humor and the same conversational cadence.

Even after months and months of never speaking a word, an Eminem song comes on and we’re all immediately on our feat – grinding and singing and arms in the air.

And regardless of where we are, or how long it’s been, or what’s happened in between, or what we’re doing… we’re back.

On the flight back, when we began our descent and the pilot announced “Welcome to Portland,” I had a brief moment of panic – Wait, what? Portland? Did I get on the wrong plane? Isn’t that where I just came from?

(…No, Susie. Portland is where you live. San Diego is where you were visiting. This is home now.)

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life up here. It’s just that – relocation or not – seeing my best friends is something of a homecoming experience in itself.

Because in every group of people – be it my parents, or my family, or my coworkers… I am a different version of myself. Still “Susie,” sure, but shaded a different color. Diluted, maybe. Toned down and re-sculpted to fit into the mold of each new situation. I think this might be true of everyone.

But with my best friends? There is no coloring. There is no dilution. I’m just me – a big un-sculpt-able blob, my legs spilling over the arms of the couch and outside car windows. No filter, no mold, no worrying what they’ll think or say, no sucking it in, no second-guessing myself, no holding back at all. I am, by most accounts, the truest version of myself.

Which is why, come to think of it, they’re not referred to as “my closest friends” or “my nicest friends” or “the friends I’ve had the longest.”

Because it’s simpler than that…

They’re the best.

Throwback Thursday: My Senior Poetry Contest

Hey there, readers!

It has been thoroughly wonderful sharing all my high school poetry with you. And the fun doesn’t stop here.

For this series of Throwback Thursday, I’d like to continue the poetry theme – but this time, recount the three poems that won me the Senior Poetry Contest.

Hang on a sec, there, tiger – before you get your expectations all high in the trees, note that  I’m pretty sure there was only one criterion for succeeding in the poetry contest: it had to rhyme.

Because these were performed out-loud, free verse was at a distinct disadvantage. That is the only fact to which I can attribute my win.

But nonetheless, venturing into these archives of my life has certainly been a fun little experience for me. I hope it has been for you, too.

Here was the first poem submitted into the Senior Poetry Contest:

While other women share the bliss
Of means to avoid loneliness…
I shift my weight, and bite my nails,
And watch their sensual exhales.

I have no gift, and know not how
To woo a man, and lift his brow.
And so… I talk. And talk some more,
Until his very ear is sore.

They say a woman ought to know
The proper way to give a show.
She bats her eyes, and parts her lips,
And when she walks, she sways her hips.

It all seems very easy, see –
To anyone who isn’t me.
I have no eyelashes to bat,
And… let’s be frank. I like to chat.

And so I sit, and watch in awe,
And on my fingernails I gnaw…
As every other girl on Earth
Let’s men determine what she’s worth.

Well bring it on, Saint Valentine!
If this is it, then I resign.
I need no male to gawk at me.
Those crazy girls need therapy.

So keep your romance, Nicholas Sparks
And Mr. Hottie’s suave remarks…
If boys don’t like me, it’s their loss.
I’m happy with my Hagan Daas.

And so, the next time a handsome guy
Approaches me, then I’ll reply,
“Oh I’m so sorry, but I’m already late.
My nails and I have got a date.”


Thank you, Wisconsin!

Throwback Thursday: More poems, but for the love of god no more cowboys

Okay, okay. I get it.

You’ve enjoyed my cowboy poems, I’m sure, but now it’s time for a respite. I know.

Which is why for this installment of Throwback Thursday, I bring you another poem… though, not of the cowboy variety.

In fact, this time I’m giving you a rare gift, dear reader – as this blog post will be exceptionally short.

(Do try contain your enthusiasm, please.)

This poem was written on New Year’s Eve, as we embarked on a journey from 2006 to 2007. I was at a party.

I had a crush on a boy who had a crush on my best friend, and allowed myself to be consumed with this crushing truth so entirely that I’m ashamed to say it might have ruined my whole evening. These were dark days in the journals of Susie Wittbrodt… dark days indeed.

I’ll spare you the surrounding woe-is-me journal entries, but I will share this little gem – scribbled into my journal in the bathroom of a friend’s house, while I pined over the exceptional hurt that is unrequited love:

His cigarette hung limp
Between a pair of grainy lips.
It bounced between them as he spoke,
Conducting snarky quips.
I pretended to palate his poisonous prose
As I pondered his dark silhouette.
But my ponderings wandered just under his nose,
At his dancing red-tipped cigarette.


Happy Throwback Thursday!

Birthday tomorrow, quarterlife crisis today.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I will be 25 years old.

Yay, happy birthday to me! I’ll be able to rent a car! And get cheaper car insurance! It’ll be a really exciting automotive year, no doubt about it.

Also, though… at 25, I will officially be (if I haven’t been already) in my “mid 20s.” I will have reached an age where it’s pretty generally accepted that I should have my $#!% together. And another thing… if you remember your elementary math skills, tomorrow my age will officially round up to 30.

I had to stop typing there for a second, because I needed a few moments to catch my breath. I stood up, paced a few laps around the room in my slipper socks, and sat back down. …And then I started freaking out some more, because DO 25-YEAR-OLDS WEAR SLIPPER SOCKS?!

I am 24 years and 364 days old, and I’m still in pajamas at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon.

Know what my parents’ generation was up to at age 25? Married. Paying a mortgage. Probably with a few mouths to feed by now.

And who’s to say it’s even generational? For that matter, if I were to survey my graduating class on Facebook, fully half of them would be married. Several with children. All with (seemingly) a defined sense of purpose.

And here I am, hours away from being a member of the Quarter Century Club, and I can’t even be bothered to put pants on if I’m not leaving the house.

There’s something about this age, something about it being TWENTY-FIVE, that has me a little shaken. It seems like just yesterday (actually, it seems like today), when 25 seemed so damned far away. 25-year-olds were just so much farther along on the maturity scale. A 25-year-old is a person who knows who they are, knows what they want out of life… or at the very least wears pants on Sunday afternoons.

And who am I? Don’t ask me, because I have no idea. It took me a solid seven months to even come up with a blog name, because the pressure of articulating my identity so definitively had me paralyzed with fear. I am not married, I don’t have kids, and god forbid I should ever be tied into a mortgage. I only very recently discovered what I want to do with my life, and have spent most of the last two years bouncing between cities.

Not to mention… the other day, I actually typed “um” in a text message. Because even when I’m given the opportunity to fully think through my responses via written word, I still find it necessary to communicate my indecisiveness.

Do you get what I’m saying here? It just concerns me that these are not traits that describe a 25-year-old adult.

Tomorrow, will I wake up with the unquenchable desire to sign a mortgage and sprout out little Susie Juniors? Seems unlikely.

Instead, I’ll probably wake up with the desire to jump out of a plane or gorge myself on Mexican food… or, more probable, just watch Spongebob in my pajamas.

Oh, 25. Come back later, would you?

Throwback Thursday: Cowboy Poems, Part 3!

Oh hey there, readers. You’re in luck! It’s time for our next installment of Throwback Thursday, the most recent series of which recounts my childhood obsession with cowboys and my propensity toward god-awful poetry.

Are you sick of these yet?

Here’s another:

Three nooses swayed loose in the breeze like a sigh.
Three men stood informal for this brand of necktie.

Exists a trail, a quick inhale,
In the depths of the old frontier.
It houses dregs, and spider legs,
And sounds that bite your ear.

The path he chose, knew all his foes,
Was one of fear and dread.
And none would choose to walk that way
Who were not walking dead.

But ‘long the path, out broke the wrath,
Amongst the murky gray
Of a rider spent, and deeply bent
On revenge against those who betray.

A woman sat weeping against a cold floor,
Thinking maybe she’d dreamt that she’d opened the door.

She’d bid him to stay, in her courteous way,
And insisted he sit by the fire.
Her smile was sweet, and her tiny home neat
And her dress was of brilliant sapphire.

The rider, next morning, was first to awake,
And rushed home on a paranoid whim.
He had dreamt of his life, and his satisfied life,
But came home to none other but him.

His wife sat up straight, and did not have to wait
For the man at the door to react.
She assumed he would break every precious keepsake,
But alas, he’d left each one intact.

And what do you think any sane man would do,
Despite what the judges and laws told him to?

Upon the horses weighted back,
Two bodies rose and fell.
And all of the trees, like the poor horse’s knees,
Were submersed in a terrible hell.

The man in the front, who was drained from the hunt,
Slanted forward in bone-weary slump.
His bloody companion, whose breath now was still,
Rode as cargo on the horse’s bare rump.

The rider now sped, for just up ahead,
Lay a shovel and a hill
And next to them, a six-foot hole
Where he would dump his kill.

Three nooses swung loose as a clergyman prayed,
Three men were marched forward – and two were afraid.