Don’t call it a comeback

It’s been so long, I don’t even know where to start.

Part of me is even timid about typing these first few words, because I imagine you all out there with pitchforks and torches – ready to take to the streets and call for my head. Because how dare I just disappear for months on end and then pick right back up where I left off like not a day has passed? The gall – the wretched, appalling nerve of it!

Or worse: There’s no one out there. Not a soul noticed my absence, the internet has carried on unfettered, another blog bites the dust, and the wheels on the bus go round and round.

Whatever the case, I am sorry. My last blog post was – GASP – over seven months ago. The things this world has seen since I last wrote! How far we’ve come, how much has transpired!

Some brief highlights, since the last time my fingers graced this keyboard: Caitlyn was still Bruce, and Ben & Jen were still together. The world had not yet been struck dumb by the maddening viral sensation known as the dress (#whiteandgoldforever), and the possibility of parallel universes as proven by the Berenst#in Bears. Donald Trump had not yet given every comedian in the world liquid gold joke fodder for months to come… which is a shame, because both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were still on Comedy Central. Portland was a comfortable, breezy 70 degrees (not this current mid-autumn sauna absurdity), and my tummy was a little bit smaller ’round the middle (miss you, Pure Barre!).

It’s been so long, in fact, that I can scarcely remember how to do it. Did I usually ramble like this? (Yes.) Did it always take this long to piece together sentences? (Most likely.) Was I always draped in a blanket like a five-year-old playing superhero? (Yes, but now with wine.) How did I ever decide what to write about? In looking at my blog for inspiration, I’m pathetically unable to identify any kind of theme or pattern. Why was I sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes instructive, poetic, or ridiculous? What was that thing where I did a Throwback Thursday feature for a hot second… and then just let it taper off like a Raiders fan’s dignity?

My fingers feel like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz when he rusts up – I need to take an oil can to my wrists to even remember what my muscles are supposed to do.

But a lot has gone down since I last said hello to the world, and I feel an obligation to my followers to keep you in-the-know. (I’ll also take this moment to give a shoutout to those followers – hello Mom, Dad, and kidnap victim I keep chained in the basement!)

As such, with any luck you can expect the following posts in coming days:

  • The Bearded Ryan sequel (the saga continues!)
  • My inevitable quarterlife crisis when I turn 26 in two days (I thought I was freaking out last year. Now I’m very definitely in my late 20s and I’m already hyperventilating about it.)
  • I got promoted! So you get to hear me drone on more about how much I love my job and my coworkers are so great and I’m so happy and blah blah blah Susie we get it.
  • I am also no longer alone (hubba, hubba), have spent my life’s savings on vacations this year (Denver and Dallas and Seattle, oh my!), and went WHITE WATER RIVER RAFTING IN CLASS 5 RAPIDS NBD EVERYBODY.

So here’s hoping my blog continues to be interesting (actually let’s manage our expectations – here’s hoping I can just keep it current).

Thanks for reading, y’all, and hope to see you again soon!

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Throwback Thursday: The Nutshell Version Turns 1!

GUESS. WHAT.

After the next Hunger Games movie comes out, they’re going to start releasing prequels so the ADVENTURE ISN’T OVER YET. (In unrelated news: I have the literary and cinematic maturity of a 13-year-old girl.)

That’s not actually what I was gonna say, though. Guess what else!

That’s right – this week marks my one-year anniversary of starting this blog!!!

This fact was brought to my attention by Timehop, perhaps the greatest social invention of our generation.

timehop

“You LIAR, I’m looking at your archived posts right now and they go all the way back to December 2013!” – Nobody

Well, Nobody, technically you’re right. I had a full two months of blogging under my belt before I worked up the courage to tell anyone. But I’m still counting this as my anniversary because uh… well, because this is my blog and I don’t have to answer to Nobody. (baddum, tsssss)

To celebrate this momentous occasion, I thought I’d pull a 90s-sitcom-series-finale and do a flashback montage of all its greatest hits.

The thing is, guys, this blog changed my life.

This blog post got me a job (a job I absolutely love). This one was featured on Freshly Pressed, which catapulted my love of blogging to a new dimension. This one helped me cope with my tumultuous year of three-moves-in-10-months, and this one and this one acted as writing therapy as I went through my recent break-up.

I wrote not one open letter but two – and I went through this weird phase where I really wanted to share my thoughts on random things like happiness and motivation and decision-making. I’m honored and humbled to report that my schoolteacher aunt used this post to demonstrate the literary term “hyperbole” to her students.

I also got the opportunity to publicly reminisce about my childhood via journal entries dating back to 1997, tell a heartbreaking story of 5th grade love and loss, and unearth an old Girl Scout project that hadn’t seen the light of day in 10 years.

And finally, I talked about being awkward an awful lot… because I am. I am really awkward.

It’s been a pretty sweet year, y’all – thanks for humoring me. Here’s to many more random posts to come.

Okay fine let’s talk about Tinder.

I’ll be honest, you guys. I debated for a long time whether I should write this post. because (a) My family, friends, and coworkers read my blog… and I’m not sure how eager they are to hear of my online dating exploits, and (b) “Online dating exploits” would be one thing, Tinder is another.

Up until a few weeks ago, all I knew about Tinder was that it was a dating app… and, more specifically, that it didn’t exactly have a reputation for creating deep, successful, long-standing relationships. It was suggested to me as a way to meet people, now that I’m a single gal living alone in a big city.

But being on Tinder is vaguely akin to reading 50 Shades of Grey or watching Magic Mike – everybody knows that everybody’s read/seen it, but there’s still something of an unspoken understanding that no one openly talks about it. You don’t do it in public. And if it does ever come up in conversation, it’s selective and deliberate.

I even heard that here in Portland, “We met at New Seasons” (a local organic grocery store) has become code for “We met on Tinder.”

Which is why, when I joined Tinder, I told myself I was joining more as a social experiment than anything. I think I even used the words “it’ll make a good blog post” at some point in my internal reasoning.

First of all, here’s how Tinder works:

You fill out a comprehensive questionnaire detailing your values, passions, and personality type…

You’re given the opportunity to profile what you’re looking for in a partner, likes, dislikes, and…

You just swipe. Right if you like them, left if you don’t. And what information are you given to make this decision? Family history, religious affiliation, political views, life aspirations… picture, name, age.

So in other words, being on Tinder is kinda like saying, “Here, lemme just sit down and pass superficial judgement on complete strangers for a few minutes. NBD.”

To be fair, you are also given a 500-character description, and you get to see whether you have any shared interests or friends on Facebook.

…That is, if you take the extra step of clicking on their profile.

But as one of my more Tinder-savvy friends pointed out, there’s a reason that requires an extra click. The idea, she tells me, is to just make a split-second gut decision. When I explained to her that I open every single profile, read every single description, and scroll through all of the available photos, she said, “God, that sounds exhausting.”

And she was right. Tinder is exhausting, in so many new and interesting ways.

My two least favorite features of the app:

  • When you swipe left, it stamps the picture “NOPE.” Which would not have been my specific inflection, okay? I’m not a jerk. It should be something more like “I’m sorry, you seem great, but I’m just not that into weight lifting…”
  • When you’re notified of a match, you are prompted to (a) tell your friends (which seems odd) or (b) “keep playing.” Like the whole thing is a game. Which I guess it kinda is.

And it’s exhausting, most of all, because it’s starting to make me lose faith in the male race. Or just humanity in general. To save time, I created a few ground rules for myself of what would qualify someone as an automatic no:

  • Mirror selfies (I know, I’m sorry. You probably just don’t have any pictures of yourself so you’re improvising. But I just can’t get over seeing a toilet and towel rack over your shoulder. I can’t.)
  • Spelling errors (I try not to be a nazi over this, but if you have 500 characters to display yourself to the world and you do so with a typo, we probably shouldn’t hang out.)
  • The words “no drama.” (You boys are JUST as dramatic, don’t be insulting.)
  • Pictures of you lifting one corner of your shirt to show your abs.
  • Actually, come to think of it, any picture that only exists to show your muscles. (Are there really girls out there who swoon over this?)

IMG_1426This was an ACTUAL guy’s ACTUAL profile picture. I’m not making this up.

After awhile I started noticing trends – like “looking for a down to earth girl.” What does that even mean?

Like, what would the opposite of a down to earth girl be? An up-in-the-sky girl? Cuz that’s me.

Also, “adventure” is a word that comes up a lot. As in, “I love adventure” or “Let’s go on an adventure.” I’m not sure what to make of this, but for me it conjures images of Belle in Beauty and the Beast.

Not every guy’s profile falls into these categories, though. I’ve come across a few good ones…

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Some guys feel honesty is the best policy…

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Some use it as an opportunity to express their poetic side…

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This guy, who used his four pictures to make a zoom-in meme:

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And then there’s this old gem:

Wontmurderyou

It’s also exhausting just based on the sheer volume of possible interactions. No joke, here was my very first hour on the app:

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The number of human beings on this app is staggering. And since I’m not exactly the best follow-up person in the world, having to keep up with dozens of conversations at once isn’t exactly my strong suit.

Luckily, some guys make it really easy by weeding themselves out for me:

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IMG_1429Okay, that one was kinda funny.

I could list more, there are a lot of creep-os on Tinder, but I’m already toeing the line on appropriateness here so I’ll stop. And anyway, not all conversations are bad…

Like the guy I had a serious, very technical, in-depth conversation with about how to rate potential romantic partners…

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Or this guy, who used my only weakness against me…

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All in all, the whole thing has been super bizarre. I have not met the guy version of Tinderella, I have no success stories to report, and I still feel squeamish even posting this because Tinder is so taboo. In fact, now that I’ve got my blog post written I might just go ahead and delete it.

…Maybe just after a couple more swipes.

Wherefore art thou, Bearded Ryan?

To the really solid, upstanding individual who broke into my car this weekend:

Hey, you. Good old you. How ya feelin? Is your arm sore, from that rock you hurled through my car window? Any cuts or scrapes from kneeling in glass shards as you rifled through my glove compartment? Did you pull any muscles lifting my junk out of the back seat? Any pinky toe blisters from the shoes you used to run away?

How’s your conscience, knowing that you pulled this crap ten steps away from a preschool?

No matter. I hope this letter finds you in good health. I’ve known a wayward soul or two in my time, and I know there’s probably more to your story than throwing rocks through windows.

Maybe you’re a teenager and it was a dare, and you’re just trying to fit in with the wrong crowd. Maybe you’re a single dad just trying to provide for your family the only way you know how (after all, the Notorious B.I.G. dedicated his Ready to Die album to “all the people that lived above the buildings that I was hustling in front of, that called the police on me – when I was just trying to make some money to feed my daughter.”) Maybe you’re struggling with a crippling addiction, and it’s taken hold of your life so entirely that you don’t even realize what you’re doing anymore.

Whatever the case, it is my sincerest hope that you’ll straighten up and fly right before it’s too late.

In the meantime, though, I’m going to offer you some unsolicited advice. Businessperson to unethical businessperson.

First of all, I’m curious how you landed on my car as an ideal target. I drive a 2007 Toyota Yaris that hasn’t been washed since the last olympics. I literally go WAY out of my way every day to park a half a mile away from work just because parking is free there. And my car’s cleanliness is the biggest embarrassment of my life, to the point that I used to have nightmares about giving my boss a ride somewhere and him finally becoming privy to what a disgusting creature I am. My ex boyfriend lovingly nicknamed my vehicle “the garbage disposal.”

And you thought – hey I know, I’ll just go ahead and bypass these BMWs and Lexuses scattered around the PAID parking spots of Portland and go to the cheapskate neighborhood instead. Look there! A dirty, decade-old car full to the brim with empty Gatorade bottles, chip wrappers, and parking tickets? JACKPOT!

How long did it take you to figure out that I’m just as broke as your sorry ass?

…30 seconds? A minute, maybe?

Then, I imagine you grabbed the only item of potential value you could find, a box of random documents, and tore out of there.

Just really poor choices, all around dude. Take a minute to reevaluate your life.

But this story isn’t about my car getting broken into. Let me tell you a better story about Superman a bearded guy named Ryan.

Mr. Loser Rock Thrower didn’t make it far with my box-o-documents before ditching them around a corner. There they sat, for who knows how long, until Bearded Ryan came across them while walking his dog. He curiously nudged one of the envelopes open with his toe, and my passport went skidding across the sidewalk.

Alarmed, he picked up the box and the remaining documents and brought them home.

…Where he proceeded to go all storybook hero and track me down Liam Neeson style.

I’m admittedly filling in holes here, but here’s the story as I understand it.

Get this, you guys: When he got home, Bearded Ryan did a Google search for “Mary Wittbrodt” which yielded about thirty thousand results (there are a lot of Marys in my family), but he was still somehow able to track down my dad’s old company in San Diego. He called them, and they told him my dad had retired, but he still somehow obtained his contact info. He called my parents’ house but they were out of town, so he left a message.

This would ALREADY have been way above and beyond what any average human being would consider going through in a situation like this. Hitting a road block (like my parents’ voicemail) would have been completely rational justification for calling the search quits.

But did he call it quits? EFF no, this is Bearded Ryan we’re talking about!

He saw on my college transcript that I go by the nickname “Susie” (BINGO) and then started his search all over again with that name instead. Lo and behold, he found me through my company’s website – which is how I got a call from our confused receptionist at around 11:30 this morning.

“Hi… Susie? I’m sorry to bother you, but I figured you’d want to take this call. I’ve got a man named Ryan on the phone who says he was walking his dog and found your passport…”

Minutes later, I was at the scene of the crime, surveying the damage and broken glass… when Bearded Ryan called out behind me, appearing like the angel Gabriel with documents in-hand.

If my life were a movie, this would be the part where that blossoming romance riff would play (you know the one I’m talking about, the music the Sims always made out to), and we would run into each others’ arms and live happily ever after and have literally THE BEST “how we met” story of all time.

But because this is real life, and I am real awkward Susie, that’s not exactly how it went down. We gathered the papers together, most of them smeared with rain, while I kept thanking him over and over again (Bearded Ryan, how do I thank thee? Let me count the ways…). The extent of our conversation was him giving me some rock-solid advice for how to avoid identity theft now that Mr. Loser Rock Thrower probably has all my information. I asked him if there was anything I could do to repay him and he said, repeatedly, “I’m just glad I found you.”

Then we shook hands (I think? It’s all a blur to me now…) and he rode off into the sunset while I stood there gaping like a goldfish.

A few hours later, my parents got home and heard Bearded Ryan’s concerned message – and promptly called their daughter, who was (regrettably) in a meeting.

Put yourself in my parents’ shoes for a moment – just returning from a vacation, 1,000 miles away from their eldest daughter who isn’t answering her phone, and a message on the answering machine about some stranger finding her passport on the street.

Yeah, they might have panicked a bit.

But have no fear, everyone, because Bearded Ryan came to the rescue again. My parents called the number he left and had a nice, long, buddy-buddy chat. He assured them that their daughter was, in fact, safe – and filled them in on some of the finer details of my unfortunate predicament.

When I finally got their frantic voicemail a little while later, I called them back immediately thinking I would have to talk them out of total hysteria. But to my surprise, they were cool as cucumbers – just wanting to talk insurance logistics and to scold me, again, for not renewing my AAA membership.

Damn you, Bearded Ryan, you’ve done it again.

My conscience still feels totally out of balance about the fact that I completely failed to express my gratitude in any tangible way. I mean, the guy talked to my dad’s old employer from like seven years ago halfway across the country. There aren’t even enough italics in the world to convey the lengths he went to… just to return a passport to an idiot girl who was stupid enough to leave sensitive documents unattended in her car in a sketchy part of town. And then, to top it off, he talked my parents off the veritable ledge of absolute terror while I jabbered away, blissfully ignorant in a work meeting.

I’m tempted to go on a similar Liam Neeson-type scavenger hunt to track him down… but all I know is (1) his name is Ryan, (2) he has a beard, (3) he owns a dog, and (4) he lives within reasonable proximity to my work.

Which basically narrows it down to, oh, a third of the male population in Portland.

Le sigh.

Bearded Ryan, if you’re out there, thank you. And also…

I love you
Let’s get married
And have upstanding-citizen babies
Let me buy you a drink!

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.”

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?

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. 😉

How Not to Propose to Me

One of the cool things about blogging is that I’m rarely at a loss for post ideas.

(…I said rarely, not never.)

This is partially because many ideas stem from real-life experiences and conversations… and during these conversations, if I don’t immediately recognize it as an opportunity for a blog post, someone else will point it out for me. (“Hey! You should write about that!”)

This was the case during a happy hour with my coworkers on Friday, when we got into a discussion about marriage proposals.

The girls (all of us unmarried) went around the table talking about the best and worst proposal ideas. One girl said jokingly that she’ll probably be proposed to on the couch while watching TV… and we all debated whether that would be lazy and uninteresting, or cozy and sweet.

Another girl expressed bafflement that “public” has become synonymous with “romantic.” Why does the thing have to happen center-stage? Why can’t we enjoy this moment privately?

In any case, there seems to be a lot of disparity on the topic. Far be it from me to criticize the most important moment of someone else’s life… but for me personally, here are the ways NOT to ask for my hand in marriage:

At a sporting event.

075proposalThis marriage proposal is brought to you by the Zales Fan Marquee.

First of all, this proposal would make no sense in my case, since sports aren’t really my thing. But even if they were, I can’t identify with people who are comfortable sharing this life-defining moment with tens of thousands of strangers, with their response being captured on a 100-foot-wide jumbotron. Why do they always look so surprised? Because nobody goes to a sporting event, in jeans and a jersey, stuffing their face with hot dogs, expecting to be proposed to. There’s a reason.

Anything with a character count.

Jodie-Valentine-620x601

…ke dinner tonight?

I’m not exactly known for my brevity. So I would hope that whenever I’m asked the most important question of my life, it’s through a medium that doesn’t limit expression at all. I would just never want to miss out on any small detail of the proposal because it wouldn’t fit in the space provided.

One-size-fits-none.

wedding-proposal-plane-banner“Insert partner’s name here.”

Asking someone to spend the rest of their life with you should be an experience completely unique to each couple. Any “propose-by-number” option where the question is template-ized feels lazy and insincere.

In food or drink.

swallowed-engagement-ring-xray

I have no idea who came up with the idea that putting an engagement ring in something edible is romantic. Worst case scenario, I swallow it. Second worst, I’m about to swallow it but your frantic yelling and waving stops me short. So then, what, I have to gag it back up into my open palm? How romantic.

Even if consumption wasn’t a risk at all… what is the appeal here? If I notice my engagement ring in a champagne glass, what am I supposed to do? Reach into the glass with my fingers? Pour it out on the floor? Still drink it, only slowly and cross-eyed? I just think people who propose in this way haven’t spent a lot of time thinking the whole thing through.

Anything that puts the ball in my court.

billboard

Possibly my greatest fear is being proposed to in a way that requires me to make the next move. I am the most awkward person alive, and just the thought of this makes me squeamish.

Like… billboards. When I lived in San Diego, there was a month where every day on my way home from work I passed a billboard of a man proposing to his girlfriend. Eventually they added a red banner to it, “She said yes!” and I’m sure she was thrilled and they’re living happily ever after now.

But all I could think about was how it went down between the two of them. Was she alone in the car when she drove by it? What did she do? Call him from the road? “Sooo, hey. I saw your billboard…” Or did she wait until she got home? Was he waiting there? What if she hadn’t seen it? Took a different route home?

Overall, it just seems like a lot could go wrong, and a lot is riding on the girl’s role in passing the billboard and then doing something about it. No thanks.

How TO Propose to Me

Lest I sound like a cynic, there are some proposal ideas that I would go absolutely gaga over. I won’t go into them all here, but they usually follow a few guidelines:

They involve some foresight. Spontaneity is lovely (if you can pull it off effectively), but generally speaking the best proposals are thoroughly thought-through. Many boys aren’t great planners, so when they take the time to orchestrate their question it’s especially endearing.

They are personalized to the ask-ee. There’s nothing sweeter than catering the question to be meaningful to your partner specifically. If he/she is a dancer, or loves horses, or is very in touch with their Italian roots… customize the experience to their passion, background, and personality.

They are an experience. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with just dropping to one knee. But I do think it’s sweet when the question is encompassed in a larger event or experience. After all, this story will be told for decades… make it something worth telling.

They echo the flavor of the couple. Whatever the proposal is, it should be completely unique to you and your partner – something that reflects the nature of your relationship and history together. This is your moment, your experience, and your story. (I feel the same way about weddings.)

They are meaningful. Ultimately, when it comes to asking someone to spend their life with you, it doesn’t matter how you do it… so long as it is genuine and sincere. And if (for you) that means proposing at a sporting event, newspaper ad, plane banner, champagne, or billboard… so be it.

Throwback Thursday: A Collection of Poems

Hey there, readers! Happy Throwback Thursday! If you’re new around here, Throwback Thursday is when we take a trip down memory lane with the recent discovery of all my childhood journals. Sometimes these trips are nostalgic, some confrontational, some humorous, and still others are a little haunting for me. But nonetheless, I hope they’re entertaining.

For today’s installment, I’ll start off by saying that I love poetry. I grew up with Emily Dickinson and Dorothy Parker, and was trying my hand at iambic pentameter before I could even pronounce it. However, I’ll have to admit that I was never very good at it. To quote Leif Enger, one of my favorite authors, “There was no word I wouldn’t misuse, no rhythm I wouldn’t break for a rhyme.”

So today I’ve prepared a compilation of sorts, a “greatest hits” of some of the poems I’ve scribbled over the years… with the caveat that, admittedly, none of them are really all that awesome. My hope is that by grouping them together, several mediocre poems = one passable blog post. That’s math, right?

So here they are, organized chronologically:

One:

The messenger says when he brings us good news
That we oughtn’t be happy, it’s surely a ruse.

But what will he say when bad tidings he brings?
It’s the rhythm that pulses all things, all things…

Two:

Write stories of Egyptian kings
In perfect rhythm rhyme
Disgusting are the little things
I do to pass the time.

Three:

I once had a very nice shoe.
Its brother was very nice, too.
But the left and the right
Were both lost in the night.
Oh heavens, now what shall I do?

Four:

Your heart is like some icy lake
On whose cold brink I stand
And though, for you my heart doth ache –
I’ll stay warm here on land.

 

Happy Throwback Thursday, y’all!

Throwback Thursday: A 10-Year-Old’s Take on Boys

Welcome back to Throwback Thursday! Where we explore the labyrinthine rabbit holes of Susie’s youthful brain, as documented in 16 years’ worth of childhood journals.

This week, we’ll be delving into the mind of 10-year-old Susie, upon her first exposure to a permeating lifelong challenge: boys.

On October 12, 1999, I plopped down onto my bed and pulled out my trusty green marker to write down this little gem:

Boys. Can’t live with them, can’t live with them.
(sigh)

I actually wrote that. I wrote the word “sigh” in parentheses. Dramatic literary tendencies momentarily set aside, this revelation was one that resonated with me so wholly that I felt each letter warranted the occupation of TWO lines’ worth of journal space. College-ruled just ain’t gonna do it for me this time, journal. These boys – and their insufferable nature – are a serious business.

Why do boys have to make everything so difficult??????????

I have to admire my elementary-age self for being just childish enough to want to add several superfluous question marks, but still just obsessive-compulsive enough to want to make it an even 10. (For that matter, I guess that particular trait followed me into adulthood, since I also felt the need to count the question marks when transcribing this)

UGH!

I also wrote “ugh,” because I wanted this journal entry to be particularly onomatopoeic.

Today I was holding cupcakes for Lauren, and Mike came up to ask for one. I told him they weren’t mine to give, and he said “fine” and called me mean!

Riveting stuff.

It gets better:

That right there ruined my day completely.

…Wait, completely? By a guy calling you mean? Little Susie, first of all, please treasure this life of yours… so carefree that someone calling you mean is journal-worthy – and ruined your day, no less.

But second, I have to admit that based on that impassioned opening, I expected something a little more exciting to follow… and I find myself disappointed. You’ve now reached a conclusion that would later shape romantic interactions for the rest of your life – that boys are difficult – and it turned out to be the result of one silly little cupcake-related comment? The first two lines of this entry wrote a check that this story simply did not cash.

If the person reading this is in my room right now, Mike is the guy in the black and white picture on my bulletin board.

…Wait I’m sorry, what? If the person reading this is in your room right now? Hey, psycho child, if a stranger is IN YOUR ROOM READING YOUR JOURNAL, we’ve got bigger problems than character identification.

Isn’t he cute? I think so too.

Ahhh, and the clouds part. Here we unveil the real truth to this journal entry… that I actually secretly had a really big crush on Mike but couldn’t admit it – even to myself – and the most I could do was print out a black-and-white photo and display it nonchalantly on my bulletin board. In hopes that maybe someday someone would come along, read my journal, comment on his devastating cuteness, and I could carelessly agree without anyone being the wiser.

Oh, ten-year-old me, how I wish I could impart some wisdom on your confused soul!

But alas, I would have to stumble upon these wisdoms on my own. Happy to report that, 14 years later, I apparently got over my fear of liking boys. Although, old habits die hard: I definitely have a black-and-white picture of Taylor in my wallet.

In case you’re wondering, I did some Facebook investigating and uncovered that Mike is now engaged… to a girl who is (presumably) not mean.