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In Case of Emergency

legsI was alone in the house and on my cell phone, talking to my friend Leigh about a Web site she’s thinking of launching. Leigh speaks very fast, especially when she’s fired up about something, which she was. It can be hard to grip all the loose bits of her conversation. Like trying to cuddle an armful of ping pong balls, it takes some concentration.

So I listened with some intent, leaning forward on the top railing of the small second-floor balcony, as if Leigh were right there with me, perhaps perched on the branch of the scrub pine just beyond the railing. The little balcony is like a bird’s nest, a private spot away from the rest of the house, and as Leigh spoke I absent-mindedly rocked to and fro, swinging my bare leg through the balusters.

Then, just like that, I couldn’t. My knee, which had moved more or less freely through the railing, was improbably caught: Most of my leg was still with me, inside the railing, but the business part of the knee was lodged outside of the balcony, through the balusters. When I peered over at it, my knee appeared as a smooth, flesh-colored tennis ball that might have gotten wedged in a courtside chain-link fence by a really superb forehand.

At that moment, two things went through my mind—actually, three, if you count that one of them was to quickly hang up on poor, confused Leigh. Another was that this situation was unbelievably ridiculous: Was I seriously stuck here, like, for real? If I twisted my leg just right, I thought, it would suddenly free, like a lock that springs open with the turn of its key, or a wooden tavern puzzle solved by fingering the secret notches.

But no: It seemed the more I squirmed, and the more I worked it, the less play my leg had between the wooden rails. I could see the sensitive skin on the inside of my thigh already starting to burn and redden. I swore I detected some swelling.

And that was the third thing: panic. The longer I stood there wriggling, the more alarmed I felt. My insides grew a little cold with dread, and at the same time I started to sweat.

I’m not really much of a worrier—except about things that are irrational and unlikely. And, in fact, the more irrational and unlikely the scenario, the more likely that I will worry about it.

I don’t worry about paying the bills or losing my job or being on time for a meeting. I don’t worry about lung cancer or menopause, the price of a gallon of gas, spiders, open water, heights, crowds, the dark, internet security, the clunk under my car hood, choking on a mint, or what that glass of wine will do to me.

But here’s the thing: I might not worry about my son riding without a bike helmet, but I do worry that he might be kidnapped when he’s out alone on the streets. I might ride around in my car without a seatbelt, but on an airplane I’m preoccupied with not surviving an emergency landing. When I was a kid I would sometimes voice my fears to my mother—not those, exactly, but others: our house catching on fire, our dog being stolen in the middle of the night. My mother’s response was always the same: She’d look at me squarely, release the smoke from her Tareyton, and say, “Now think about that for a minute: What are the chances of that happening?”

And with that phrase she’d unwittingly confirm that while whatever I was worried about might not happen, it would nevertheless be truly disastrous if—or when—it did.

One summer, when I was six years old, I was struck by a speeding police cruiser as I skipped across our street to join my friends. Actually, “struck” is too strong a word—I was more sideswiped by it as it swerved dramatically to avoid me, and its tailspin knocked me back a few feet onto the pavement, where I landed on my tailbone. The cruiser held two cops who were making a show of scaring a rowdy, dangerous teenager who lived a few doors down, and their presence on our quiet street—a street home more to working class families than to bad boys who, it was rumored, tossed kittens into fans —was both unexpected and out of context.

I dusted myself off that day without a scratch. But the way the mothers of the neighborhood flocked to our yard and, later, surrounded my mother and rubbed her back as she sat on the front steps of our house and wept, told me that the outcome of some accidents, some emergencies, can indeed be unthinkable. Decades later, when my own toddler son contracted a rare virus and was brain-dead within hours, I knew that this was true: The emergencies that seem the most unlikely and preposterous are often the ones that hurt the most. They are the ones you can’t ever get over. Bones can mend and wounds eventually heal. But, in my experience, the outcome to the phrase “What are the chances of that happening…?” is almost always impossible to recover from.

So right then, trapped on the balcony like a raccoon in a leghold trap, I have a sense of foreboding: What if I never free my knee?

The thought, I know, is completely irrational. Actually, it’s ridiculously so, and it borders on the kind of crazy that might make someone point a forefinger to their temple and wind small circles in the air. And so I cajole myself out of it. Stuck there on open deck, 15 feet up in the air, I indulge in a sort of freak-out fantasy: I calculate the time of my last meal, how long I can go without water, whether the August sun will blister my lips and render me unable to cry out for help.

In my daydream, I wonder whether anyone will be there to toss a raincoat over me in the event of some weather, how old I’ll need to grow before my bony knee slips out of its hold like a ball joint that has lost all sinew. For a moment, I contemplate the notion of “What are the chances of that happening…?” The very idea that there you are one day, talking to a friend on the phone. And the next thing you know, your lot has changed forever, and you’re praying for a miracle.

I’m standing there with an idiotic smile at the thought, which is enough to lighten my predicament. Which is good, because just then a miracle happens. Below me, from someplace that sounds far away, I hear a door slam, and voices. I hear my daughter, roaming downstairs from room to room, calling out for me: “Mom!” She is with her friend, Emily.

“Here!” I yell with some urgency, as if I’m signaling the Coast Guard from a deserted beachhead. “I’m right here!”

“Mom?” Caroline says again, attempting to follow my voice. “Mom! Where?”

“Here! Upstairs!” I yell back. And so it goes on like this for a minute or two. Caroline calls out, I chirp back, like she’s misplaced the telephone handset and is zeroing in on its location under the couch.

Finally the two emerge in the bedroom behind me, and then they are on the deck beside me, regarding me with some intent, like they might a curiosity at the carnival. They are smirking slightly, and I glimpse myself through their eyes. But I give them credit, because they don’t laugh. Instead, we talk over our options—Emily mentions lubricants—but in the end we settle for naked force. Emily will pull, it’s decided, and Caroline will lean over the railing, her hands positioned to push against my knee.

That Emily is tall and sinewy, and she’s pretty strong for an 11-year-old. When she wraps her long arms around my waist and pulls with all her might, I am, guided by Caroline’s final push, finally free. My knee slides through the wood and we all lunge backward along with it. I inspect the damage: On both sides I have an angry, oozing scrape. And, inside my thigh, I’m already growing a purple, doughy bruise the size of a pancake.

Later, I call Leigh back, and apologize for cutting her short. I sum up what happened, and I wait until she’s finished laughing. Then finally she shrugs, “Well, what goes in must come out, I guess!”

“Right,” I say. “Exactly. No big deal.”

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72 Responses to In Case of Emergency

  1. JP says:

    Little did you know that being stuck for that period of time would result in yet another outstanding Annarchy piece offered up to your eager audience….Thanks so much for sharing. :)

    My most recent incident of getting stuck: Walking on rock pilings on the Oregon Coast — crashing waves kept getting closer and closer…

    My silliest incident of getting stuck: Of course, as a child, my tongue was stuck to the old-fashioned metal ice cube tray!

    My most disturbing image of getting stuck: It’s still the young man in “Fried Green Tomatoes” as he tries to free his foot from the railroad tracks as a train barrels down on him.

  2. JP says:

    Little did you know that being stuck for that period of time would result in yet another outstanding Annarchy piece offered up to your eager audience….Thanks so much for sharing. :)

    My most recent incident of getting stuck: Walking on rock pilings on the Oregon Coast — crashing waves kept getting closer and closer…

    My silliest incident of getting stuck: Of course, as a child, my tongue was stuck to the old-fashioned metal ice cube tray!

    My most disturbing image of getting stuck: It’s still the young man in “Fried Green Tomatoes” as he tries to free his foot from the railroad tracks as a train barrels down on him.

  3. pprlisa says:

    ANN!!! once again you are proving that we were seperated at birth. I related to almost every part of this post. You are actually making me rethink the way I repond to my son’s anxieties.

    Thanks, and ummm, heeeheeeeeeeeeeeeee on the stuck knee – that was awesome!!! I would have panicked and cut off my own leg to save myself.

    It actually reminded me of the scene in 16 Candles when Jake Ryan’s girlfriend gets her hair stuck in the door and her friends cut off her hair to save her. So funny.

    –Lisa

  4. pprlisa says:

    ANN!!! once again you are proving that we were seperated at birth. I related to almost every part of this post. You are actually making me rethink the way I repond to my son’s anxieties.

    Thanks, and ummm, heeeheeeeeeeeeeeeee on the stuck knee – that was awesome!!! I would have panicked and cut off my own leg to save myself.

    It actually reminded me of the scene in 16 Candles when Jake Ryan’s girlfriend gets her hair stuck in the door and her friends cut off her hair to save her. So funny.

    –Lisa

  5. mack collier says:

    Ok it will sound MacGyverish, but if you had a shirt, you could have taken it and wrapped it around the baluster on one side of your knee, and the one next to it. Then you twist the shirt and it would pull the two balusters toward each other, meaning one would go away from your knee. And that would have given you the room to get your knee out.

    Or it wouldn’t have worked and your kid would have walked in on you with your knee stuck, and topless.

    Which might have made for a better post ;)

  6. Twitter Meryl333 says:

    Many thoughts welled up in my mind while reading your post. This one predominates: The biggest jolt is not the accident, but realizing that–no matter how powerful & *in control* we imagine we are, unexpectedly bad— as well as unexpectedly good– things are always bound to happen. You are blessed with the grace of keeping things in perspective.

    For everything problem under the sun there is a solution or there is none. If there is one, find it. If there is none, never mind it.

    Because I talk like your friend when excited about a new idea, I loved the simile that it was ” like trying to cuddle an armful of ping pong balls”.

  7. mack collier says:

    Ok it will sound MacGyverish, but if you had a shirt, you could have taken it and wrapped it around the baluster on one side of your knee, and the one next to it. Then you twist the shirt and it would pull the two balusters toward each other, meaning one would go away from your knee. And that would have given you the room to get your knee out.

    Or it wouldn’t have worked and your kid would have walked in on you with your knee stuck, and topless.

    Which might have made for a better post ;)

  8. Twitter Meryl333 says:

    Many thoughts welled up in my mind while reading your post. This one predominates: The biggest jolt is not the accident, but realizing that–no matter how powerful & *in control* we imagine we are, unexpectedly bad— as well as unexpectedly good– things are always bound to happen. You are blessed with the grace of keeping things in perspective.

    For everything problem under the sun there is a solution or there is none. If there is one, find it. If there is none, never mind it.

    Because I talk like your friend when excited about a new idea, I loved the simile that it was ” like trying to cuddle an armful of ping pong balls”.

  9. Katybeth says:

    I too love the description of “like trying to cuddle an armful of ping pong balls” it just says it….I know what you mean about uttering the words “whats the chance that will happen” kind of like “you can’t miss it.” You know if you do or it does….life is about to become much harder. Thank you. I could read your witting all day and wish for more!

  10. Katybeth says:

    I too love the description of “like trying to cuddle an armful of ping pong balls” it just says it….I know what you mean about uttering the words “whats the chance that will happen” kind of like “you can’t miss it.” You know if you do or it does….life is about to become much harder. Thank you. I could read your witting all day and wish for more!

  11. Ann Handley says:

    Here’s the funny thing: Almost every man I have told this story to immediately goes into solution mode, as in, “You know what you could have done? You could have used the rays of the sun to melt some pine tar and use it to lubricate your leg. Or did you try…..?” Just like @mack! (lol)

    Anyway — thanks, all. It became good fodder to write about, if nothing else! (And the bruise makes me look tough.)

  12. Ann Handley says:

    Here’s the funny thing: Almost every man I have told this story to immediately goes into solution mode, as in, “You know what you could have done? You could have used the rays of the sun to melt some pine tar and use it to lubricate your leg. Or did you try…..?” Just like @mack! (lol)

    Anyway — thanks, all. It became good fodder to write about, if nothing else! (And the bruise makes me look tough.)

  13. mack collier says:

    “You know what you could have done? You could have used the rays of the sun to melt some pine tar and use it to lubricate your leg.”

    LMAO! Love it! Spike probably has a show where guys discuss impossible situations to get out of.

  14. mack collier says:

    “You know what you could have done? You could have used the rays of the sun to melt some pine tar and use it to lubricate your leg.”

    LMAO! Love it! Spike probably has a show where guys discuss impossible situations to get out of.

  15. John Gray’s book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, states that men do that all the time. I’m totally guilty of it. I give solutions ALL the time, unless I remember to be more like John Gray. (A sissy.)

    Beautiful scary story.

    I’d buy your book if you’d write it.

  16. John Gray’s book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, states that men do that all the time. I’m totally guilty of it. I give solutions ALL the time, unless I remember to be more like John Gray. (A sissy.)

    Beautiful scary story.

    I’d buy your book if you’d write it.

  17. Ann Kingman says:

    I’d buy your book if you’d write it, too. Or maybe even send it to a few people I know after it’s written :) Can’t think of another blog post that made me laugh and cry and laugh again in a 30 second span of time.

    I can fully relate to the anxiety about the improbable. Family legend has it that when I was three, I would refuse to go outside without wearing a hat, in case an airplane fell on my head. Truth be told, I don’t think I’ve changed much.

  18. Ann Kingman says:

    I’d buy your book if you’d write it, too. Or maybe even send it to a few people I know after it’s written :) Can’t think of another blog post that made me laugh and cry and laugh again in a 30 second span of time.

    I can fully relate to the anxiety about the improbable. Family legend has it that when I was three, I would refuse to go outside without wearing a hat, in case an airplane fell on my head. Truth be told, I don’t think I’ve changed much.

  19. Annie Dearest,

    First, let me say that my husband thinks your ping-pong ball cuddling a darn good analogy for talking to me most of the time! :-D

    Second, I still think of that conversation and laugh myself into tears. Partially because it’s just a CLASSIC Lucille Ball moment because in our case, I am probably Lucy and you might be a more pragmatic Ethyl.

    As we discussed, this truly is like something that I would do … only in my case, it would have occured in a very public setting while I was on a call with some huge client or someone from the media. The police would have been involved, but it would have taken 45 minutes for them to arrive,…long enough to amass a crowd of onlookers, taking photos and laughing at my misfortune. And it would have made the paper, or something ridiculous.

    I really had no idea you were actually wounded in the incident! Sorry I laughed so hard. :-( Glad the mighty Caroline came to your rescue. Thanks for a great listening ear, and a beautiful writing hand.

    Hope you (and your ego) are healing up well! Thanks for always sharing your wonderful heart.

    Leigh

  20. Annie Dearest,

    First, let me say that my husband thinks your ping-pong ball cuddling a darn good analogy for talking to me most of the time! :-D

    Second, I still think of that conversation and laugh myself into tears. Partially because it’s just a CLASSIC Lucille Ball moment because in our case, I am probably Lucy and you might be a more pragmatic Ethyl.

    As we discussed, this truly is like something that I would do … only in my case, it would have occured in a very public setting while I was on a call with some huge client or someone from the media. The police would have been involved, but it would have taken 45 minutes for them to arrive,…long enough to amass a crowd of onlookers, taking photos and laughing at my misfortune. And it would have made the paper, or something ridiculous.

    I really had no idea you were actually wounded in the incident! Sorry I laughed so hard. :-( Glad the mighty Caroline came to your rescue. Thanks for a great listening ear, and a beautiful writing hand.

    Hope you (and your ego) are healing up well! Thanks for always sharing your wonderful heart.

    Leigh

  21. Ann,

    Once again, your writing just sucks me in and keeps me there. Kind of like a knee caught between a couple of balusters. Kidding.

    Funny enough, while I’ve had plenty of ridiculous accidents or incidents akin to yours (remind me to tell you the story about my flute, away from polite company. And no, it has nothing to do with band camp.), what really connected with me was the worrying about the unlikely. That’s me, to a T.

    I don’t worry about things I probably should, but I will invent THE most outrageous scenario and work myself into a frenzy over it. What is it that does that? Is there a switch somewhere that I can turn off?

    Thanks again for sharing your talents.

    Amber

  22. Ann,

    Once again, your writing just sucks me in and keeps me there. Kind of like a knee caught between a couple of balusters. Kidding.

    Funny enough, while I’ve had plenty of ridiculous accidents or incidents akin to yours (remind me to tell you the story about my flute, away from polite company. And no, it has nothing to do with band camp.), what really connected with me was the worrying about the unlikely. That’s me, to a T.

    I don’t worry about things I probably should, but I will invent THE most outrageous scenario and work myself into a frenzy over it. What is it that does that? Is there a switch somewhere that I can turn off?

    Thanks again for sharing your talents.

    Amber

  23. Not to be all male problem solving, but I probably would have gone for the lubricant and brute force, then you might have avoided the angry scrapes – although I’m sure they look lovely with the bruises, not to mention increase your tough factor.:) I hate to admit it but I sometimes irrationally worry (there I said it, but I won’t worry that I said it). And the next time I find myself going there I’ll remember your story and remind myself there’s no need to panic – on the balcony or anywhere else.

  24. Not to be all male problem solving, but I probably would have gone for the lubricant and brute force, then you might have avoided the angry scrapes – although I’m sure they look lovely with the bruises, not to mention increase your tough factor.:) I hate to admit it but I sometimes irrationally worry (there I said it, but I won’t worry that I said it). And the next time I find myself going there I’ll remember your story and remind myself there’s no need to panic – on the balcony or anywhere else.

  25. Deb says:

    I can TOTALLY see myself doing exactly that including the wondering about someone covering me come rain if I can’t get out. Glad the girls were able to free you and you didn’t have to deal with a laughing EMT crew! Keep up the great posts!

  26. Deb says:

    I can TOTALLY see myself doing exactly that including the wondering about someone covering me come rain if I can’t get out. Glad the girls were able to free you and you didn’t have to deal with a laughing EMT crew! Keep up the great posts!

  27. Jan Richards says:

    I was intrigued by your title, then soon laughing at the trying-to-rein-in-ping-pong-balls-conversation. And, well, I recognized an aspect or two of myself as I read.

    The police cruiser story and the story about your toddler son (I am so very sorry!) started me thinking about the what-are-the-odds-but-it-happened experiences in my life.

    A phrase my mother used to say was, “We’re always good for an adventure!” My mother’s life irretrievably changed when my older sister was born with cerebral palsy, probably the result of her very traumatic birth. Mom tried to eliminate adventure from her life as much as she could after that, and tried to scrub adventure-seeking out of her kids (it didn’t work).

    But if adventure found my mother? Then the spirit of adventure would suddenly, solidly, and somewhat merrily kick in. What’s more, the spirit of spontaneity – gusto, even – would spread to the people with whom she shared the unexpected experience. That was always fun, and memories of the spontaneous teams that formed around these adventures affected me in positive ways – more than she might have expected.

    Thanks for your story of the ornery baluster grip, Ann, the rescue by your daughter and her friend, and the history behind your “what are the odds, but it could happen” worrying. It was illuminating and thought-provoking, in many ways, as your writing always is.

  28. Jan Richards says:

    I was intrigued by your title, then soon laughing at the trying-to-rein-in-ping-pong-balls-conversation. And, well, I recognized an aspect or two of myself as I read.

    The police cruiser story and the story about your toddler son (I am so very sorry!) started me thinking about the what-are-the-odds-but-it-happened experiences in my life.

    A phrase my mother used to say was, “We’re always good for an adventure!” My mother’s life irretrievably changed when my older sister was born with cerebral palsy, probably the result of her very traumatic birth. Mom tried to eliminate adventure from her life as much as she could after that, and tried to scrub adventure-seeking out of her kids (it didn’t work).

    But if adventure found my mother? Then the spirit of adventure would suddenly, solidly, and somewhat merrily kick in. What’s more, the spirit of spontaneity – gusto, even – would spread to the people with whom she shared the unexpected experience. That was always fun, and memories of the spontaneous teams that formed around these adventures affected me in positive ways – more than she might have expected.

    Thanks for your story of the ornery baluster grip, Ann, the rescue by your daughter and her friend, and the history behind your “what are the odds, but it could happen” worrying. It was illuminating and thought-provoking, in many ways, as your writing always is.

  29. Ann Handley says:

    Thanks for the comments, all. I appreciate each and all of you stopping by… and leaving your two pesos.

    What is coolest for me is when people read their lives in my stories. As much as it’s about me, and my experiences… at the same time, it isn’t.

    If you know what I mean.

    And by the way, everyone should know that I WAS armed with a cell phone. So I definitely could have called at any point for help. That, and the total time lapsed in this story was *maybe* 10 minutes. And that’s a generous estimation!

  30. Ann Handley says:

    Thanks for the comments, all. I appreciate each and all of you stopping by… and leaving your two pesos.

    What is coolest for me is when people read their lives in my stories. As much as it’s about me, and my experiences… at the same time, it isn’t.

    If you know what I mean.

    And by the way, everyone should know that I WAS armed with a cell phone. So I definitely could have called at any point for help. That, and the total time lapsed in this story was *maybe* 10 minutes. And that’s a generous estimation!

  31. Dana Ironside says:

    How is that these banisters allow an extremity to go through but not come back out? I mean it’s the same width going in either direction!? I had a friend whose 2 year old put his head through her stair banisters (ok he was 2 and you are just a bit older) and they had to call the fire department to cut him out! Thank god it didn’t have to go there for you or that fire department might have had a good laugh at your expense (and pain).

    Glad you are ok! Now, we’re going to have to talk later about that anxiety you are dealing with from time to time! :)

  32. Dana Ironside says:

    How is that these banisters allow an extremity to go through but not come back out? I mean it’s the same width going in either direction!? I had a friend whose 2 year old put his head through her stair banisters (ok he was 2 and you are just a bit older) and they had to call the fire department to cut him out! Thank god it didn’t have to go there for you or that fire department might have had a good laugh at your expense (and pain).

    Glad you are ok! Now, we’re going to have to talk later about that anxiety you are dealing with from time to time! :)

  33. Great read, Ann, thanks.

    I’m with Brogan and Ann Kingman – you NEED to weave all these in to a book. You’re too good a writer not to!

  34. Great read, Ann, thanks.

    I’m with Brogan and Ann Kingman – you NEED to weave all these in to a book. You’re too good a writer not to!

  35. Ann,
    As usual a great piece.
    {Unlike the piece of flesh you left in the railings}
    I, too, was sideswiped by a car, and was sent flying a few feet. Weird.
    Most importantly though, I didn’t know about your son.
    I am so sorry.
    Joel

  36. Joel Libava says:

    Ann,
    As usual a great piece.
    {Unlike the piece of flesh you left in the railings}
    I, too, was sideswiped by a car, and was sent flying a few feet. Weird.
    Most importantly though, I didn’t know about your son.
    I am so sorry.
    Joel

  37. Toby says:

    Ann -Love your annarchy stories. Each one is a little piece of the puzzle of life. I’m online for a copy of that book!

  38. Toby says:

    Ann -Love your annarchy stories. Each one is a little piece of the puzzle of life. I’m online for a copy of that book!

  39. Karen Swim says:

    Ann, you are a wonderful storyteller and you can count on me buying that book the minute it is available! Thank you for opening your life and sharing the joys and pain that are so integrally woven into our life stories. I’m sorry for the loss of your son. Those big scary things that happen in life are the hardest from which to recover but they also help us to see the ridiculous in their proper light. I have faced the scary so I don’t worry about those things but like you I can spin a yarn about ridiculous scenarios. It is one reason I cannot watch medical mystery shows!

  40. Karen Swim says:

    Ann, you are a wonderful storyteller and you can count on me buying that book the minute it is available! Thank you for opening your life and sharing the joys and pain that are so integrally woven into our life stories. I’m sorry for the loss of your son. Those big scary things that happen in life are the hardest from which to recover but they also help us to see the ridiculous in their proper light. I have faced the scary so I don’t worry about those things but like you I can spin a yarn about ridiculous scenarios. It is one reason I cannot watch medical mystery shows!

  41. Amy Flanagan says:

    Wow, Ann.
    In a few short paragraphs you have captured why I simultaneously laugh at and hate myself for swerving off I-93 in a panic one exit before heading into the tunnel. Does panic over the ridiculous things exist to keep our minds off a terror deep inside of what could actually happen?
    I am very sorry for your son.
    And very happy to have gotten to know you.
    Amy

  42. Amy Flanagan says:

    Wow, Ann.
    In a few short paragraphs you have captured why I simultaneously laugh at and hate myself for swerving off I-93 in a panic one exit before heading into the tunnel. Does panic over the ridiculous things exist to keep our minds off a terror deep inside of what could actually happen?
    I am very sorry for your son.
    And very happy to have gotten to know you.
    Amy

  43. Bdot says:

    Funny!

    Note to Caroline and Emily:
    next time, grab the FLip, Evan’s duct tape and the Sharpies…….

    You just might need something on old mom sometime

  44. Bdot says:

    Funny!

    Note to Caroline and Emily:
    next time, grab the FLip, Evan’s duct tape and the Sharpies…….

    You just might need something on old mom sometime

  45. BL Ochman says:

    WHEN can we buy your book? You are such an astoundingly good writer.

    I am so sorry to learn about your son. And heartened that you have kept your sense of wonder and joy even after that.

    Keep writing Ann. You know we’ll be reading.

  46. BL Ochman says:

    WHEN can we buy your book? You are such an astoundingly good writer.

    I am so sorry to learn about your son. And heartened that you have kept your sense of wonder and joy even after that.

    Keep writing Ann. You know we’ll be reading.

  47. I think I’ve gotten my knee stuck in places like that before. One thing to keep in mind if that ever happens again is that the knee changes width depending on how much it is flexed – more flex equals wider knee, which can be a big reason why it will go in and then not want to come back out. So trying to straighten the knee should also help it come back out.

    But anyway, this is a great post, very well written, and I think so popular because everyone can relate! (Well, everyone who owns a knee or two anyway.)

    And sorry to learn about your son. I can’t imagine how tough that must be as a parent.

  48. I think I’ve gotten my knee stuck in places like that before. One thing to keep in mind if that ever happens again is that the knee changes width depending on how much it is flexed – more flex equals wider knee, which can be a big reason why it will go in and then not want to come back out. So trying to straighten the knee should also help it come back out.

    But anyway, this is a great post, very well written, and I think so popular because everyone can relate! (Well, everyone who owns a knee or two anyway.)

    And sorry to learn about your son. I can’t imagine how tough that must be as a parent.

  49. Cam Beck says:

    Sometimes I fancy that some people worry too much. My wife in particular, worries about what ailment we might all contract if I wash a dish in a sink that just had some raw chicken scraps in it.

    Your story about your son, though, hit a little close to home. I had no idea, and I’m very sorry.

  50. Cam Beck says:

    Sometimes I fancy that some people worry too much. My wife in particular, worries about what ailment we might all contract if I wash a dish in a sink that just had some raw chicken scraps in it.

    Your story about your son, though, hit a little close to home. I had no idea, and I’m very sorry.

  51. Ann, this is such a great story. You’re an amazing writer! Thanks for taking the time to write and share it.

  52. Ann, this is such a great story. You’re an amazing writer! Thanks for taking the time to write and share it.

  53. Next time something like this happens, you can play it off as avant-garde performance art. Really intellectual stuff you don’t expect anyone to “get.” Claim it’s a metaphor for…uh…US foreign policy…yeah, that’s it. Super deep. Wow.

  54. Next time something like this happens, you can play it off as avant-garde performance art. Really intellectual stuff you don’t expect anyone to “get.” Claim it’s a metaphor for…uh…US foreign policy…yeah, that’s it. Super deep. Wow.

  55. Sonia Simone says:

    Tears in my eyes about your son. I love this story, love the mix of absurdity and much-too-harsh reality and your daughter being a mensch and not laughing and the scary ease with which I can picture myself stuck the same way (and, of course, slowly starving to death, because I’m a horribilizer of the first degree).

    I think you’re really wonderful.

  56. Sonia Simone says:

    Tears in my eyes about your son. I love this story, love the mix of absurdity and much-too-harsh reality and your daughter being a mensch and not laughing and the scary ease with which I can picture myself stuck the same way (and, of course, slowly starving to death, because I’m a horribilizer of the first degree).

    I think you’re really wonderful.

  57. Romi says:

    *ouch*…I too was thinking that the introduction of some lubricants would be inevitable, but luckily you escaped without a mess, hope your pancake bruise is all healed now!

  58. Romi says:

    *ouch*…I too was thinking that the introduction of some lubricants would be inevitable, but luckily you escaped without a mess, hope your pancake bruise is all healed now!

  59. Jean Gogolin says:

    Found your blog through Michael Selzner’s contest, and I love it. You are one fine writer with an amazing ability to make your readers imagine and empathize — which for me is the secret to good writing.

  60. Jean Gogolin says:

    Found your blog through Michael Selzner’s contest, and I love it. You are one fine writer with an amazing ability to make your readers imagine and empathize — which for me is the secret to good writing.

  61. Julie says:

    Ann, two words — knee pads! I have a bannister similar to yours but am in no danger of a limb sliding through. I am convinced, though, that someone will eventually go sailing over it and break their ever lovin’ neck someday (as the kids grow taller, I feel this likelihood increases). After enduring a soul-crushing loss, anything really does seem possible. All of the safety walls come tumbling down and you feel exposed to everything. It takes a long time to rebuild. So glad you made it.

  62. Julie says:

    Ann, two words — knee pads! I have a bannister similar to yours but am in no danger of a limb sliding through. I am convinced, though, that someone will eventually go sailing over it and break their ever lovin’ neck someday (as the kids grow taller, I feel this likelihood increases). After enduring a soul-crushing loss, anything really does seem possible. All of the safety walls come tumbling down and you feel exposed to everything. It takes a long time to rebuild. So glad you made it.

  63. While reading, I stayed there with you and thought too : “what are the chances of this happenning?”

    Thanks for your blog.

  64. While reading, I stayed there with you and thought too : “what are the chances of this happenning?”

    Thanks for your blog.

  65. Writer Mama says:

    I once fell through a cattle grate (those giant sewer-grate looking things that you see at auto gates in the Southwest), had a jolt of adrenaline pass through my body and then almost passed out. Luckily my leg wasn’t broken! Seems unbelievably mean to do to animals. Anyway, after I talked myself down, er, up, much as you did here, I was able to pull myself out and limp back to the ranch where I was living.

    Legs should come with a warranty.

    Anyway, came by to congratulate you on making Michael Selzner’s short list!

    Congrats!

  66. Writer Mama says:

    I once fell through a cattle grate (those giant sewer-grate looking things that you see at auto gates in the Southwest), had a jolt of adrenaline pass through my body and then almost passed out. Luckily my leg wasn’t broken! Seems unbelievably mean to do to animals. Anyway, after I talked myself down, er, up, much as you did here, I was able to pull myself out and limp back to the ranch where I was living.

    Legs should come with a warranty.

    Anyway, came by to congratulate you on making Michael Selzner’s short list!

    Congrats!

  67. GiGi says:

    Ann,
    Another great story. And again, I was there seeing it all through your writing. How did you create such a funny story while also telling us about your imagined and real losses? Thank you for opening up all of this and making me laugh…and pause. As was already mentioned, you are quite wonderful!

  68. GiGi says:

    Ann,
    Another great story. And again, I was there seeing it all through your writing. How did you create such a funny story while also telling us about your imagined and real losses? Thank you for opening up all of this and making me laugh…and pause. As was already mentioned, you are quite wonderful!

  69. Angela says:

    What a horrifying situation. It reminds me of this one time I took a bus into the wrong town, and couldn’t find a bus back out, and actually walked myself through the steps of creating a life there.

    I’m happy you’re free and didn’t have to resort to spitting on your leg. (You know, for lubing purposes.)

  70. Angela says:

    What a horrifying situation. It reminds me of this one time I took a bus into the wrong town, and couldn’t find a bus back out, and actually walked myself through the steps of creating a life there.

    I’m happy you’re free and didn’t have to resort to spitting on your leg. (You know, for lubing purposes.)

  71. Gary Cohen says:

    Ann,

    You have an uncanny knack of not only writing so well but peeling the onion in a way that brings us closer.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Gary

  72. Gary Cohen says:

    Ann,

    You have an uncanny knack of not only writing so well but peeling the onion in a way that brings us closer.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Gary

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