Saturday, June 15, 2013

Brushes with Death

If you're reading this right now, then you're alive. Congratulations. That, in and of itself, is a feat. Good on you. You're doing it. Some people aren't so lucky. They're either already dead, or they didn't win the sperm race to the egg and they're just bodiless, ignorant blobs somewhere. I don't know where they are, what they are, or if they are. I just know that they're not here. But I am, and you are too.

Take a second to appreciate how improbable it is that you even exist. Did you do it? Good. Now stop. Enough of that, who cares.

I've had a number of near-death experiences. Stories that would shake you to your very core. The things I've seen! Just layers and layers of perilous happenstances that have helped build this tough, turtle-shell exterior I'm so known for. Take, for example, the time I was treading water in an ocean off the coast of Massachusetts, when out of nowhere, a crab clamped down on my toe.

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Did it hold on? No. Did it break the skin? No. Is it more likely that my kicking legs grazed the unsuspecting crab by accident? Maybe. The point is, in that moment, I believed that it was curtains for me. That's all it really takes to have a near-death experience. You just have to truly and earnestly believe that you are going to kick it, right then and there.

So, behold. A sampling of experiences in which I told the grim reaper to go suck a nut.

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One time I came home very late without my key, and my roommate was extremely asleep. I was outside my apartment building, staring up at my second floor bedroom window, thinking about how close I was to my bed, and how cruel it was that I had no feasible way of accessing it. I buzzed and buzzed, but my roommate has a habit of sleeping through the decibel equivalent of one of those foghorns they use to keep boats from crashing into rocks.

So whiskey logic kicked in - I told myself that I still have my gymnast upper body strength (I don't), and reasoned that my roommate would be thrilled to see my face pressed up against her bedroom window at 3am (she wasn't).

I tried to climb up the fire escape without the ladder, and only as I was hanging almost completely upside-down over the spiked metal fence that houses our trash bins did I consider myself to be in any sort of immediate danger.

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I summoned the strength that mothers use in times of blind panic like when their kid is trapped under a car. It was the thought of being found in the morning - impaled and also sitting in garbage - that allowed me to forge on. I made it to Brittany's window and lived to tell the tale.

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In 7th grade I was minding my own business in science class, probably wondering which pokemon episode they'd air when I got home from school, when the teacher called on me to read aloud from the textbook. Like a pro, I snapped back into it and found the paragraph he was referring to. I didn't mind reading aloud. Any opportunity to work on my diction.

Bottom line, I encountered the word "organism," and said "orgasm" instead. The teacher corrected me, and then later in the same paragraph I said it again. It felt like the end of days.

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Against all odds, I survived!

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Just last week I was leaving work via my building's notoriously slow elevator, and soon after we started descending, a well-fed man stepped into that already-packed space. The elevator gave a horrible jolt and we all exchanged shifty glances that seemed to say "I'm eating you first."

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The whole thing lasted four seconds, but I had already pricked my finger in preparation of writing, in my own blood upon the wall, my manifesto and subsequent memoirs. They would be published posthumously to critical acclaim.

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When I was eight my brother snuck up behind me in a pool and double fish-hooked me. He either didn't know his own strength, or he had legitimate malicious intent. Either way, I've yet to experience anything near that sort of pain.

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He wasn't sorry.

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On the hottest day of summer in 1998, I was wandering around an outdoor flea market. I was sick of looking at buckets of broken tools and hairless dolls, and I was furiously thirsty. I only had 50 cents left, and water was a dollar. So I bought a Ring Pop. You know - the lollipops that are awesome for a minute but then your hand is sticky forever. My logic was that it would be like sucking on an ice cube. It wasn't.

 

It made me exponentially thirstier, and I ended up drinking from an anonymous hose. I think there was fertilizer in it. BUT. Yet again, I had cheated death.

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Two years ago, when I was told that my appendix needed to come out immediately, I broke the news to friends and family as if the offending appendix was a malignant tumor. I was told by a number of doctors and surgeons that this was the most common, most low-risk surgery they perform, but I was convinced they were sugar coating it. A nurse asked if I had enough pillows, and I took that to mean "get your affairs in order." The anesthesiologist told me to count backwards from ten, and I said the "last words" that I had picked out and rehearsed:

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I woke up a few hours later, and praised - not the surgeon - but my will to survive.

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I sat in a hot tub for a long time once and worried that it was cooking me.

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In college I took a course on American playwrights and I procrastinated to the point where I ended up having to read eight Tennessee Williams plays in one night, in full.

 

My roommates found me the next morning, barely conscious, mumbling in a southern accent. Death by crazy? Not tonight.

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I was in Amsterdam three years ago, and I was thoroughly confused by the wall outlet adapter I had purchased. All I wanted to do was charge my weird European phone. Long story short, I free-handed some loose metal into a live socket.

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If you're looking for the long story, you can forget about it. Sticking metal in an outlet is still one of the dumbest ideas I've ever had, and I've all but repressed the details.

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Oh and to get to Amsterdam, I flew in an airplane. I'm putting that on the list, because I don't understand how airplanes work and therefore I do not trust them.

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I have a weird freckle on my right arm and every time I look at it, I hear that "Live Like You Were Dyin" country song in my head.

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Unfortunately for me, "live like I'm dyin" means sitting in bed watching old episodes of The Office and ordering a veritable feast of the United Nations off of Seamless. Since I do that on the regular anyway, I can truly say that I am living life to the fullest. So that's sort of nice.

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A few years ago I went up to Cape Cod with a few lady friends to celebrate ladyhood. It was soon after we graduated college, and the four of us stayed in a house on the water for a long weekend. We were all roommates senior year, and it was a reunion of sorts.

The last night we were there, we decided to stock up on wine and go out to the beach after dark. We bought a couple of nice bottles (nice meaning $11.99) and one magnum (cheap double bottle). We drank the nice bottles on the sand and talked about things like higher education and health care reform. When those were gone, we took the magnum up to the giant lifeguard's chair and talked about things like what types of hot dogs are best and how hilarious the term "pinky toe" is.

What I didn't realize, as we each took turns taking swigs from the magnum, was that at a certain point everyone else started taking minuscule sips. Despite the fact that I was the only one drinking in earnest, the magnum was empty by the time we headed back into the house. The last thing I remember doing was cueing up a song on my phone, sticking it in my sweatshirt front pocket, and screaming at the moon - "THE MUSIC IS COMING FROM MY BELLY."

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I woke up the next morning feeling like the Gathering of the Juggalos was happening inside of my skull. Everything was loud, and nothing was clean.

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As of now, three years later, I think I'm still dehydrated from that night.

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I went to a zoo, once.

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So.

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My kindle ran out of batteries on the subway when I was 94% done reading the last Harry Potter book.

Had I read it four times previously? Yes. That's not the point.

The point is - in the book's absence, my shitty brain tried to fill in the rest of the plot by memory. It was akin to Chinese water torture.

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Whether or not I was in any real danger in any of these situations is beside the point. Ok? I'm brave. I'm the bravest.