I Did Not Either Go Back Three Days Later and Stage These Photos, So Hesh Up with Your Badgering Questions Already

Check out my science experiment this week:

When a body falls in the forest, and no one’s around to hear it, it does make a sound, and that sound is “Great Johnny Appleseed, but OWWWWWWWWWWWWW!”

This scientific breakthrough happened the other day when I was out for a run on one of my favorite sections of The Superior Hiking Trail. I love trail running for multitudinous reasons, but one of them is that the varied terrain breaks a run the hell up, so that I can be out there for more than an hour and not even realize it’s time to turn around (contrast this to a run in town, where I spend the last mile counting down: “Fifty-Second Street. Fifty-First Street. Fiftieth Street. Ah, hell, is this only Forty-Ninth Street?”) A side benefit of trail running (aside from rock-hard quads capable of opening a No. 10 can of peaches) is that the varied terrain provides all good reasons for sloggish runner to go rewy, rewy slowly.

With all those roots and rocks jutting up, caution is clearly in order.

What is The Suck, however, is when a sloggish runner who is “running” in a way that actually resembles a quick hike because she is being so very careful about rocks and roots

still takes a mo-fo of a tumble, thanks to biffing her toe on a semi-exposed piece of Nature.

Yup, the other day my body hurled–backwards, by the time I finished pirouetting–into the prickly brush, making contact with at least three more squads of rocks as it gradually skidded to a stop.

“OWWWWW!” does, indeed, echo loudly in an empty forest. As do a few of Yosemite Sam’s finer expletives, particularly those ending in “-frackin’sassafrass.”

Taking stock, as I lay there, I first checked for witnesses (it being several weeks before the local trail ultra-marathon, I’d already passed a couple of gel-squishing 135-lb full-grown wiry males out on 40-mile training runs). Fortunately, no one was around, so there was no need for me to spit the ferns out of my mouth to facilitate a sheepish explanation of, “Em. Lost a contact lens. Oh, and also: I ran 50 miles yesterday, so I’m only having a short 20-mile recovery run today. But keep at it, you pusses.”

Alone in the now-silent woods, I felt around for my head.

Praise Marie Antoinette: it was there!

As well, I still had roughly four limbs extruding from my torso, and as luck would have it, two of them hung out above my waist (Hey, wait. a. minute. I actually have four appendages hanging out above my waistline alone—although two of them are capable of hanging just to my waist while the other two can stretch nearly to my knees. It’s your guess which two are my breasts).

All that new math aside, I felt around and sighed in relief when I realized I also still had two hands–thanks for doing the feeling around, dudes!–along with some leggish things stretched out in front of me. When I bent the leggish things, I saw one of the kneeish things there in the middle was properly scraped up and having a good bleed.

Yes, I realize one of the biggest drawbacks of social media is that anyone with a boo-boo can broadcast it to the world. I also realize this could totally be Conan O’Brien’s knee.

Here’s the moment in a mini-crisis when I often surprise myself: in my general self perception, I tend to think that I’m infinitely open to getting wound up and milking the drama from any possible moment (such as the time, on a day called yesterday, when I got a hangnail and was convinced its removal would require radiation). In reality, though, I actually tend to keep my spirit together in moments of crisis or OWWWWW (case in point: one of my all-time favorite students was raised without advantages, so she spent her mid-twenties learning things most of us mastered as kids…you know, like reading and writing; she also didn’t know how to swim, so I determined to teach her. The first time we were in the pool, her natural athletic abilities kicked in, and she was stroking around in no time. We headed for the deep end. Did I mention she has a seizure disorder? Yea, okay, so in the deep end, the movement of the water and the weird fluorescent lights brought on a seizure, and while I would have thought I’d get all shrieky and limp when faced with her jerking, sinking body, all I really felt was a sense of calm resolution and “NOT ON MY WATCH” wash over me, as I swam to her, dove down and grabbed her, swam her rigid form to the edge, and called repeatedly for the distracted life guard to help me pull her out and to get flotation devices to put under her head so she didn’t crack her skull).

After taking a moment to collect myself there under the sugar maples, I realized I was only bleeding from three places (knee, shoulder, hand) and couldn’t do much about it until I got home. So why not enjoy the rest of my run, as I had to cover the ground to get back to my car anyhow?

I hit the backtrack button on my Ipod, having, during the fall, missed out on the last few informative sentences of the Savage Love podcast (sentences that, upon relistening, went, “I have no problem with you having a centaur fetish; I just feel sorry for you because it’s not a fantasy that can ever actually get played out in real life. ‘Cuz the closest you can come in real life is a guy in a centaur costume, and when everything interesting is packed inside a costume like that, it’s never going to be fulfilling.”). Thusly heartened, I started to run again.

Four minutes later?

Wearing a cap, and being careful to watch the path for roots and rocks, I didn’t notice the birch tree blocking the path—suspended between two other trees—just at head level.

(why didn’t any of the paparazzi skulking in the foliage call out a warning to me?)

BLAMMMMM. My forehead plowed into the thing at five Large American Miles Per Hour.


I was actually thrown several feet into, you got it, another stand of ferns. I actually didn’t know what had happened until I found myself sitting there. Gently, I shook my head and tried to focus my vision. Oh. My. Lawsy.

My eyes had been knocked loose. Even after a minute of trying to clear my vision, everything was blurry and out of focus. I would never see right again. How would I read? How would I drive?

Then I saw my glasses sitting next to me on the ground.

Never mind.

Once I put them on–gingerly, as my noggin was a’screamin’–the world got clearer and, once again, I found myself in a moment internal inquiry: “Do you need to have a little cry right now? Because it feels like you might need a little cry.”

Again, however, Self turned all calmish and replied, pretty quietly, “Naw. I don’t think that’s going to help. I think we should get up now and go to a place of Band-aids and hugs.”

So we did.

When I got home fifteen minutes later, ready to tell Groom about my wee trail adventures, he pre-empted my story with a, “Are you okay? You look really rough.” I’d known my skull was rattled and that I was worried I was going to go all Natasha Richardson or Sweet Baby Lime on him, and I knew I was bleeding, but I hadn’t realized how much dirt was covering my body. Seriously, some women would have paid hundreds of dollars for a mud wrap like I had just gotten for free. Later, when I rinsed off, I realized I might have needed Ibuprofen, but, damn, my pores were tight.

In the days since my wrassle with the woods, my neck has been stiff and painful, even mid-way down my spinal column (my neck extends very far). Plus, the jarring of my top and bottom teeth against each other during the impact chipped a nano-tidbit off one of the lower teeth. I need to file that baby.

Maybe into a fang.

What I’ve learned from all this is that emory boards (and mojitos) are wonderful tools for coping.

Even more profoundly, I’ve learned that Nature and exercise are, like the thing I tripped over in the forest, the Root of All Evil.




21 responses to “I Did Not Either Go Back Three Days Later and Stage These Photos, So Hesh Up with Your Badgering Questions Already”

  1. chelle Avatar

    egads … that is rough! Looks like an awesome trail to run on though!

  2. Bob Avatar

    lucky for you there was a camera positioned on the trail to document this incident. having to run into that log a second time just to capture it on film would be a bitch.

  3. Shania Avatar

    Hmm, at this point I believe I would consider a segway. It's obvious that the woods are out to get you.

  4. Green Girl in Wisconsin Avatar
    Green Girl in Wisconsin

    So, who can you sue for damages?
    This is exactly why I prefer NOT to run!

  5. Jazz Avatar

    Admit it. You have a strange thing for ferns…

  6. kmkat Avatar

    Aren't you glad you landed in ferns instead of, say, poison ivy? I know it is hard to imagine that your run/falls could have been worse, but it could…

  7. SQT Avatar

    Lord, I have to drive two hours to find foliage like that. I get to run at the gym and try not to eyeball the clock the whole time. Doesn't work out that well. If I fall, I get treadmill burn and the embarrassment of falling in public. You're braver than I though. I doubt I would want photographic evidence of my clumsiness.

  8. jess Avatar

    Well I could've told you that exercise is bad!! I'm glad you survived. It would be embarrassing to die from a tree attack. Especially if the tree was stationary.

  9. Pam Avatar

    There's no stoppin' this gal! Your a legend in your own fern patch.The only way I run is to get to the loo on time when I'm home from shopping.Jocelyn you rock!

  10. Jeni Avatar

    Since I happen to be one who is very graceful -NOT -Absolutely. Not. -a run, hell, even a slow walk on a path like that would have had me needing an ambulance and several paramedics to load me on the stretcher and carry me out! And I could have told you that exercise -like housework -is the root of all evil. Oh my Lawsy and file it into a fang, huh? I'd do my running on a well carpeted floor with lots of foam or spongy stuff underneath to help cushion any falls, for sure!
    Are you sure that isn't Conan O'Brian's knee though?

  11. phd in yogurtry Avatar
    phd in yogurtry

    And here I was lately thinking I might bump up my fast-ish trail walking to a jog. Thanks. Someone saved my life toooo-night.

  12. flutter Avatar

    dude, your arms are cut! and I hope you got a release for Conan O'Brien's knee…

  13. monica Avatar

    so, you know the line from Karate Kid where the old karate master says( to whether or not he can crack a log with his bare hands)
    "never been attacked by tree!" – you can shout – WELL I DID!! :o) I too would love to have me some very own private paparazzies..

  14. Patois Avatar

    I knew it wasn't Conan's knee. I'd know HIS knee anywhere.

  15. Midlife Jobhunter Avatar
    Midlife Jobhunter

    HAhahahahahaha! I'm not laughing because you got hurt, honest.

    Hope you're healing well. See, exercise isn't always good for you.

  16. lime Avatar

    sweet fancy moses, woman. do NOT feel obligated to keep up with me in the head banging department. can we not leave that to the syd viciouses of the world? i was seeing stars on your behalf at the mere description of wailing your noggin on that tree. yegads. i need ice just thinking about it.

    in all seriousness, do you ever see a chiropractor. i'd highly recommend it after taking a hit like that. yeouch!

  17. Liam Avatar

    Thank you for your great comments on my blog. Next post I make will address your comment.

  18. Vanessa Avatar

    I love that your companions took pictures instead of warning you. Sounds like my friends…

  19. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    Yep, a body could really get hurt getting healthy and all. Glad you made it back from the malevolent woodland with all your appendages intact, albeit bleeding profusely.

    I have always been of the school which holds that a body falling in the forest does indeed fall, and that the witness is irrelevant. But I am a pessimist by nature, and clumsy.

  20. secret agent woman Avatar
    secret agent woman

    Sorry about the knee owie. But good grief, I can't believe you went to all that trouble to re-enact the head bonk.

  21. Sue Avatar

    Husker DU? The Replacements? Violent Femmes?

    I should hook you up with my brother! All your music was his favs too!

    Oh and hilarious post!

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