birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Impotence

I broke my femur skateboarding. Don’t make me retell the story right now…It was bad enough that it happened. When I was finally discharged from the hospital it was August, sweltering under those itchy stitches. Just about every other day I played Bananarama’s “Cruel Summer,” and toggled between feeling horribly sorry and horribly sorry for myself.

Recovery felt imperceptible for months. Wheelchair, walker, crutches. Handicapped placard. Zero weight bearing. Zero degrees of leg extension, for weeks that felt like decades. My mom sewed old washcloths on the not-pudgy pads of my crutches to cushion the underarms part. People’d check those washcloths out before letting loose some FAQs about what happened to you?! Then they’d usually talk about what had happened to them, or someone else they knew, or knew about, who had also fractured a femur. I felt captive in my own body. Glacial. Petrified that I would remain petrified—that I would never dance or sprint again, let alone surf, snowboard, or skate. “You gotta pay to play,” said Kurt Cobain, so so did I to end those FAQ sessions. I tried to act cool and matter of fact when I said it. But I never stopped feeling preoccupied with how bad the accident had really been, knowing we couldn’t project for many months into healing, after the inflammation had subsided enough for me to begin physical therapy, what my true recovery might be.

I could pour myself a glass of water but I couldn’t carry it into the other room. I tied my waitressing quarter-apron on around the house so I could keep the cordless phone in the pocket, on my person. My right foot was perennially elevated: Nighttime, supine sleeping with my leg supported on its ramp of pillows. Daytime, stationed behind the drivers seat with my knee outstretched to the right across the two other backseats. I needed supervision to dress and undress. To perform the trifecta “triple S’s” of pleasure: shit+shower+shave. [Forget the other great “S,” sex. The first time we tried I made him sit on a swiveling office chair while I kept my spread, broken leg elevated on the bed and allegro plie-ed with my strong standing leg. “I’m really sorry babe,” he said sincerely after a few impotent minutes, “It’s not really working for me.” ]

...to be continued

The Physics of Slow

Life in the Fast Lane