I Am a Hollowed-Out Shell of a Human Being

Illustration for article titled I Am a Hollowed-Out Shell of a Human Being

I do not mean that my soul has blackened, since that ship sailed long ago. My other choice for a profession was lawyer, for god’s sake. I mean that my actual, physical body is a broken husk.

If I had to blame someone for this, it would be my mother, from whose side of the family I inherit so many things. Stubbornness, for example, was colloquially known as the “ Yamamoto gene” when I was a kid. Yes, we see being bullheadedness as a familial obligation.

Being accident prone is another fairly prominent trait on my maternal side. My mother, aunts, cousins... so many of them have stories, and not cute, Bella Swan-esque stories. More “where is that screaming coming from?” stories. (The screaming is me, I tripped and am now tumbling from a cliff.)


Whenever I get made fun of, I point to my mother as an example of the genes I’m working with. My mother, who managed to twist both of her ankles walking from her car to a hotel door. My mother, who is a brilliant cook but has removed various parts of her hands with various blades every single year of my life. (The time with the mandolin was especially bad.) And the time she stuck her fingers in an immersion blender and accidentally turned it on.

My mother passed on to me some fabulously weak ankles. All through my life my ankles, like an MRA commenter, will pop up out of nowhere to scream “Fuck you!” in the hopes of causing me harm. This means I fall over a lot when my ankles give without warning. Also occasionally while I am standing completely still. This got so bad when I was younger that my friends learned to ignore it. I once fell down a flight of stairs while talking to my friends and they just continued the conversation while I was a lump on the floor below them.

Here are some of the more embarrassing examples of my various injuries. Note that not a single one of these occurred while I was inebriated in any way. This is pure, uncut, operating at 100% capacity me:

Eighth Grade: Ran Into a Bus

No, I do not mean I was hit by a bus. I was playing tag and the bus was safe. I misjudged where the open door was and ran into the side of the bus instead.


Ninth Grade: Hit in the Face With a Lacrosse Ball

I got hit in the head with balls a lot, a combination of my lack of attention and hand-eye coordination. I put the lacrosse ball here because it was my face and those balls are unusually hard. It hurt more than the dozens of volley, basket, and soccer balls I usually ended up with bruises from. If you’re wondering what kind of school has lacrosse for P.E., yes, it’s exactly the kind of school you’re imagining.


Eleventh Grade: Slipped Through the Bars of a Catwalk, Had to Be Pulled to Safety

I was trying to hang a light above a stage at my high school, which involved lying on my stomach between the safety rails of a catwalk many feet above the stage. I scooted too far out, lost my grip, and screamed until a friend came to save me.


Twelfth Grade: Walked Off the End of a Stage

I was looking straight into a bright light while a friend was talking to me. I walked towards her and right off the end of the stage. “From my perspective, you were there, and then you were gone,” said my friend. She still laughs about it. When she reads this, she’s going to start laughing again.

Me, basically
Me, basically

Freshman Year of College: Fractured Foot

This story is described by my friends as “the time Katharine broke her foot on the Bible,” which is the funniest way to describe it, but not true. Technically, I fractured my foot on a pile of textbooks that happened to contain a Bible. I also ignored the pain for two days and only went to the hospital after my foot turned purple because I had put it in heels for a holiday party. This happened a few days before winter break, when I was going to go thousands of miles home to show my parents how well I could take care of myself. I showed up in a cast. Shoes have never fit the same again.


Freshman Year of College (Again): Possible Concussion

I tripped over someone’s backpack coming into class. What’s notable about this one is that I fall so much that I remember thinking, “This isn’t that bad of a fall,” right before my head smacked into a desk. I insisted I was fine, and I remember thinking I was totally fine. Right up until the professor asked me a question and I answered in a string of unconnected words. I probably should have seen a doctor.


Senior Year of College: Cracked Two Ribs

I fell walking up the bleachers to see a basketball game. I tumbled down them, hitting every corner of every bleacher with my sides on the way down. Once again, I thought I was fine, up until three days later when I asked an EMT friend of mine if it was a bad sign that breathing really hurt my side. He told me to go see a doctor immediately. I was told I’d cracked two ribs and the prescription was “take these painkillers and don’t lift anything for a while.” Glad I went to a doctor.


Last Year: Sliced My Hand Open Grabbing a Falling Knife

I do not know what is wrong with my brain that I thought to myself, “Oh no! I dropped my knife! Better try to catch it by grabbing the blade!” I blame years of watching my mother slice her hand open for this.


Last Month: Sliced My Leg Open Walking Into a Vent in the Office

I don’t even know, guys. I just know that I now have a giant scar on my shin from trying to dodge someone coming down the hall and walking right into a vent.


I’m not saying that the stereotype of nerds being uncoordinated messes is true of everyone. But, man, is it true of me. I am writing this hopped up on painkillers right now because I threw out my back two nights ago by sleeping weird. Reading and watching TV and movies aren’t just things I do because I like it. They are literally the only safe activities available to me, the walking disaster.

Katharine is the Associate Director of Policy and Activism at the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the former managing editor of io9. She writes about technology policy and pop culture.

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I thought I was that person. You know, the kind that gets their belt loops caught in the door handle. Then I read this.

Ow. You have my sympathies.

I sometimes wonder if my lack of coordination is caused by the lack of proper sports training, or if it’s just natural and it’s why was never good at sports.