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Sunday, August 9, 2009


Written by Lee

Standing on the side of a freeway.  

Yesterday, I left my dude and my kids and my extended family at Lake Arrowhead, a couple hours away from LA and a world away all at the same time, while I sped down the mountain and then headed west on the 10 freeway towards home.  I had to leave early because I'm doing this show, you see, and I had to get back for the Saturday night performance.

I smelled rubber burning right before it happened.  The left front tire blew as I sped along at 70 mph along a crowded fast freeway filled with way too semis.  I remembered my mom telling me rather recently that the key to a blow-out is just to stay driving straight even though the car will want to veer.  

Thump, thump, thump, thmp, thump, thmp, thmp, thmp....

My heart was racing as the car started to vibrate and pull but I was able to slow down and get off the freeway and onto the shoulder.  I didn't like the place we were (I was fortunately with a family member who was trying to get to the Ontario airport) but I knew we had to be there. And it was better than being on the freeway. 

As the uncle I was with struggled to change the front tire kneeling only feet away from speeding cars, trucks, and semis, I stood towards the back of the car and watched the oncoming traffic. We were parked just as the freeway started to bend so as the cars approached they looked like they were coming straight at us and then they would turn slightly to the left and zoom on past.

I stood there in the hot sun on the pavement and watched every. single. vehicle and prayed that nothing bad would happen.  Please drivers, watch where you are going, don't be distracted for a moment, don't be an idiot, don't have a story that will be that story where something awful happens, and oh, how unfortunate that this mother of three got hit while standing at the edge of a crowded bustling freeway.  

I felt so exposed.  So vulnerable. So out there at the mercy of everyone else. Relying now on everyone else to make sure this all turned out okay.  My heart pounded and I thanked God I didn't have the kids with me.  

The freeway was loud and the semis speeding past seemed violent to me, and I kept yelling to my uncle to "Be careful! Maybe we should just wait for AAA and stop trying to change the tire!" I wanted him to be a few feet further away from the traffic like I was.  As if a few feet would matter if something horrible happened.

After a broken jack and some trouble with these plastic caps on the hubcaps (I was driving my brother-in-law's Audi), we ended up indeed having to wait for AAA to save us from the freeway shoulder.  Even the AAA dude didn't dig our location as he kept looking up to the approaching traffic as he quickly changed the tire. 

Forty-five endless minutes later, I was driving off of that shoulder. To safety. To control. To a big deep sigh of relief.

Later that night, I stood backstage with my heart pounding, my stomach in knots as I listened and waited for the performers before me to finish their piece. I held a bottle of water in my hand and took a few small sips to try and combat the dry mouth that nerves cause for me. 

The audience was laughing.  The piece before me is funny and relatable.  I tried not to listen and instead remain focused on what I was about to say.  The story I was going to tell.  As their sketch came to an end, the audience clapped and I watched from behind the black curtain as they took their props and exited the stage.

With the lights dimmed and the music playing, I emerged from behind the backstage black cloth and took my place center stage.  It was a packed house, a sold-out show.  And in the dim lights, I took a deep breath and waited to begin.

The music softened and ended, the bright lights came up and the audience was pitch black. Here I was.  Standing in the middle of the stage.  About to tell a story that was me. All me. 

And I felt exposed.

Standing on a stage.

It feels weirdly similar to standing on the side of a freeway.  


  1. This is why people would rather die than give a speech. I wonder what the polls would say about changing tires on the edge of a busy road.

    How did your piece go? I'll bet you were fantastic!

  2. So how did it end up? I'm sure you did wonderful!

  3. Wow Lee.

    First of all, I'm glad nothing bad happened during the "tire" ordeal.


    And when do we get to "see" your performance!

    *tapping foot*

    Still waiting! *smile*

    I'm really glad everything was okay GF!

  4. okay, my stomach was in KNOTS the whole time i was reading this. i am so glad you are alive (although the fact that you wrote the post kind of gave away the ending). anyway, i bet standing on that stage was NOT like standing on the side of that freeway... it was probably more like standing IN THE MIDDLE of that freeway. holy cow. even though i have been rooting you on for the last week, it just occurred to me how brave and awesome you really are to get out there and perform. in front of people. with music between acts. i think i am having a panic attack just imagining all of it. i am so proud of you.

  5. I'm so glad people were paying attention. I'm with Deb, the thought of you standing out there makes my palms sweat. Just one idiot texting.

    I so wish I could be there to see you. And Laura too! She and I finally put two and two together - bet you guys knocked their socks off.

    I've heard rumor there might be a video...

  6. I am soooo glad you are okay!

    I held my breath the whole time I read your story. I can see what you were talking about in my mind and my eyes filled with tears of fear.
    Your angels were with you. Don't doubt that for a second. (((((LEE)))))

    How did your performance go.. I am still holding my breath. I hope I don't pass out

  7. You are amazing and I feel a loss that is the beginning of a friendship not actualized.

    And yes, I've had two glasses of wine and am exhausted, but I still take full responsibility for the sentiment.

  8. I really liked your piece last night -- it was surprising, actually, original and unexpected. And I really loved talking to you afterward -- I so look forward to a continued friendship -- bloggy or not.

    Great analogy of highway and stage.

  9. I have mastered public speaking (though I am somewhat out of practice now) but have not, and probably never will, mastered being stranded on the side of the road!

  10. Wow, what an ordeal but you are now a stronger person for this.

  11. Another one of the millions of reasons I miss Los Angeles - missing out on this one of a kind night for you! Congrats Lee - I'm sure you killed and slayed and all that stuff. Love you much, stage actress!
    Oh, and I'm soooooooo glad your side of the road exposure amounted to a great post and no more! :)

  12. Lee- My heart was racing for you!!

  13. scary stuff, man! Glad you are a-ok! Video, now, please! :)

  14. Yikes. I am so glad that you had your uncle their and that you weren't alone for that. (been there- not fun).

    Soooo...I'll be waiting for the update concerning the performance...

  15. Wow, Lee your post is just packed with adventure. I am glad you came out of the highway tire inncodent just fine and probably a stronger person/mother. I am pretty sure I would have been in the same mental stat as you where out there.
    On another note....Congrats on the mommy play thingy! That had to be exciting and rewarding at the same time. You go girl!
    Have a great week! :)

  16. Congratulations on being up on stage!!! I hear you on the tire thing - I was in your place last Saturday night, but in an extremely dark location with two sleeping kids in the back seat. Like you, it ended well, but there's nothing like being out of control like that.

  17. Man - I wish I could have been there to cheer you on! I want to hear all about it when I see you. Did I hear someone say video?

  18. I'm going to assume that since you are alive enough to post that the audience did not hit you like a mack truck, yes? I'm so proud of did it all go?!

  19. Ah..yes...that pounding heart, dry mouth, and fear. I felt it too.
    And this morning I am missing it.
    Maybe I should stand on the side of the freeway....

    glad you are OK...
    and thanks for exposing yourself to me...
    that sounds dirty, doesn't it?

    man, I love your stories...

    you know what I mean...

  20. came over from SITS!

  21. WOW, lady. What an overwhelming day. I'd love to hear more about it. I'm so glad you're OK and also a bit frustrated, waiting to hear about the show! :) Love you.

  22. The tire thing.....think of all the people talking on their cell phone....think of the idiots texting while were actually lucky.

    I spooks me, I ride a harley and see those people and they are oblivious to the world. Driving is a full time job, glad you got it changed safely even with waiting for the AAA.

  23. Must have been an adrenaline-filled day. You still shaking?

  24. I'm sure you did wonderfully as well. And I pray everytime I'm in a car (and I'm so not a prayer) that I don't have to live through what you did. It petrifies me. __hugs__

  25. Wow! What a story!

    I felt similarly on the way home from our vacation and when we had to merge into the left lane around some construction, the guy behind us actually SPED UP, blared on his horn, and then, a few seconds later actually smacked into us on purpose! Can you believe that. No wonder you felt vulnerable standing out there. The highways are full of rageful lunatics. Sometimes.

    Then of course, i didn't have to perform afterward. I hope your show went well. I loved your comparison.

  26. Good Lord woman. I was scared for you...on both fronts! I hope it went well:)

  27. It is startling and scary how fast the cars and especially the semi's are going...I freak out when we have to stop. I feel so vulnerable. I think nothing of it when I pass somebody (I do try to move over a lane though); meaning I forget how scary it can be for them. Bad on me.

    I would love to hear (read) your presentation. I"m way behind in my reading, (summer, you know?), so if I missed it, I'm sorry. Maybe I will look for it. If that sounds idiotic then maybe I misunderstood about what your presentation was about. :)

  28. Thank Goodness the drivers were paying attention to what they were doing. And I understand what you are saying about the same feeling when you were on stage. I don't do well with public speaking, but have had to a time or two with PTO. Even a small group makes me feel exposed!

  29. Great post and a great performance. Both harrowing experiences, but you pulled through beautifully.

  30. holy crap!

    Lee- great post- as usual. xoxox

  31. I've wanted to email every single commenter back but alas summer with three kids is making my computer time seriously suffer.

    If anyone happens to read this comment, I will say that my performance went well. I think I got better over the course of four nights and it took like most of last week to get the adrenalin out of my system. I almost can't believe I actually did it. But I did. And I'm kinda proud of myself.

    When I get the video of it - I will post it. I think. :-)

  32. I'd love to see that video! I would never be able to muster up the stones to get on stage... never.


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