How to Jump Off Things (and Not Die!)

for Marie

Since I have a huge project to be completed by Thursday, it only makes sense that I am suddenly inspired to sit down and write a blog post instead.1

Before I tell you how to Jump Off Things (and Not Die!), it is important to explain to you why we Jump Off Things in the first place.

A few years ago, my sister Beef and I drove up to visit our newly-married sister in Georgia. For her, this was not just a few years ago: it was also a few children ago. Footloose and fancy free, we traipsed around her new hometown, doing all of the local sight-seeing to be had. Twenty minutes later, we found ourselves wandering around the site of an abandoned sugar mill.

Our older sister hopped up on a stump and said, "Hey! Take a picture of me jumping off this stump!" which is about as exciting as it gets in her part of Georgia.

"Hey! Take a picture of me jumping off this stump!"

It had begun.


Everywhere we went after that, we took pictures of ourselves Jumping Off Things. Lots of people have pictures of themselves standing in front of national landmarks and stunning views. Not many have pictures of themselves Jumping Off (or in front of) them.  As we jumped, our style, skill, and technique improved.


Stonehenge Jump!

Over the Edge

Coronado Ballerina Jump

Carleton Hill

Grandest Jump

Best ever

We not only Jumped when we were together, but we also converted others to our ways.

Cirque du Soliel


Lucy & Beef beach jump

What a Wonderful World

Go go gadget arm!

All of that to say that in June of 2007, Beef and I had flown to Baltimore to visit a friend of mine, whom we easily convinced to Jump with us. In those innocent days, before I had made all of my mistakes, the idea that there were rules pertaining to Jumping had not yet occurred to me. As a result, I limped away from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, MD, with injured ribs, a broken toe, many bruises, and (the worst pain of all) an excessively damaged dignity.2 But more on that later.

First, I give you the three basic steps to Jumping Off Things (Without Dying!):

Rule One: Wear footwear appropriate to the occasion.  Only if you are jumping in grassy field, on the beach, or in an otherwise soft, sandy area (such as a children's playground) is it appropriate to Jump barefoot or in flip-flops.  For jumping off things such as statues, rocky cliffs, or historic forts in Maryland, flip-flops are definitely not appropriate.  At best, broken toes and mangled toenails will ensue. At worst, it will be the Fort McHenry Debacle of 2007 all over again.

Rule Two: Pair yourself with someone who is wiser than you are.  That way, when you have a ridiculous brain wave that has you saying, "Hey! I have a great idea! I'll lie down on the ground under this tree, and you jump out of the tree so that it looks as if you're flying over me!" or "If you hop from rock to rock, it will look as if you're hovering right above the Grand Canyon... as long as you don't slip when you land,"3 that person will say ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Rule Three: If at the thirty-first or thirty-second time you don't succeed, give up before your hurt yourself. Although it's true that sometimes with jumpshots many takes are needed, there comes a point at which to keep trying might cause you to do yourself an injury.

And now, because you have been so patient, I will tell you exactly what transpired at Fort McHenry in 2007.

The Location: Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine; Baltimore, Maryland.  (Yes, that is the actual name. Shrine. I know.)

The Attempt: To run through a former cell block of the fort, leap over a shallow set of stone steps, and launch myself high enough into the air so that I would appear in the photo against a backdrop of clear blue sky and billowing American flag. Beef was lying on the ground taking the shot directly upward, so as to catch me, the flag, and the sky at the proper angle. In blatant violation of Rule Two, she had not only agreed to this brain wave, but had also already successfully completed this maneuver.

The Fallout: After an embarrassing number of unsuccessful attempts at the shot, I was ready to give up; however,  to Beef and my other friend, my jumps were all "too lame" to give me the proper height.  Knowing my penchant for injuries due to poor motor skills, I wasn't exactly keen on higher or faster jumps; however, they convinced me to take one final leap.  Throwing caution to the wind (and violating Rule Three), I decided to give it all I had: to infinity and beyond! I took a long running start through the cell block and flung myself up and out over the stone steps.  Yes!  A successfully high jump!  And then...  I landed awkwardly with my left foot half out of my flip-flop (Rule One), stumbled forward, tripped on a ledge, fell headlong over a low stone wall, and crashed landed on the cobblestone walkway beneath the wall.

The Injuries: Two scabby palms, scraped and bruised right elbow, badly bruised right hip, bruised right knee, bruises and cuts on right shin, brush-burns on the toes of both feet, and one gloriously purpled and broken big toe. Pain in ribs when lifting, coughing, breathing deeply, etc. for months.

The Best Part of the Story: Who should come around the corner just in time to view my fabulous crash landing but an entire tour group of exchange students visiting from Spain, one of whom was heard to shout "That lady fell down!" in Spanish mid-way through my flight.

Although not fool-proof, the three rules of How to Jump Off Things (and Not Die!) are offered with my warmest wishes for your safety and my sincerest desire that you joyfully (and safely!) embrace your inner jumper at the next possible convenience.

Finally, I offer a link to my public Flickr set of our Jumping pictures: good, bad, and in between right here.
3. See the fabulous and frightening Death in Grand Canyon by Ghiglieri and Myers


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