the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Leaving Los Angeles

So Chuck is sitting in front of the living room window, the only place in the apartment not covered by a box or a huge nugget of dust, and that perma-worry wrinkle on his forehead has grown the size of the continental divide, and he’s like, what the fuck are you people doing? And I’ve tried to explain things to him, that things change and that the fact that things change is what makes life interesting. And he just looks at me like he doesn’t understand English.

The movers will be here in about an hour, and the only thing left to pack are the computers, the cds and everything in the storage unit downstairs, which just so happens to be the same storage unit to which we can’t find the key, which at first seemed like a total disaster, because in a situation like this, when you need to get into that storage unit more than any other time you’ve needed to get into that storage unit, it could be a total disaster. But when you think about the larger scheme of life, like getting to drive up the coast to Seattle to spend Thanksgiving with your brother and his 5-yr old daughter who likes to take Mr. Potato Head and put the body parts into all the wrong places because “that’s what Picasso would do,” and then drive to Utah, arriving triumphantly with liquor cabinet in tow and the funniest dog in the world who will unsuspectingly get to experience cold weather for the first time, who cares about the damn key to the storage unit.

So, I’ve made a mix cd for the road full of songs that played a huge part of my Los Angeles experience, a soundtrack of sorts. These are all the songs that I have put on repeat in the past four years, and not just a couple repeats, but days and days of repeats, so many agonizing repeats that I’ve had coworkers threaten me with baseball bats, only to hear me plead, I’m sorry, I promise this is the last time, one more time, I need to hear it one more time, but I played it two more times.

Charlatans UK, Forever
Death Cab for Cutie, 405
Elliot Smith, Everything Reminds Me of Her
Modest Mouse, All Night Diner
Destiny’s Child, Bootylicious
Clem Snide, I Love the Unknown
Ryan Adams, Come Pick Me Up
Mason Jennings, Darkness Between the Fireflies
Jai Agnish, How You Dream
New Pornographers, Mass Romantic
Folk Implosion, Mechanical Man
REM, I’ve Been High
Kingsbury Manx, Pageant Square
David Holmes, 69 Police
Bauer, Western Trail
Third Eye Foundation, What is it with You?

  • Sarah B.

    2002/11/21 at 4:44 am

    I cannot think of a better song to drive to a new life to than I Love the Unknown. Bon voyage, sweet Armstrongs!

  • Fox

    2002/11/21 at 4:52 am

    I’ve never had to be pleased about the Charlatans, Modest Mouse, The New Pornographers, and Bootylicious all at once before. My mind feels strange.

  • ex-liontamer

    2002/11/21 at 4:53 am

    Drive safely.


    2002/11/21 at 4:57 am

    Happy Thanksgiving.
    See ya on the other side.

  • GLiddy

    2002/11/21 at 5:15 am

    I am in disbelief that the Dooce is a fan of Death Cab for Cutie. I don’t know anyone else who is a fan of Death Cab. What a perfect song for leaving LA.

  • Lisa

    2002/11/21 at 5:17 am

    Thank you.

  • ismat

    2002/11/21 at 5:22 am


    Enjoy the ride!

  • Michelle

    2002/11/21 at 5:37 am

    For putting I Love the Unknown and I’ve Been High on the same mix CD you have my eternal love and devotion.

  • Drunkn Otter

    2002/11/21 at 5:43 am

    Thanks, and have a safe trip.

  • Zeek

    2002/11/21 at 5:44 am

    Dear excited stranger: you have magnificent taste in music.
    Remember – keep duct tape and safety pins in the glove box and extra rope on the floor.
    Happy holidays, and best of luck!

  • Bastherself

    2002/11/21 at 5:54 am

    Be careful. Drive safe. Wear your seatbelts and make sure Chuck has one to wear too. They’re available at most petstores.

  • jennifer

    2002/11/21 at 6:05 am

    Happy Thanksgiving, happy road trip and happy listening. I look forward to your next update from Not-LA. 🙂

  • Mrs. Kennedy

    2002/11/21 at 6:13 am

    What an awesome thing to post. You’re about as mean as a dried apricot.

  • Evan

    2002/11/21 at 6:16 am

    Damn! David Holmes, New Pornographers *and* Death Cab on the same list! I’m, like, drooling right now.

  • Kevin from Seattle

    2002/11/21 at 6:26 am

    I like that dried apricot notion: a little tart, a little sweet, a little chewy, nutritious & just enough nitrates & preservatives to keep things interesting. As Slim Whitman would say, Vaya con Dios, m’darlings and we’ll all be waiting to hear from you in beehive country. (You should enjoy yr stop in Seattle, it’s unseasonably warm. Foggy as a mutha this AM though.)

  • christa

    2002/11/21 at 6:27 am

    good luck!

  • April

    2002/11/21 at 6:31 am

    May your move be smooth and easy!

  • Paul Gutman

    2002/11/21 at 6:38 am

    Rock those kooky Mormons’ collective world, and be sure you don’t find Potato Head eyes in the holiday stuffing–that’s frightening.

  • Edsmonkey

    2002/11/21 at 6:45 am

    Bon Voyage!
    From another recent cross country transplant (San Fran to Colorado Springs). OUr road trip consisted of two addults, two kids (10 & 15) and two dawgs in a subaru forrester.
    My fav musical moment on the road was starting the second leg of the trip outta Winnemucca listening to a best of Violent Femmes cd. I some how seemed appropriate. Hope you settle in quickly and don’t run outta hooch too soon!

  • colleen

    2002/11/21 at 6:46 am

    Wanna hear something sad? I actually LIVE with a newly-converted Mormon. He says he would’ve converted anyway, but we all know he did it for this girl he’s supposed to be marrying. This girl is the most annoying, strange creature to ever cross my path and I’ve encountered many annoying, strange creatures in my time.

    Anyway, I’m happy Chuck will get to play in snow. There’s nothing cuter than the first time a dog sees snow.

    Have a safe trip.

  • Bill

    2002/11/21 at 6:47 am

    Have you heard the Bootylicious/Smells Like Teen Spirit mix by Soulwax? “Smells Like Booty” – really. And good GOD, it kicks ass.

  • ismat

    2002/11/21 at 6:51 am

    OK, I’m back to say that I’ve been listening to this compilation all morning. It’s making me want to road-trip. Thanks for bringing these songs together.

  • corey

    2002/11/21 at 6:56 am

    now, wouldn’t DCC’s “why would anyone want to live here?” just make perfect sense?

  • antisocial diva

    2002/11/21 at 6:59 am

    safe trip! we have snow booties for our dog. maybe chuck would benefit from a pair?

  • kate

    2002/11/21 at 7:03 am


    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  • Mike

    2002/11/21 at 7:05 am

    I’m torn. I want to do nothing but wish you and your family the very best on your move, but I also want to make sure that you know what you’ve done today. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional … but “mover’s”? Oh … oh, how could you?

    Seriously – best of luck!

  • Naaman

    2002/11/21 at 7:14 am

    I had to read that second paragraph about three times before I realized you were saying the 5yr old daughter “likes”, not “looks like” Mr. Potato Head.

    BTW, you’re extremely dedicated. An hour before the movers arrive, I’m cramming every little bit of crap into a box or couch cushion that I can, not blogging.

  • Keith

    2002/11/21 at 7:15 am

    My own personal “Dooce & DJ Blurb Are Leaving L.A.” mix includes such hits as “Leaving Town” by Dexter Freebish and “The Only Way (Is the Wrong Way)” by Filter. And Bill’s right, the “Smells Like Booty” remix kicks ass, I have a copy of it, as does Freelance Hellraiser’s “A Stroke of Genius,” which remixes the vocals of “Genie in a Bottle” to the backing track of “Hard to Explain.” Either way, I digress. Safe drive to y’all (including the ex-Congressman) and much luck establishing your new lives in Utah.

  • Kyle

    2002/11/21 at 7:39 am

    Good luck, drive safe, thanks for the tunes…

    I suspect Utah is going to provide much fodder for this place, and I look forward to witnessing your decline into insanity 😉

  • sx70

    2002/11/21 at 7:52 am

    She had to leave – Los Angeles
    She found it hard to say goodbye
    to her own best friend
    she bought a clock on Hollywood Blvd.
    the day she left
    It felt sad, it felt sad, it felt sad
    She had to get out, get out
    get out, get out, get out, get out

  • Cindi

    2002/11/21 at 7:56 am

    let me know when you arrive in SLC. i’ll bring you a plant and a bottle of brandy to welcome you to the neighborhood.

  • Bill

    2002/11/21 at 7:56 am

    Oh, and also “I woke up in a car” by Something Corporate. Lyrically apt and it just sounds the way it feels to watch the scenery as you speed along the highway between cities.

  • Heather #2

    2002/11/21 at 8:03 am

    ooohhh…that “everything reminds me of her” song is pulling at the heartstrings just a little. so, thanks for keeping this all up and thinking of us to the bitter end. you must be exhausted and excited and completely done but completely anxious, and to have kept us all aprised in the midst of it is tres cool. drive safely – i’ll be waiting in sweet anticipation for news of your journey!

  • ~Angel

    2002/11/21 at 8:20 am

    I’ve been sitting here for a few weeks now reading this site. Every day, at work. When I shouldn’t be. And I feel bummed for you in a way, but if you feel that going back to Utah is the way to go, then so be it. Good luck, have fun, & well wishes to you, yours, and Chuck.

  • ericalynn

    2002/11/21 at 8:32 am

    good luck.

    Where in Utah are you going, anyway?

    I don’t miss my Ogden days but I’m sure some day I may…

  • ex southern babtist

    2002/11/21 at 8:45 am

    Keep an eye on Chuck. Dog’s tend to get confused when something really different happens.
    Example: once I took my dog to Bodega Bay (a labrador) she jumped of one of those huge cliffs chasing after a seagull! I am serious. Go figure. Anyway she survived with just bumps and scrapes, thank God.


    2002/11/21 at 8:51 am

    Good luck in your new home; I expect you’ll introduce half the state of Utah to Jack and Daniel within two weeks. Maybe three. Oh, and I’d add Jude’s sinfully yummy “Out of LA” to the mix. He captures the town’s alluring plasticity pretty well. Available at:

  • ryan

    2002/11/21 at 8:52 am

    Chuck’s first long car journey? Hope he doesn’t get carsick! Safe driving =)

  • Shan

    2002/11/21 at 9:00 am

    Awww. That’s a sad post. Good luck in Utah. 🙂

  • DJ Pants

    2002/11/21 at 9:18 am

    The first song on a mix is always the most important song because it sets up the mood of the rest of the CD. The Charlatans UK – Forever is a great way to start the mix. I would have used “The Only one I know”. Take some photo if oddities along the way and show us. Be safe.

  • PJ

    2002/11/21 at 9:22 am

    Hey, at least Chuck won’t be asking every 10 minutes arewethereyet / howmuchlonger as human children are prone to do. Enjoy your trip and your new life!

  • Kerry

    2002/11/21 at 10:23 am

    Best of luck on your move, Missus Dooce. Your mix looks fantastic (I LOVE All Night Diner) – Frank Black’s Los Angeles would make a great addition to the mix. That’s a rockin’ good tune.

  • gnome-girl

    2002/11/21 at 11:16 am

    Songs have a way of tracking time for us.
    Songs mark periods of our history.
    Can’t wait to see the future cd of your uncharted experiences.
    Enjoy the ride…..

  • punkrockgirl

    2002/11/21 at 11:19 am

    My also saintly, patient husband and I recently moved from Brooklyn, NY to Austin, TX. We did this for several reasons, namely, dogs, babies, money, space, and family proximity. I wish you safe travels and lots of luck in your new home.

  • Shanni

    2002/11/21 at 12:02 pm

    That’s a kick ass mix – I’m making me a copy right now. Good luck with the move. Utah needs more people like you guys.

  • EC

    2002/11/21 at 12:12 pm

    I’m sure you will have interesting adventures no matter where you are. Be sure to let us in on them, ‘k?

  • moose

    2002/11/21 at 12:39 pm

    Keep a good eye on the Congressman. They do have gulls in Salt Lake. Mormon gulls, of course, not seagulls. All the same… Safe travels.

  • occasional kate

    2002/11/21 at 1:26 pm

    Have a great trip, a kickass time with family, and be safe. As you head through Oregon, keep yourself open to good thoughts from those you are driving by (yeah, me..okay, and a few other people 🙂 on your way up nord. A big move like this can be The Right Thing (I left Chicago for Oregon a couple months ago). Kudos for taking the first big step…

  • LK

    2002/11/21 at 1:36 pm

    DCFC, elliott smith, modest mouse, kingsbury manx… damn, i’m going to miss sharing the same city with you, heather. best of luck to you, the dj and chuckster. the state of UT is about to get dooced!!!

  • christine

    2002/11/21 at 1:59 pm

    yummy mix.

    be safe.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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