the smell of my desperation has become a stench


When Jon and I were living in Los Angeles so very long ago we tortured ourselves three times a week by running a public staircase in Santa Monica. I think I’ve talked about the staircase before, but in case I haven’t or in case you care, I’ll tell you that there are 175 stairs on the staircase, and that within 2 months of running them with me, my husband lost over 20 pounds. Not that my husband really needed to lose 20 pounds or drop 4 trouser sizes, because anyone who knows my husband knows that humans don’t normally come in his size, very very tall and as lanky as an adjustable Gumby doll.

The thing is, the thing is that I haven’t ever found an exercise as intense as running that public staircase. I’m confident that after two years of running those stairs I could take out any of the champion dogs on the Iditarod. I’m in the best shape of my life, even better than in high school when my metabolism was so ferocious that I could look at a chocolate cake from across the room and digest it telepathically.

And it’s been two weeks since we last ran those stairs, two very long and lazy weeks filled with cornbread stuffing, yams, pumpkin pie, and everything on the menu at Taco Bell, sans tostada, motherfuckers. And as far as I know, the only comparable staircase within 200 miles is next to a student parking lot at BYU in Provo. And people, there aren’t enough tostadas on earth to lure me back to that Nazi-infested idiot farm, don’t ask me how I really feel about it.

So Jon and I are testing out an athletic club down the road from my mother’s house, and it’s an athletic club in the suburbs because my mom lives in the suburbs, and because she lives in an affluent suburb, this affluent suburban athletic club is riddled with the rich, the white, and the suburban, and while Jon and I may be white, neither of us are rich or suburban, and we stick out like two engorged and bulbous toads.

And I’m sure that athletic clubs in suburbs all across America look just like this one, but this one is in Utah, and I’ve never been so painfully aware of my whiteness among white people before. Maybe it’s because everyone is blonde and painfully pale, or maybe it’s because today I overheard a man ask his trainer, “How can I sleekify my glutes?”

But really, and I’m trying to be forgiving here, I can only listen to The Goddamn Cranberries “Linger” so many times while I’m trying to work up a sweat.

  • galt

    2002/12/06 at 8:15 am

    glad to see UT has not yet changed your sensibilities.

    count yourself as lucky…for two weeks I was a member (and dedicated attender) of a club that insisted on playing ‘Pump it Up’ every half hour. And I love Elvis, the right and true king.

  • JSN

    2002/12/06 at 8:17 am

    I can never listen to the Cranberries’ “Linger,” and certainly not while working up a sweat.

  • galt

    2002/12/06 at 8:18 am

    …but come to think of it, after those two weeks, my glutes had never been sleeker. so there’s that. as you were.

  • PJ

    2002/12/06 at 8:47 am

    Once it gets cold, snowy and icy there you really shouldn’t be running up and down stairs anyway.

  • HurgleGurgle

    2002/12/06 at 8:54 am

    I am fat, and my wife and I want to buy some exercise equipment because we live far away from a club.


    Also, I am activating the Dooce-locator device…affluent suburbs…BYU…


  • Bastherself

    2002/12/06 at 9:02 am

    Phew, I tried surburban living too. I drove the wrong car and looked to real I guess. By that I mean, I didn’t have the tan, bleached blonde hair and fake boobs. drove a Corolla in the middle of SUV land. Talk about feeling insignificant and out of place. I applaud your effort. So are you and the hubby looking for a place of your own soon? How’s Chuck?

  • Naaman

    2002/12/06 at 9:04 am

    Don’t the anxiety attacks from “Linger” bring your metabolism back up to speed?

  • Jen

    2002/12/06 at 9:09 am

    Where do you live? Whereabouts? I’m right downtown SLC, I could maybe think of some good staircases.

  • Funtime Ben

    2002/12/06 at 9:21 am

    It’s not the size of the staircase that matters, It’s how you use it.

  • Beerzie Boy

    2002/12/06 at 9:31 am

    Get dark glasses, blinders, and a CD Walkman, for Pete’s sake.

  • Sarah B.

    2002/12/06 at 9:49 am

    God, at least it’s not that fucking “Zombie” song. Just thinking about it makes me want to punch someone.

  • Brent

    2002/12/06 at 9:57 am

    I’ve wondered, sometimes, how the rest of the country gets its recreational exercise. I mean, here in LA, it’s sort of a birthright — you’ve got those public staircases everywhere, you’ve got a forty-mile bicycle-inline-walking path paved along the beach, you’ve got mountain trails surrounding you, and you’ve GREAT weather year-round. Plus, you’ve got lots of friends (e.g., examples) who spend their days using the resources. Leave LA and I’m not sure what one does. Really! Where do you find a car-free inline skating path in the middle of surburban America? And if you do find it, how do you use it in the middle of a white winter?

    But, of course, there you have it: you have to change your ways elsewhere. Go indoors and pay for the privilege.

    Good old LA!

  • ME

    2002/12/06 at 9:58 am

    Mmmm, dooce and her sleekified glutes….

  • kgjbnme

    2002/12/06 at 10:24 am

    I’d gladly kill Enrique Iglesias for a case of beer. And if I hear “Hero” at my gym One. More. Time. …. I will, so help me dog.

  • Ex-liontamer

    2002/12/06 at 10:45 am

    You askin’ the wrong motherfuckah ’bout running staircases. Me and my 300+ ass take the escalator, thankyouveddymuch.

  • Jen

    2002/12/06 at 10:51 am

    Maybe there’s something to a gym playing top 40’s crap while people are working out… It makes me angry, which makes me work out harder. Could it be a conspiracy?

  • Kevin from Seattle

    2002/12/06 at 10:52 am

    Glad you survived the trip. Hope you enjoyed yr sojourn in our neighborhood. Pictures?

    But speaking as someone deeply suspicious of neologisms, I gotta speak. The English language, one of the treasures of world culture, contains no such word as “sleekify,” and anybody who thinks it does needs to be sent to remedial classes. This point is not negotiable.

    We’re waiting to hear how Chuck responds to snow.

  • Zeek

    2002/12/06 at 10:56 am

    sleekified glutes? Jesus, somebody aught to hit that man.

  • Miss Mea-Mea

    2002/12/06 at 11:08 am

    You mean someone is STILL playing “Linger?” God, wasn’t that killing the radio in 1992 or something?

    To this day, every time I hear that song I substitute the refrain for “Did you have to pull my finger…did you have to, did you have to, did you have to pull my fingerrrrrr…”

  • .

    2002/12/06 at 11:12 am

    why do people spend so much of their free time tearing others down?

  • ex southern babtist

    2002/12/06 at 11:20 am

    Yes, how is chuckles doing?

  • dirtybilllover

    2002/12/06 at 11:26 am

    Ooooh. I had a downstairs neighbor who would play “Zombie” over and over again…and then one day she stopped. Only to pick up a guitar that she couldn’t play very well and start singing no caterwauling the lyrics at the top of her lungs. This went on several weeks. The next time I saw her she was out on the lawn having a fist fight with her 8-month pregnant sister. Cranberries. ::long shudder::

  • thepropagandist

    2002/12/06 at 11:37 am

    at my club, people take the elevator from the parking lot so they can climb the stairmaster for half an hour.

    and they don’t even live in the white suburbs.

  • jennifer

    2002/12/06 at 11:37 am

    so… are Marc(k?) Anthony and Enrique Iglesias two different people? I hope you find some non nazi stairs soon.

  • The Deuce

    2002/12/06 at 11:45 am

    If I can ever pull myself out of this drunken stupor, I’m dedicating my next run of the public staircase (aka “THE Stairs”) to Mr. and Mrs. Dooce. I was just there last weekend, and you’ll be relieved to know that some things never change: Noori is still a whore. (Apparently.)
    Re: The Stupor–While I’m fairly certain it’s OK to go to a bar (Max’s) by yourself, I do recognize that it’s just wrong that my tab exceeds $40.

  • beth

    2002/12/06 at 11:52 am

    *sleekify*? wow. sleekify. y’know the more you type that, the sillier it looks. sleekify. i’m in awe, and not in a good way. 😉

  • Michele

    2002/12/06 at 12:00 pm

    Not to be anal or anything, but wouldn’t that be “Mr. and Mrs. Blurbodooce”?…unless Jon took Heather’s name ;)By the way…how is Chuck adjusting to Utah?

  • Kevin from Seattle

    2002/12/06 at 1:03 pm

    Sorry for the redundancy above in re: “speak” and “speaking.” There really oughta be a grammar check in this thing.

  • Your Parole Officer

    2002/12/06 at 2:01 pm

    I go to the gym at least 4 days out of the week, so I may be a bit pessimistic of other people, but… When I see someone order a DIET coke with their Big Mac Hunk o’ Fat with extra grease, and then whine because Micky D’s never informed them that their burgers were fattening before they gained 200 lbs. I swear… they should go fornicate themselves with an iron stick. Just what do they expect that DIET coke to do??? Save yourself the denial and have a regular coke, for godssakes.

  • Ariel

    2002/12/06 at 2:50 pm

    Since I live in Venice, I’d like to know where THE stairs are in Santa Monica, so perhaps I can go run them.

  • Hilatron

    2002/12/06 at 3:33 pm

    Stairs, schmairs. Today I invented a new workout. It is called “dragging the 500 pounds of groceries home through the slippery slushy snow in a cart with little traction and even less steering capability.” It’s quite sleekifying, I believe. I expect to increase my sleekness by ten to fifteen percent in the next few months.

  • kane

    2002/12/06 at 4:01 pm

    I feel like I have just read an off-the-wall testimonial from an infomercial for a Suzanne Somers stairmaster.

  • Suicide Blonde

    2002/12/06 at 4:13 pm

    175 stairs? I couldn’t even crawl up 175 stairs on a good day.
    Sheesh. I am impressed.

  • Kevin

    2002/12/06 at 6:30 pm

    A couple tips:
    Tip 1: Move into a townhouse. Three flights of narrow stairs taken several times daily will whittle down your Turkey Day leavings in no time.
    Tip 2: If you’re on the East side of Salt Lake, run up the mountain. In Provo, we used to run up and down Rock Canyon. I actually go below 200 pounds that year… Running up the mountain is much more fun than regularly spaced, flat stairs.

  • dooce

    2002/12/06 at 8:01 pm

    ariel: The Stairs are just west of 7th street and just north of San Vicente, on a little street lined with huge homes and meticulously trimmed yards. follow all the people. there are acutally two sets of stairs, one set is concrete and winds around and around, the other is wooden and shoots straight from the canyon floor. you want to run the wooden set. pack a lot of water and eat something before you go. on monday/wednesday afternoons between 1pm and 3pm you may catch Tori Spelling’s cleavage bounding down a couple sets.

  • SpiKe

    2002/12/06 at 8:22 pm

    Let’s all … sleekify!

  • Josh

    2002/12/06 at 9:59 pm

    So are the specifics of your new Utah location still classified?

  • The Mighty Jimbo

    2002/12/06 at 11:02 pm

    and a High School.

    Thus no more Cranberries and football stadiums to run.

    Or just suck it up, sport the spandex, and jump on the treadmill with the rest of the suburban casper people.

    but definitely get the iPod. Workouts get soooo much better.

  • garrett

    2002/12/07 at 12:18 am

    The whole ‘athletic club’ concept is slightly goofy in the first place, but you’re entirely right, the ones in Utah are… well, you describe them perfectly. Thank you for the laughs.
    As for my suggestions… In good weather, just run / bike up the nearest mountainside. The trails may not be as civilized as stairs, but it’s still cheap and the scenery is nice. I’m not familiar with Utah County, if this is indeed where you live, but where there’s a hill there’s a way to expend energy climbing up.
    I don’t have a convenient solution for winter (and muddy spring). I like what The Mighty Jimbo said. You’ll love the iPod.

  • peggy

    2002/12/07 at 2:53 am

    We had a gym in this one-horse town, but it closed. I miss the old farmer guy in his jeans and suspenders, workin’ it on the treadmill.

  • odessa

    2002/12/07 at 5:55 am

    Move to Europe on a low budget. That will solve your steps problem. I live 150+ painful steps above the ground floor in my building. There is no elevator. Bringing groceries home is my workout (esp if I buy a two liter, milk, or any sort of beverage in a glass bottle).

  • Summer

    2002/12/07 at 7:05 am

    All this talk about exercise… sheesh. I need a nap.

  • shy

    2002/12/07 at 5:24 pm

    i’ll take cranberries anyday over the repetitive reggae cd they play in my gym… like i need to be reminded of the islands when i’m feeling hot, hot, hot!

  • Kris

    2002/12/07 at 6:59 pm

    Front steps of the Utah State Capitol. Better yet, run up State Street from the Church Office Building to the capitol. That ought to do it.

  • Delores isn't her real name

    2002/12/08 at 4:32 am

    No, seriously, do you have to let it linger? Can’t you make it go away? Could you run 175 stairs dragging her un-sleekified dead body behind you?

  • bucci

    2002/12/08 at 8:41 am

    It seems like getting Dooce to confess her neighborhood is a bit like getting Tom Hank’s character in “Saving Private Ryan” to confess his prior occupation. I can assure you all that we insiders have her new address, phone number, know about the mole on her husband’s left cheek (yes, that cheek) and probably went out drinking with her and the car crashing Asian database administrator last night.

  • Zan

    2002/12/08 at 4:52 pm

    I love exercise. I used to have trouble just getting the energy to go, but I’ve been studying Ju Jitsu for a couple years now, and I absolutely love it. If they offer martial arts training in the area Dooce, go take a look. It might be a nice way to keep your form and find muscles you never thought you had! Have fun!

  • HurgleGurgle

    2002/12/09 at 3:57 am

    I wish Dooce wrote for the Provo Daily Herald.

  • Michael

    2002/12/09 at 5:59 am

    So what did the trainer say? My GLUTES couldn’t be less sleek.

  • Igor

    2002/12/10 at 3:12 am

    At the risk of being called a racist : go to a socially less developed part of town, find yourself a well-trimmed, fit-looking who does not look like he’s totin’ a gun, concealed or otherwise.
    Slap him in the face.
    Run for your life.
    Real people.
    Real exercise.

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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