Heater, Mother of Lance

This would make a great episode of Dora

Was it Monday night? Tuesday? I don’t remember, this week has been nothing but a blur with things toppling sideways and the surreal becoming even more surrealer, or maybe it’s surrealier. How about sureally? I LACK THE PROPER ADJECTIVE. That is now going to be my answer when someone asks how’s it going: I LACK THE PROPER ADJECTIVE. Like, something awful has happened, let’s say, a loved one has died! And you say to yourself, Self! Take a deep breath! It’s going to be okay! Except on the way home from talking to yourself, you lightly tap the back end of a car being driven by a raging asshole who immediately calls 911 and tells the cops he’s paralyzed.

Not that this happened, but even if it did, I LACK THE PROPER ADJECTIVE.

I think it was Monday night that we attended my Granny Boone’s viewing, and there I reconnected with hundreds of cousins I haven’t seen in years including Nate, son of my mother’s brother Lewis:

My cousin nate

Nate is just a few years older than I am, is happily married with five kids, but none of that matters, and that is not why I’m bringing him up. Sure, he’s cute and beyond charismatic, and you want him at your party even though he doesn’t drink. He’s the type of person who would strip naked and knock on your grumpy and spiteful neighbor’s door in the middle of the night, not because he’s drunk or because you offered him money to do so, but because the retelling of that story might make someone happy. He’s like Human Prozac.

There! I FOUND AN ADJECTIVE! Wait, that’s not an adjective, that’s a metaphor. No, a simile? Whatever, THAT THERE WAS LITERARY, DAMMIT.

Okay, so Nate was around during the first visit I ever took to Utah, the first time I ever saw a mountain IN MY LIFE, back when I was an awkward fifteen-year-old, all elbows and knobby knees, back when I weighed ninety pounds soaking wet and the kids at school nicknamed me Skeletor. And my hair, oh dear Lord, an unruly thicket of curls that hung all the way to my waistline, messy, frizzy and caked with cheap styling mousse I’d buy at Walgreens. These details are important, I assure you, I’m not just writing them here to make myself uncomfortable, although it sure worked!

Nate was being a gracious host and giving my brother and me a tour of Snowbird Ski Resort. It was late August, so everything was green, and all the runs looked like huge bald spots scattered across the mountain. Around one curve we spotted a lingering patch of snow about as tall as a house several hundred feet up from the road. And Nate was all, OH YOU GUYS! YOU GUYS! Let’s go skiing!

Let’s go skiing? DUDE. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I HAVE EVER SEEN A MOUNTAIN. But this was Nate, you see. The nude door-knocker, Nate. And to him this was the best idea he had ever had. Let’s take someone who has only ever seen this kind of terrain in that one Robert Redford movie and throw her in with the wolves. A story is just bound to come out of this!

And that is exactly what happened: a story. Because when I hiked two hundred feet up to the top of that snow patch, I took one look down the side of the mountain and was all NUH UH. NO. NOT EVER. And as I stood there shaking my head, Nate hopped with both feet right into that snow and skied IN HIS SHOES to the bottom of the hill, remaining upright the entire time. You see, he grew up surrounded by mountains. Me? I grew up surrounded by trailers.

So he’s standing there at the bottom of the hill waving his hand in an effort to get me to try it, and I’m not even looking at him. I’m gingerly walking sideways down the hillside beside the snow patch, trying not to trip on any rocks, when he cups his hands around his mouth and yells, “IF YOU RUN YOU’LL GET DOWN FASTER.”

A declaration no different than, “IF YOU AIM THE GUN AT YOUR HEAD YOU’LL BLOW YOUR BRAINS OUT.”

And I don’t know if it was the word RUN or FASTER, but something caused my left foot to disengage from my brain, and next thing you know I am tumbling head over foot down the side of the mountain. Like you might see in a cartoon. Bony elbows flying up and over knobby knees up and over a wad of hair that resembled a giant tumbleweed. I am certain that for the one hundred and fifty feet that I fell and fell and fell down that mountain that my brother and Nate could not make out was was rocks and sticks from the outline of my body. Like, wait? Where is she? Is that a bush or her head? Wait! There! I think I see an arm! Oh wait, that’s a twig!

And then I landed, no joke, I am not even kidding, I LANDED IN A THORN BUSH. Face-first into a thorn bush. Seriously? I couldn’t just fall down a mountain? I had to land IN A THORN BUSH! (Imagine me shouting that while making jazz hands. I’m just saying.)

Wait! That’s it! I FOUND IT! Life right now?


  • Ellen

    2009/10/08 at 2:08 pm

    This girl from Pittsburgh says, “You’re welcome, but thank YOU even more!”

  • Claire

    2009/10/08 at 2:08 pm

    I have so many crazy memories with my cousins like that!
    So sorry to hear about the passing of your grandmother.

  • Rachel

    2009/10/08 at 2:08 pm

    I am sorry life is so “IN A THORN BUSH”. This is the wrong place for it, but that group protrait Jon set up and shot is beautiful and you guys should be very proud.

  • Kristina

    2009/10/08 at 2:11 pm

    Yeah, I’ve lived a version of that story. Only I peed my pants. In front of the entire 8th grade. But no one tells that story because I’ve done away with all the witnesses…

  • Labradoris

    2009/10/08 at 2:11 pm

    It’s like your life has tumbled into a thorn bush? Huh.

    I once went flying headfirst off my mountain bike into a tree, if that makes you feel better. No injuries, but I did literally end up hugging the tree. My cycling buds were able to call me “treehugger” all day long.

  • Maiken

    2009/10/08 at 2:13 pm

    I can barely imagine the spots of pain and relief…wow!

  • rbiggs

    2009/10/08 at 2:13 pm

    Your life should not be in a thorn bush. You will find a way out and somehow you will make it work for you too. We will all be waiting on the other side of the thorn bush.

  • Kathryn

    2009/10/08 at 2:14 pm

    so sorry to hear about your grandmother

    and if you don’t mind, I am totally stealing that analogy – I lost my mum in August and when people ask how I am doing (aside: why they ask that question I don’t know because really? how in the hell do you THINK I am doing??)I reply “fine” and they seem all disappointed in that answer

    from now on it’s “life in a thorn bush right now, but thanks for asking”

  • Ellen

    2009/10/08 at 2:15 pm

    That’s goofy – I’m responding to one post and I get bumped to the other!

    In Pittsburgh, we’d call it a ‘jaggerbush’
    as in:
    Sorry, I can’t take a meeting with you or drive you to the mall, I’m in the jaggers right now.

  • Anonymous

    2009/10/08 at 2:16 pm

    Hilarious!!! Made me LOL really hard!

  • Katy

    2009/10/08 at 2:17 pm

    How in tarnation did you grow up in Tennessee without seeing a mountain?

  • Judith

    2009/10/08 at 2:18 pm

    I’m very sorry your gran died. But it’s wonderful that you could help bringing everyone together for the funeral.
    Mine died 9 months, and I keep missing her. We all (as far as possible) came together the same evening and had a kind of impromptu wake, and it was just wonderful to be with each other. We all were very sad, but most also had the feeling that it had come at the right time for her, so there was also a certain weird kind of happy mixed in.

    Thorns and roses, I guess.

  • Creepy Mommy

    2009/10/08 at 2:19 pm

    That would be ass over tea kettle and I have a myriad of stories much like this one! Also, your cousin is smokin’ hot!

  • Anonymous

    2009/10/08 at 2:20 pm

    I tried to post a comment on the other entry, but I can here: I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother.

  • Trickygringo

    2009/10/08 at 2:20 pm

    Opps, didn’t close your cousine Nate’s img tag 🙂 The rest of the text is part of the pic tag. I hate it when I do that, bet you do as well.

  • Jenifer

    2009/10/08 at 2:24 pm

    Our deepest sympathy to you and your family. You’re in our thoughts and prayers. xoxo

  • The Blushing Hostess

    2009/10/08 at 2:25 pm

    Oddly, many of my days leave me feeling this is exactly what has just happened to me 🙂

    I will laugh about this for a long time – but not at your expense!

  • Lena

    2009/10/08 at 2:26 pm

    My heart breaks for you and yet you are still making me laugh! What spirit you have.

  • Megan Beth

    2009/10/08 at 2:26 pm

    I feel like life is saying to me ‘fuck you’ right now, I fear the thorn bush is next.

  • Anonymous

    2009/10/08 at 2:28 pm

    I would like to see that on an episode of Dora, it might make up for some of the annoying repetitive music, although with the shape of her head and the colors of her clothes she might look more like a hairy Mardi gras-esque football. (sorry dora, no bashing intended).

  • Claudia

    2009/10/08 at 2:28 pm


    My sweet dear.


    You can get through this.

    If it’s any consolation, all of us whose lives are sucking it up right now, are right there with you. We can change the dirty diaper that is life together. With lavender baby powder and everything.


  • robyn

    2009/10/08 at 2:30 pm

    Ohhhhhh my life is in a thorn bush right now too! I feel your prickly pain! xo

  • Heather

    2009/10/08 at 2:33 pm

    The best rear-ending I’ve ever seen is when my husband was backing out of a space in a parking lot and wasn’t really paying attention, and hit another driver who was also backing out of a space and not paying attention. Their back bumpers collided, they both stopped, got out of their cars, looked at their rear ends and neither could distinguish the other dents from the one that had just happened, shook hands, got back in their cars and drove away.

    I wish that had happened to you.

  • Cris

    2009/10/08 at 2:35 pm

    I know you didn’t but please just lie and say you made up that story.

    Sympathy ouch.

  • Not Steve McQueen

    2009/10/08 at 2:36 pm

    In the rss everything after the picture is a hyperlink to the flickr photo. I like the effect of MAKING SURE EVERYTHING YOU SAY LINKS TO THAT PICTURE or whatnot. Enjoy your photos and site.

    Ha and your captcha is “boy’s” and “mommies”
    You guys think of everything.

  • Anonymous

    2009/10/08 at 2:37 pm

    Hubba, hubba, hubba!

  • Jane

    2009/10/08 at 2:39 pm

    Are there ANY unattractive or boring people in your family?

  • Jacquie

    2009/10/08 at 2:42 pm

    I might have to borrow that, I have an extremely difficult time coming up with analogies or metaphors or adjectives or whathaveyou that do not contain offensive swear words.

    And I like the idea that people will probably think I’m too weird (or brilliant) to question me about my use of this unconventional phrase that perfectly explains my life at the moment.

  • Milla

    2009/10/08 at 2:44 pm

    sounds like the perfect title for your next best seller: My Life in the Thorn Bush. HOT!

  • kate

    2009/10/08 at 2:45 pm

    I am so sorry about your Granny. You were so blessed to have had her around to know your kids. I won’t say it’s going to going to get better, but it will get less bad.

  • sarah doow

    2009/10/08 at 2:47 pm

    I’m sorry about the metaphoriness of it, but that story was hilarious.

  • Anonymous

    2009/10/08 at 2:48 pm

    I cant wait to use that. Nate is handsome and you have a great looking set of aunts and uncle’s in the family picture you posted earlier. Granny Boone would be proud.

    PS my word verification for this post is “pulls that”. Hmmmmm…..

  • Erin@TheLocalsLoveIt

    2009/10/08 at 2:49 pm

    If there’s a place you got to go
    I’m the one you need to know
    I’m the Map
    I’m the Map
    I’m the Map
    If there’s a place you got to get
    I can get you there I bet
    I’m the Map

    Might help you find your way out of the thorn bush.

  • Cindy

    2009/10/08 at 2:51 pm

    I want to see a picture of that hair!!!

  • Holy

    2009/10/08 at 2:58 pm

    So sorry for your loss. If it’s any consolation, Nate’s hair looks like Alfalfa’s.
    A very cute Alfalfa!

  • Me2

    2009/10/08 at 2:59 pm

    Is it just me or is your site down? Every time I try to go to dooce.com I get a weird page of code gibberish. I got here by googling dooce, then had to go to your About page then had to go to Archives and keep going to Newer posts until I finally arrived, weary and footsore (okay, maybe fingersore). Now, God knows I love you and your site but that’s asking a lot to get my fix. Any suggestions? It’s been happening for about 3 days now.

  • Ali

    2009/10/08 at 3:00 pm

    I spent time scrolling through your “hate” page and have to say that I am shocked that people are so mean. I am aware that people are dumb, but seriously… people actually take time out of their day to be that rude? How do you let it not get to you?

    I’m a fan of your blog. I actually met your husband when I worked at Axiom. Technically, we didn’t “meet” … I was the receptionist (2005) and when he came in to see a friend, I about pooped my pants. It was the closest I’d ever been to a celebrity. Now, my family and I live in South Carolina and I’m spending my life listening to people who sound like you. You’re a great Mom and talented writer.

  • MyHormonesMadeMeDoIt

    2009/10/08 at 3:01 pm

    Oh no, that is not the metaphor anyone wants for life right now. I would say hang in there, or time heals or one of those sentiments, but they all seem completely lame. So…I’m sorry.

  • Kitty

    2009/10/08 at 3:03 pm

    Oh Lordy! That’s a great visual! I tell you when I can breath again!

  • The Prima Momma

    2009/10/08 at 3:04 pm

    I may be guilty of similar exploits.
    I hope things start feeling better soon.

    Ha – my words are wounded stoppage

  • Serial

    2009/10/08 at 3:06 pm

    I know we’re not supposed to swear too much on this site, but, um, Fuck, dude. That sounds shitty.

  • Capricorn Cringe

    2009/10/08 at 3:09 pm

    I am stealing “I lack the proper adjective.” Just so you know, in case you want to sue me or something 🙂

    The way you find humor in most situations? That’s what will get you through anything. And everything.

  • Marcy

    2009/10/08 at 3:16 pm

    I am in utter awe of people like you and Alice Bradley who, in the midst of immense sadness and pain, are able to still make the rest of us laugh.

    I hope things get better for you soon.

  • Elizabeth_K

    2009/10/08 at 3:17 pm

    You are so funny despite your family’s great loss. Glad you survived that long ago fall!

  • Renee

    2009/10/08 at 3:22 pm

    I truly hope that your being in a thornbush has nothing to do with those sad, sad internet trolls. Easy for me to say, I know, but “they’re not worth it.” Truly.

  • Jasie VanGesen

    2009/10/08 at 3:23 pm

    Your adolescence sounds epic. Mine is so dull in comparison.

  • Megs

    2009/10/08 at 3:26 pm


  • cath

    2009/10/08 at 3:30 pm

    oh that was just what i needed. yes. the thornbush is a perfect way to describe life at this moment in time. i, too, remember my first visit to utah … but i grew up in alberta, canada, so i didn’t see mountains – i saw foothills.

  • Heather T

    2009/10/08 at 3:35 pm

    This was a great read. You have encouraged me that every awkward teenage girl has a crazy older cousin who likes to pick on her. Except for me, the teasing never stopped. I’m almost 40 for god’s sake.

    btw, isn’t surreal an adjective?

  • RichardK

    2009/10/08 at 3:38 pm

    You better be keeping backups of your blog because if WordPress or whatever you use were to go out of business, the world’s Gross Good Writing and Fun Product would suffer a massive double-digit loss. I’m having a boring day — perhaps because I’m a tired today — and PRESTO! your blog post wakes me up.

    Did I use the right adjectives?

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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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