An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

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?


  • Anonymous

    Could have been worse could have landed in poop.

  • Figtron

    Girl…love your nickname, ‘Skeletor’. My cousin, Jim, had the skeletor castle and all the action figures. Hours of fun, I tell you.

    At least you weren’t given a nickname that referred to a bulbous, dancing piece of fruit. I was rather portly as a child, so my brothers decided to bestow me with a nickname. A nickname so inane, that to this day, I am still referred to by all my family members as:

    “The Big, Fig Newton” The jingle has to be sung to achieve the full effect.

    Fig for short.

    I deal with thornbushes by lighting them on fire.

  • Evie

    Had to share that my thorn bush was a very large anthill at the bottom of a very steep hill with a very sharp curve that neither my bike nor my body made it around. I still have the scars on my legs from skidding across the rocks at the base of said anthill. My only consolation was that it was much worse for the ants. I was messed up but at least no one caved in my roof.

    This is the joy and the horror of boy cousins. The girls just steal (and sometimes mutilate) your barbies. Boy cousins mutilate you.

  • Life landed in a thorn bush… what a fantastic way to describe what everything feels like currently. I think you took all those wobbly emotions floating around me, as well, and just laid them bare as they were meant to be known. Thankfully, we don’t stay in the thorn bush… we ease our way out and take out the thorns, even if it’s painful, because we know it’ll be worse if we don’t take them out.

  • It is amazing the stories that come out when you are around family. And I think we’ve all “hit the thorn bush” before

    I am sorry for your loss. We recently lost my Grandfather this year and it’s been tough.

  • Lauren

    Regarding adjectives…

    Last May my roommate passed away. At his funeral people kept asking how other people were doing. I never really knew how to answer it until I heard someone ask his best friend. The conversation went something like this.

    “How are you?”
    “Purple….why purple?”
    “Because it’s a stupid fucking question.”

    It’s always stuck with me, and helps when you can’t think of the right adjective.

  • Nina

    Your cousin Nate is hot. He makes me want to become a mormon. almost.

  • Loved the story. I’ll bet it wasn’t very funny at the time, but Nate is RIGHT! The retelling is so—wonderful! And you are a natural-born story-teller!

  • He doesn’t drink? Really? That’s too bad, because it means I can’t justify inviting him to my trailer park hoe*ahem*HO-down (yeah, you haven’t met my cousins … there would be untoward bodily events involving cues, and I don’t mean the dramatic kind). He will indeed be missed (by some more than others) … him & his wholesome mormon hotness.

  • I think #59 might be spam? But whatever.

    That story? So NOT “in a thorn bush”!

  • jennyvroom

    I’ve recently started incorporating jazz hands into several of my stressful daily routines… it really DOES take the sting out of it! xo

  • We are so sorry for your loss. It is doubly sad that we only reconnect with the Nates in our lives when something like this has happened … face first in a thorn bush indeed … and after after a rough fall.

  • Amber

    Stupid me and my grammar nazi-ness. I’m all hung up on the proper adjective thing. It would just be “more surreal.” Whenever you use the word “more” before an adjective in order to compare two things, you don’t add an “er” to the end. Adding an “er” to the end essentially gets rid of the need for the word “more,” or is used when the word “more” would just seem awkward. For instance, you wouldn’t say somebody was “more tall” than somebody else. They would just be “taller.” But you wouldn’t say something was “funner” than something else. It would be “more fun.” So “more surreal” suffices. No need for surrealer. Definitely no need for the bastardization that is “more surrealer.” Ouch. Even though I”m sure it was intended as a joke.

    I just couldn’t resist getting hung up on that, now could I?

  • NY,NY

    oh, and I just googled “dooce sucks” as per the advice on you hate site, and November 8, 2006 is the MOST recent posting listed. You suck, huh? not so much, I am guessing. Keep doing what you’re doing, it is obviously working for you, and your family. (and no, I do not have a life….)

  • What is is that tells me that brother and cousin were laughing their asses off as you tumbled down that slope and peed their pants when you landed in the thorn bush.

    Glad you found your adjective. Hope it soon becomes IN A HAMMOCK ON A SUNNY DAY!

  • Alyssa

    It amazes me that even during such a rough time in your life, you’re able to reach back to a ridiculously funny memory and make the internet world laugh hysterically. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I admire your positive attitude. Rock on!

  • Sparkless

    LOL!!! You just reminded me of our sledding hill behind our house. It went straight down into some thorn bushes. You had to jump off the sled before you hit the thorn bushes. The older kids were good at it the younger ones were always being extracted from the thorn bushes in tears and torn clothing. Hee hee

  • Amber

    Also, what you found is a good prepositional phrase, but not the proper adjective. 🙂

  • Jenna

    Oh Heather, if your faithful readers could only gather up their goodwill and smear it all over you so that IN A THORN BUSH was not currently a metaphor for you life, you do know that we would, don’t you? I’m mean really. I’m just sayin’.


  • You are like Human Prozac. I’m sorry things suck right now.

  • Tess

    Geez. I bet it was a bloodied thorn bush.

    I think in life (avec kids) we are always navigating in and around thorn bushes. You’ve just temporarily landed in a particularly nasty one.

    Thanks for the good read.

  • Renee

    I am truly sorry for your loss, but your cousin is HOT! Despite the fact that he is married and has 5 kids. Your blog continues to be awesome everyday.
    Hang in there!

  • Rachel

    Your cousin is TOTALLY HOT.

  • Kate

    I do believe that there’s a simile, but you’re a fuckin’ genius anyway. Terrific post.

  • Loss=thorn bush…for sure. I feel ya.

  • I am so sorry about your gran. I just spent a little bit of time at your ‘monetizing the hate’ page. God, people *can* be cruel. Don’t know how you do it, but I laughed out loud at your hilarious responses! Thank you for your humor.

  • Thorn bush… I can’t think of anything worse.

  • Tess

    Why do you have so many good looking relatives? Mine all look like pigs.

  • When my mum died and people asked, “How are you?” (and yes, it’s an entirely stupid question) my brother would say, “As well as can be expected”.

    You can borrow it for those people who just don’t understand the importance of the proper adjective.

  • How do you make me laugh so hard? Thorn bushes are a drag – hope yours goes away soon.

  • A long time dooce fan and always will be

    Hang in there!

    All thornbush incidents make great stories isn’t it.

    Keep writing.

  • Much love to you and your family Heather. Thank YOU for all the joy you share here and even the not so joyful stuff. You are a blessing. Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

  • Dude, the first time someone convinced me to climb a tree, I fell out into a rosebush. I FEEL YOUR PAIN.

  • marian

    I rarely comment but this was really hysterical – and as the mom of 2 little girls myself I agree it would make a much better Dora than any that are out there right now. I’d love to see Dora fall face first into a thorn bush.

  • I think that if you really cared about your readers, you wouldn’t post pictures of really hot men who are taken and have five kids. That’s just cruel, Heather. So cruel.

    To make it up to me, um, all of us, next week should be a whole week dedicated to hot singles you know. Complete with contact information.

  • JR


  • I agree with a number of previous readers.

    Heather B Armstrong is Human Prosac. Slightly addictive. Makes you smile even when she shouldn’t.

    Hugs to that skinny young girl. Look how far you have come.

  • Anya

    Heather, I’m sorry for your loss.

    Your story, however, made me actually laugh out loud, in the midst of worrying about my baby’s croup cough. So thank you.

    Wishing you all good things. Jazz hands!

  • Thorn Birds!!!

    Too random?

  • Breathing is good because it helps you get in your body, in case you ever need, ehem, help with that. And if you didn’t do it you’d, um, die. Hilarious story!!!!!!

  • Jane

    hahahaha that made my day 🙂

  • Dude, that’s what you get for listening to men. Stay away from mountaians and thorn bushes! 🙂

  • Amanda

    I’m so so sorry about Granny Boone.

  • Anonymous

    I love how you had all that story and all that detail (and all that hair) and circled back around to what you started with (incl. rolling down the hill). Kind of like seinfeld, curb…just saying.

    I am sorry for your loss.

  • Lynsie

    Yeah, like the time I barfed on my 9th grade early morning seminary teacher while he was saying a prayer! Wearing a nice suit! One christine johnson also took some of the force of the projectile; but for that part, I was not sorry. Never liked her. Nothing like a cocktail of sunny delight and tylenol cold medicine to set your morning off to a good start.


  • Arturo

    Hey. Snowbird rocks. And make sure your kids have good snow/ice arresting skills…and you too. Uncontrolled sliding/rolling/etc can be extremely dangerous, esp. when not wearing a helmet. And isn’t it about time to get Leta fitted into helmet, some boots and skis/snowboard? My daughter was tackling Alta/Snowbird by kindergarten. Not “tackling” really, but she could handle it. Love your site. And so do a lot of the people in my office. You, my dear, have reached “watercooler chat” status. Good going.

  • How is that you can make even the worst disasters seem hilarious? That is why you make the big bucks girl! You are an awesome writer.

  • Anonymous

    Heather, you are not the only one who has had this happen! When I was 10 I was playing chicken on my sweet ten speed against this girl, neither of us turned away and I flew over the curved handlebars and landed face down in a thorn bush!
    My sister years later was in a car wreck where she was ejected out of the car and landed in…wait for it… yes a thorn patch. She was wearing my favorite sweater at the time, and yes I picked all those thorns out!

  • HAAAAH! I would love to hear the same story from your 15-year-old self.

  • oh to have cousins like nate! your nate is my uncle walter who would dare me to throw sand up in the air at the beach for fun! and when i did, all the heavy wet sand i threw came down on my face. in front of a group of other teenaged boys. how humiliating, but it is a story. and i just told it to you. 😀

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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