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?


  • I once skied down a mountain with someone who did a tumble like yours and then HE (a male that is) landed straddling a tree. So. Could be worse. 🙂

  • Lilliah

    WHOAAAAAAAA…until I got to the word “door”, I totally just read that as “He’s the type of person who would strip naked and knock up your grumpy and spiteful neighbor”

    pfffff heheh

    Nate sounds fun!

  • Bossy is feeling rather thorny herself.

  • Mary Anne

    Where there are thorn, you may find roses soon. I am sorry that life stinks right now and the pain is so raw, but your Granny left you roses…they’ll bloom soon.
    Thank God for Granny, for crazy families and for thorns…without them, there wouldn’t be roses.


  • artconstellation

    Things will get better. I am sorry it is such a hard time- but things will get better.

  • binkyboogirl

    I’m a loyal reader from Canada I may not always agree with everything you say, however, I don’t agree with everything anyone says. Free will and all that. I am shocked at the nasty things that people say on the “Hate” thing you got happening. Seriously I’m sitting here dumbfounded by the fact someone, who obviously doesn’t like you would take the time to read what you have to say and then take the time to write about how much they dislike you is it okay that I feel these people are retards? No that is an insult to retards everywhere.

  • We need photos!

  • Lynnie

    If I’m grumpy could he strip naked and come to my door?

    Also, sympathy for you in this difficult time and may you and your beautiful family heal well.

  • Diana

    Nate’s a hotty. Jazz hands. Thorn bush. You’re beyond hilarious.

  • i’m kind of in the ‘thorn bush, with no shoes, late for an important meeting, just got my period unexpectedly in white pants’ stage of my life. welcome!

  • Jessica

    I think I understand how you feel. I fell chin first, off a bike, into the rear end of a station wagon.

  • Anita

    Dude, your cousin is fricking hot.

  • You are making me wish I had more cousins growing up! I only had the boys on the street to goad me into doing things-I guess that’s kind of similar. and No mountains growing up? You must be from WEST Tennessee.

  • Katherine

    I might be stealing “IN A THORN BUSH!” And I shall use it without explanation… Yup. Think that’s what I’m going to do.

    Nevertheless, hope life crawls out of said thorn bush relatively soon. It sounds like absolutely no fun.

  • J, Bo

    What an evil, evil, WONDERFUL cousin.

    I’ve got one of those, too. Hey, are we maybe related?

  • Life in the thorn bush SUCKS. Especially when someone LIGHTS IT ON FIRE.

    That was me last March when my MIL died suddenly of cancer-induced stroke. My whole world went numb. And then I kept falling, and just when I thought I couldn’t keep falling, THORN BUSH ON FIRE. Grandmother diagnosed with cancer. My emergency gallbladder surgery. 14 year old pets passing away.

    I swear with all my heart you will crawl out of it. You’ll have scratches and scars, and it hurts so much for so long. But you will make it.

    Sending all the love and strength I can offer.

  • gemmacharlotte

    This right here, this story of woe and thorns and awkward moments in life made more awkward by your family is why I love reading your blog.

    You’re a rock star Dooce.

  • Sorry for your granny’s passing. Your cousin is adorable and I could use a little human Prozac – send him on over.

    Thanks for sharing him.


  • I’m sorry for your loss.

    And ouch!

  • I feel your pain. That sound exactly like something I’d do.

  • Dee


    Oh and Nate is HOTTTTTT

  • Ouch, that mountain experience is the least fun mountain experience — except for maybe the skiers who ram into trees, but it’s still pretty bad. It’s also a rather painful analogy. Luckily, time is good for healing the heart.

  • Mo

    Say it with me: Mountain…Thorn Patch…Proper Adjective!

    Where are we going?
    Where are we going?

    PS: Does Nate have a rental fee?

  • Jacqueline

    The story is great and all but what strikes me the most seeing these family photos lately is how good looking you all are.

    As my Alabama grandmother often states, “Ain’t none of us ug-leh!”

  • That’s right up there with falling ass first into a giant cactus because your genius step brother said you’d be great a breaking that new horse your dad bought. Stupid horse. Stupid brother.

  • Carra

    My friend also fell down a mountain at snowbird. Luckily for her, she didn’t end up in a thorn-bush, but she did a good barrel-roll for hundreds of feet and only stopped because of a well placed gully. God, I love Snowbird!

  • Anonymous

    I was taught…clothe the naked. If Nate showed up naked on my doorstep – I’d open the door and GIVE him clothes! HE IS HOT!

  • All my cousin ever did was jump out of second story windows into leaf piles. I never followed.

  • I am very sorry to hear about your Granny.
    Also, I went over to the hate page and it is vile. I’m sorry people are fucking losers.

  • B

    Sorry for the loss of your grandmother. I too lost my grandma last month and saw quite a few relatives I hadn’t seen in years (and we live in the same city!)…and then I realized why I keep my distance from some, those stories and teases..ahH!! lol

  • I think this is one my new fav posts on your site! Nate… I want one of him at every family reunion I ever have to go to ever!!!

  • Anonymous

    I was just reading the “Hate” section and laughed out loud at the lady who Googled “dooce sucks.” Really? Is that all she has to do with her life/time? Wow, must really suck to be that much of a loser to keep coming back to a site that she dislikes so much. When I dislike a site I simply don’t go back. But I guess that’s what normal, level-headed people do!

  • Sorry for your loss~

    I love the way you seemlessly flow the past and the present together with humor and insight. Oh, and Nate’s picture was enjoyable as well!

  • Lu

    Sorry for your loss…And for the thorn bush. Ouch.

  • Ouch.

    I’m sorry for the loss of your granny.

    And I lack the proper adjective for the mysterious thorn growing out the top of your cousin’s head. “Cute” is close-ish but not precise enough for what I’m trying to say here…

  • Sasha

    Sorry about your Granny, Heather. At least you’re not alone in that thornbush…look over here! I’m waving!

  • Sorry to hear about your loss 🙁

  • Amy

    That’s one handsome bloke right there! I hope his wife appreciates the eye candy. 🙂

    I wish you the best, Heather, and I’m sure things will be looking up in no time. Take care.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t have a blog site, I am not an ASS kisser or a *oh my god I am not even going to SAY it* licker,
    nor am I a sheep. I rarely comment on here because I just don’t have time, but I enjoy your blog very much.

    That being said, I don’t know how much more I can stomach the hate section. It’s horrible. It is just one huge fat aching reminder that the human race has actually not evolved very much past the BURN HER AT THE STAKE! period and it scares the crap out of me. People actually take the time to write hate mail to a blogger who writes stories about her life, when they can just NOT read it, or just not visit her site.
    Its weird. really creepy actually.

    okay, and your story was really funny, but after I read it, I went into the hate section and now thats all I can think about. why does some random bitch even care what your hair looks like? WEIRD AND CREEPY!

  • sima

    Is everyone in you family gorgeous or do you just take fantastic pictures?

  • MSH

    My grandmother passed away 20 years ago and I still miss her. Thanks (as always) for writing it down.

  • Sarah V

    You have so much love and support from family and followers! I hope that helps during this difficult time.

    I also feel the Hate section is just getting more and more disturbing. I’m so sorry you have to put up with that. What a bunch of useless assholes.

  • USC2000

    Heh – thorn bushes. I learned how to ride a bike with the “aid” of a thorn bush, deerbrush to be exact.

    We were camping up in the mountains and I was at the stage where I had the training wheels pretty much at their highest possible point – next step two wheels. My dad and grandfather decided that it was time to take the training wheels off and take me out on one of the bike paths in the campground – no cars, no curbs, just bike path. Uh huh.

    Dad: “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine – just ride down to Grandpa! I’ll hold onto your seat until you get the hang of it! Hey, look, you’re doing it by yourself!”

    Me: Wha-huh?

    Bike: Oh, I like the look of that spiky bush over there, let’s go check it out! CRASH!

    And that explains how, after the 2 hours my mom and grandma spent picking thorns out of my legs, arms, hands, and one out of my face, I finally learned how to ride my bike – I wasn’t falling into any more deerbrush. To this day, I give that stuff a wide berth.

  • Jess

    how time flies , doesn’t it.

  • I think that tale would be a better fit for the SNL version of Dora. After she landed in the thorn bush she would brush herself off, stand up, and say something like, “Did you know my father takes anti-depression pills?” with her quirky intonation.

  • Oooh, I don’t know.

    Today on Dora, Dora’s abuela passes away. Can you show us how Dora gets down the mountain? You can do IT. Good JOB, top of mountain, sticks and gravel, THORN BUSH, emergency room. You helped Dora find her way down the MOUNTAIN!

    Hey I guess you’re right, that WOULD make a good Dora. Sorry I doubted you!

    So sorry for the loss of your grandmother. Take care of you.


  • The Boy Cousins wanted to marry me at first. I am told I was ok with that until after lunch they lured me out on a sandbar in the middle of a river in Missouri in my new red cowgirl boots. I sunk up to my waist in the sand/mud as the boy cousins ran gleefully away. At dusk my Uncle Bob found and liberated me, leaving my red boots behind in the vacuum grip of the mud. And I had peed my pants at least twice during the hours that went by. Life metaphors a’poppin’!

  • Yeah, losing a loved one definitely sucks. So does landing in a thorn bush. You’ll get through it the same way you got through falling into a thorn bush: You’ll heal a little more every day, even though at first you just feel hopelessly oozy and quite possibly infected.

  • Anonymous

    I just promised myself I would not look at the hate site anymore because it just makes me sad. I love reading your stories and am shocked that there are people in the world that are so angry and mean. I’m sorry you have to put up with them all the time. Please keep writing.

    Sorry about your grandma…

  • I’m very sorry that you lost your grandmother, but it seems that you are finding what I found when I buried my mother last year – that a funeral is a wonderful time to reconnect with family and close the gaps that grow between family members over the years. I will even go so far as to say that they have the edge over weddings in this respect as they are, well, purer, if you know what I mean.

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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