the smell of my desperation has become a stench

An attempt to appreciate the weather

Friday night we drove up to the mountains to spend a few days snowboarding and roasting our toes by the fire. Friends asked if Leta was going to take lessons, and we’d say, yes, lessons for the SAT. I think if given the choice of putting on skis and staring down a mountain or being forced to eat something other than chicken nuggets, she’d give it a few days of thought and then go, FINE. I’LL TOUCH THE LETTUCE.

It’s been a glorious time because I think I have finally put together the logistics of the heel-to-toe maneuvers of snowboarding, and I was killing it! I was flying down the mountain, and it was one of those I GET WHY! moments (see above video). Where many times before I have thought to myself, snowboarding? Why would anyone pay to die? In the cold? With people pointing and laughing.

Jumping out of a plane over Hawaii. That’s the way to go out.

Or maybe asleep in a bed in Hawaii.


On the first day we were riding up a lift with two young skiers who mentioned they were visiting from Seattle. Jon asked one of them if he was attending the University of Washington, and the guy let out a tiny laugh and said, no, actually, he was just a sophomore in high school. I told him he seemed much more mature than that, and now that I think about it, oh no. Weird. Crazy old lady snowboarder just called him mature. Is there a more terrible word in our language? Moist, perhaps? Goiter? Nipple?

Toward the end of the ride Jon was joking that I should “try to shred that black diamond run,” and I explained that I’d rather “shred a potato” because “living to see tomorrow” was on my life list. And that sophomore that I had just grossly labeled mature said, “Is it really worth living to see tomorrow if you don’t take risks today?”

Oh, little buddy.

You special little buddy.

Did you really just say that to the crazy old lady snowboarder? The woman who is twice your age and has seen twice as much of life and just last year pushed an eight-pound baby out of her wee waw without an epidural? YOU WANNA TALK ABOUT RISKS? At least, that’s what I was thinking when Jon reached over and squeezed my knee in an effort to say DO NOT DO IT. WOMAN. HE DOES NOT NEED TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR WEE WAW.

So instead I just nodded and said GOOD POINT!


Fast forward to yesterday when three hours into the best day of snowboarding I’ve ever experienced the edge of my board caught the side of a mogul. And I thought I was gonna fly one way but instead flew in an entirely different direction. Head over feet over board, then smack down on my lower back, and finally my skull punched a hole in the ground. My goggles and hat flew five feet away from the scene. I’m sorry, but the whole thing called for some inappropriate groaning. Yes, that’s the horrible noise you heard yesterday.

Ski patrol showed up. UGH. See? Dying in the cold while mature sophomore boys fly by pointing at my cracked skull. Moist, mature little buddies with nipples.

About twenty minutes after getting my wits about me and making sure I could move all my fingers and toes, I took Jon’s advice and decided to get back on the board and ride all the way down. To face the fear of it. I won’t lie, I was scared. Scared and sore and not sure if I would ever be able to sit down again, my back was so screwed up. But I did it, and after getting down to the bottom of the hill, I set down my board, threw my hands in the air, and yelled HOW’S THEM APPLES, LITTLE BUDDY.


  • Maire

    2010/02/15 at 12:42 pm

    Dear Dooce,

    HELMET!! Your head is worth it. They also help keep you nice and warm.

    Seriously, helmet, because those moguls pop out of nowhere– I know.


  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/02/15 at 12:51 pm

    Moist is by far the grossest word in the English language. Followed closely by crusty. Double points if you can somehow work them into the same sentence.

    Good luck with the whiplash, I know that feeling!

    Can I just add I really thought the climax of that video would be you plowing that little girl in pink over?

  • Rebecca Siewert

    2010/02/15 at 12:47 pm

    Ha ha, the last time I went snowboarding i fell so many times I couldn’t walk straight the next day…. Glad you had a great time!

  • simpliSAHM

    2010/02/15 at 12:47 pm

    Ironically, I previously lived in Utah and now live a mere 90 minutes from Tahoe and yet have never been skiing or snowboarding,etc. I hear ya on taking risks. But I guess the whole flying down a mountain thing has never been on my list. I take my risks with things like writing about my life story complete with amusing/shocking details about going from a Mormon to a lesbian to a crazy married woman with a teenager and a toddler. But that’s just me.

  • medwards

    2010/02/15 at 12:50 pm

    Woo Hoo!!! Flying down the mountain’s the very best. It makes me laugh out loud and people just turn and stare at the crazy lady laughing all the way down. That’s the compensation for the crying I do for about a week or more after. We don’t heal as quickly as we used to :). Glad you had fun!!

  • Leball

    2010/02/15 at 12:50 pm

    I went snowboarding for the first time in December in Montana. I was scared to death. And I had reason to be, I sucked! I cried after falling for the fourth time on skinny ass! My tailbone hurt for a month!

    You are brave! Much braver than I am.

  • QoB

    2010/02/15 at 12:51 pm

    I was reading a summary of a study recently which concluded this is the exact way to ensure you don’t get scared of a physical activity after an unpleasant experience. So good on you. They could’ve saved so much money by just watching you snowboard:)

  • tommysprincess

    2010/02/15 at 1:08 pm

    Panties. Panties is definitely worse!

  • MJBUtah

    2010/02/15 at 1:08 pm

    Can I second the request for a helmet there babe? I see you are wearing wrist guards, doesn’t your brain deserve the same consideration?

    But then again, I am not the boss of you.

  • queen_elisheba

    2010/02/15 at 1:09 pm

    *that* feeling when you’re going downhill is addicting! Who’s the risk taker and over achiever now huh lil buddy??

  • jenniesloan

    2010/02/15 at 1:10 pm

    I second the helmet. I have multiple severe concussions from riding horses for YEARS without a helmet. I have issues with memory, speech on occassion, and have to be really careful what I do now. You may not be the coolest person in the room, but who gives a crap?

    I also second the comment that moist is the grossest word in the English language.

    Lastly, I think it’s much easier to take risks before your a mother. Once you’re responsible for someone else’s well being I think it’s much harder.

  • 1eyedmonkee

    2010/02/15 at 1:12 pm

    I’m gonna have to be one of those old fashioned moms and side with Maire on this one. I was following the tweets yesterday and the first thing I thought of after your spill was – “if she gets really really hurt…what about HGTV?” Plus, it doesn’t help that I worked as an interpreter in a rehabilitation hospital. Spent way too many hours with people in therapy and their families trying to re-adjust to a new kind of life. Trust me, avoiding a serious brain injury is a good thing. Glad you’re OK.

  • Jess F

    2010/02/15 at 1:13 pm

    I think discharge might be worse.
    Way to shred, Heather!

  • radkitch

    2010/02/15 at 1:21 pm

    I LOVE risk-taking….but with a helmet. I’m witht he other commenters. Helmets are cool and keep the noggin in tact. That being said, I did not wear one for my epidural-free birthing experience, either.

  • dooce

    2010/02/15 at 1:24 pm

    I promise I will wear a helmet next time. PROMISE. Lesson totally learned.

  • Tricia

    2010/02/15 at 1:39 pm

    Edited to bring it down a notch (or several), because I believe you when you say you’ve learned your lesson about the helmet. But I’m still MAD.

  • CrashTestMommy

    2010/02/15 at 1:56 pm

    But regarding the video — you totally ran the little girl in pink into the trees, right? Because that’s what I saw.

    Nice shredding. Not that I would know it if I saw it since I live in Oklahoma. You know . . . blahblahblahblah sweeping down the PLAINS. Still, nice shredding.

  • Johannie

    2010/02/15 at 1:57 pm

    Well, if you will wear a helmet snowboarding then I will keep wearing the helmet when I go bike riding and my kids aren’t around to see!
    Love your post today, I agree about taking risks…. do you think that after we become Mother’s we avoid risks?
    I have been scared to try more winter sports, but I have to say it looks like a great time. We have many nice mountains here to snowboard and ski on.
    After the Olympics are done I think we may head out and give it a try!
    Also I think that is exactly the kind of diversion you all needed to get away from the everyday stuff.

    Just wondering if you have thought of putting more than one pen in the car? LOl just a thought!

  • tmizz

    2010/02/15 at 1:58 pm

    I second, third, fourth and fifth the helmet recommendation.

    I switched to a helmet right after hearing this sobering statistic – there is a 100% injury rate for people learning to snowboard, over the age of 30. I was one of those statistics. Fortunately, it was my ankle that was fractured and not my noggin.

    I then switched back to skiing.

  • hpaulus

    2010/02/15 at 1:59 pm

    Heather, have you ever read anything by Terry Pratchett? This writer agrees with you about the word moist, and it is the name of one of his characters. He’s hysterical.

  • CraftyCrab

    2010/02/15 at 2:00 pm

    Dudes, snowboarding without helmets is TOTALLY LAME. Glad the lesson wasn’t worse for your noggin. Make Jon wear one, too…

    In other news – saw you on HGTV while I was having a couchfest this weekend. I cheered!

  • LuckyMama

    2010/02/15 at 2:01 pm

    I gave up on snowboarding about 9 years ago.

    In Minnesota its rarely SNOWboarding, but ICEboarding. There is no such thing as powder here!

    I remember my last day like it was yesterday…long story short: I had a bad day on the hill (no such thing as mountains here) and after taking my knees into the ice a handful of times, the last call was smacking my head. I had a headache for 3 days. NO ONE wore helmets yet…

    When I got home I also found that the ice had tore through my pants, my betties (fleece board pant), and I had dried blood all over BOTH of my knees.

    Frankly it was my NEON FLASHING SIGN telling me to find a new activity!

    I applaude you Heather for getting up and finishing out the hill…I didn’t. I cried all the way to the car. I was 23 crying like a baby! I hung onto my board for about 6 yrs hoping to get the nerve up again….never did. Even with a helmet, I don’t think my body could take it now. The mere thought of it makes my body ache.

  • MeggyO

    2010/02/15 at 2:02 pm

    Color me inappropriately jealous of your snowboarding injury! At least you got to go snowboarding! I watched your video of all that lovely snow and thought…gee I wish I could go skiing–my snowsport of choice–instead of trying to teach 5 year olds that, yes, it is indeed still winter here in California even though it looks like spring with all the sunshine and flowers and shit.

  • Lilliah

    2010/02/15 at 2:06 pm

    Yeah, “panties” is really bad, but I’ve always argued that the most terrible words can ALL be used to describe food. I literally cringe when I read a lot of them, and my phobia is probably on the side of extreme, I know. I’ve tried to make lists before, but I’m always aware I’m forgetting some, and then I lose the list before it is complete. My list would include words that I’m sure most people are fine with, and I have no idea where this phobia comes from. I even enjoy reading food blogs to torture myself with:


    and here is where my mind goes blank..
    But I will always argue that the worst thing in the ENTIRE WORLD that anyone could possibly say is (I’m cringing just typing this because I’ve never done it before)
    “tuck in”.

  • kr

    2010/02/15 at 2:07 pm

    “Is it really worth living to see tomorrow if you don’t take risks today?”

    What a fucking tool.

  • SomeCallMeTim

    2010/02/15 at 2:15 pm

    I’ve gone skiing just 3 times in my life (have never snowboarded, unless you count trying to ride an original Snurfer down a 15 foot slope in the back yard snowboarding….. I didn’t think so). Great description of “getting it”, and having gotten it.

    My peak performance in front of a crowd was trying the big bunny hill (as opposed to the one with the 1-2% grade). The BBH had iced over a bit, so I picked up too much speed, tried to turn, crashed, and after I stopped one ski was 10 feet way stuck in the snow, the other sliding down the hill, packed snow in my face, and two buddies applauding me from the ski lift overhead. As they say in show business – “give them what they want!”

  • micahmaranda

    2010/02/15 at 2:18 pm

    Come on people, what about the word “FIXINS”??

  • Honey

    2010/02/16 at 12:52 am

    Dear Heather (and probably Jon too),
    I felt obligated to finally join the dooce community today just so I could admonish you for not wearing a helmet on the slopes!!! Truthfully, I skimmed the pictures of the post first and swallowed a lump when I saw you in a hat and goggles pictured on the chairlift. I had a premonition that this may not be good. Sure enough you described the wreck to a T with hat (ha!) flying off. Ironic that you show some concern for safety by not going down the black run. Get a damn helmet, Heather, wear it vigilantly. Your head will be warmer and your boarding will improve tenfold… I could sure go on and on. Take it for what it’s worth: WEAR A HELMET! DON’T BE A GAPER!! Get it together and come visit me in Aspen!

  • mommica

    2010/02/15 at 2:49 pm

    Ha! Wee waw. Nice.

    Just please don’t ever say “plethora” (unless you’re making fun of it) or “gobbledygook.” I can’t even believe that’s even a real word.

  • Amy G

    2010/02/15 at 2:51 pm

    You’re a far braver old woman than I for even TRYING to snowboard. Either that, or a far stupider one! At 36, I’ve only ever downhill skiied, and I use that term VERY loosely, considering that my version involves nothing more than snowplowing my way down the bunny hill all the while praying to God not to let me die or break a bone. And all that mad downhill skiing (and praying) last took place when I was about 18 years old, long before children entered my universe and warped my body. Good for you for making it all the way down the hill after the wipeout, but I agree with some of the previous posters: next time, WEAR A HELMET!!!

  • danagw

    2010/02/15 at 2:51 pm

    I believe “ointment” is equally as nasty as “moist”…that phonetic “oi” combo is just wrong. Imagine a sentence about moist ointment, are you twitching?

    Sorry to jump on the nagging bandwagon but you really should protect your squash.

  • micmacker

    2010/02/15 at 3:04 pm

    Hey, since you’ve promised to wear a helmet next time, I’m the one bugging you to make sure Jon and Leta wear one, too (if they don’t now). My husband spent 3 days in a coma after a snow boarding accident, with the doctors unsure whether he would be “high functioning”. Luckily, he’s functioning just fine now, although some days are higher than others (kidding, he really is ok).

  • JustLinda

    2010/02/15 at 3:08 pm

    Skiing is on my list of things to do before I die, but clearly it’s one I can’t wait TOO long to take on. I’m 45, though in better shape than ever.

    I shall endeavor to do it before I’m 50. Because RISK-TAKING ATTITUDE! NIPPLES! MATURITY! I have all that!

  • c_kidman69

    2010/02/15 at 3:21 pm

    Heather, I am one of your followers who reads, and rarely comments. This post deserves a comment. I am also 30ish and my hubby so lovingly declared this year that snowboarding is our new family sport. SO we all we up to Beaver Mountain and everyone learned how to do it BUT me and my 3 year old. I was hoping that my hubby would NOT take to it. I was wrong and alas they all loved it. So teh next week we went again and I paid for lessons and the instructor sucked. I fell a few times, which was expected, but my last crash was a toe over heel that ended with my head creating a hole in the snow and we hadn’t even gone up the lift yet to the top of the small hill. I cried and did not go. Needless to say we are going again this Thursday and I am once again taking lessons and this time I promised my kids that I would indeed go down the hill. Wish me luck. BTW I made my hubby read this post adn he laughed also.

  • freckletree.

    2010/02/15 at 3:21 pm

    love the five year old that is “killing it” beside of you.

  • judealoo

    2010/02/15 at 3:23 pm

    Thank you for promising to wear a helmet next time. All us moms screaming HELMET got through! Be sure to put one on Leta, too, if you haven’t already, okay? My kids’ 1st ski instructor, on the 1st day, said: next time they need helmets. My now 21 and 19 year olds wouldn’t dream of skiing/boarding without them to this day, thank heaven. Like buckling the seat belt for the mountain!

  • veritas2578

    2010/02/15 at 3:32 pm

    Oh snowboarding, the face plants we’ve shared! Heather, you look like a pro to me!

  • heymamas

    2010/02/15 at 3:36 pm

    And that post is precisely why I have never been sking or snowboarding or practically even sledding. Thanks for bringing it into focus for me again, I was start to thinking maybe I should try.

    Sadie at heyMamas

  • caril

    2010/02/15 at 3:36 pm

    Sorry about your noggin’ and all… but if you don’t want to wind up like Natasha Richardson… you know what to do.

    But what I’m really writing about is Leta and chicken nuggets…

    I am offering up this information that I learned from a doctor I met a couple of years ago…. it is strictly fyi… do with it as you will.

    He told me that he had treated a young boy, about 13 I believe, who had died of breast cancer… and before the breast cancer, the *only* thing the kid would eat were chicken nuggets… his were of the “Mc” kind I believe.

    So I would say if this is pretty much Leta’s steady diet you might want to buy some local organic chicken and make your own nuggets… fyi.

  • NHMaman

    2010/02/15 at 3:40 pm

    Ditto on the helmet wearing. We live in the East and virtually everyone wears a helmet. I do because I make my kids wear their helmets … and I value my brains.

    The first time my husband wore his, he seriously whacked his head while getting on the chairlift, leaving blue paint on his brand-spanking new helmet and showing me I hadn’t wasted my money.

    My son will be eligible for a ski jumping program (yes, like they do in the Olympics) when he turns 7!!! The ski-jumping announcement says “no special ski equipment required, just a helmet.” Thank God a helmet is required. How about full-body armor? Yikes!

  • MissCaron

    2010/02/15 at 3:41 pm

    LOVE IT!!! Loved living vicariously through y’all … as I miss skiing like you wouldn’t believe! I used to do it rather often (and tried snowboarding but didn’t really like it) and with my financial situation I haven’t gone in years. I’m so jealous … I’m so glad that y’all had such a great time and that you came out of that major bump with little more than a bruised ego. YAY!

  • JanetP

    2010/02/15 at 3:42 pm

    Awesome, Heather! I would love to try snowboarding; it looks like a lot of fun. Also so glad you and most everyone now wears helmets. No reason to add that risk to an already risky sport! If you can possibly get Leta to give it a try now, she’ll probably love it, plus kids her age are fearless compared to us older types and learn so much faster. Thanks for sharing your accomplishment! Oh, BTW, seems Jon was flying down the mountain while he filmed you! He must be pretty good:))

  • sarahmcow

    2010/02/15 at 3:44 pm

    Congratulations. You have just single-handedly cured any desire I once had to try snowboarding. I like my ankles and elbows and vertebrae just as they are. Yup. (But, I’m with you, it looks so damn COOL!)

  • MeggyO

    2010/02/15 at 3:42 pm

    How about the word “taint”. I literally cannot hear that word without laughing. Hysterically. During inappropriate times.

  • Jalima

    2010/02/15 at 11:36 pm

    Puss? Would that not be Pussy? Hate that freaking word..

  • emduff

    2010/02/15 at 3:46 pm

    Thanks for promising to get a helmet. I innocently caught an edge, smacked the ground and “compromised” my helmet — i.e., had to go buy a new one that day. Not dead I am!

    And “nectar” is the grossest word; moist? Meh…

  • my5girls

    2010/02/15 at 3:49 pm

    I just heard of Dooce today for the first time.

    And I live in Utah. Go figure.

    I am a “Jackie Mormon” living in this State of Guilt and love what you have said in some of your posts I read.

    Can’t wait to

  • Schnauzie_Mom

    2010/02/15 at 4:08 pm

    @MeggyO- The first time I heard the word “taint” was from a country boy with quite the southern drawl which only made it funnier! I asked him why they call it that and he said, well cuz it ‘taint your butt and it ‘taint your balls! LOL:-)

  • captainsuburbia

    2010/02/15 at 4:11 pm

    I went snowboarding last year and was finally getting the whole heel toe thing down.. when I did the same thing you did.. except I landed wrong on my elbow and snapped my arm in half. I’m glad that wasn’t the ending to your story!

  • Nhiro

    2010/02/15 at 4:28 pm

    Oh good god, Dooce. The part where you wrote “Moist, mature little buddies with nipples” made me want to punch the screen. I almost threw up at the thought of wet, underage teenage boys.

    Which is probably why I always go for older men. Hmm.

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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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