the smell of my desperation has become a stench

The story behind the sparkles

I wanted to post the video yesterday of our roof so that it could simmer before I gave you the whole story, and there is indeed a story, what website did you think you were reading?

At the end of winter… no. Scratch that. Winter didn’t end until the middle of summer SO THAT’S JUST CONFUSING. Was it March? April? One of those months when I see pictures of friends in other states walking around in short sleeve shirts while I’m wearing four layers of flannel at my desk sitting in front of one of those light machines that’s supposed to take the edge off of homicidal tendencies.

(Those lights work. I haven’t killed anyone. Yet.)

We had found pieces of the roof in our yard after every snow storm last season, but one morning when Coco brought us a giant chunk of it in her mouth so that we could play fetch we realized, huh. By next winter that chunk could be insulation. Maybe we should let that happen in case the 25-year-old chemicals counteract her personality. Coco! HERE! THIS IS CALLED ASBESTOS.

Next thing you know Jon’s called five different companies to come out and give us a bid. The man was obsessed, and I guess I can understand? Maybe? Yes, it is literally the roof over our heads, except that I think our kids would benefit way more from new carrara marble countertops in the kitchen.

But then those bids started to come in. And the first thing I did was fall over.

When you added in the cost of shingles, demolition and removal of the old roof, rain gutters, snow melters, installation of the new roof, and hot dogs for Mama, the total cost came to a hundred million NEVER GONNA HAPPEN.

“Heather, we have to do this. We can’t wait,” he said one night while we were walking the dogs and brainstorming creative ways to list “slightly-used children” on Craigslist.

“But I thought we’d have at least another year to save up for this kind of emergency.” Yes, a roof qualifies as an emergency IF YOUR DOG CAN PLAY FETCH WITH IT.

We walked a few more blocks in silence when I suddenly remembered that bout I had with SHINGLES! in 2009.

“SHINGLES!” I yelled.

“Yes, Heather, we’re talking about shingles. I’m glad you’re following along.”


“Oh my god. You’re thinking we should make a sequel. Heather, there is no shingle company on earth who is going to see that video and think, ‘Refreshing to find someone SANE in this world!'”

“OH, COME ON. That video only gave you two nightmares at most. It’d be worth a try, right?” Cut to that night in bed where Jon sat with his laptop open, and I lay next to him rattling off ideas. It’s called foreplay.

“How about, ‘Dear GAF, Hi! We are huge fans of asphalt shingles.'”

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Then how about, ‘Dear GAF, My husband is an asshole.'”



While reading out loud Jon began to type, “‘Dear GAF, About a year and a half ago after delivering our second child, my wife came down with a case of shingles.'” He continued as eloquently as he always does to lay out an idea, that shingles don’t have to be scary at all, and if GAF was up for some fun then so were we.


Fast forward to twelve days ago, after almost three weeks of demolition and a team of men hammering and pounding and having to rent an industrial crane to lift the air conditioning unit off of the roof and problems we did not foresee concerning the gutters or downspouts and HOPING PRAYING that Marlo could nap through all of it…

There I am in a ten-pound dress I found at a vintage clothing shop, a mangled wig on my head, and as I’m climbing out the window onto the second story roof a thunderstorm swoops across the valley and I’m almost struck by lightning.

ALSO! The only window we can use to access the roof won’t stay up and is barely two feet wide. Jon is holding twenty pounds of camera and sound equipment WHILE HOLDING UP THE WINDOW so that I can dive back in before the rain causes all that mascara to run into my eyes and blind me.

We waited, climbed back out, another lightning strike. Three different times. Can you even imagine what the neighbors would have thought if they had been watching?

Honey, I know those blogger people don’t go to church anymore, but are you sure they aren’t into something sinister?

Yes! I like to dress up like Elvira and dance on my roof during thunderstorms! Don’t worry! The kids are inside gutting a pig so we can climb inside its carcass and nap! Jon films the whole thing because this circus addresses some fetish out there and, wow, are those people easily extorted!

We finally broke out a weather map on Jon’s iPad and saw a five-minute window in the satellite imagery of the storm. FIVE MINUTES. Once that pocket hit we climbed back out the two-foot opening — me in my ten-pound dress, Jon with twenty pounds of equipment — and I shingled the shit out of that roof.

It still cost us a fortune, but the good people at GAF® have a sense of humor and provided the materials. Thanks to GAF® for helping us with the better kind of shingles, specifically, the kind that come with a lifetime warranty. GAF® has reduced the amount of resources used in the manufacturing of shingles (read more here) and do indeed offer a lifetime limited warranty on all of their laminated shingles.

So we don’t have to worry about our roof ever again. However, is there a third kind of shingles? Because I’m sensing a theme to the story of my life.

  • TuffDadSF

    2011/09/23 at 1:31 pm

    The third kind of shingles could be what the exotic dancer with a lisp receives. A whole mess of shingles.

  • nelking

    2011/09/23 at 1:33 pm
  • Daddy Scratches

    2011/09/23 at 1:43 pm

    TuffDadSF wins. That’s comedy.

    PS: Glad you guys didn’t fall off the roof or get struck by lightning. That would have been embarrassing. And painful. And, mostly likely, fatal. So, bad.

  • ladygray

    2011/09/23 at 1:45 pm

    BWAH! love it. love the backstory almost as much as the video.

    and we are about to buy our first house. it currently has a 20+ year old cedar shake on it which we are planning on replacing with… some delightful, lifetime-warrantied, GAF lovin’.

    well done.

  • tokenblogger

    2011/09/23 at 2:07 pm

    Oh, the enviable joy of schwag…

    …or sponsorship.

    Your video appearance reminded more of Elizabeth Montgomery’s “Serena” than Elvira.


  • ChickWhitt

    2011/09/23 at 2:28 pm

    You could totally be shingle if you burn your tongue on coffee at Jon’s wake.

  • luv and kiwi

    2011/09/23 at 2:51 pm

    I admire your powers…

    When I become a famous actress can I come on out and do a Shingles Part III with y’all?

    I give the whole actress/fame thing two years TOPS!

  • kristanhoffman

    2011/09/23 at 3:26 pm

    Your life sounds like so much fun, lol. Craziness, but fun.

  • dianemaggipintovoiceover

    2011/09/23 at 3:45 pm

    my comment on yesterday’s post could be the next! big! thing!

    cHiPPeD bEEf –> aka shit on a shingle

  • kravos

    2011/09/23 at 3:53 pm

    Yep, you TOTES shingled the SHIT out of that roof =)

  • mommica

    2011/09/23 at 6:31 pm

    See? Everything happens for a reason. You had to get SHINGLES! so you could pay for your roof. These are the sacrifices we must make as adults: SHINGLES! for a roof, and pigs for napping inside.

  • ryanrageous

    2011/09/23 at 7:25 pm

    THIS! is why I LOVE you!
    Rock on.

  • hildag

    2011/09/23 at 7:59 pm

    I love the back story just as much too. I’m glad that GAF was able to help you guys out.

  • bawb23

    2011/09/23 at 8:07 pm

    Oh my. All I could think of was how much you look like a drag queen. Your neighbors: “Who’s that drag queen crawling out on the roof? Never mind who, WHY?”

  • Hannah88

    2011/09/23 at 10:52 pm

    the bit about “brainstorming creative ways to list ‘slightly-used children’ on Craigslist” made me laugh. 🙂

  • TheSkyIsOverrated

    2011/09/24 at 12:45 am

    This is so great, thanks for the laughs! Nice shingles btw. That roof looks to be well worth the bazillion dollars.

  • Anxious Annie

    2011/09/24 at 9:49 am

    NEXT VIDEO? Shingles (from Urban Dictionary) This game was created by students at St. Thomas More School. The game consists of kneeing people in their thighs until they surrender.

  • jupiterangel

    2011/09/24 at 9:57 am

    WOW! Yet another instance in which Dooce uses her blog to get free stuff. I used to love reading your blog when you wrote about your kids. Do they have to wear some sponsored dresses to make the cut? Disappointed to feel like what was once a fresh and interesting voice is now brought to me by Procter & Gamble. Enjoy the perks while they last… I’m sure I won’t be the first formerly loyal reader to say enough with the advertorials.

  • alevai

    2011/09/24 at 10:29 am

    Damn shorty, looking good!

  • lumoria

    2011/09/24 at 10:40 am

    Haha, I loved that video! I hadn’t seen the original video for some reason (I’ve been reading your site every day since around the time you and John first started dating, so not sure how I missed that one), so I appreciated the explanation. I thought it was hilarious!

  • PeggyMomma

    2011/09/24 at 1:01 pm

    Hey Jupiter…come on! If you don’t want to read, don’t read. If you have nothing nice to say, hush it up! Anytime ANYONE can get something for free, I say go for it (unless you are an illegal alien, natch). I look forward to reading whatever Dooce has to offer – it is never boring! Go, Heather & Jon!!

  • TxSuzyQ

    2011/09/24 at 2:01 pm

    Ugh. Hipsters!

  • hugsNpuppies

    2011/09/24 at 6:20 pm

    You must be getting used to the hate mail to attempt such brazen “self-promotion”. Like “How dare you sell yourself that way… daddidadida… we don’t even have a roof over our heads…”. Actually, I just read back and sure enough, jupiterangel is the first but no doubt not the last of those voices.

    I’m fine with your enterprising. Good on you and also very hilarious! I loved that video. It brightenend my day 🙂

  • Amber

    2011/09/24 at 9:37 pm

    first of all. the video. to use an 80’s expression, the only one adequate right now: awesome to the max. because more women should go out on a comedic limb like that. especially on video. you just don’t see that enough. i applaud you, and your ability to pull off that look. amazing.

    secondly, standing ovation for the GAF assist. because why the hell not? how is it hurting anyone to use your media reach to pitch a good company while getting a break on shingles. you made it fun and entertaining and real to read about. you were honest and forthcoming about it. anyone who has a problem with that is just a dipshit who doesn’t appreciate the power of ANY form of shingles and has a small soul no bigger than one of your new shingles. SHINGLES! and to all of your efforts, heather, i say “bravo.” if there IS another godforsaken form of shingles out there to be conquered, you will find and own it, and promptly. godspeed.

    P.S. jupiterangel should change her moniker to YOURANUSSHEDEVIL! good day sir!

  • Missy.Void

    2011/09/25 at 7:54 am

    Not sure if it’s any use, but here in England we have shingle beaches! Like this one…
    So you could come over and sit on some SHINGLES!

  • LaurelLou

    2011/09/25 at 11:58 am

    Congrats on your deeply discounted roof. Internet-clout does not an emergency fund make. If you can’t afford to take care of routine maintenance on your house it might be time to reach out to a financial planner. Can’t wait to see that video.

    SINGLES. Singles!! SINGLES!!!!!

  • Moomser

    2011/09/25 at 4:28 pm

    This is the reason why you’re you and I’m, well, not you (as I’m me, this sentence isn’t very clear, is it?), creative thinking, you needed shingles and found a way to get them. Plus, you’re funny.

  • Aprilisin

    2011/09/25 at 6:39 pm

    I’m sorry there is jealousy with your achievement…I loved it!!! have a baptist beer on me…!

  • linzfou

    2011/09/25 at 8:36 pm

    Ha, loved it. In the video you’re almost unrecognizable as yourself, a definite transofmration.

    Life will present an opportunity for the shingles trilogy, we’ll all just have to stay tuned… though at the moment I can’t think of what it could possibly be.

  • kellyfaboo

    2011/09/26 at 7:27 am

    Hey, thanks for the shingle supplier rec. We are thinking that it is time for a new roof (we’ve lived in the house 18+ years so …) so we are looking at materials options. And contractor options (GAF lists “certified” installers on their website) so thanks for saving me a google clickthrough.

  • MollyCT

    2011/09/26 at 7:28 am

    Thank you for curing me of my desire to stop renting and buy a house!

    P.S. Heather how dare you get paid for your writing! Women these days…wanting money for work they do…

  • slappyintheface

    2011/09/26 at 11:10 am

    Great idea! We have a gas leak in our backyard that needs fixing soon or we won’t have heat this winter. I am calling up the gas company right now to see if they want to be a part of my blog post series called “GAS … THE GOOD KIND”.

  • jigger

    2011/09/26 at 12:24 pm

    I totally agree with the poster who said “If you don’t like it, don’t read it.”

    I’m not reading it anymore. Bye Dooce. Enjoy your free roof.

  • nikkiputh

    2011/09/26 at 1:00 pm

    I’m done reading, too.

    The problem is…when your income is announced at $40K a month (which let’s realize is what some consider lucky to make in a YEAR), it truly is hard to feel sorry for your financial woes.

    It’s just not cool anymore. Jonathan Adler furniture? A new roof for your home (that maybe you should have thought about the upkeep of before purchasing)?

    Sorry, Dooce. It was fun while it lasted.

  • jendemonium

    2011/09/26 at 1:40 pm

    I’ve been a loyal reader since 2006. I’ve happily read your updates about your life for over 5 years. Through the negative swirl surrounding the whole washing machine mess and the Chicken Liver saga, I stuck with you. No more.

    I’m in the market for a new roof, one that we’ve needed for several years and can ill afford due to a string of health issues that were unexpected over the past two years. Thank you so much for the recommendation of GAF products… now I know exactly who to avoid. Shame on them and shame on you.

    Too bad you couldn’t have used your internet pseudo-celebrity clout to benefit someone other than yourself – like the thousands of people who had homes damaged by tornados this year, or perhaps anyone in desperate need of a roof who doesn’t pull down $40k a month.

    Count me as another reader who is done.

  • liefie

    2011/09/26 at 2:15 pm

    I really don’t know how I feel about this whole thing…

    On the one hand, if you can get a discount on a product, great. I wish I could.

    On the other hand, this comes off as “I’m DOOCE, and I’m very important and powerful so you should give me stuff for free”.

    As others have said, you make very good money doing what you do, which used to be writing candidly about motherhood and life-balance, but now seems to be more about how awesome Verizon is for sponsoring your office remodel. If you can’t figure out how to fix your roof with that kind of income, well…

    Between the corporate sponsorship and the upcoming elections, I think I too will be signing off for a while.

    Best of luck with the maternal health work.

  • Ruffian

    2011/09/26 at 3:57 pm

    I say if you can get a discount on a roof…by all means get one. That is a-w-e-s-o-m-e.

    But I’d LOVE to see more give-a-ways on your site. Like one a week. It doesn’t have to be a big one, maybe something from Etsy or a small giftcard, or a book, or a homemade CD of your favorite music. I love giveaways….and I think it would get everyone excited.

    My two cents. 🙂

  • JeannieNJ

    2011/09/26 at 4:46 pm

    You know, I am not going to stop reading because your roof shingles were donated. This blog is how you make your living, and getting free stuff is one of the ways you do that. I don’t have a problem with the free stuff, per se. You have a huge readership, and companies like GAF are happy to take advantage of that readership, and your way of promoting the product was creative and funny, and not their typical marketing style, so kudos to both of you.

    I do have a bit of a problem, though, with the implication that you just can’t afford a new roof. Based on what you show us on your blog, that seems like it could hardly be really true. You might have other priorities for your money right now, or prefer to spend your money on something more fun, but I venture to guess that if GAF didn’t come along and provide the materials, you would have been able to swing it. Don’t forget the people out there who need a new roof as badly as you do who have to throw a tarp over it and hope for the best. You don’t have to donate your free shingles to those people, you can choose the ways in which you will be charitable, but don’t fortget those people exist.

    I think sometimes you go too far in trying to related to your readers, like you are just “one of us.” You are obviously pretty comfortable financially as a result of your hard work on this blog and elsewhere, and I wish you would be more frank about that, acknowledge it more than you do. Its okay to have money, to make money from your hard work. You don’t need to pretend that you don’t. Sure there are lots of people in the world richer than you are, but I am guessing you are richer than most of your readers. Own it. Be as honest about that as you are about other things. And maybe I’m wrong, and you really are broke, and if so, I apologize for being presumptuous, but all appearances are to the contrary.

  • sherylwx4

    2011/09/26 at 9:48 pm

    I hope that you decide to give the money that you would have otherwise spent on the roof to people who actually need it like the Womens charity that you work for, or the thousands of homes flattened in Joplin Mo by the tornados this past summer- most of those people couldn’t even afford insurance and now they have no homes, no roof, and no jobs since the town was annialated…. There are people in need out there. I’m sorry, your not in NEED. You just didn’t WANT to pay for it…
    I’m all about hard work and being able to take care of your family thur that hard work. Your family is VERY blessed and taking an offer like that without paying it forward seems….selfish.

  • cory212

    2011/09/27 at 6:38 am

    Heather, I do not agree with those blasting you for not using your money to help tornado victims, etc. You do plenty of great work to help those in need, there is no doubt about that. But the tenor of this blog has changed and I count myself among those who is starting to be turned off. The constant “this project brought to you by…” stories have taken you from a mom like us to a corporate entity. The greatest thing about your blog was our ability to relate to you. You were one of us and you made us laugh even during the most difficult times. You made us think about issues ranging from depression to dog vomit to gay marriage. You recommended low cost, cool, funky products to give as gifts to others or ourselves. You put together outfits (again, at a low cost)and linked us up so we could buy them ourselves. Now we read about all your high priced projects that some corporation somewhere helps to fund. It’s a turn off and we can’t relate.

    You’re a great writer and you are to be commended for building into the successful business it has become. But you’re losing your dooceness. Lately this place sounds more like Armstrong Inc.

  • jc31780

    2011/09/27 at 9:54 am

    I’m pretty sure you’re not going to lose any sleep over it, so I debated leaving a comment. But I decided that it was worth letting you know that you’ve lost this reader too. It’s hard to put my finger on what, exactly, bothers me so much about this post. is it the asking for free stuff? Kind of – but that’s not really it. Like another person pointed out, what this actually is is advertising for that company. they know you have a lot of readers so it’s just a different way to spend their advertising dollars. I think it’s the feigned tone of poverty – as if you truly couldn’t afford to replace your roof, and so this is how you had to do it. When you live in a mansion decorated with items that individually cost more than the sum total of all the furniture in my home – which, you also seem to have gotten for free – it’s kind of gross. I used to read this blog as a fellow mom – I’ve read very few parenting related posts lately but I’ve seen a heck of a lot posts about your lifestyle. Which is great – I’m glad you can afford a staff, you can work out two hours a day, you can just call up companies and they give you free designer furniture and a roof you’ll never have to replace. If I could do those things, I probably would. But the bottom line is, this blog has morphed from being relatable, funny, and a good read to out and out bragging. I wish you the best on your travels and your good work with charitable organizations, but I won’t be checking back in to read anymore.

  • Funnygirl78

    2011/09/27 at 9:55 am

    Both shingles videos were nothing short of amazing. I guffawed and enjoyed all of it.

    I have read some of the other comments here and I admittedly feel a little funny about the whole donating deal from GAF, but also want to go all Ron Paul and say “It’s none of my d#$n business”.

  • sherylwx4

    2011/09/27 at 11:27 am

    FunnyGirl78- if it was non of our damn biz, then she shouldn’t have put it out there.
    I suspect you don’t realize that costs of all kinds are passed on….Smart companies like GAF don’t have free advertising, they just pass the cost on to the next person. Like shoplifting, we all pay when someone doesn’t. Nothing is free…..

  • Erica Snooze

    2011/09/27 at 11:30 am

    I know that you getting a free roof has nothing to do with my situation. But it does make your blog a little less enjoyable to read when I’m struggling to pay the electricity bill. You used to be my favorite blogger. 🙁

  • Jet62879

    2011/09/27 at 1:39 pm

    I removed my subscription to the Dooce RSS feed after this but wanted to check back in to see if the comments on this post had finally started reflecting what I felt…and I see they have.

    I will also no longer be reading. I just can’t relate. I’m not sure Heather ever said she got the roof for FREE, but I’d bet she sure as hell got a huge discount for the shameless promotion. And for me that leads to me to my main problem…that I can no longer trust what I’m reading.

    I never know who is behind the writing…Heather or the sponsor. I had always come here to read what Heather had to say, without filters or bias or coercion. And I’m not entirely sure what I’m reading now.

  • Funnygirl78

    2011/09/27 at 6:49 pm

    @sherylwx4 – I suspect you and I do not know each other particularly well so it’s probably best not to assume another person does not understand principles of marketing costs and how they are passed onto various consumers. I remain as I was before which is waffling about feeling funny about the gist of this entire post from Heather as well as wondering if I need to mind my own business- how others mind their business or that of others is entirely up to them.

  • starketcher

    2011/09/27 at 8:21 pm

    Part of me says, if you can get free shingles, do it. But, the other part says, no. I am all for small business; I own one. One that struggles daily in this economy. I like to see a business such as your blog do well. Enough is enough though. Haves vs the Have Nots & I do not like it being rubbed in my face.

    You see, I am getting a new roof too. One that I have to pay to get, shingles and all. I probably could’ve come up with a great gimmick to get my free shingles, but I was too busy trying to keep my head above water & working. You had the means to pay for the roof, but took it anyway. I can’t say I blame you, but I can say I’ve always enjoyed checking in here and reading, but I don’t think I will anymore. Touch=lost.

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.

read more