the smell of my desperation has become a stench

The little winter that could

During last year’s mild winter when I overheard people lamenting the lack of snow I had a really hard time not butting into the conversation with a can of Mace. Because the Universe? It is always listening. And it’s like, oh? Really? You want snow? YOU JUST WAIT. Because this winter I’m going to pin you down and shove snow down your maw so hard you that are going to poop ice through Labor Day.

The Universe was so not kidding. In fact, the Universe is Tony Soprano.


It will not stop snowing. It just goes on and on and on, and although we are normally prepared for this kind of weather the city just can’t keep on top of it. So every time I leave the house I make sure my prepared-by-Mormons 72-hour kit is in the back of the car because the snow could swallow the vehicle at any time. However, I think I could quite possibly survive a day or two on all the gum that’s been dropped between the driver’s seat and the middle console, the gum that always slips out of my hand before I can get it from the container to my mouth. And that’s why I don’t ever clean that shit up: apocalypse preparedness.

There’s a merit badge for that skill in the Boy Scouts.

You? You’re going to die. Me? I’ve got gum.

Last Thursday we woke up to the city’s first ice storm in 30 years. Okay, first of all. FIRST OF ALL. The story on the news started with something like, “We haven’t seen ice like this since 1983!” And my first thought was, “Oh! OH! That’s when I had that poster of Michael Jackson in a yellow sweater hanging on my wall! DING DING DING.” But then the idiot news anchor who has no respect for humanity had to be all, “THIRTY YEARS!” and I was like, OH MY GOD 1983 WAS THIRTY YEARS AGO HOLY BOTOX BOOB JOB.

No no no no no no. How can this be? It’s fine to READ about the inevitable march toward death in classical literature. It’s a whole other thing TO LIVE IT.

SECOND. Yes. I’m not digressing. Not today. There is no digressing in apocalypse preparedness. SECOND. I didn’t see this news story until later in the day. I did not see it before I left the house with both girls in the car, before I pulled out of the garage and thought, hm. It’s raining. The temperature finally warmed up enough that it’s raining. That’s the thought I still had at the top of the hill leading down to the first intersection in the neighborhood when suddenly the car started sliding. And gaining speed. And not responding in any way whatsoever to the brakes. And Leta was in the backseat going, “Well, THIS is strange.”

“Strange.” I’m glad that was the word she thought of. Because mine was “gefiltefuck.”

I’m just going to take this opportunity to thank the Universe for noticing all those times I let a car merge into traffic in front of me (it is always listening, remember?) because no cars were crossing that intersection as we slid through it at about 20 mph and turned in a full 360 degree circle. I didn’t want to alarm the girls, so instead of screaming I did my best, “WHEEEEE!” except it was so forced that I sounded like I was trying to cheer for a root canal to win.

I don’t know how I got both kids to school without killing all of us and 400 other people in six different states, but I did it. I got them there. But by the time I returned home so much ice had fallen that I couldn’t get the car back up the hill to my house. In fact, two cars were stuck in the middle of my street blocking access anyway. So I had to park another 50 yards down that street and then attempt to hike up my street on foot. Key word here: ATTEMPT.


Have you ever hiked on a sloping iceskating rink? Yeah, you die. Unless you’ve got gum.

You live in Florida and are envious? The whole endeavor looks a lot like this.

It took me over 45 minutes to walk from my car up the hill to my house, and as I was inching inching inching inching inching, being as careful as I could to remain upright and not suffer a concussion, pretty much doing a spot on interpretation of a robot with hiccups, the woman stranded in one of the stuck cars rolled down her window and shook her head at me.

“WHERE are you GOING?!” she hissed.

Okay. Wait.

Wait a minute.

Was she serious? Had she slipped and hit her head?

Oh, you know. I thought I’d go for a jog! Sure picked a crappy day for that, though. So I think I’m going to stand here on this sloping block of ice and knit some socks. Maybe wander around and hang them on everyone’s mailbox. Blow people’s minds. I’m a fucking ice fairy.

I pointed at my house in the distance and told her I was trying to go home. And she just sat there with her window rolled down shaking her head at me like I was the saddest little ice navigator she had ever seen. And I wanted to go, you know what? I’VE GOT A CAR FULL OF GUM. Come see me when the world ends. Oh right, you’ll be dead.

  • sunnygirlsf

    2013/01/30 at 3:31 pm

    Congrats on making it up the hill! And hmm..where did that lady think you were going? Was she mad you didn’t stop to help her? Pull her to safety?

  • Victoria

    2013/01/30 at 3:37 pm

    Ice is scary stuff. We once had a blizzard in Oklahoma and it traumatized me. 120 degree heat? Piece of cake. Ice? I’m chained to my couch.

    Sidenote: Recently I moved to Oregon and passed through Utah along the way. Ice storms or not, it’s a visually stunning place. I about pissed my pants going down the windy mountain roads but pretty nonetheless!

  • ErinZ

    2013/01/30 at 3:46 pm

    “Because mine was ‘gefiltefuck.'”

    OMG, I died of laughter at my desk, reread the line out loud to my coworker, laughed my second ass off and then promptly skipped the rest of the article to write this to you.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, imma scroll back up and finish this story through the laughter-tears.

  • Janet Donaldson

    2013/01/30 at 3:53 pm

    50 yards?! Ha! I had to leave my car a mile away from my house .. yes, a full mile away .. and then walk up the two steepest hill parts. When I got to the downhill part, another driver offered me a lift – this was just 6″ of bad snow. Last week, when we got a 1/2″ ice layer, no one in my neighborhood moved a car for 24 hours. But I do feel your pain! .. and I will start dropping pieces of gum between my car seats forthwith. I, too, want to survive that pesky zombie apocalypse on the horizon…

  • superdoo

    2013/01/30 at 4:08 pm

    Pro tip: Slick concrete => Walk/drive in the snow, snow has better traction than ice. Yeah it sucks if you aren’t wearing great shoes, but it beats freezing outside shuffling along.

    But yeah, that freezing rain was crazy. I had an SUV riding up my ass on the city wide skating rink, who then flew past me, proceeded to spin out and end up in a snowbank backwards.

    A better person would have stopped to help the guy. I was not a better person that day, and proved it by honking and flipping him off as I slowly rolled by.

  • Tina Beveridge

    2013/01/30 at 4:41 pm

    when I was in high school, I got stuck at a cast party overnight because of freezing rain. Like 3 inches solid ice. Only time my parents were all “co-ed slumber party at age 15? OK because that’s better than DEAD.” Dangerous stuff.

  • Tina Beveridge

    2013/01/30 at 4:44 pm

    oh yeah, and three more words for you. Pulled groin muscle. I hate ice.

  • Heather Favro Binuya

    2013/01/30 at 4:48 pm

    Yeah, I totally had that very same poster, and could also have lived without thinking about the fact that that was THIRTY FREAKING YEARS AGO. Thanks.

  • Jenn

    2013/01/30 at 4:53 pm

    I can’t wait for Post #2… How did you ever collect the girls from school?!

  • Danielle C

    2013/01/30 at 4:54 pm

    I am laughing my ass off, I wish. That is some funny shit there. The video of the girl was icing on the cake.

  • HeatherArmstrong

    2013/01/30 at 4:54 pm

    There is a second part involving me getting back down that hill. A lot of ugly sounds came out of my mouth.

  • Jen Wilson

    2013/01/30 at 5:00 pm

    I would be dying of laughter here, but I was born in 1983 and THANK YOU VERY MUCH for reminding me that I turn 30 in a few months. I’m going to impale myself on one of the giant icicles hanging from my roof.

    I, too, enjoyed the mild winter we had last year. It was fan-fucking-tastic. And I in no way longed for more snow. Green Christmas? YES, PLEASE. This year? This year it snowed exactly TWO MONTHS before “winter” started and the snow did not melt once and I’m quite sure it will last till June. And it’s been -40 more than it has not been -40. Celsius or Fahrenheit? IT’S THE SAME TEMPERATURE.

    I guess the only bonus for me is that Saskatchewan has no hills.

  • Nicole in DC

    2013/01/30 at 5:27 pm

    I want to be hire whomever filmed that video so that I’ll never have to say “damnit I wish I had that on camera” again. Oh, and I also want someone to continuously score my life. It can be the same person. Less payroll.

  • Kristan

    2013/01/30 at 5:28 pm

    That video is PRICELESS!

  • Lauren3

    2013/01/30 at 5:34 pm

    Good lawdy I love you. I’m stealing gefiltefuck.

  • Kathee

    2013/01/30 at 5:59 pm

    Yeah, I did the same thing at the Airport. I was pregnant in 1983 and I remember what it was like to be 8 months pregnant with all that snow and it was NOT ice. That video is awesome!

  • Litenarata

    2013/01/30 at 6:26 pm

    You know how everybody like to roll their eyes at D.C. and Maryland drivers who supposedly suck at driving in the snow and force officials to close schools for tiny amounts of precipitation? THIS IS WHY. We get ice storms like this a lot…ugh.

  • joan v Hall

    2013/01/30 at 6:36 pm


  • HW

    2013/01/30 at 6:51 pm

    OMGosh, the FB video made me laugh so hard I had tears streaming down my face. And to think, I *really* want to move to where there are four seasons and it snows.

  • Janelle Carlson

    2013/01/30 at 7:37 pm

    Hilarious!! So glad you & your girls made it ok, the ice last week was awful! I remember the horrid winter of ’83 – my girlfriend & I did a 360 on Hwy 193 right in front of Hill Air Force Base! :/
    Also stealing gefiltefuck!

  • Dana Marie Vittum

    2013/01/30 at 7:46 pm

    Holy crap. I hate ice. The older I get, the more convinced I am that it’s going to kill me. You’d think I’d move from Minnesota one of these years.

  • Ann

    2013/01/30 at 7:49 pm

    Oh that sweater!! My sister had that poster on her wall as well. I always thought he looked amazing in that color.

  • Jessica

    2013/01/30 at 8:12 pm

    As a former Jew, Gefiltefuck is quite possibly the greatest phrase I have ever heard.

  • Stabbin Robots

    2013/01/30 at 8:18 pm

    ME TOO but in December, so I have awhile to go, I guess.
    I’ve decided to stop aging at 29, so I will celebrate my 29th +1 birthday. Huzzah! Ages with 3’s freak me the fuck out O_o

    Also OMG Ottawa winters don’t sound like the worst anymore.

  • Kimberly

    2013/01/30 at 8:28 pm

    Oh God…..I am laughing to the point of tears. Thank you very much. I needed this. Glad you were safe, as I experienced the same thing going down a hill, doing a 180 with a herd of deer crossing in front of me. And they had the nerve to look annoyed. Best thing I have seen and read all week!

  • Meg H

    2013/01/30 at 9:07 pm

    Yeah, I don’t miss DC right now. (Okay, I lied, I do! So much! But not the driving.) To everyone else, this is the hellish NORMAL cycle : Snow! Pretty snow! Yay! Slightly-above-freezing temperatures at midday. Snow melts. Temperature goes back to freezing immediately. Roads are perfectly slick ice for that evening’s commute through the next morning. This repeats every. single. day. Throw in the frequent ice storms and you’ve got horror.

  • Katie

    2013/01/31 at 6:55 am

    They do suck at driving. If it rains or snows, everyone drives like it’s the friggin apocalypse. It takes forever to get anywhere.

  • Kathleen Salvador

    2013/01/31 at 7:23 am

    i love reading your blog so much. sighh just makes me happy.

  • Jennie

    2013/01/31 at 7:30 am

    Thank you for these hilarious posts. You made my day.

  • Arnebya

    2013/01/31 at 7:50 am

    Huh. I’ve lived in DC alls mah life. I hate how the city shuts down the minute the sky threatens to leak. It’s not that we can’t drive when there’s a bit of sky leakage; it’s that everyone around us sucks hairy ass when it comes to being normal behind the wheel AW SHIT IT’S SNOWING, LET ME DRIVE MO STUPID.

  • Suzanne

    2013/01/31 at 9:31 am

    Hilarious post. I live that some women was mad at you for hiking home!

    Am I the only one the video didn’t play for??

  • Jodie

    2013/01/31 at 10:04 am

    That is the BEST VIDEO EVER. Thank you. 🙂

  • Pandora

    2013/01/31 at 10:51 am

    1983? I had that EXACT SAME MJ POSTER hanging on my wall. I don’t know why, but you just made my day.

  • Jennifer Cafferty

    2013/01/31 at 12:18 pm

    Hilarious! And I mean that in a looking back on it, it was funny kind of way. Because at the time, I’m sure “FML” came out of your mouth regularly. We had the ice crap in Boise too. My husband tried to keep up on clearing the driveway, but at some point, totally gave up. Why bother? Mother nature wins every time. So to get down the driveway, it was similar to surfing. Somewhat maintain balance and enjoy the ride down.

  • Rachel Sea

    2013/01/31 at 4:49 pm

    Ice scares me silly. 10 years ago I fell and broke my leg so badly I didn’t walk for a year. When I was in Seattle during a freak spring blizzard some years ago, I bought a bag of rock salt and tossed handfuls on the sidewalk ahead of me anywhere I had to walk. I’m fairly certain it saved me another broken leg.

  • ~Melissa~

    2013/01/31 at 10:00 pm

    I HAD THAT POSTER, TOO! (It felt caps-worthy.)

  • S A Brown

    2013/02/02 at 1:41 pm

    Living in Minnesota, I immediately forwarded this hysterical article to all relative children(2) & grandkids(5) that live in Arizona & Florida. We have so much salt on our boots here that they are all white boots now. Applies to cars too. Schools NEVER close here. Freezing rains is just impossible to drive on. Thanks It made my day!

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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