the smell of my desperation has become a stench

We all know that feeling, and how lucky we are to have it

Because I am a bit tight on space in this new place I routinely have to take the recyclables out to the bin in the driveway the minute we go through them. There just isn’t a corner or cabinet for a recycling container inside the house. In fact, there isn’t enough room for a kitchen table, so I make the girls eat dinner on the floor with their hands tied behind their backs. If they spill a single crumb on the floor they lose a toe. Marlo is down to two on her left foot.

A couple of nights ago after I had killed a spider on the ceiling of the hallway leading to Marlo’s bedroom—a spider that was smaller than a dime but still scared her so badly that I thought it had attacked her two remaining toes—I gathered an empty cereal box and jug of orange juice to take outside to the recycling bin. Only, I took one step out onto the porch and got pelted with an acorn. And then again. I heard something rustling in the tree directly over the driveway, and there was a fucking squirrel sitting there smoking a cigarette and flipping me the bird.

That’s when I threw the empty cereal box at the tree. I am not proud of myself. But I would be if I had hit that bastard.

I turned around, the carton of orange juice still in my hand, and called for Marlo to come to the back door. I didn’t let her out onto the porch because she could have been hit in the face with a perfectly aimed acorn, but I pointed at the tree and said, “You don’t need to be afraid of spiders. We need to mobilize against the squirrels. They are the ones who will tear your face off.”

She looked at me like I was crazy and asked, “Why are you holding that empty jug of orange juice?”

You know that feeling you get as a parent when you find yourself at the end of a really long day, and your kid is not bowing down to all of the insane bullshit you had to pull off so that they don’t die cold and alone, and you just want to go, “Why? Why? Because I am a concerned citizen of humanity who recycles even the tiny plastic cover that I have to peel off of the Trader Joe’s frozen chana masala after I’ve microwaved it just for you—I go out of my way to buy that specific brand and kind of frozen food because you won’t eat anything else, shall we go over that part again? I didn’t think so—and a goddamn squirrel is staked outside my house right now with weapons. If it doesn’t make sense to you that I am standing here with an empty jug of orange juice in my hand you will forgive me. To break it down into simpler terms, I can’t get to the recycling bin and do my duty to this precious world we live in because a tree-dwelling rodent is being a total asshole.”

And instead you pull it together and just say, “Because I wanted you to be very confused.”

We then spent an hour negotiating a peace treaty between each other over a loose tooth that was bleeding so badly she looked like she had bitten that squirrel’s head right off. Normally loose teeth are a battle I do not fight because my kids have been known to stand their ground for, oh, centuries, and I don’t really have a defense when my fingers are right there between someone else’s incisors, someone else who very much does not want my hand inside of their mouth. But this was right before bedtime and I didn’t want her to bleed from that tooth all night and wake up in a murder scene.

I called in Leta for reinforcements because the amount of blood was causing Marlo to be hysterical, and the two of us worked together to calm her down, push the tooth back far enough that whatever weird grip it had on her gum weakened enough that I could then yank it out. Except, it make an awful clicking noise when I did—there was no root whatsoever, it was just stuck up inside her face. That click made her adrenaline spike and my gag reflex go bonkers. Which, when paired with the amount of blood in the bathroom sink at that point made me think, well Jesus fuck, the insane bullshit we pull off every day so that they don’t die cold and alone.


I used to watch TV during natural disasters and would leave it on so that I could get updates as they unfolded, but since I canceled my cable subscription back in March I have to piece together events as best I can online. I am late to say anything about the events in Texas, but I’ve reached out to family and friends who live in Houston and the surrounding areas and luckily they are all safe.

I have been wondering what best I can do to help, and I think the smartest thing is to get more money to the organizations who are already on the ground making a difference. And to nudge us all to do so, I’d like to match any of your donations to the American Red Cross up to $500. Just email me (dooce at dooce dot com) a screenshot of your receipt, and I’ll thank you by first name here for helping us get to that goal. Also, if you know of any organizations who might need supplies immediately, leave a comment with their website/address and I’ll see what I can get shipped from Amazon. I heard this morning that some places need diapers badly, and hell. I’m a mommy blogger. Let’s get some kids some diapers.

As parents and families and friends we all face problems and challenges that are relative in scope and pain and consequence. I just know how incredibly lucky I am to be safe with my own kids who don’t understand why I am standing in the doorway holding an empty jug of orange juice, angry at a squirrel.



  • jawnbc

    2017/08/29 at 2:58 pm

    FYI the Red Cross totally let down Queens after Hurricane Sandy. Took 4 days to get on the ground in the worst hit areas: other groups—including the LDS—were there within 24 hours.

  • Jonathan

    2017/08/29 at 3:05 pm

    My daughter is on your team when it comes to spiders – she’s very much of the “burn the spider, the room, the house, and half the street” method of spider control.

  • Altogirl

    2017/08/29 at 3:32 pm

    I also cut the cable. SlingTV has live news – MSNBC, CNN, etc. and lots of other live channels and on demand. $20 a month, no fees, taxes, or other shit. I also have Netflix, Amazon and Hulu and still pay less than I did for basic extended cable. And I have more channels. Kudos to you for matching donations. This is just like Katrina. I watch for awhile and then have to stop.

  • Kristan

    2017/08/29 at 3:42 pm

    Longtime reader and native Houstonian here. Thank you. I will take you up on the donation matching if my husband’s company doesn’t offer it.

  • Kristan

    2017/08/29 at 3:49 pm

    Oh, for clarity: Are you matching all donations of up to $500 each, or are you matching donations up to a total of $500? Honestly asking because I don’t want to max you out all on my own, I’d rather give others a chance to make their donations go further.

  • Peg White

    2017/08/29 at 4:20 pm

    We gave $ to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy via a link to Mark Zuckerbird and Facebook. Our donation will be matched by Facebook. They have a good rating and I trust them more than I do the Red Cross.

  • lovelylittleshit

    2017/08/30 at 9:43 am

    my summer lesson this year is don’t fuck with spiders. i was bit by a spider smaller than a dime while falling asleep over 16 weeks ago. i woke up to a full body rash, a fever & a bite mark that was turning black. i spent 5 total nights in the hospital with round the clock antibiotics & morphine, was discharged with 10 weeks of weekly wound care appointments & six weeks after that, that mother fucking bite is still not healed. just last night, it started bleeding randomly. soooo. fuck. all. the. spiders. BURN IT ALL DOWN.

  • Fredda

    2017/08/30 at 9:50 am

    You may want to reconsider your recommendation of the Red Cross. There’s an article in Slate that describes their failure in Haiti. They aren’t actually equipped to assist in major disasters.

  • amedame

    2017/08/30 at 12:00 pm

    I sent $25 to the Texas Diaper Bank…anyone that would match that would warm the cockles of my cold blackened heart (and the poor soggy flooded tushies); thanks much for making the donations you have!

  • Heather Armstrong

    2017/08/30 at 1:01 pm

    Consider it done! Thank you for the recommendation.

  • Mar

    2017/08/30 at 1:09 pm

    I can beat you on that. My teenage daughter tried to get out of the car while it was moving – because a tiny spider dropped down on the dash in front of her.

    Oh, did I mention she was driving while this happened? Because she is still perfecting ways to kill me …

  • Kat

    2017/08/30 at 9:57 pm

    These pictures of Marlo! I keep thinking it’s Leta.

  • amedame

    2017/08/31 at 8:14 am

    Very welcome – and yay, thank you!

  • KristenfromMA

    2017/08/31 at 9:41 am

    And they won’t account for the money that they collect or spend. 🙁

  • Janet Donaldson

    2017/09/01 at 7:21 am

    I met Team Rubicon in Gatlinburg when they were here in East Tennessee last December to help with recovery from the wildfires – and my brother-in-law is a team member in Mississippi. A marvelous group, and they partner with Home Depot. I agree, they are amazing with resources! (Retired military volunteers) American Red Cross, unfortunately, turned away many donations to our community, so we found work-arounds to get the people the help they needed. Their volunteers are awesome, but the leadership was not that terrific in how they worked with our people, IMHO.

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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