An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation


Last week I received my contributor’s copy of Cringe: Teenage Diaries, Journals, Notes, Letters, Poems, and Abandoned Rock Operas. My friend, Sarah, put together this compilation of real teenage diary and journal entries, and it is screamingly funny in an OH MY GOD WHY DID NO ONE PUNCH ME IN THE FACE kind of way.

The entry I submitted is from the diary I kept during my freshman year in college, the year before I started taking meds for The Crazy, and there were so many choice excerpts that I had a hard time deciding which one was the most humiliating. Take for instance this entry from February 11, 1994:

It reads:

Ryan called the other night. I sent him a barney valentine card. Satan does live. He gets his vitality in Ryan. Satan himself called at the most vulnerable point of my entire semester yet. And how did Heather do? But of course she prattled to the tyranny of Satan and his servants. Without going into detail, I’ll just relate what I’ve learned: I need to justify myself to no one except me and my Heavenly Father. No one else. The only opinion that counts is that of God. All else is foolish. And Ryan/Satan is just that.

Ryan/Satan was my boyfriend in high school, the first boyfriend I ever had, who broke up with me after three months because, oh, I WAS INSANE? I think he was calling me when I was in college to see if maybe I had grown any alien appendages, like a tree trunk jutting out from my brain, because certainly that was inevitable.

Then there’s this one from February 8, 1994:

It reads:

Tuesday afternoon. But not by much. 12:38pm. I have a few before my daily carnal indulgence — Guiding Light. I think the weather has a lot to do with these complacent feelings I’m experiencing. Is it snow or just albino raindrops? Can’t tell. Okay, about yesterday. First off, I was walking to the computer lab at about 7:30am yesterday when *bum ba bum* the National Anthem began to resound across campus and the flag began to ascend its pole. I was walking with my head down and happened to look up. There were about 20 people out there on the quad that early. Every single one of them stopped dead in his tracks, placed his hand over his heart, faced the flag, and contributed to the silence of the moment. It was a goose-bumping experience — one I could experience no place else. Saluting God’s country at God’s University. Brother Hedengren was discussing the source of “numerous perceptions” in Phil 110. Do we experience these warm fuzzy sensations from God, from Satan, or from ourselves? He then related the story of his nine year old daughter bearing her testimony of Heavenly Father. She lost her rabbit and after a few weeks of fervent prayer, a kid in her class at school showed up with a rabbit he had found for show-and-tell. Her rabbit, no doubt. God lives.

HOLY CRAP. Saluting God’s country at God’s university. If that isn’t the creepiest thing I’ve ever written, right after ALBINO RAINDROPS.

Finally, the one I am most embarrassed over, from February 3, 1994 (that was a particularly bad month for The Crazy):

9:24am Thursday morning. Ooh yeah. I can feel the latent fatigue so eager to rack my body. Calculus is in a half-hour and since I don’t know how to use the table of integrals, I’m not going to waste my time nor my paper. I got about four-five hours of sleep last night — after seeing a movie like that sleep doesn’t come easy. Philadelphia. Homosexuality and aids. Poignant film, must say. Made me reconsider some of my hard-core conservative bias. These homosexuals with aids — yes, they choose the lifestyle, but not the disease. They, too, are human beings with real human emotion and real human moms and dads. One could say, and I probably would have also, that in choosing the lifestyle they choose the disease. But many of them do not have the protective agent of the gospel in their lives. Many of them genuinely don’t know that it’s wrong. How can justice be accounted for in these cases? These people are suffering for their wrong choices, but what if in the first case they don’t know that it’s wrong? How does anyone who is not homosexual know that homosexuals choose to have those tendencies? Yes, it is true that homosexuals can choose not to act on those feelings, but how can they choose the right of a situation they don’t know implicates wrong? Homosexuality isn’t any worse than blatant fornication, is it? Just because heterosexuality is “natural” doesn’t mean that heterosexual promiscuity is justified. Both cases seem equally wrong to me. Karen is coming to Utah on the 28th of this month to stay for a week. I really love Karen. She has been one of my greatest friends. It would hurt me if she was hurt. So many wonder how I can embrace the gospel and return her friendship at the same time. Exactly the way I return all of my other friendships — cliche, I know, but love the friend, not the sin. If we persecute homosexuals, we are Satan’s tools.

No, really. SOMEONE HIT HER. I cannot believe that I actually wrote such bullshit, and this should prove that whenever I make fun of Mormons, I’m just making fun of the Mormon that I was, the ignorant, intolerant, pig-headed adolescent who needed a big one up her pooper.

And because I feel so bad about who that person was, I’m just going to go ahead and link to No on Prop 8. Gay marriage has become such an important issue to me, as it should be an important issue to everyone. It’s a civil rights issue, period. And the only reason anyone wants to deny homosexuals equal rights is a religious one. PERIOD. Your God says it’s a bad thing. But what if my God disagrees? If you take religion out of the equation, THERE IS NO ISSUE. And don’t even get me started on the slippery slope end of the argument, because you know the only reason I’m writing this is because I want to legally marry my dogs. Both of them.

  • My parents still have almost all of my writing I did as a child. Including middle school journals I kept. I’m too embarrassed to read them.

    Thanks for posting that, and about gay rights. As Chris Rock said, “Gay people have every right to be as miserable as everybody else!” (He’s joking, of course.)

  • Courtney

    LOL! Don’t be so hard on yourself. We were all dipshits back then. At least you were questioning everything…something my Southern, conservative father continues to “cringe” at his 34 year old daughter doing.

  • toolazytoscrapbook

    Haha! I am sorry, but these are funny! Makes me wish I kept a diary when I was younger! At the same time- SO glad I didn’t do any such thing because I wouldn’t want my teenage self to come back and haunt me. 🙂
    I think the movie Philadelphia was a big light bulb moment for my little conservative self, too!

    More diary entries, okay? Funny stuff!

  • grace

    Wow. i shredded my journals of shame from “those days” so many years ago. “Cringe” is the only name one could give to a compilation of that kind of writing! LOL

  • Jenn

    Thank-you for being brave enough to share that.

  • Rija

    #11 Kristin: Our country was born on the premise of religious freedom; separation of church and state. You have your religious freedom and faith but that should not be imposed on anyone else. If I chose one rule from each religion in the United States, we could be a country with a ban on coffee, no electricity or cars, women without voting rights and children running helter skelter because use of birth control sends you straight to hell. Where should we draw the line?

  • I threw out most of my journals. Mine weren’t quite as deep as yours–more along the lines of “I think so and so looked at me” or “I hate so and so–she is such a jerk.”

  • Boy, I have some high school diary entries that are cringe-worthy.

    Living in the south (as you once did), the problem I have with all these propositions banning gay marriage and the whole “let the people decide” argument, is that there was a time when, if you had let the people decide, interracial marriages would also have been illegal.

    WTF do the people know anyway.

  • honestly: there is nothing worse than that moment when we re-read our words from our youth & realize “oh my god: i was such a loser!”.

    it only sucks that sometimes we’re normal-adolescent losers and sometimes we’re way over-achieving losers with enough battle scars of embarassment to shame the most adjusted, now-normal loser back into childhood.

    i remember those days. & i’m so glad they’re gone.

  • Katie

    Holy Shit. And I thought MY journal from HS was bad and all it has it crap like, “I like so-and-so.” Very lame. I’m glad you’ve come to your senses because that is some crazy ass shit you wrote.

  • Nancy

    Too funny. Now that you remember how biased you used to be, maybe it will help you to be more tolerant of others who are still taking the journey. I must admit that your descriptions in the past of the morman lifestyle convinced me to put Mormans in the ‘whacky’ category. Recently, though, I have been following the blog of a morman family whose sister and brother-in-law were in a plane crash. The way this large, close-knit family has supported each other and the young children of the crash victims through their faith and love has given me a new appreciation for what they believe in and practice in their daily life. It may not be totally what I suscribe to, but whatever gets you through the day–whether it be meds, faith, support of loved ones, etc

  • I would have punched you in the face, but I am very busy wishing someone had punched me in the face at the same age. At that age, I was studing abroad in Italy (awesome), but looking back on my journals from that year, 10 years later, I can do nothing more than cringe in absolute secondhand embarassment for myself. Bless my heart, I was an arse.

  • Turbo

    Thing I really don’t get about Prop 8 is… why do you care (those that support it)? I understand opposition or support for propositions that affect how much you’ll pay in taxes, etc. but this one? no affect on you. Your perfect little marriage will still be there, just the same. There was an article in the Sacramento Bee the other day and they were talking about the Mormons around here that are giving up their life savings in support. I am sure they will still make it to the space ship behind the comet regardless of people they don’t know get to enjoy the benefits of legal marriage.

    As Heather said, it’s a civil rights issue. So while we’re at it, should we also make their votes only count 3/5ths? make them ride in the front of the bus? squirt them with fire hoses?

  • robinv

    Once again, you are amazing!
    I have kept journals since I was around 13. I have a huge box of humilation and cringe in my basement. I go back every now and then to look at who I was and how I became the me I am today. Pretty eye-opening and oh so funny.

    love the Mormon hair….

  • Louise

    Thanks for sharing that. It reminds me of my college years when I was a plaid skirt wearing, Southern Baptist, young Republican. I wish I could time travel back to those days and tell myself to get off my self-righteous high horse. I agree wholeheartedly to No on Prop. 8. We unfortunately passed something similar in Georgia. It passed with a huge margin. I have a feeling I was the only person in my town who voted no.

  • Okay. You made me cry. Happy?

    It really is as simple as civil rights and taking Religion out of the equation. PERIOD. I *heart* you right now. Your writing makes me smile, makes me cry, makes me laugh. Usually all within the same paragraph. Hey, that kinda rhymes…

  • After reading that – I am glad my mom got kicked out of the Mormon church(for questions some of the beliefs and teachings). Holy Good GOD DAMN, I am happy. Freaks.

  • i think your awesome….. and it was pretty cool that you even shared that with us. hey, don’t feel too bad. we all have narrow (well, most of us) veiws when we are younger and have no idea how this world works (hell, sometimes i still don’t know)- oh yea… can’t BELIEVE your hair was soooo long- beautiful though!!

  • Barstool Babe

    One – I’m so glad I never kept a diary when I was a teenager! Two – I still remember how my mother did not want me to go to a particular Christian university because the daughter of a friend from church went there and “became an atheist!” But that’s what happens when children leave the protection (and control) of their family and become exposed to new ideas — they form their own opinions. For me it was the introduction to science fiction writers like Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov and a (secular) campus full of people who had different experiences from me. My ideas and beliefs are still changing 30 years later from my continuing exposure to different ideas from different people.

  • Don’t worry Heather, pretty much all Christians are crazy. Hey, at least you recognized your craziness and got help

  • Kim

    to post #32: the point is that government isn’t based on religion. make your own opinions and stick to them– even if it means passing judgment in the name of a man from cleverly written bedtime stories.

    and post #28: people like you are terrifyingly ignorant. it makes me sad that you’ll vote. it makes me sad that you’ll open your mouth and senseless dribble will leak out of it and possibly contaminate the minds of other people who may not know better. Being gay is NOT a mental illness and even suggesting that should make you feel stupid.

  • Nicole

    Oh my…those diary entries remind me of myself when I was still a “good christian girl” in high school and part of college…*shudder* As George Carlin put it, “I left the church when I reached the age of reason”.

    What scares me is that there are people out there (some one which have posted comments to this blog entry) who don’t grow out of the awkward, I-know-everything, My God before your God social deformity.

    It’s just sad and annoying.

  • américaine en France

    Wow. That took courage. I’m with you–and #18, and #22….

    Bon courage, Dooce.

  • I was raised conservative Christian as well (Baptist), and, luckily, I did not keep a journal during the most embarrassing years of my UTTER ACCEPTANCE of everything that was being yelled at me from the pulpit.

    The gay marriage issue is the number one reason I became such an “extreme liberal,” as my mom likes to say, in my years since college. Last night in the debate McCain said that education (education? what the hell was he talking about? did I miss something here?) is the civil rights issue of our time, but I have to disagree. I believe it is gay marriage. And I wish some damn politician would out already and say “Gay marriage? OF COURSE I support gay marriage!” Because thirty years from now, I think you’ll be hard pressed to find any politician who doesn’t.

    Which means Joe Biden is going to be mighty embarrassed that he agreed with Sarah Palin at the VP debate. Oh, Joe. It’s okay to be progressive when the rights of human beings are at stake. I promise.

    But. I suppose the problem is marriage itself, which has always been a religious institution. Which means it’s almost impossible to take religion out of the equation. Which means you and I are going to have to sit tight just a little bit longer, I’m afraid.

  • Terp4lifedt

    Having a husband who 6 years ago voted republican, paid his tithing,was sealed in the temple..who meet me..liberal from MA,from a biracial background,grew up that gay was normal. These days my husband votes democratic, to the disappointment to his family( we received the go back to church or else letter from his grandparents) we don’t go to church and would rather raise our son with morals and spirituality that all people should not just be toleranted but loved for who they are. Oh, needless to say he’s not married to the same person he was sealed worries though I don’t think we’ll end up in the same afterlife as her. And I can proudly say my husband and I voted NO on prop 8 in our mail in ballot. My converted mother on the other hand is having moral issues with it…ya,the same women who told me from early on that same sex relationships are normal and two people regardless of sex should be in a committed mother has been brainwashed

  • dani

    The best, most balanced discussion of the real issues surrounding Prop 8 that I’ve seen are at

    If you have a serious interest in this issue, you should read this blog. There’s a lot more to it than the gut-reaction that most experience when the topic is brought up.

  • Lisa

    To # 28. eouio who said:

    Homosexuals should certainly have rights equal to any other human suffering from a mental disorder.

    What century do you live in? Seriously. It’s incredibly offensive that you wrote that as though people suffering from a mental disorder have less rights than those who aren’t, much less that you referred to those born homosexual as a) suffering, and b) suffering from a mental disorder.

    You have every right to practice your faith in the way that suits you best. You have no right to impose your beliefs on anyone else: nor does the government. This country was founded on the principle of separation between church and state, so in truth, this can only be a civil issue.

  • Drew

    #11, #28, and #32: Believing your way is the only way is no reason to rock the boat. You know it’s against the law to introduce any legislation that gives preference to one religious belief over another, right? You know that the separation of church and state applies to every state in the union, right?

    You’re not gay, so you won’t be getting a gay marriage. And you won’t be raising your kids gay, because that’s not how it works. And being gay is no longer a mental disorder, Mr. eouio; welcome to 2008, by the way, it was a nice attempt at a backhanded compliment until you forgot that progress has been made since the 60s. And why are you, #32, afraid to stand up for God and write your own name?

    Why can’t you be content with the knowledge that you are living your life correctly, at least as you understand it? Yes, you need to try to share your love of Jesus with everyone, but deliberately causing or wishing harm on a group of people whose lifestyle you haven’t chosen or don’t agree with is a decidedly un-Christian thing to do.

    Thank you for posting, Heather, I really enjoy your blog and seeing how even when you were 19 the same crazy poet we all know and love was scribbling away.

  • Wow, that was like a flashback of my junior high years when I still feared the Mormon God everyday of my life. Glad that is over! Sadly ,out here in Riverton, most the people I know think just like that. It is enough to make you want to slam your head against the wall after each conversation.

    Thank you for linking to this! I think people need to be reminded that this is a civil rights matter. People also need to realize that this is NOT a Christian nation, nor should it be.

    There is also a web site,, it is a web site for mormons, ex-mormons (me) and the general public to write letters to the head of the LDS Church about their envolvement in Prop 8.

  • Albino raindrops was my favorite part!! Oh you are brave for sharing this. I couldn’t even read (let alone share) my diary entries from high school/college.

    I have many ‘recovering Mormons’ in my family, including my mom. As much as I respect the religion and the great community it provides, I am SO SO SO SO glad that my mom left the church long before I came in to the picture.

  • So interesting isn’t it? Your “enlightened” views at the time are very similar to the interview the church just published with Dallin H. Oaks regarding homosexuality. I guess I should be grateful that they’re moving forward- one painful step at a time (maybe the First Presidency should watch Philedelphia eh? Or maybe, they did an that’s why they’re all “love the sinner hate the sin” an such), but truthfully, it’s just offensive.

    Yay for crazy. To teach us what it means to be sane.

  • Wow! You have courage for keeping the journals from that time period–I threw all of mine out because the cringe factor was so horribly strong.

    I’m a Californian and voting no on 8, I have hopes that it won’t pass but I’ve driven past some homes in my neighborhood that have actually taken the time to make their own, homemade “YES ON 8” signs and this troubles me. That’s dedication to a cause. Makes me wonder who is in the closet.

  • Megan

    The argument that religious people are ignorant, intolerant and close-minded (or was it pig-headed?) is ridiculous. You cover yourself well by saying that you’re only criticizing yourself and not the religious population at large; however, it’s clear to how you feel about religion. Isn’t it hypocritical to be intolerant of religion because religion can be intolerant? Seems to be an argument that goes around and around.

    The elitist perspective that belief in God is narrow-minded or weak-minded isn’t founded. It is pure opinion, as is the religious’ folks perspective that faith and hope and their beliefs gives them the right to vote morally.

    People who vote for homosexual marriage do it because they believe it is the right thing to do. People who vote against homosexual marriage do it because they believe it is the right thing to do. Doesn’t it all come down to beliefs? Whether religious or not?

  • Lisa

    your post was so timely today for me, as I read the ranting and raving letter of my 10 year old daughter this morning that she had written and placed so perfectly into a box of tissues for me to find this morning. So, maybe I’ll just hang onto this little gem so that when she’s 30 or so, I’ll show it to her and we can both laugh!

  • LB

    This is pretty much the best thing ever. No offense, but I am amazed that you seem relatively normal now. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Yay for marriage equality!! THANK YOU for linking to No on Prop 8.

  • Jennifer

    Carnal indulgences??

    Oh I died reading that…I really did.
    These are impressive entries Heather, I love that you shared them. Awesome!!

  • Amy

    Ben #51… YOU ARE FUNNY! 🙂 Yay Canada! Maple Trees… oh my! 🙂

  • I’m happy to see you mentioning Prop 8 here. It’s crazy how much your views have changed since college. You seem like a totally different person, the good kind. 🙂

  • Great picture! I love to read stuff that I wrote when I was younger and sometimes it’s good to see that though through different words your voice is still there (you know different topics or choice or words, meanings but the voice is there)

    Gay marriage – tough one to pass but unfortunately so tight up with religion…

    It would be interesting to write journals entries about it now and see after 30 years or even less what the arguments sound like……probably not very good…

  • Just the exhaustive capitalization of Heavenly Father is enough to chase Bossy from formalized religion.

  • wow. a few observations:

    1. even thought the content was different (read scary as hell) your writing style is so similar it is uncanny. It is like the Heather Bizarro world. I like deprogrammed Heather much better

    2. teen and college diaries are ramblings of the inner insanity and self importance of people that age. the fact that you outed yourself is kind of cool in a what the hell are you thinking sort of way.

    shock value sells so what the hell.

    and yes, your hair was amazing.

  • My friend also had journal entries that were put in this book. Actually she was a roommate of mine in College. She also noted that after she reread her journal entries she realized how bitchy she had been and apologized. Funny how silly and ridiculous we were as adolescents or young adults as we thought of ourselves.

  • Erin

    Your journal entries are classic. Even though I was not a Mormon and did not attend a religious college, there are things I wrote in high school and college that now make me cringe. You never fail to draw the parallels in the universe for us all.

    I loved the pic of you by the way, all that beautiful hair. I can just picture Leta looking at it and then addressing you as Princess Mrs. Daddy’s Wife . . . followed by an adamant request to never cut her hair again.

  • karen

    Heather, at least you knew what “gay” was at that age. My diaries around that time were full of entries trying to explain why I like hugging girls so darn much.

  • Thanks for the No on Prop 8 link.

    One word: Religulous.

    I think you’ve nailed it here.

  • MrsBug

    OMG. That reads like my diary at that time in my life. It is too painful for me to go back and read that stuff, although I’d never throw them out. I swear I wrote with a style that I must have though meant I was the second coming of Virginia Woolf or something. Oh, the embarrassment.

    I too grew up in a very conservative (Assembly of God) home and have had my head cracked open by God so that abortion and gay marriage are no longer the black-n-white issues they were. I actually am pro-choice and pro-gay marriage now. And I’m still a Christian. Some would think that’s matter/anti-matter combo, but truly, it’s not. And they say people can’t change! Ha!

  • Lester Sue

    I saw Mortified in San Francisco a year or so ago and my gut hurt from laughing so much, my soul hurt from recognizing the 80’s angst so much. I’m THRILLED you are a contributor to the book. Thank you for always sharing yourself!!!

  • Loran

    Stopped lurking to write a comment–I love your blog. You are crazy in a good way now–posting teenage diary entries?? whoa. Don’t know if I want to do that or not, but I have plenty of material stashed in the basement…And like many others, love the hair!

    I too have very conservative parents who are wondering where in the hell they went wrong and how did they end up with a damn liberal for a daughter!

  • I must say, all things considered, you had quite beautiful hair at that time of your life.

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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