Day 5 (Sept 19) BE BRIEF

“I stumble upon a random letter…”

Cleaning up after the war has ended, means going through the things of those who passed. It’s not a fun job, but it hurts all the more when you come across something like an unfinished letter. Was Marie (the woman who wrote it) going to express her joy? Her pain? Her goodbye?

All it reads at this point is,

“Dear Andrew,

I write this with my heart truly bursting…”

Closing up her writing desk, and packing up her home hurts when I don’t know if she was to marry Andrew or if Andrew knew she was writing him a letter. I hope her parents in Texas can help this letter, this note, find it’s way to Andrew…if he wasn’t another fatality in the war.

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Day 4: SERIOUS LOSS

I am blessed to say, I haven’t had much loss in my life that didn’t teach me something. My heart grieved, but grew stronger in the process. I’ve had this approach to life longer than I can remember, loss is a part of life. Hatred should not be.

I regret my loss of innocent bliss. I had this image in my mind that my family was perfect, and that everyone’s home life was perfect. We weren’t rich, or without drama, but the love felt overshadowed those defects. As I grew older I saw my friends struggle with the idea of parents getting divorced, drinking, suicide, drug abuse, and self-hatred. I couldn’t seem to conceive the concept of a parent NOT being the support system for their child.

When faced with the hatred in their eyes, residue of the latest bull fight with their mom/dad/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife, I would physically cringe. How could I help? Would they want my help? Do they need my help? Is my help enough? My mind still has trouble coming to terms with those out there who hate so deeply it mars their soul.

How could anyone hate a child? a parent? It broke my heart to discover the truth of the world at large, but although I have loss that innocence I have not lost my faith. Faith in humanity, faith in the survivalist spirit, faith in myself and others. Death is not the worst thing that could happen to a life, hatred is. Death can take you away from the mental, physical, emotional pain that one endures; but, hatred lingers and can breed more hatred and discontent.

Day 3: Writing 101: COMMIT TO A WRITING PRACTICE

For day three I have to write about three songs that are embedded in my soul, and commit to a writing practice. So let me set my alarm on my cell. I am new at this, and I don’t want to over extend myself as a mother, teacher, publisher, editor, and writer (along with being a daughter, sister, friend, and wife), so I will commit to 15 minutes a day at night when the house has gone to sleep. I’ll type as I hear the dryer going and the washer finishing.

SONG ONE: “Lithium” by Evanescence

This song reaches down into the depths of my most darkest moments, when I felt my life was falling apart. It takes me back to where I was at the beginning of my marriage, in the middle of possibly losing my college scholarship, and becoming a mother. I was lost and adrift in so many ways, and I found my anchor in life. I almost caved in to numbness, and I thank God every day I didn’t.

SONG TWO: “This Little Bird” sung by Jewel and her mother

The lyrics tug at my heart and the duet of mother and daughter pulls me into the moments in which I have sung with my mom. She is the one who taught me to have a voice, and not let my shyness incapacitate me. She sings like an angel, and every Sunday I looked forward to church in order to sing alongside her.

SONG THREE: “I’m just a Girl” by No Doubt

One of my first favorite songs on my very first CD. No Doubt’s music altered my perspective on what it was to be female, what it is to be strong. More than ten years later and I still have the album (now downloaded) and I belt it out every chance I get as I clean, shower, or exercise.

Day Two: (Sept 16) A ROOM WITH A VIEW…

The whisper of the grass outside my open window calls to me. I want to feel the blades of grass tickling my tiny toes, and peer into the shadows with that mixture of fear and suspense.

My ten year old self loved that bedroom and its adventures. Although often times my body trapped me in places I didn’t wish to be, you might call it being anti-social, my mind could always take me where I wanted to go. I would escape, but I never needed to escape that bedroom. At night, when the house of eight was finally quiet, this little baby girl would tiptoe to that window and suck in the fresh air. There was no pretense, no suspicion, no derision, and definitely no social pressure in that one perfect spot late at night staring into the darkness.

You would think that I would not want to regress into the past, but at ten years old I had no big worries. I had worries that seemed big, because I had nothing to compare them too. My mother, my foundation on which my present womanhood has been molded to copy, always caught me when I fell. And when she was running around with one of the other, older, kids I had my books, which I would stash underneath that bedroom window.

The world seemed huge, but adventurous. Now, sometimes, the world seems huge but oppressive. I would want my old bedroom view, with the breeze lifting my hair, the cicadas lulling me to sleep, and the darkness hugging me tight. That is my “room with a view.”

Writing 101: Day One: UNLOCK THE MIND

Yes, I realize I am taking the first day of the challenge after five days have passed. For Day One, I’m supposed to freewrite for twenty minutes, and the clock starts now:

Growing up as a Hispanic girl in a border town is hard enough, especially when your mom speaks nothing but Spanish and you want desperately to fit in but you don’t look Hispanic. I don’t even sound Hispanic to some people, maybe its just their judgment of my fair skin and Irish last name. The way I see it, I’m me. And just because I don’t look the same, doesn’t mean I don’t feel the same as everyone who has ever been left out because of something you just cannot change.

Books were my solace, and words were my friends. I was teacher’s pet, bookworm, shy, quiet, mousy, and mostly forgettable growing up. It was easy to get lost being the youngest (and quitetest) of six children in my household. My three sisters are significantly older than me, and my two brothers never got inside my head. I am an enigma in most cases, unless family passes their own opinion for my own.

I cannot even begin to tell you the horrors of growing up in a place where most of the girls had curves, and luscious dark mahogany hair, pouty lips and an attitude, while all the time I was as flat as the wall with straight hair and a plain jane face hidden behind owl frames that swallowed my face. Add this to the fact that everyone, and I do mean everyone, mispronounced my last name! I wanted to be Martinez, or Cruz, or Garcia…no my last name is Dougherty.

Starting a new school year, or dealing with the occasional substitute, was the bane of my childhood existence. They would read roll call and say “Dorthy” or “Dorothy” or the worst one ever by one particular substitute in middle school, “Dorky”! Where in the hell did she get the K sound from Dougherty. Oh there was no shame in mispronouncing, they would smile and completely disregard my meek correction. Some teachers would take my pronunciation “lesson” very seriously, and they won me over every time.

Looking white, sounding white, with an Irish last name was not great at times living in a bilingual community when some meaner bullies thought you didn’t understand the snide comments in Spanish. TIME’S UP!