Journal Entry # 1

Your first journal entry is an introduction from you to me. Begin with a sentence describing anything that is relevant to who you are. An example of this is: "My name is Richard Todd and I am a fourth-generation American of mixed ancestry that grew up in a semi-religious two-parent household in the state of New York." From there, write a few autobiographical paragraphs. Skim your childhood up to present day, including anything that you believe is relevant to the person you are at this point of your life. Remember to be truthful; very few lives are all sunshine and roses with no dark clouds.

My name is Taylor May Woodall and I am an American of mixed-European heritage raised in a middle-class, largely single-parent home in Chicago, Illinois. I am the eldest of three children, born in July of 1987 to David and Susan Woodall. My father is a musician devoted exclusively to his music and my mother an accountant devoted to her children. I was an only child for my early life, a condition that did not last long; my brother, Clifford James, was born when I was four years old. My childhood was fairly normal -- as normal as any, I suppose -- until I was eight. My life until then had been filled with friends and my dreams of growing up to become either a princess or a ballerina.

When I was eight, my sister, Hannah Rose, was born and my life changed. I've never told her before (and I never will), but I can't help but feel that her birth was the beginning of the end of the 'normal' Woodall household. Unable to handle the pressures and responsibilities of his growing family, my father left for what he considered greener pastures: life on the road with his band. A Daddy's Girl until that point, his leaving (I still find it hard to say 'abandonment') was extremely difficult for me, especially as I now had to help my mother more with not only a toddler Cliff, but an infant Hannah. The entirely objective part of my mind wonders how that was drastically different than when my father left for days-at-a-time gigs. The other (emotional) part of me shies away from that line of thought, preferring to remember his presence instead of his absence, the fun family times instead of the arguments between my parents and waking up with my father gone. I still find myself veering between two lines of thought: the first being that we are better off without him and the second that I wished he would come out and sweep me up into his arms the way he used to and that all my worries would melt away.

My schooling has been pretty typical for the most part. I've had teachers that I disliked, teachers I'll swear to the day I die that disliked me, and teachers I've liked. There have been classes where I've known no one and classes where I've known everyone. I received middle-of-the-line grades for the majority of my school career and finally have an explanation for those that were lower than I or my mother would have preferred: I was diagnosed with Ocularmotor Dysfunction last year. OMD is a learning disability where my eyes have difficulty focusing on specific words within lines of text. With some simple exercises that my family has helped with and a bit more time and understanding, I'm doing much better now. Knowing the problem has helped a lot.

Even with my difficulties in school and my single-parent home, my life has been good. I got basically everything I wanted, even things that, thinking about them now, I'm not sure how my mother could have afforded them. I babysat my siblings when needed, but my mom was modeled on Superwoman. There were few things that she asked me to do, and then only when she truly needed the help. She preferred to do everything on her own and be both parents to me and my siblings. I spent the majority of my childhood in a sort of indulged bubble, one that burst without warning last year.

While running an errand similar to thousands before, my mother's car was hit by a drunk driver and she was killed. The driver fled the scene and his lover, a married woman, lied to the police by telling them that the accident was my mother's fault. With her death, her sister came home to Chicago from Las Vegas, Nevada, where she'd been making her home for the past ten years. Single and without any children, my Aunt Zoe had never been in a parenting situation for any true length of time. At least not one where she couldn't give the child back to its' true parents after a set amount of time was finished. I hate to admit it, but I didn't make the adjustment for her -- or us -- any easier. The first day that she was here permanently, I lied to her and went out. Even after she caught me in that one, I did it again and snuck to a frat party, a mistake that I almost paid for with my life. One of the college students had slipped me a date rape drug in my soda and I would have been in real trouble if Aunt Zoe hadn't forced her way in to take me home.

In addition to all of this drama that I had created, my aunt was doing her best to investigate her sister's death in an effort to prove to the insurance company that the accident wasn't my mother's fault and that the family was owed the benefits that my mother had taken out. She was also searching for a job so that she could support her brand new dependants. In the end, her persistence paid off and she not only proved what she knew to be true regardless of police reports but landed a job at the insurance company as an investigator.

Zoe did -- and still does -- as much as she could for us, but she's not Mom. She needs help, especially since she was thrust into a demanding family and an equally demanding and time-consuming job while still reeling from her only sibling's death. Cliff and Hannah did as much as they could, but I just wanted my life back the way it used to be: when I didn't have to overly worry about my siblings (at least not acknowledge the worry aloud) or curb my own after-school activities to watch them. I wanted to be back in my bubble again, where everything as perfect as possible for me and I got almost everything I wanted with barely having to ask for it, let alone work for it. With that thought in mind, I did a few things that shame me to think of them now (although I doubt I'll ever tell anyone this out loud).

The next huge change in my life came from something that affects almost every teenage girl: the first 'adult' love. In my case, it was with a boy named Ryder Downey, whom I met after my best friend started dating my seriously cute neighbor that I'd been interested in. He and his mother moved here after his father's death and we met through my aunt's job. She was investigating a case of vandalism, something that Ryder was convinced was caused by ghosts. The fact that we had both lost parents recently drew us to each other and we soon became inseparable, much to my brother and sister's disgust. We're no longer together, Ryder having moved back to Columbus, Ohio, but I do know that my relationship with him is something I won't forget completely. Not only does a person rarely forget their first love, being with Ryder taught me so many things about myself. Though I admit that some of what I learnt I'd have preferred stayed covered, it was always something that I'd needed to have faced in my life sooner or later.

As for what I learned... I guess I have to say that the good and the bad are wrapped up together. I learned that I'm likely to run than to stay and confront things that I don't like. I learned that it's extremely easy for me to become completely wrapped up in things that I see as important and that makes me miss some of the things that truly are. I also learned that you can't fully make up for anything that you do wrong. You can try, but it's never 100.

The last lesson I learned when I essentially lied to both my aunt and my boyfriend because I wanted to go to a concert instead of having a "family night." I did go and really enjoyed myself. The music was incredible and Kings of Leon is one of my top ten bands. I knew that there'd be consequences for what I'd done, but I also knew that the price would be worth it. The great part of the night ended when I got home and found a note from my aunt's boyfriend telling me that she'd been shot and was in the hospital. It's like everything froze. This growing ache in my stomach battled with an overall numbness and all I could think was that I had to get to the hospital. I wasn't there for Cliff and Hannah when they needed me. I may be even more of an orphan than I already was... Aunt Zoe could have died and I would've been too busy enjoying a concert that I'd lied to go to that I wouldn't have known. Even that feeling wasn't the worst part of that night. The worst part was when I got to the hospital and Hannah told me she hated me. I know she was scared and she didn't really mean it, but at that moment... I felt the same way.

Since then, I guess I've been trying to be the kind of person I want to be. I've made a lot of mistakes -- some of them pretty big ones -- but I'm trying. Well, most of the time. My mom always told me that that was what's important: making the effort. Aunt Zoe says that it's more than half the battle right there. Based on my life so far (reading over this journal entry makes me wonder what type of person I really am and if there's any hope), I have a hell of a battle ahead of me, but I'm ready for it. Maybe I'll win, maybe I'll lose... But I won't know until I fight it.

SD101...SD101

To Be Continued? I originally meant this to be a series of journal entries, but I guess we'll see.

SD101...SD101

As always... Reviews are welcome.