Love and Long Underwear

Thank you for visiting Love and Long Underwear: my blog about all types and forms of love in my life. I’m Maggie Doherty and it’s always been my dream in life to be a writer. And for many years I thought this mysteriously world of writing was something elusive that one had to climb into a cave, find a guru and overnight learn a secret handshake, and by morning be a successful writer. One that not only wrote beautifully each and every day of their life, but dressed like a writer (black and lots of silver bracelets, good glasses, something I failed to have during my grade school years), drank coffee and wine or both with other writers. They were in the know. They knew how to write well and read well. And well, I wasn’t one of them. Actually, I read well. I read a lot. Isn’t that what writers are supposed to do too? Read a lot? Learn from great writers? Ok, so I read. A lot. But do I write??

While I haven’t climbed into a cave–I prefer mountains–I’ve lately realized that it’s not the fault of some made up guru or even the fault of my English professors  who didn’t set me on the right path ( I tried blaming them, but I still have this ridiculous student loan to pay off from my private liberal arts education and it’s no good pointing fingers when you’re busy fetching the latest drink order from behind the bar) and that it was high time to buck up and face the facts: I was scared of becoming a writer. All I’ve wanted, since I was little, was to write. In 4th grade I wrote my first book, Jesse Goes to Hollywood, and honestly, I wouldn’t have the guts to tell the 9 year old me that I kinda kicked aside our dream of writing, of creating, of saving the environment with my stories and letters to the President of the United States, that well, um, I’m just a scared person, bound up by fear to really doing what I love, what I’m meant to do, and what truly makes me happy.

I don’t really want to have that conversation with my 9 year old self nor do I want to have it with my current self. Enough of the excuses. Time to buckle down, put the nose to the grindstone, and keep my eye on the prize.

So, this brings us to this lovely page on the blinking screen, at times a blur of tab settings and a stuck comma key (when will some genius produce a computer that’s capable of functioning under a small sea of red wine? I know I can still work hard when a little red wine spills on me…) and how I’m going to focus on writing. And writing about love and long underwear and the stories that make up my life.

And yes, it will also examine my failures in the past and also my hopes for what love looks like in my life. This will include stories about men and sex, of course; and if you do know me, you’d only come to expect that there will be stories about sex. Sorry Mom. And as much as I love men, I’m taken back with my stunning landscape in northwestern Montana. I have a deep, binding and aching love for the mountains–covered in snow so deep that my winter days are filled with powder skiing, of flowing blue rivers that carry me through the wild, and of open spaces–free from traffic, clutter, cities, mass people shuttling on sidewalks, and noise. My soul needs the wild. And it’s this love of the Big Sky country that has driven me to lead my simple mountain life–reading books by campfires on late spring nights, listening to bluegrass music on the 4th of July on the steps of a off-the-beaten-path bar along the North Fork of the Flathead River, gathering with friends on the first day of summer in Glacier National Park to plan a day climbing through the woods and up into the mountains. Love, to me, includes committing to the bond that develops when you open yourself up to a place. And loving your family (at times) and your friends, and the strangers who fall into your life. And really learning to love the men who grace your life.  So, there will be stories about my family (I know they’re thrilled) and my friends and how our relationships evolve in waves–sometimes it’s a big ugly swell that smashes the shoreline and other times, it’s just a ripple across the water, melting softly in the shore.

And long underwear? What’s the connection there? Well, in addition to loving Prairie Home Companion (in my opinion, the best way to spend your Saturday night: food cooking in the kitchen, a glass of wine, and Garrison Keillor’s voice coming in over radio on public broadcast) I also love long underwear. Seriously. I’ve lived in a northern climate my entire life, growing up along the shores of Lake Michigan and now I proudly call Whitefish, Montana home. Both regions are not bikini and flip-flop friendly climes. And I’m certainly not a warm weather person nor a huge fan of wearing swim suits.  Long underwear is a must for any of my adventures in the wild–one needs to wear lots of layers of long underwear for skiing, to wear underneath my whitewater paddling dry-top, and in most of my hiking photos, I’ve got on some old base layer top. It is a necessity. And even a survival factor in a lot of cases. But for a girl who considers dressing up blowing drying her hair and digging out the mascara out of the bottom of a plastic bin that holds various toiletry items, including skin rash cream, my long underwear not only serves a utilitarian purpose, but is a main staple of my wardrobe. I have one black wool shirt that can easily be skied in all day and then I’ll got out for dinner in it. My mother likes to give me the nickname “GG” as in Gear Girl. Yep, I have a problem. And it’s also where my money (which isn’t saying much about my paltry financial situation) is well and best spent. I love, love, love being outside and not only do I work outside but that’s where I play, so I need a lot of gear. Including great long underwear.

All this mountain girl needs in life? I wish it were as simple as love and long underwear, but through my writing, I intend to make that simplicity and beauty and honesty come true. And to make writing a habit again. To discover that there might be many writing gurus in this crazy world–and I hope I’m lucky to connect with a few of them–I might not have to crawl into that cave and learn a handshake but really, find that writer I buried in between writing lesson plans for English classes and hushed the ongoing storyline in my head as I paddle down the North Fork in June. This time, I think I’ll listen.



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