Wednesday, September 30, 2009

As Promised

I promised a blog of updates, so here I go . . .

1. I am very excited for Whip It to come out on Friday. Ellen Page is the star, and Drew Barrymore is directing. I think the women in my house may be game for getting together to see it. Which would be awesome because I haven't seen anything in theaters since Paper Heart.

2. I very much do not enjoy going to work at 9. I mean, I do it because it is part of the rules, and I'm a rule follower. But just to share, I'm not a fan. I think 10 works much better. But no one asked me. lol.

3. I like to hear from you, dear readers. I want to know what you're thinking, how you're doing, and what you want me to write about. So, you can leave that in comments, send me an email, or facebook it to me. Either way, your thoughts and opinions are important to me. Just know that.

4. I will always be a night owl, no matter what my schedule is.

5. I am still in love with my mac.

6. I am thinking about what happens next (I mean, really I have never stopped thinking about this). If they ask me to stay for another term, at this point, I don't know what I would say. But there are other things on the table now, like grad school and other service work (where I may be able to get some kind of stipend). For a long time, I thought working for TWLOHA would be a destination. I'm learning that it may be just a part of my journey. And I'm okay with that. :)

7. I'm beginning to understand what it means when people say I love you. I've always had a difficult time really knowing what people mean when they say "I love you." Even when I say it to other people. But I am beginning to see that part of it means that there is a piece of themselves that they keep for you and it aches when you're not around.

8. Sticking to a strict budget is difficult and takes a great deal of discipline. I am trying.

9. Florida is still hot. Like NC summer hot. I am not amused or excited. I want fall, the whole shebang of 60-70 degree weather ALL DAY, leaves changing colors, and a countdown to Cornhuskin'. :)

10. The Cocoa B and N is nowhere near as good as the Cary B and N. I kind of want to send the Cary one a letter through snail mail professing my love, but that is a creepy thing to do. So, yeah, I'm not going to. Just sharing.

11. I get to see Rob Bell next week!!! :)

12. I am trying to lean on Jesus. This experience is hard and stretching. Definitely worth it, but I need Jesus to help me with this. So, I am trying to be more open to that, to let myself be vulnerable and have faith. Please pray for me in that.

All for now.

Another blog soon.

Take care of you.

And wherever you are, I hope you have fall and you're loving it. :)

so much love.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Silence Says Love

So, my next blog will be of the update variety.
But for this one, I wanted to share a piece that I wrote in response to a prompt from my Intern Coordinator.
The prompt was: Write about a journey with an uncertain destination.
Here is what I wrote:

Silence Says Love—whitney wilson

The sun is going down, but we will not turn on the lights. I’m afraid if I move, we will lose everything we’ve built in the last hour. I think it’s something like trust, but thinking about what is happening will take me out of the moment. We are sitting on the itchy Sunday School classroom carpet, our legs crossing over one another’s. Our youth group is meeting in the fellowship hall, while the pastor’s voice of urgency cries faintly from the sanctuary. This is more important.

I am holding her hands like she’s hanging off a cliff. In a way, she is, and I beg God to let every piece of hope and strength I have pass through my fingertips to her. It’s too dark now to see the tears that I know are rolling down her cheeks. The person I was a few months ago wouldn’t know how to respond to what she has told me tonight. Jesus is teaching me that those things are not the point—that He has told me to love. I am trying. Tonight will not be the last night she cuts herself. And I can’t make her put down the razors. But I will love her through it.

All the people who have said they would stand by her have gone. She feels alone and judged and angry. I still don’t know what to do, but I listen. I look her in her eyes to let her know I’m with her, and I listen. I hold her hand, and I listen. And I tell her I’m not going anywhere. People always leave her. I will not leave. I will tell a different story. The part of me that thinks that people are objects to be fixed struggles to find words that will revive her. I am unsuccessful, and I try to remember that people want to be heard and loved. Maybe silence will speak louder than any words that I could say. Maybe if I don’t try to fix her like everyone else, she will trust me.

Two weeks later, we sit in my car trying to cut off the world around us: church, youth group, and wondering eyes. She is still angry at them. I am too. I am angry on her behalf because I have chosen to step into this journey with her. We sit, and she says,

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful, but I don’t understand why you care so much.”

“I can’t explain it,” I said, unsure how to describe how love works. “There is something within me that makes me care. I love you. You are important to me. And I want to help you. It just is. I don’t know how to respond any other way.”

There is silence. We are good at silence, but I wish I could give her something to believe in. I tell her a story that is changing my life—not a parable or a piece of Scripture, just something I’ve read about a girl from Florida that is related to her story, and in it, I see love.

A year later, we meet the man who wrote that story that helped save her life. She has come so far in one year. We have built a beautiful friendship since the first time I grabbed her hand and told her I was in this with her. When we became friends, I had no idea I was beginning one of the deepest relationships of my life. And it isn’t over.

Sometimes, she looks at me with this intense stare, remembering, I think, those first few months of our friendship. Once, I asked what she was thinking when she did that, and she told me how much she loves me. She thinks I saved her. But I think she saved me, too.

The end, but not really.

I would love to hear what you think.

Be sure to check back again soon.

so much love.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Long Time Comin'

My name is whitney, and I've decided to write a blog.

If you know me, then this paragraph will be a lot of review, and you may want to just skip to the next one. I'm just going to be a little narcissistic and believe that at some point maybe people who don't know me personally will read my blog. And maybe they will want to know how I started, so logically, they would refer to the first post. So for those unknown readers that I'm hopeful for, here's myself in a nutshell: I graduated from Meredith College, a small women's college in Raleigh, NC, this past May. I majored in English, an accomplishment I am quite proud of since I was never very good at it before. It is amazing what happens when you mix women's college empowerment, Ms. Britt, and a little encouragement together. Anyway, after feeling completely directionless for half the summer, I got an interview for an internship with To Write Love On Her Arms, a non-profit organization based in Cocoa, FL. I've been tuned into this thing for three years, and when I got accepted, it was all that cheesy dream-come-true stuff. I decided I would give it a shot, try to tell a story of hope in a world of brokenness. Now, I'm in Cocoa, and I've just finished the first week of the internship, and I plan on keeping a blog the whole time I'm here and hopefully after. Other important things to know about me:

I am in love with reading, writing, editing, and books--and when people say that publishing is dying it breaks my crooked little heart;

not surprisingly, I read a lot;

I just got a new MacBook thanks to a gracious family that I hope is always a part of my life;

I follow Jesus, and I'm not awesome at it, but I try;

I have had some variation of purple in my hair for three years;

Barnes and Noble, even with its corporate ugliness, calms me down and helps me feel centered;

and I like and ask a lot of questions.

Now onto the regular bloggery things.

The first week of the internship was intense. And that is putting it lightly. Not intense in that running-around-like-a-headless-chicken sense, but in a this-stuff-is-so-heavy-that-it-makes-you-feel-like-you-ran-around-a-football-field-even-though-you-didn't sense. To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) deals with issues of depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. Our week was focused on becoming more educated about these issues and having discussions about community, a part of healing we think brings light into those darknesses. It was good, and I'm still glad I'm here, but I'm tired. Thankfully, today, we slept without alarms. I didn't get up until the afternoon.

On the subject of sleeping till the afternoon (a sure sign of a college student) . . .

It is weird for the reality of school-lessness to sink in. Like, even if I go to grad. school, I will still have a grown-up job paired with that. My life will never look the way I've always known it to look again. That's scary because I don't know (yet) how to live any other way. Obviously, I will learn and adjust. But the transition is hard and sometimes unfortunate.

In happier news, my MacBook is glorious. The only downside is the sharp edge where my arms rest while typing. Dallas, one of my greatest friends, warned me of this. But like I'm learning to live a different kind of life, I will learn to type a different way (or deal with the pain). Let's hope this transition is easier. I have an orange case to put the computer in. Orange makes me think of a great friend I had when I was in high school. I don't think you'd say we are friends anymore, but I like the memories I have when I see that color. Orange is the color of community for me, the color of deep friendship where you hold hands in the midst of hurricanes.

I'm just going to assume you are interested to know where the title for my blog came from. I would certainly be interested in an explanation had I come across it in my reading. If you're not interested, it's okay, you don't have to tell me.

The title is from three books by three writers I admire and respect dearly.

Chiaroscuro is not in the title because I am an artist or because I'm crazy about art. It is there because it is part of a quote in A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. Gemma learns about chiaroscuro in her art class, but she applies it to life later in the story: ". . . in each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. We’re each of us our own chiaroscuro, our own bit of illusion fighting to emerge into something solid, something real. We’ve got to forgive ourselves that. I must remember to forgive myself. Because there is a lot of gray to work with. No one can live in the light all the time." This is something true, and Libba says it well. I live in this contrast, constantly trying to get to something real. Hopefully, this will ring true in this blog.

Fragments comes from David Levithan's The Realm of Possibility. It is a book with twenty different voices from the same high school. When I say it like that, it sounds simple and maybe even fun. But it is so much more. It is hard and hopeful, sad and illuminating. It is one of my favorite books. The quote is from a girl who says, "I often feel I am living in fragments, skipping / over words, leaving the rest of the sentence / blank in order to move on to the next page. / Maybe there is hope in fragments, that what is lost / can always be filled in by someone who knows." I feel like this, like my life is a jumble of fragments, but I love the way this character tries to find hope in that. And this blog will be a compilation of fragments and an attempt to let other people fill in the blanks.

The Great Perhaps comes from John Green's first book Looking for Alaska. They were part of the last words of Francois Rabelais, a poet. The Great Perhaps is believing in having a "more-than-minor life." Near the end of the book, Pudge, the main character, realizes, "it was worth it to leave behind my minor life for grander maybes." And this is what I want to do. Because grander maybes are much better than minor realities. In a way, that's why I'm in Cocoa. Being an intern for TWLOHA is part of my Great Perhaps.

So throughout my journey, I hope to share with you my light and my dark, and my belief in grander maybes, no matter how fragmented they may be.