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.


  1. WOW! That was pretty amazing! I like the way you write!! Although, I have to stay focused! ha! My eldest grand child is very educated and I'm still learning, myself. We never grow too old to learn!

  2. a) you have a BLOG! me too! i will link you on my blog.

    b) i did warn you about the sharp edges of the macbook, but i think there are products to deal with that. go forth and google.

    c) i miss you. i am working hard towards my own macbook so we can video chat.

    d) i am loving maureen.

    e) it's raining here and i thought of how you just wanted to watch the rain come down the mountain, and it didn't rain the entire time you were visiting me. and then i thought about how that's a metaphor for your whole visit.

    f) i love you and i am proud.

  3. Whitney! I enjoyed reading this SO much. Know that I am so very proud of you and all of your accomplishments and that I am praying for you and your journey. Be happy. Enjoy this opportunity. You deserve it. I'll be waiting to go to dinner with you when you return (I'll be sure to save lots of time for the event).