This Whitworth Life: Jake McCollough (’18)

On Wednesday, November 29, at 5:30 pm, EL 347 Creative Nonfiction Workshop will host the (mostly) annual This Whitworth Life: Whitworth’s Untold Stories in the HUB MPR. The event brings together students, staff, faculty, alumni, board members, administrators, and other Whitworthians to share some of their true and “untold” stories. The 2017 cast includes Rachel Aldridge, Judy Dehle, Lauren Klepinger, Leroy “Mac” McCall, Quincy McCune, John Sowers, Claire Symons, Raja Tanas, and Logan Veasy.

For a taste of the kinds of stories you’ll hear on November 29, here’s “The Ten-Year-Old Elephant” by EL 347 student Jake McCollough: Jake McCollough is a senior at Whitworth and is majoring in English. Jake enjoys writing fiction and poetry, the following piece is one of his first forays into the creative non-fiction genre. He describes the story as “deeply personal” and expressed that it was “difficult to write due to its sensitive and complicated topic.” Please enjoy Jake Mccullough’s piece, “The Ten-Year-Old Elephant.”

 

The Ten-Year-Old Elephant

            The doorbell rings and I open the door. My aunts, Alex and Vanessa, have come to visit with their respective boyfriends, Brandon and Chima. Behind them is the family elephant, massive, imposing, and glaringly obvious. My family and potential family greet me with squeals, hugs, questions and smiles. We walk into the living room and they smother my mom, their sister, with more hugs. The elephant follows silently behind them, impossibly heavy, its footsteps reverberating years into the past, calling up old wounds and unspoken agreements. The bamboo boards beneath its feet buckle under the weight of ten years of familial estrangement. It strides into the room and stands in the center of my mingling family, directly over the coffee table and the drinks my mother has set out for the visitors.

            The house is soon filled with laughter, but it is merriment tinged with awkwardness, sadness, and separation. They ask if my sister and I are dating anyone, how school and swimming are going, my plans for the future, etc. We make small talk and catch each other up on what has been going on in our lives. Sometimes I forget we are related. Soon, like always, Alex and Vanessa begin reminiscing about when my sister and I were babies and how we would run happily through the house of our maternal grandmother, Lydia (the mother of Alex, Vanessa and my mom), and her husband, Mike. Mike and Lydia’s names are never actually mentioned, but the conversation pauses almost imperceptibly before continuing. We all know who is being referred to. No one says anything, but we all look toward the elephant. We all know it’s there. It trumpets loudly, but only we can hear it.

          After an hour or two its time for the guests to leave. They pack up, leaving behind their hallmark of half eaten food and a forgotten scarf or glove. They promise to come back soon. This usually means months later. As I close the front door, the elephant squeezes past me and out into the night, waving good bye with its trunk. In the silence that follows I can almost here the final series of fights between my parents and grandparents that ended our contact with them, the dreaded conversations about the horrors of alcoholism that followed, and family secrets that I regret ever having to learn. I turn towards the rest of my family. They look just as relieved as I feel that the elephant has left.

            We still have contact with Alex and Vanessa, but we only see them during the holidays or maybe a few times over the summer. We have absolutely no communication with Mike and Lydia. Alcoholism has engulfed them in a tidal wave of wine, sweeping them permanently out of my life. The girls have contact with Mike and Lydia and act like nothing has changed. They are 18 and 20 years younger than my mom, the product of Lydia’s second marriage to Mike. He pays for everything the girls want or need. Money is hard to refuse even if it comes at the price of abuse and watching your parents slowly drown themselves in wine, STIs, and tax evasion. No one talks about the estrangement, but we all know about it. It lives in all of our minds, a permanent reminder of a family torn apart by severe alcoholism and unhealthy family dynamics. The elephant is always present when we come together, we just choose to ignore it the best we can.

CHAPBOOK CONTEST.

Chapbook Poster

Whitworth University is holding a writing contest in which students will submit 10-20 pages of original writing in any genre, or combination of genres. These writers will have the opportunity to compete with other Whitworth students, and submissions will be read by our award-winning guest judge, Amy Leach!

Amy Leach is the Author of Things That Are, and as her work has appeared in Best American Essays, Best American Science and Nature WritingA Public Space, Orion, and The Gettysburg Review, among other journals. Leach holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Iowa and has been recognized with the Whiting Writers’ Award and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Award.

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Submission Guidelines:

Students should submit 10-20 pages of original writing in any genre (or a combination of genres). These entries do not need to be formatted like a chapbook and there are no restrictions on subject matter. Students may enter more than one manuscript if they wish.

Each student entry should include a cover page with their name, manuscript title, phone number, email, and major. The student’s name should not appear anywhere on the manuscript.

The deadline to enter work is 5pm Friday, December 1 at 5pm and entries must be turned into the English front desk.

The first place winner will receive $100, a small print run of their book, and a spot as the featured reader at the annual “Script” reading. The runner up will win $50.

Mindful of the Change

By: Devon Clements

Exploring the traverses of the internal,

Like some long forgotten picaroon.

Delving into the abstractions,

Contrasting like the bloody snow.

One sunset is another, and who am I to stay between?

 

I thought one day perhaps I’d find it.

The search as fickle as our hearts.

Lost in the endless sea of time

Each day we yearn to break our backs,

For the sake of the forgotten dream.

 

As drink is to the alley dweller,

So too does it quench my thirst.

It leaves me yearning ever-after,

I’ve been stumbling since my birth.

 

I didn’t ask for what I’m given,

Never sure of what I’ve got.

The song, methinks is ending,

I only have one more shot.

 

Devon Clements. Class of 2018. English Philosophy major. Missouri. Soccer. Coffee. Historical Fiction. Edward Sharpe. Of Human Bondage. Travel. Moleskine. Pens. Vans. United Kingdom. Trees. Gym. Literature. Sour. Northwest. Theatre. Explore. Skateboard. Run. Cats. Blue. Finished.

A Lesson in the Ambiguous

A short story by: Devon Clements

The sun had set long ago and the city now stirred as a dark and bleary shadow of its former self. The roads were empty, save for the occasional passing car, on some journey of their own and the two men glided through the intersections, guided by the green lights and a mixture equal parts fear and adrenaline. Inside the cab of the 98’ Ford F-150 the tinkling sounds of broken glass rattling against a metallic baseball bat emanated from the floorboard, filling the air with the auditory notion of violence. The driver was focused but looked shaken, his eyes pointed straight ahead never once leaving the road, but perspiration stood out on his forehead magnifying each passing street light. His hands gripped the steering wheel causing his knuckles to stand out, white as marble in the dark space of the truck. Between him and the passenger sat a faded and worn green Jansport backpack, its irregular bumps and angles suggesting its contents had been haphazardly shoved inside. The two didn’t talk, nothing could be heard except the steady and repeated rhythm of tire on wet pavement, the gentle whish whish creating a soundtrack to each of their racing thoughts.

A light ahead caused the driver to start and he motioned to the passenger with a quick nod as he flicked on the turn signal and began to decrease in speed. The gas station and liquor mart parking lot was empty except for a single beat-up Dodge Neon and this satisfied the anxiety of the men as they slid into a parking spot and cut the engine. The break in constant movement gave them a reassuring and removed sensation which neither could pinpoint. The passenger opened the truck door and nimbly hopped out, turning around to make eye contact with the driver before firmly closing it behind him. The driver saw him disappear into the sickeningly illuminated store and then lost sight of him amidst racks of cheap packaged food and oil cans.

He now sat alone in the cab, his hands still unconsciously on the wheel and absently staring at the reflection of bottles caught in the large plexi-glass windows in front of him. After a few minutes the passenger reemerged from inside and jumped back in the cab, a single plastic bag clutched in his left hand. He pulled out a bottle and handed it to the driver as he took one for himself. The iconic gold and maroon lettering sent a wave of nostalgic energy through them both, as they twisted the lids off the triangular glass cylinders of Olde English. The driver took a large swig, the tang of malt liquor coating his mouth, as he started the engine and pulled back onto the street. He glanced to the passenger and breaking their long held silence asked, “Are we gonna make it?” The passenger’s lips curled into a sardonic smile as he turned, a glint of some forgotten youth in his eye, and he answered, “Does anyone?” The road stretched out wide and free before them and the night promised shelter, at least for a few more hours.

Devon Clements. Class of 2018. English Philosophy major. Missouri. Soccer. Coffee. Historical Fiction. Edward Sharpe. Of Human Bondage. Travel. Moleskine. Pens. Vans. United Kingdom. Trees. Gym. Literature. Sour. Northwest. Theatre. Explore. Skateboard. Run. Cats. Blue. Finished.

“Secrets” by Devon Clements (’18)

Enjoy this short story written by one of our contributing writers, Devon Clements. 

His discretion on this mission was of paramount importance. His superiors had stressed that repeatedly during his morning briefing, and as he now silently crept through the shadowed terrace which ran parallel to the exterior of the building on his left he reminded himself once more. He had been given this assignment just less than an hour ago allowing little time for proper mental preparation, leaving him now more than a little concerned over the task that lay ahead. As he continued his silent approach he came to a large wooden enclosure containing only one access point, a gate sitting on rusting and stagnant hinges of a black metal he didn’t recognize. He stopped, considering, and processed his options, “do I scale the fence? Or instead risk the noise of the gate?” which appeared to be unguarded. After much deliberation he decided the risk of being seen atop the barrier was equal if not greater to the known threat of the gate. As one slightly unsteady hand reached toward the latch he heard a rustling off to his right and immediately withdrew his outstretched arm and ducked behind the wooden enclosure. No sooner had he done this that a great roar erupted to his immediate right. The sound of some great and terrible beast echoed throughout the stillness, a cacophony of growls and snaps accompanied by the pawing of dirt. He sunk closer to the ground his heart racing, hoping beyond hope the beast wouldn’t draw attention to unseen enemies and that it would be contained on the opposite side of the adjacent wall. It was then that he noticed the rocks at his feet and with a quick decision he laid down the rough wooden stock of his rifle and scooping a handful of pebbles in his hand, flung the cluster as far as he could to his distant right, hoping to deter the animal. As the sediment clattered into the far side of the partition and the surrounding brush, he heard the great brute dart away towards this new intruder.

Disallowing time for the animal to return he reclaimed the hefty, yet comfortable weight of his firearm and proceeded to unlatch the gate and gently push it inward. It gave an eerie screech as it swung open, but the noise paled in comparison to the recently departed cries of the creature and without hesitation he slipped quietly inside the timber outskirts. He found himself in a large rectangular forested area, bordered on one side by an enormous structure covered in a vast array of windows and doors. The building vanished into the horizon above him and seemed to be constructed of a red stone which he was unfamiliar with. The other three sides of the region were restricted by the same expansive fence from which he had just passed through its tall wooden planks restricting light as well as his vision to the outside world. Standing in the middle of this compound was a strange structure he didn’t recognize, yet that seemed slightly familiar. It was comprised of a pointed apex roof on one end covered with a striped tarpaulin in bright shades of crimson and gold, adjacent to this was a long wooden rod from which dangled some foreign objects which he couldn’t recognize. These alien appendages consisted of long chains wrapped in some form of rubberized coating, dangling near the ground attached together by a board of hardened polymer plastic. He was astounded for he could make no sense of the structure which stood in front of him. He feared that it may be some contraption of imprisonment yet, at the same time he didn’t feel as if they were the tools of some nefarious action.

It was then that he heard them approaching from behind the far perimeter, he knew at once they were his enemies. He couldn’t see anything in the shadowy darkness but instinctively knew that the presence he felt was of a hostile and carnivorous nature. Without a moment’s hesitation he hit the ground with a thud and mechanically drew his weapon into a firing position and began to release rounds in the direction of these new manifestations. Sweat began to pool on the creases of his unblemished brow as he continually fired into the darkness hoping beyond hope that he could vanquish the enemy. He squinted into the darkness hoping to distinguish foliage from menace. His hands began to ache from the coarse, unfinished stock of his weapon which he gripped with his life. After what felt like hours he finally ceased his firing and peered into the darkness, sighing with relief at the lack of movement or sound.

Having overcome the unforeseen enemy he turned his eyes upward towards the open room just below the apex of the canvas covered roof, there his eyes lit upon his goal, the reason for his quest. He wasn’t certain exactly what lay above him just that its material possession was his only mission in life. Having found the object of his desire he stepped towards the structure, only now noticing the looming, jagged cliff wall which he would have to scale in order to reach the room above. The rock face was speckled by multi-colored sediment which stuck out in odd and unnatural angles, affording his small hands crevices which he could easily grip. He began the ascent not pausing to look down or contemplate the immense height he was gaining. Halfway up the rock face his footing failed him and he careened off to the right, as his rifle fell thousands of feet below him he managed to catch himself on a single outstretched shelf. He paused for a moment here, regaining his composure and dedication to the task at hand. He continued the rest of the way without incident his agile frame working his way quickly up the serrated fortification. He was on the cusp of the precipice and beginning to throw himself over the lip and into the connecting room when his eyes once more honed in on his goal. The vague shape of a dazzling cylinder began to appear from the darkness when a thunderous, maternal call echoed through his head and the surrounding environment.

Before he could move the world around him began to disintegrate, changing shape and color and becoming something all too familiar. His combat boots become small canvas tennis shoes, the cliff overhang shifted and began to shrink as did the rest of the infrastructure surrounding him. What at first was unintelligible noise took the form of human language as he heard from above and behind him, streaming from an open window on the now substantially smaller complex which he had noticed earlier, “Lunch Time!”. It was at this moment that the final ties to his world were cut loose and he stepped back, dropping to a grass covered floor. He turned towards the voice and began to walk, briefly stumbling on a long tree branch the bark of which had been rubbed down from excessive handling, which he realized he had dropped earlier. As the boy ran towards the now open door in front of him, eagerly awaiting his sustenance which would most likely come in the form of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, he glanced back once more at the play house structure found in suburban backyards across the country, and for just a moment he glimpsed the last remains of the universe he had created.

 

Devon Clements. Class of 2018. English Philosophy major. Missouri. Soccer. Coffee. Historical Fiction. Edward Sharpe. Of Human Bondage. Travel. Moleskine. Pens. Vans. United Kingdom. Trees. Gym. Literature. Sour. Northwest. Theatre. Explore. Skateboard. Run. Cats. Blue. Finished.

“Respiratory Sinus Arrythmia” by Molly Rupp (’16): A Preview for This Whitworth Life

Please mark your calendar for the 2015 This Whitworth Life: Whitworth’s Untold Stories. The cast includes nine readers who’ll share their stories at 5:30 pm on Wednesday, Dec. 2, in the HUB MPR.

For a taste of what you’ll hear on Dec. 2, check out “Respiratory Sinus Arrythmia” by Molly Rupp (’16).

It’s said that when a choir sings together, their heart rates begin to collectively synchronize, beat lining up with beat, a steady tha-thump, tha-thump resonating within each member, as they inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, at the same pace.

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Each Wednesday night at 7:10, our director pulls us to the edge of the pews, pushes our spines straight and our chins up. Keep it loose, support from down here, don’t close your throat. If you’re doing it correctly, your nose should tickle and your lips vibrate a little when you hum.

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I am the youngest permanent member of the choir by at least two decades, although this season a new girl joined, older than me by just a few years. I’m front row soprano, in the pew that comfortably holds two people. Annie sits next to me, a sassy old lady with swollen ankles, who reluctantly uses a walker and will quietly make snarky asides to me and then cover her mouth with her hand and giggle “oh! I’m so bad.” I teach her how to use her iPhone (which she uses to show me pictures of the creatures, dolls, and hats she knits), and she lets me use her pencil and calls me her “sweet molls.”

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As a choir, we don’t always sound, well, good. Our director taught middle school band for many years, so he’s learned to hide grimaces and frustration with an impressive talent I have yet to master. The altos are always off key, the basses are always behind. None of the sopranos can successfully sing past a g above the staff, although unfortunately several try. Counting, it seems, is entirely too difficult a task, so a lot of improvised rhythms and false starts litter our practices. Only half of us watch the director, turning ritardandos into a herky-jerky struggle to the last note. Sometimes when I glance over to my mother during service as we perform the anthem, I can see her very visibly cringing.

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And yet, every Sunday morning we zip the unbecoming black choir robes over our clothes, pull the white stoles over our heads, adjusting them on others if the long end hanging down the back gets bunched or twisted. We gather in the Celtic Hall for coffee before making what the congregation jokingly calls the “March of the Penguins” into the sanctuary.

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When Joann Snyder, choir and church member for more than 50 years, passed away, we draped her robe and stole over her spot every Sunday for a month.

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At the end of each practice, we form a circle around the communion table for a group prayer, a long list of illnesses, deaths, and grievances, an inevitable side effect of an aging church. And then, before we gather our books and water bottles and purses, a song we’ve sung every Wednesday for the past three years, a song we now all know by heart. No longer segregated by section, we mingle, soprano lilting upwards next to a bass stair-stepping down, as we sing of going in peace, faith, and love, never being afraid and our hearts go tha-thump. tha-thump.

Molly Rupp is a senior English major, with an art minor. She has an alarming affinity for parenthetical asides, strongly advocates for the Oxford Comma, and hopes to one day live in a cabin on the Oregon Coast, surrounded by cats. Notable skills include, but are not limited to: binge watching Netflix, quoting Harry Potter in everyday conversation, embracing awkward social situations, and making killer mac and cheese.

Probably Too Much Personal Information Online: A Year of Blogging

By: Jacob Millay

Believe it or not, science majors are not the only ones who are out in the world experimenting. In fact, I, even as an English major, attempt to complete an experiment at least once a year. One year, I decided to not cut my hair and document it with a picture every day. One month I was vegetarian just to try it out. I went without shampoo for a month just to see if anyone would notice. Sometimes the experiments are massive failures, but I (almost) always learn something through the process. And isn’t that the ultimate goal in an experiment? Not to succeed, but to learn something?

My most recent foray into experimentation, ironically enough, was about blogging. Most writers have almost identical advice for young and beginning writers. They say to write as often as possible. Every day, if you can. Through this mass of writing you will be able to find your own unique voice, streamline the writing process, and learn more about yourself. All of that sounded pretty good to me, so I figured that I would set out on a grand journey to write a blog post every day for a year. If all the good authors recommend something, it has to be good, right? They couldn’t possibly all be wrong, right?

Maybe.

I knew that writing this much wasn’t going to be easy. During the school year I am already writing often for class, so it was going to be a struggle to find the time and the inspiration to write. Often I would lose some sleep in order to stay up to write my daily post. I would grind out at least three hundred words, my tentative goal for each post, and then immediately fall asleep. After a few months, this simply became part of my day. It was an easy routine to fall in to. The real jelly on the toast was that I knew that no one was reading my posts, so I had no expectations to live up to. The world was wide open and beautiful. If I wanted to write a post about how sponges are disgusting and no one should use them to clean anything, I could. And I did. If I wanted to write a blog post without using the space bar, I could. And I did. If I wanted to complain theme parks, I could. And I did.

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Excerpts from Jacob’s experimental blog

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When all assumptions about what I could or couldn’t say were taken away, I thought that I might be drowned in the possibility of all the options. I could write about ANYTHING. But most of the time that means we write about nothing since we now lack the comfort of an assignment sheet to follow. Instead, I would simply sit down and let my mind wander. Some days it would stumble upon a legitimately interesting idea that could be expanded further. Other days, I would mumble to myself about how I hated ginger ale. But the drive of writing daily pushed me further than any other writing assignment ever could.

And it did help me develop a style. Previously, I could clearly see that I was emulating other writers in my own work. It was clear to me that I was trying to be Ray Bradbury or Stephen King or that one cool, trendy blogger on Tumblr who I read once. When you write every day, it is way too much work to emulate someone. You eventually develop this one strange voice that slowly gets stronger and stronger. As I forced myself to write, I was able concentrate my thoughts and see myself on that screen as I wrote. It was a little trail that allowed someone to wander inside my head, if only for a brief moment.

Looking back on it, writing a blog post everyday was pretty exhausting. There were a lot of days where I sat down and felt like I had nothing to say. Nothing was exciting in my life. I had no brash political statements to make. No insight into higher learning. No musical suggestions for my nonexistent readers. Those days were hard. And, frankly, I missed a lot of days because I was tired, busy, or just lazy. So I didn’t reach my goal. Not even close. It was a pretty horrid attempt honestly. I was a football coach sending out their kicker to try to make a seventy-five yard field goal. Against the wind. It was always going to come up short.

That does not mean, however, that I regret doing it. I learned a lot about myself. I certainly would not be writing these blog posts if I didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone originally. And while everyone always talks about how great it is to stretch yourself, they forget that the actual stretching is sometimes pretty painful. But is it worth it? I certainly think so. And the only way you will know is to try it yourself. So go for it. Or don’t. It’s up to you.

 

Jacob Millay (’16)  is an English Education major at Whitworth University. He is a master of consuming, whether that is the newest David Fincher film, the newest Death Cab for Cutie album, or his mother’s spaghetti. He wishes he had any plans for after graduation or for next weekend, but, alas, he has none.

 

Unimaginable Linguistics

By: Devon Clements

The night sky on a clear cool evening, that’s all it takes. Finding yourself alone beneath the swirling inky blackness, but not alone as we perceive it in an empty room or a quiet street, where the immensity of the human machine still bustles on the edge of your perception. The type of alone that reveals itself rarely and only in moments of pure existential thought. That is un-nameable and nears indescribable yet that we all recognize. As your eyes peer above into an unfathomable distance greeted only by the cosmos, the weight of your existence begins to hang heavy upon you. Your individual hopes and dreams, your memories and relationships simultaneously become completely insignificant and of the upmost importance. You are at once completely alone in the universe, yet somehow not lonely. The daily struggles of life fade away as the immensity of the heavens above sedate you with its beauty.

I find my humanity in the sky. I can stand on a plot of earth and witness the celestial magnificence above and be connected to every individual who has come before me. This overwhelming combination of emotion and complex thought highlight one of the great hindrances of humanity: the boundaries of language.

Artist and editor John Koenig has spent years studying etymology in order to produce words for these universal emotions which were previously unnamed. Below is a brief list of some of his words which are already being accepted into the lexicon of today’s vocabulary. I hope you find them as interesting and insightful as I did.

  1. Sonder: The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.
  2. Opia: The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.
  3. Monachopsis: The subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.
  4. Énouement: The bittersweetness of having arrived in the future, seeing how things turn out, but not being able to tell your past self.
  5. Vellichor: The strange wistfulness of used bookshops – filled with thousands of old books you’ll never have time to read, each of which is itself locked in its own era, bound and dated and papered over like an old room the author abandoned years ago, a hidden annex littered with thoughts left just as they were on the day they were captured.
  6. Rubatosis: The unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.
  7. Kenopsia: The eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet.
  8. Mauerbauertraurigkeit: The inexplicable urge to push people away, even close friends who you really like.
  9. Jouska: A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.
  10. Chrysalism: The amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm. Listening to waves of rain pattering against the roof like an argument upstairs, whose muffled words are unintelligible but whose crackling release of built-up tension you understand perfectly.
  11. Vemödalen: The frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist.
  12. Anecdoche: A conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening.
  13. Ellipsism: A sadness that you’ll never be able to know how history will turn out.
  14. Kuebiko: A state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence.
  15. Lachesism: The desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire.
  16. Exulansis: The tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it – whether through envy or pity or simple foreignness, which allows it to drift away from the rest of your life story, until the memory itself feels out of place, almost mythical, wandering restlessly in the fog, no longer even looking for a place to land.
  17. Adronitis: Frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone.
  18. Rückkehrunruhe: The feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness.
  19. Nodus Tollens: The realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore.
  20. Onism: The frustration of being stuck in just one body, which inhabits only one place at a time.
  21. Liberosis: The desire to care less about things. To loosen your grip on your life, to stop glancing behind you every few steps, afraid that someone will snatch it from you before you reach the end zone – rather to hold your life loosely and playfully, like a volleyball, keeping it in the air, with only quick fleeting interventions, bouncing freely in the hands of trusted friends, always in play.
  22. Altschmerz: Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had – the same boring flaws and anxieties that you’ve been gnawing on for years.
  23. Occhiolism: The awareness of the smallness of your perspective.
  24. Heartworm: A relationship or friendship that you can’t get out of your head, which you thought had faded long ago but is still somehow alive and unfinished, like an abandoned campsite whose smoldering embers still have the power to start a forest fire.
  25. Anemoia: Nostalgia for a time you’ve never known. Imagine stepping through the frame into a sepia-tinted haze, where you could sit on the side of the road and watch the locals passing by. Who lived and died before any of us arrived here, who sleep in some of the same houses we do, who look up at the same moon, who breathe the same air, feel the same blood in their veins – and live in a completely different world.

 

All words and definitions created and copyrighted by John Koenig

Visit www.dictionaryofobscuresorrows.com to learn more

Devon Clements. Class of 2018. English Philosophy major. Missouri. Soccer. Coffee. Historical Fiction. Edward Sharpe. Of Human Bondage. Travel. Moleskine. Pens. Vans. United Kingdom. Trees. Gym. Literature. Sour. Northwest. Theatre. Explore. Skateboard. Run. Cats. Blue. Finished.

 

Jacob Realizes That He Has Wasted His Undergraduate Years: A Summer Tale

by Jacob Millay

I, like most avid readers, have a bit of a problem. I tend to overextend myself when it comes to reading plans.

For instance, last summer, I was working forty hours a week, but I figured that I could also get some heavy duty reading done. So… for the three months that I was home… I bought twenty-two books.

Now, maybe someone who is completely dedicated to reading and digesting novels could have conquered that stack which lay dormant in the corner of my room, but I was also faithful in seeing every new summer blockbuster, listening to every Death Cab for Cutie album on repeat, and catching up on the Telltale Games. Oh, and having some semblance of a social life.

However, I was able to find one strange gem in the stack. I found it in the “Buy two, get a third free” pile at Barnes and Nobles. Normally I shop at the quirky, eclectic, local bookstore on the corner as all good English majors do, but this one time I stumbled into the large corporate repository and saw the deal. I wanted two Stephen King books that were also in this section, so I was able to get a random book for free. I thought about it for approximately two seconds and grabbed The Opposite of Loneliness. I wish that I had a grand story about how I felt drawn to the book, but in reality I think I grabbed it simply because there was a pretty girl on the cover. That is just biology at work, baby.

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It took me awhile to actually read this book, but when I did, I was surprised by its story. The Opposite of Loneliness is by Marina Keagan, a student at Yale University. Five days before she was going to graduate, she died in a car accident. This book is a collection of her works that she wrote at school, and it was published posthumously.

Most of the stories and essays focus on youth and relationship, two messages that hit especially close to home for us college-age folk. She comes close to summing up the idea of relationship in her essay, “The Opposite of Loneliness”:  “It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table” (rest of essay found here). Keagan gets at what we at Whitworth love to sum up as “community” when we try to calculate the meaning of our time here. But we really fail with that word.

The book is wonderful and I am very glad that I randomly picked it up, but that is not really the point. It goes beyond that. I felt very touched by these essays and short stories that were contained in this book. And it wasn’t simply the content of the stories. It was the fact that this author was not really that different from me. We were close to the same age and I am now in a similar position of graduating college and moving on to other endeavors. The sense of kinship I felt with this author was unnerving and especially heartbreaking due to her untimely death.

Rather than just being sad though, I came to a realization. Some of the work included in this collection that touched me so were probably written for classes. And that made me think of all the things that I have written for classes during my time here. I thought about the essays on Shakespeare written for Doug that I really gave up on at 2 A.M. I thought about the poetry assignment in Nicole’s Creative Writing class that I turned in after my first draft because I was pretty busy that week. I thought about how I copied twelve copies of postcards and turned them into a literary journal for Thom because I was terrified of having to use a computer to design a book.

I really did not put myself one hundred percent into very many assignments, and that made me incredibly sad. We always think of the future and how at some point we will get some “real” writing done. We will finally start that novel that will change the world. Or we will start that poetry project that will be so avant-garde that no one will like it, but they will respect it. But right now, on this campus, we have the opportunity to pour ourselves into our writings almost every day. We could knock that essay on Beowulf out of the park. Or that short answer essay on the final about Yeats could have some absolute truth contained within it.

If we try to thoroughly create with all of our writing who knows whom we might be influencing?

Jacob Millay (’16)  is an English Education major at Whitworth University. He is a master of consuming, whether that is the newest David Fincher film, the newest Death Cab for Cutie album, or his mother’s spaghetti. He wishes he had any plans for after graduation or for next weekend, but, alas, he has none.

“S’GO BUCS” A This Whitworth Life preview by Izze Ginley (’16)

I flirted with many sports before I found my true love. As a young girl, I itched to play catch or shoot hoops outside whenever possible. But once I picked up a volleyball, I didn’t look back. I set every ball-shaped object in my house. I had “vbgrl23” as my Myspace password. I too often wore volleyball themed sweatshirts, ribbons, and slippers.

I was all in.

Throughout high school I aspired to play at the highest level possible. I made the varsity team as a freshman and played competitively year-round, attending five Junior Olympic Tournaments.

When it came to college, my parents did not even ask if I wanted to compete at the next level. They knew. One recruiting trip led to the next and I quickly realized that playing time was my priority. Multiple coaches told me that Whitworth would give me this opportunity. I looked forward to a starting position all four years of college.

My freshman year was a major adjustment. Despite my hours of effort, I hardly saw the court. Fortunately, I was the back-up to one of our starting defenders, so the coaching staff brought me to every game for those rare emergency subs.

Sophomore year brought even more adversity. Whitworth hired a brand new coach. Another coach meant another shot at getting on the court come game day. This was my chance to prove myself.

At the end of pre-season that year, we were about to embark on our first tournament. That first tournament kicks off our season—line-ups are solidified, chemistry is made, and our training is tested as we compete for the first time together. This trip brings extra excitement because we always travel outside of the region. It feels like a mini vacation on top of the great competition. My sophomore year, the sunny Thousand Oaks, California was our destination–our last glimpse of summer before classes kicked into full gear would include volleyball, palm trees, and beaches. Unfortunately, out of the sixteen of us, only twelve players can go. That year, I was sure that I would make the roster.

At the end of the last practice before the tournament, coach asked six of us to meet her in her office. Three including myself played defense, while the other three played offense.

My heart dropped. In my head I quickly calculated my chances. Four of us were not going. I thought she would only take one of us defenders. My face flushed.

The walk over to coach’s office felt longer and sweatier than ever. Coach first called four of us in, three on offense and myself on defense. My stomach churned. Before we even sat down, I knew I wasn’t going.

Coach said we had potential, but we didn’t make the cut. She also said something about how sorry she was that the budget was too scant to allow us to go.

My legs burned for another chance. Just one more drill, one more scrimmage to prove that I made a difference, but there was nothing I could do. My heart broke. My identity was shattered. I had failed. I was not good enough.

After reflecting while my team was gone, I gained a new perspective. Although I was devastated, my drive to play was renewed, but for different reasons. I decided to play for the people standing next to me, not for myself. Their success became my success; their failure, mine.

I learned what it takes to be a part of team: the only way to succeed after failure is to put others first and give it everything, every day. Instead of seeing my teammates as benchmarks for my own success, I worked to build us as a team by encouraging and supporting them.

This experience changed the path of my volleyball career: I played a supporting role in games my sophomore year, and my junior year I started in every single one. But, more importantly, my failure transformed my approach to teamwork in all aspects of my life. In the classroom, as I tutor, and in my relationships, I strive to put the people I work for and with before everything else.

During my time at Whitworth, I learned how to lose, which taught me how to be a part of a team that wins. Failing taught me how to lead, and showed me that leading can only come from giving. This, for me, defines what it means to be a Buc.

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My name is Elizabeth Ginley, but most people call me “Izze.” I am a junior English Major, completing both the Literature and Writing tracks. I also play for Whitworth’s Women’s Volleyball team. And, I serve as a writing consultant and technical manager at our university’s writing center: The Whitworth Composition Commons. I continually see the lessons that I have learned in athletics as analogies to the rest of my life. This piece attempts to capture the lessons of failure, humility, and teamwork that I have learned during my time at Whitworth, thus far.