Thursday, September 28, 2006

My heart aches today. I have family outside of Castle Rock, fairly near to Bailey. Emily Keyes, the girl who was shot and killed at Platte Canyon High School, in Bailey, was a friend of my cousin. If you don't know about what happened, get out from under your rock and go today to, or any other news source- I can almost guarantee it will be the main headline. This is going to go down in history just like Columbine, which was not long ago nor far from the site of the current tragedy.

53 year old Duane Morrison walked into Platte Canyon High yesterday, dressed like any regular high school student and carrying a backpack that he claimed held a bomb. He entered a classroom on the 2nd floor, lined the kids up against the wall, and hand picked who would stay and who would leave. He selected only girls to remain. He then kept them hostage for 3 hours, apparently sexually assaulted them, and eventually let 4 of them go, one by one. The SWAT team was forced to enter the room because of a mysterious 4 o'clock deadline given by the gunman, along with hearing the remaining 2 hostages screaming. The gunman used Emily as a human sheild and shot her when she tried to get away. Then he shot himself. We come to find out that the only thing in his backpack was a collection of "sexual aides".

What happened in that classroom? Why did it go on for so long? What did the negotiations sound like? What makes a man reach the point of sickness that he would do this? Who would have ever expected this in a small mountain town, at a tiny high school? My heart just breaks for Emily, for her family, for each of those girls that were held against their will, for the school, for the community. It's so close to home- the second time in a decade that something like this has happened in a Denver area school.

This tragedy is unfathomable. I realized- that could have been my cousin. That could have been my sister. It's just too much to think about- I'm so thankful for my loved ones. I'm somber today as the details of this sad situation continue to unfold. Please focus your prayers towards the Keyes family and the other victims.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Shalom, shana tova!

Peace, and a good year! More on that later.

I was directed to dress up today because I'm the receptionist and big-time oil executives from our Calgary office are visiting the Denver HQ. My bosses made a pretty big deal about it. So I, being the happy-to-submit-to-authority type that I am, dressed exactly the same as always (which is very nice and professional, and didn't need to be changed, in my opinion). Anyway, it's usually casual Friday, which means jeans, so I think I did pretty good with my boots and skirt. Then I noticed that instead of slacks and ties, the men on my team are wearing jeans and cotton polos. My BOSS is wearing tennis shoes and jeans and a denim jacket. WHAT?? And I'm wearing a skirt? I SHAVED my LEGS!!! Incidentally, I haven't even SEEN any executives. Whine, whine, whine.

Speaking of whine, I need to go buy some (wine, that is) for Rosh Hashana tomorrow, which segues conveniently into what's been on my mind lately. For me, the High Holy Days are a time to reflect and re-evaluate. It's a time to remember the past and celebrate the future. It's a time that always reminds me God's goodness and grace as I reconcile the ancient traditions of Judaism with the redeeming work that Christ my saviour did on the cross. Instead of spending ten days repenting I spend ten days searching my heart, humbling myself before the Lord and seeking His face. It is a time to be thankful for His provision, His promises, and His mercy. As the new year for legal contracts, it is a time to break old ties that have kept me bound and to forge new Holy agreements.

I just have to remember the grace that is available to me now... this is a constant struggle. I am justified by Christ, and have been set free. I am free indeed! My tendency around this time of year would typically be to focus on my failings, my inadequacies, my insufficiencies. I would resolve to be righteous, to pray more, fast more, give more; as if my strivings could earn merit in the sight of the Almighty! My righteousness is like filthy rags before Him. I've since matured a little and realized how much my merit before God is worth. If he gave me what I deserved, what I earned... But He loves me, HAS loved me since before creation, and continues to love me IN SPITE of my sin and pride and humanity. My hearts deepest desire is to live a pure and righteous life that is pleasing to God, but I am insufficient. Everyone is, but His grace is sufficient for me, and His mercies are new every day. My God is bigger than my sin.

Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxieties; see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV

Ketima Ve-Chatima Tovah! May you be written and sealed for a good year!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

So, since I just turned 21, I needed to obtain one of those mystical "horizontal licenses" that I keep hearing about (I don't know about all ya'll, but in CO you get a vertical license if you're under 21). So I made a little trip down to my friendly not-so-much-in-my-neighborhood-but-really-more-like-way-out-of-my-way DMV. I'll just say now that I arrived at 2:18 and didn't leave till 5:30. Friends, for those of you that are math disinclined, as I am, that's 3 hours and 12 minutes. What more can I say?

But Stephen helpfully pointed out that I don't need to renew at the DMV again for 12 years, so if you space out 192 minutes of wasted life sitting in an uncomfortable chair surrounded by staring children and screaming babies and a loud russian man having a very heated conversation on his phone... anyway, if you space that out over 12 years, it's really quite miniscule. But I just decided I shouldn't whine about it.

The upshot is I had just visited my new favorite guy ever, the chiropractor, so my back felt great. I got to sit next to this older and very interesting guy named Al and we talked about all sorts of random subjects. I'm glad I gave him a chance- at first I was just frustrated because I was obviously reading and had both headphones in (how I love my iPOD nano!!), and he was just chatting away, and I was a tad creeped. But I decided (honestly, just because he was obviously not going to leave me alone to fume in peace) to talk to him, and managed to spend away a good 45 minutes laughing and joking with him. It was a good lesson- I need to not accept my first impression every time. I need to allow room for conversation and encounter. I don't want to shut the world out. I don't want to close myself off.

Another funny thing was a cute little mexican girl who was turned completely around in the chair in front of me, so she was facing me. She just sat and stared and it was really starting to bug me, so I made a face at her. I stuck my tongue out (yes, I am 21. yes, I am really making faces at a 2 year old), and lil' latina giggled and giggled... and something very, very strange happened in me... i giggled back...

"What... what is this strange feeling in my chest?" :::black, shriveled heart beats once:::

"What is this emotion?" :::heart beats again, smile cracks across my face:::

"What is happening to me? NOO! My beautiful, beautiful fury... melting!! My anger... fading, fading! Must...stop... joy.... aaaagggghahahhahahahaha!!"

That little girl really changed my heart. We sat for a good 5 minutes making faces at each other and laughing quietly. I was annoyed that I was having fun, at the DMV, 2 hours and 58 minutes into the ordeal... I was supposed to be indignant!! But I just couldn't help it, and she was having fun, too. Everyone else just kept scowling at her and she kept getting scolded by her obviously exhausted and overwhelmed mother. Lil' Latina was a small spark of happiness in a very shitty afternoon, and I learned that life can happen anywhere, if I'll only be open to it. This is getting really cheesy... :)

Anyway, I'm going to have a brand new horizontal license with a lovely picture of myself with fantastic hair (I actually did it... which is to say... washed it... and tried hard to not touch it) and a sarcastic, irritated smile mailed to me in a few weeks.

I am listening to Jason Mraz- who, don't be fooled by his MTV hits, is a face-meltingly amazing vocalist and guitarist. I think I will go empty the dishwasher and then play the guitar for a while.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I've never thought of myself as tall. I've always seen myself as average height, on account of the "tall gene" being in my family, and most of my aunts, uncles, cousins, both my parents, and one set of grandparents are almost 6 feet tall, or taller. Needless to say, I'm actually a little short in my family. I've never thought much about my height.

That was until I met Stephen's mom, who is hilarious without meaning to be, can comfortably sustain a conversation virtually without external input for at least an hour (very nice when you are too exhausted to utter intelligible sounds but don't want to be rude), and is quite short indeed. I now see where Stephen gets many of the qualities I adore about him, and few that I don't so much. :) I began to wonder how the two of them can conduct a productive verbal exchange, as they both consistently interrupt the other, often to interject completely off-topic subjects and leave the old subject behind in order to discuss this new topic (this pattern repeats itself seamlessly...). Although, I have often marveled at Stephen's ability to come back to something we were discussing or a story he was telling as much as 3 hours ago, and pick it back up where he left off as if no time had passed at all. It must come from growing up talking to his mom (they're really fun together, actually).

ANYWAaAaAaAaAaAaY (speaking of tangents), I was talking about being tall. I felt like some kind of hulking behemoth next to this woman. She's tiny! Not just short, but little. Walking with her and Stephen, I started to develop this mental image of a sweet, petite woman walking in between a normal sized man and a lumbering one eyed giant. People have been telling me for years that I'm tall, and it just never clicked till now.

Walking downtown on my lunch break today (in flat shoes, as usual), I couldn't help but notice that I'm taller than almost all the women I see, as well as a fair number of the men I passed. I, standing in my bare feet, stand a good 6 or 7 inches taller than the average woman, and at least 1 or 2 inches above a lot of men. No wonder women wear heels! They're so short!! (to quote seinfeld: not that there's anything wrong with that!!!)

This new discovery, along with the fact that my boyfriend is only an inch taller than me, is the perfect excuse to never, EVER have to wear heels again. Anyway, put me in 3-inch pumps and I become a lawsuit waiting to happen, clumsily walking about downtown Denver amidst the bustling dwarfish masses (and that's without the inebriation factor... I'm 21 now!). By the way, this chart came from the National Center for Health Statistics. It's REAL except for my addition (in red).

In any case, I certainly view my weight a little differently now. I've always been a little (not much!) heavier than the average woman... but if you take into account the fact that I'm half a foot taller than the average woman, I come out just right.

Birthday Update: I DID receive flowers from my mom (so sweet!!! thank you!), and I got some really fantastic presents that I didn't expect and for which I am very, very grateful. My parents got me an iPOD nano (I could look it up and see the price but I'm afraid to), so now I can "shut the world out completely". My sister got me a gorgeous embossed journal which I'm fond of declaring is "genuINE dead cow", and she did a very pretty still-life sketch of a wine bottle and glass. Stephen got me really nice snowboarding boots which I'm dying to use, and he took me out for a glass (which is to say bottle) of wine. That was after my Dad and I split a little bottle of sake at the restaurant where we ate... I was extra loud and laughy that night, but responsibly so, in my expert opinion.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A quick funny thing:

Go to (it's even linked on the sidebar for your convenience) and type in "french military victories". Hit "I'm Feeling Lucky"..... haha!

Back for a real post later.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Today is my birthday, and it's a gray, misty day here in the Mile High City. From my reception desk on the 17th floor I have a beautiful view of the mountains, silhouetted dark through the fog.

I sent my mom a text message this morning giving her the exact address for my building, in case she needs to know "for some reason", :::cough cough::: balloons, flowers!! :::cough::: I have been pining away for that ostentatious display of affection delivered right to my desk... if there is one day for me to receive that display, it would be today. (I'm a poet, and you didn't even know it).

I love my birthday. I tell everyone, especially on a milestone birthday like today, my 21st. But as the day wears on, I hear more and more variations on a theme: will I be going out and getting tanked? (no, as a matter of fact, I will not) It's a little depressing to me that even my Christian friends assume that getting drunk will be the chief activity of my evening.

Years ago, in high school, my friend Josh told me he would buy me a Corvette for my birthday (a promise which was fulfilled in the form of a hot wheels collector toy), and every year he calls or emails on my birthday and we joke about this corvette. Maybe someday when he's made millions of dollars for some huge mining company, or NASA, or whoever, he'll actually buy me my Vette'.

Tonight, my family is taking me out to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Benihana's, where they cook your food right on the table in front of you, and the cooks always make the same, tired old jokes about how it's their first day. Interestingly, it's a Japanese restaurant, and all the waitresses and hosts are Japanese, but all the cooks are Hispanic guys. Maybe Mexicans make the best Japanese food? Anyway, after that Stephen is going to take me out to get a glass of wine, which I have been looking forward to for weeks. (LOL- the Speedy delivery guy just came in, and it's his birthday too. how fun!)

I feel like answering the phone... "Good Morning, (the company I work for) USA... this is Rachel, and it's my birthday! How can I help you?" I hope I never turn into one of those women who hates her birthday because she's (gasp!) getting gray hairs and wrinkles isn't as thin as she used to be. Maybe I'll feel differently when I experience it myself, but I actually look forward to my first gray hair. I like the idea of getting older. I think I'll love my birthday more every year... there's beauty in every season, and it makes me sad to see women longing for the season which has passed, all the while missing the beauty of the season they are entering.

I'm still waiting for some flowers!!! Any of these would be acceptable:

Does it come with the balloon-patterned vest? That's the best part.

It's "aaaaawww!" inducingly cute.

Come to think of it, this particular display is better suited for valentines day. Stephen could get me the the flowers are I'll get him that sweet red tie to match.

I could probably polish this thing off by 5.

This is Phyllis from The Office, from the Valentines Day episode. If you don't watch The Office, start. Immediately.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

NOVEL: The Glass Castle

I just finished The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls, and I couldn't put it down (this being posted a mere week after finishing my last book). I loved every second of reading it, but I don't think I'm not sure if I would read it again. I probably will, since the book was an impulse buy while I was standing in line at the campus bookstore (I also bought a math textbook- I'd say the novel was a better read), but it's not something I see myself picking up again and again.

Jeannette Walls is a freelance writer and regular columnist for, and
she composed these memoirs- her true life story- upon urging from her husband, also a writer. The book chronicles her transient childhood, living below the poverty line with her drunkard father, artistic and free-spirited mother, and 3 siblings. With as much as she's been through, the conditions she's lived in, and the experiences she's had (many caused directly or indirectly by those who should protect and love), Jeannette tells her story in a surprisingly nonjudgemental, even merciful way, without an ounce of self-pity or bitterness.

Jeannette's father can't keep a job for more than 6 months, and frequently wastes away the families little money on alcohol. On several occasions he puts various members of the family in danger and even tries to push his wife out of a window. But when he's sober, he is charismatic and captivating, an obviously loving father who, in his own way, wants the best for his children. He doesn't provide in practical ways, though, and moves the family from town to town to avoid the law. Jeannette's mother is a flighty artist who doesn't believe in discipline and loves adventure. A few times, she acts responsibly and takes teaching jobs here and there, but on the whole her behavior is selfish and she chooses to sleep and paint while her children go hungry.

It's not so much Jeanneatte's writing talent that makes this book so good- it's an absolutely absorbing story and she tells it with benevolence and humanity. She exemplifies the old cliche about not being able to control your circumstances, only your response. She took what life gave her and made the best of it, and probably wouldn't change her experiences. I got the sense from her written word that she doesn't regret growing up the way she did- it is what it is and she's made for herself what she wanted. The only reason I don't think I would enjoy this so much a second time is because I already know the story- perhaps after several years, I'll pick it up and love it all over again. I powered through the pages of The Glass Castle in about 5 days, and I would definitely recommend it. It was worth the time I spent reading.

On that note, I've felt particularly convicted about the way I spend my time. Stephen and I were talking about feeling spiritually numb, and he suggested that, since I spend so much time reading, maybe I should commit more of that time to reading something that is spiritually enriching. He's right, I should... But I can't find anything that captures my attention the way my favorite works of fiction do. I wish that the bible, or devotionals, or studies, or even Christian fiction would draw me in, but it doesn't. I feel like this is a catch-22. In order to be drawn in, I need to be stirred up to desire spiritual things. In order for that desire to be stirred up, I need to be spending time pursuing spiritual things. A little bit will yield even more. I just have to sacrifice some time to press in and do it, even though it's not entertaining. If I spent a 10th of the time praying as I do just reading for pleasure... I think I would experience a transformation.

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable will of God." Romans 12:2 NKJV

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A pointless post

I'm sitting at my desk eating carrots and sugar snap peas. The phone keeps ringing right when I bite off a chunk of carrot and it's getting a little ridiculous. I feel so healthy this morning- fresh vegetables, yogurt, water ... vanilla latte ... My leftovers for lunch, however, are not so healthy. I made absolutely the best pesto pizza last night with ricotta and mozzarella cheese, chicken, sun dried tomatoes, and zucchini; salad on the side, and Stephen bought red wine. I'm enjoying my healthy morning because Stephen's mom is flying in and tonight he's taking us out to a nice steak resteraunt.

I could be doing something more productive, like studying or reading the news... but I'm not. I'm blogging in between phone calls. Tomorrow I'll try to post a review for the book I just finished, The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls.


I get so busy during the day. It goes from being dead-silent (aside from the nasal, whining voice of Hardball's Chris Matthews and his irate guests, streaming continually through my conciousness from our wall TV), to being completely and totally nuts. The other day I was in the middle of writing an email to someone, and the phone rang. After that it just snowballed; I didn't get back to the email for 45 minutes. I guess I didn't really say anything of consequence today, but hopefully someone more bored than me was entertained ever so briefly by this pointless post.