Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Am Not Satisfied

6 months ago a 53 year old man entered a Castle Rock area high school and made national news. For whatever reason, he chose Platte Canyon High as his target and took a classroom of students hostage, waving a .40 glock in the air and claiming (falsely, it turned out) to have explosives in his backpack. He ended up letting all but 7 female students go and kept the remaining 7 hostage for several hours, during which time he sexually assaulted them and used them to communicate with officers outside the room.

I won't relate the whole story, as most people have heard the story. He fatally shot Emily Keyes and then shot himself. The police fired 3 shots, 1 to his head and 2 to his shoulder, but it was the self-inflicted GSW that ended up killing him. I'm not sure how much national coverage this is getting, but yesterday the police have made public a previously unreleased report, including the gunman's suicide letter.

I read the letter and had mixed feelings. I went back and forth between sympathy for the pathetic shell of a human being he had become and rage for the abominable crimes he chose to commit for, seemingly, no reason.

It's obvious that he's severely depressed and disturbed. He talked about childhood trauma, and I could relate. He expressed love for his family, sorrow for putting them through difficulties in the wake of "the bad things that are about to happen", and a last wish that they would just get along. It dawned on me that this man was merely human.

On the other hand, the letter is 14 pages long. It's not like this was a last minute thing. He appeared to have wrote it over several days and the letter gave a chilling impression of his steely resolve of will. Also he went on about a Harley dealership that supposedly cheated him on some bike parts and even wrote, "If things go as planned, I will try to make someone at the HD shop pay!". He called and threatened a woman at the dealership several times. Then he wrote her name on a dealership business card and put it into Emily's wallet. Was this supposed to be some bizarre form of retribution? In his entire letter, this man didn't apologize a single time to his victims or their families, or even express regret for what he he did (though he apologized numerous times to his siblings). Is this because things didn't go as planned? Did he mean to do what he did? Did it get out of hand, did he get desperate? What were his intentions?

We learn a little about his intentions from the contents of his backpack, which he threatened contained explosives sufficient to destroy the school. In reality he was carrying a stun gun, knives, rope, duct tape, handcuffs, and a several sexual aides. Sick monster. I'll be harsh about this: if you're miserable and want to kill yourself, fine. It's a selfish thing to do, it's a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but ultimately, everyone else keeps on living, finding closure in their own way. What this man did was so much worse of a tragedy because he took along a young woman who had just begun to live, and traumatized another 6.

It all seems so pointless and confusing. First Columbine, now this? I was surprised by a statement released by Emily's family. They expressed deep appreciation for the way the police handled the situation and praised the 6 young women escaped the classroom that day. Those 6 will have to be very brave, and very strong, and I pray for them and for Emily's family often.

It makes me profoundly sad to face the reality that this is the world we live in. This is the world that I will bring my children into, where individuals have free will to commit violent purposeless acts and very bad things often happen to innocent people. It's hard to find hope in that reality. I don't want to apply a simplistic, sugary, Christiany 'God-is-in-control" sentiment. That's a cliche answer to a cliche question and I'm not satisfied by it.

O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear?
Even cry out to You, “Violence!” and You will not save. Why do You show me
iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before
me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is
powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the
righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.

Habakkuk 1:2-4

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

She Wants To Move

Great Goodness. I'm not meant to sit at a desk for 9 hours a day. I don't think anyone is meant to, but there are those of you who can handle it. I am NOT one of those. I get cabin fever sitting in front of this computer all day long. There's only so long I can play sudoku and check the news before I start to lose it.

Then I get home but somehow doing nothing all day makes you feel exhausted so I never feel like doing anything.

I bought new tennis shoes a few months ago. "I like your shoes", said my friend John. "Thanks, they're trail running shoes" I replied. "Oh, do you trail run?" He said excitedly. HA! I say all the time that I'd rather die than run a mile. It turns out that John wants to start trail running this summer, and I made a deal with him that I would, too. Maybe trail running would be more interesting than running in the city? (Stephen warned me that this would come back to bite me in the butt).

Well, now I've decided that I will start getting up early to go for a run in the mornings (read: drag myself out of warm, comfy bed to walk mostly and work up to running eventually). I just can't bear this endless stillness. Sometimes I dance to the light rail station. If you happen to see some crazy freak girl dancing down 17th street, say hi to me, or maybe give me a dollar.

Monday, March 26, 2007

I'm always posting lame camera phone pictures and saying "I'll have a digital soon, sorry, sorry." (Example: pictures of Moses, below!)

We were gonna buy one for Christmas, rather than do Christmas presents, and we didn't.

Yesterday I told Stephen that I really want to buy one in time for the honeymoon. Stephen pointed out that we don't have money for a camera. I told him we probably wouldn't end up taking pictures if all we brought was a crappy disposable (a true statement). He suggested we borrow my parents digital camera. I countered with the always effective "But..."

"This is the opposite of getting out of debt," he said. "Where do we have $300 just lying around?" While my next point was going to be something along the lines of how quality digital images that capture the sweet memories of our honeymoon and the early romantic days of our marriage being worth the money, I knew he was right and wisely kept my mouth shut.

15 minutes later we were heading out to see if Moses would be into playing frisbee (he was most decidedly NOT), me still feeling dissappointed. Stephen stopped at the mailbox and came back to the car with a handful of envelopes. As we opened them I was more and more amazed and eventually reduced to tears. In 3 cards alone we got 320 dollars, more than enough to cover the camera we ended up buying.

Getting married is a lucrative affair. I told Stephen we should get married more often.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

An old man (Bill, evidently) is sitting, reading a magazine, making strange ol' man noises, and making my entire lobby smell like chai. I don't think it's actually chai- the smell must come from some odd combination of various old-man hygiene products. He is here to deliver food from some deli. he is wearing a blue collar shirt with a very bright red, pink, and silver striped tie.

When he came in, he strode up to my desk and declared in disbelief (in sort of a brooklynish accent), "You're not the same lady!" while removing his ill-adjusted monocles, as if to get a better look at me and ascertain that his statement was accurate.

Though the statement begs clarification, I knew what he meant. Someone always fills in for me when I'm on a break, at lunch, gone, or running the mail room for the unreliable guy whose job it's supposed to be. Tuesday was one of those days and Cindy the Temp filled in for me, and thus the source of Chai-Bill's confusion is revealed.

Anyway, "You're not the same lady!", he said. I thought, "In fact, I am, sir. I am the same lady I have always been and ever will be. I know you're just trying to be friendly, oh man who smells like chai, but I feel compelled to correct you on this point. You must be more specific."

Perhaps a better way to pose his query would have been, "You, most esteemed and lovely receptionist, are dissimilar in every way to the lass I confabulated with, here at this very desk, not 48 hours ago. Pray, sweet gentlewoman, make plain this wonder to me, and pacify this old man's bewilderment, that he may have peace in old age!"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Discipline", pish-posh!

You may notice that I have updated my "What I'm listening to..." item on the sidebar. You may also notice that it is Christina Aguilera's new album. Furthermore, depending on how well you know me, you may notice that this is a strange, even disturbing development.

Take a peek at my music collection and you'll see everything from Metallica to Ella Fitzgerald. I love R&B, hip-hop, hard rock, punk, jazz, and especially the blues. I can even listen to non-twangy country every once in a while (we'll call it folk). But I'm not generally inclined to listen anything that could be qualified as "pop", which most certainly includes Ms. Aguilera.

In fact, I used to hate her. The whole sexed-up, dirty-nasty-naughty-girl image... I just thought she was tacky and provocative for the hell of it. But I've gone and bought her album now, in part because she's changed her image a bit and looks really classy. Mostly, I bought it because I realized that Christina Aguilera might be one of the most incredible female vocalists on the planet.

I told Stephen that she's good for me to listen to in the car. I can't get distracted by singing along because I can't even hope to keep up with her. When I first listened to it I kept rewinding the track to listen to her runs over and over again. She's got a huge range and remarkable control.

I love to listen to it, but every time I end up feeling like "Why can't I do that?!?". Though, I don't really practice. I just sing along with my music in my car and then expect to have the same range, control, and flexibility when I get in front of the mic on Sunday morning. Here's something I've come to admit about myself: I am monumentally lazy. I just want to be good at everything without really having to work at it. I bought a guitar last summer and I could count the number of times I've played it in the last 6 months on one hand- I avoid practice because I suck, I suck because I don't practice, etc. My dad recognizes this trait in me (he should, it exhibited itself through the duration of my youth through academic failure), so for Christmas he's paying for a voice lesson course. But we've been busy with the wedding, so I'm not starting it till' after the honeymoon.

So instead of complaining and feeling like crap for not being good enough to sing what I hear in my mind, I'm going to start practising. I want to develop my skill, not belittle it. Yeah, it sounds great now, but so has every other commitment to some kind of discipline that I've ever made.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Someone said something about a hangover? Sorry to disappoint, but I don't have a funny story about snowboarding hungover. I felt great on Saturday (due to the fact that I'm mostly German, I'm told). In fact, it was the best day I've had all season. At 55 degrees, we didn't need wool or layers or coats. I'm not saying it was bikini weather at Keystone this weekend, but it was gorgeous.

On the sunnier side of the mountain the snow had a wonderful quality... stick with me, you who do not cook: it was like gliding through that delicious mixture of melted butter and granulated sugar that is so necessary for good cookies. On the other side of the mountain, it was like cutting through soft frosting.

Stephen and I, being the wild young party animals that we are, spent the remainder of Saturday celebrating St. Patrick's Day by cleaning, doing the dishes, grocery shopping, bathing Moses, and folding laundry.

An added bonus to the evening- the dryer at Stephen's place is broken because it is at least a half century old and of late has been making an increasingly violent and alarming noise when in use. Conveniently we discovered this after I ran a full load of clothes and linens in the washing machine. (These are presumably still in the washing machine, undried, as it were. Crapalicious.)

Sunday found us at our very last premarital counseling session discussing conflict, sex, and finances. For those of you counting, we're 19 days away from the big day. People keep asking me if I'm excited (That's a stupid question, isn't it?), but for the first time in 5 months of being engaged I'm actually nervous. Getting married is a marvelous, psychotic thing.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A glass of wine, 2 1/2 margaritas, a plate full of Indian food, and an evening of time spent with good friends. I've had a bit too much to drink (read: I'm concentrating really, really hard on hitting the right keys). Going snowboarding early tomorrow morning (in fitting boots and new snobaord- it's supposed to be 55 degrees tomorrow, so no coat). Need to sleep. Talking like Captain Kirk for some reason?

More later.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A guy on the train this morning wouldn't quit staring at me. I guess he thought I was cute. Every time I looked up from my book he would be looking at me, sometimes giving me a sheepish smile. It wasn't so much creepy as it was annoying. It makes it hard to read when dude across the aisle is glancing in my direction every 23 seconds. I almost feel sort of bad for him- he was probably a nice guy that was too shy to start a conversation with a pretty girl. Meanwhile I was trying to make my ring conspicuous.

We both got off at the same stop (convenient) and when we stood up he said quietly, "Have a nice day." I said, "You too" and smiled at him but what I almost said was "I'm at least 4 inches taller than you, pygmy man."

I'm so mature.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Not yet...

This post is dedicated to Melissa and Beth.

Melissa wants a house, a home, that she can make her own. I've been excited for her while she'd shared her thrill at the idea of this dream finally becoming a reality. Recently they found out that her husband's post isn't as certain as they thought, making the purchase of a house very unwise- and they've decided not to do it. My heart was grieved when I read that post.

Everyone has hopes and dreams, things they've clung to for long years. In turn, everyone knows the pain of hope deferred or dreams unfulfilled. This post is about a house, but I'm really talking about that thing your heart desires that you just can't have, or can't have yet. Yet is a tremendous word for just 3 letters.

Beth yearns for a house to own also. I loved the comment she left quoting Deuteronomy 6:10-11. (forgive me, but I love the New King James Version)

So shall it be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers... to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant.

It's easy to see other people in their hour of doubt and be able to realize rationally that their hope isn't gone. When you're a step removed from the intensity of their disappointment, it's easy to look at the whole situation and see that things will be alright (you know, to see the forest AND the trees). I remember when my very serious boyfriend of 3 years broke my heart and left me for someone else, I was devastated. My hopes were for security and safety, and suddenly I felt alone, vulnerable, without a future. My friends and family were removed from the intensity of sadness and loss I felt and assured me time and time again that life would get better and "God's got better things in mind for you". Now, 29 days away from my wedding, it turns out that they were right, though I couldn't perceive it then- I have security, a future, and many things I had settled not to hope for- a man who cherishes me and serves me in love. But I digress. My point is that when you're adrift in the stirred up passions left in the wake of an emotional blow, it's easy to lose sight of hope. But God's plans are not for your destruction, but for your blessing and prosperity. Whether you see it or not, God is really planning something better.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him. ~1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV

I would be amiss if I didn't include the NKJV of this verse. It's so beautiful:

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

A woman who I greatly respect once told me "You're not dreaming big enough. Don't limit God by dreaming so small!".

I want to speak encouragement that you really, truly- you'll look back on this season of waiting and disappointment and be thankful for it. I also want to encourage you to be honest with God. Heartbroken? Angry? Furious? Tell Him. He wants your sincerity. He's a God with emotions and He made us emotional for a reason. Just don't be afraid to dream big-the fulfillment may come unlooked for. Hey, I finally got my car!

Again with the car.

I had a scare on my way home last night. I've been driving instead of taking the train all week because Stephen's out of town and I'm staying at his place to take care of our dog. The train takes me half an hour longer and by the time I'm home, the daylight is gone. No time to play at the park! Last night at the junction of two highways a guy in a huge Chevy cut across 5 lanes of rush-hour traffic so he could make the exit I was taking. Of course, he had to get behind me.

When people are tailgating me, I tap my brakes, and they back off or change lanes. Previously this was done in my behemoth of a car. I will never do this again, certainly not in the veritable shrimp of a vehicle I am now driving (don't misread me- I love the shrimp!!). When I break-checked the guy, he backed up to a respectable distance... then floored it and charged right up to my bumper. I really thought he was going to slam into me. From that point on until we ended up turning different directions, he drove so close behind me that I couldn't see any sunlight through my rear window. All I could see was the hood of this guy's enormous truck and the Chevy logo in the center of his grill. I couldn't even see his face. I never got to see his license plate number. He was driving literally inches from my back bumper. On top of that, I've never driven a car this small- my perspective is way different so low to the ground, and I think that made it scarier.

It was stupid for me to provoke him like that- I should have known he was a manic, he almost caused a pileup when he swerved across the highway to the exit ramp. I yelled a lot of things I don't want to repeat and flipped him off numerous times, but the second I walked in the door of the apartment I broke down and cried on the floor. Meanwhile Moses was trying desperately to figure out what was wrong with me, walking in circles around me, nosing and pawing at me and trying to lick my face- actually, it was Mo that made me feel better. He finally laid down alongside me and submitted to being hugged and cried on for a few minutes. I love my dog.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

My car is a 15 year old SUV with no power steering. Driving it since I was 17 has made me one of those unusual women who knows about cars (at least a little), which is something I'm grateful for, but I just hate that car (and I tell it so). My dad bought it used for the purpose of hauling stuff around, but when I started driving, my parents "gave" it to me (now we're "giving" it to my sister. She's "thrilled").

The thing gets 11 miles per gallon, has a slow leak in two of the tires, and the windshield has been cracked (and continues to crack) since I started driving it. The locks don't work when it's really cold, and last time I filled the tank I had to pry the gas cap open with my ice scraper (it was frozen). I've gotten into the habit of checking ALL the fluids EVERY TIME I get gas, and often have to top off some of the ones that leak. This causes men to offer me help nearly every other time I get gas, because I've got the hood up, which is really nice (seriously, I appreciate it), but it's irritating that men assume I'm not capable of checking my oil myself. I'm not stranded or helpless. I'm sorry, it really is nice. It's rare to see that kind of niceness, I'm just sick of guys in F350's calling me "honey" at the gas station.


Aside from the fact that this car is a huge pain to maintain and drive around, it just doesn't fit my personality, and it's always reminded me of my dad's frugal and practical nature, which seems to say to me "You're not worth the money of a nicer car". Or even "You're not worth the money of a more dependable vehicle." Of course, this is not what my father meant to communicate to me. He merely aimed to instill monetary wisdom in me and to save some money, but as I've never had "nice things" given to me, my car is a painful example of a life which I've often felt doesn't please my dad. To be fair, he blesses me in other ways. I just have a childhood absolutely full of moments where it would have meant the world if he would have bought me a piece of candy at the checkout counter- full of moments where he said "no".

But I've been blessed beyond my imagination recently- I got a new car. Stephen and I could buy the SUV from my parents, or get by with one car, but we found a shiny, sporty little hatchback for a great price, and practically brand new, and decided to buy it. Now I've got a car that with working speakers, power steering, and less than 30 bucks on a tank of gas (I've NEVER spent less than 35 in my LIFE!). Everything in it functions properly. I couldn't be happier!!!

Driving it home from the dealership, I started crying, and I just couldn't stop. In Luke 11 Jesus preaches about "knock, and the door will be opened for you." That if even your earthly father will bless you with good things, how much more your heavenly father? I've never understood this verse. Driving my new car for the first time, I understood the Lord's heart to bless me. In my mind's eye I could see His face, and He looked at me like a father delighted in his daughter, with no trace of reproach. So, it's not just a car. It's the understanding that I am of unfathomable value to the Lord. (and it's 40-60 bucks saved on gas every month!!)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I think my body requires an exorbitant amount of Vitamin D, because nothing impaires my normal functions and makes me miserable like sitting in a windowless, artificially lit office all day, and nothing makes me happy like some good ol' fashioned sunshine.

I sit at the core of the building, by the elevator bank, so I can't see outside during the day. I don't get to leave my desk much, and even then it's just to run to the bathroom or fill my water bottle. I get depressed during the winter, but I've never been more depressed than I have been THIS winter, sitting in this bland lobby in front of this eye-numbing computer. It's hard to find any place sunny downtown during my lunch break this time of year. Our downtown streets, instead of running E-W and N-S, are set diagonally, and the main corridor of downtown (where I work) is just tall building after tall building, casting long shadows over every nice open plaza and courtyard place by the time I'm out for lunch. Downtown Denver feels colder and darker than the rest of the city in the morning and late afternoon, the other two times I'm actually outside. The rare places where the shadows don't fall are often either very crowded or are patrolled by rent-a-cops who don't want squatters or homeless people (including me, apparently) just sitting around enjoying the sun.

I finally found a place today where I think I can sit outside undisturbed, in the sun, on warm marble. If I don't get that hour of solitude, I'm a mess. All the crap I have to deal with during the rest of the day (34 high powered Shell executives, anyone?) doesn't get to me if I've had my daily hit of D.

Thank the Lord for this amazing weather we're having. I'm going to go home to my dog and get some more sun.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Nice Awards

Welcome to the first whenever-I-feel-like-it Nice Awards! We here at Raging, Ranting, etc. always appreciate a reason to quit complaining for a second. Today we'd like to commend a few very special people who excelled recently in the categories of Being Kind To Rachel, Accommodating Rachel, and Complimenting Rachel.

Being Kind to Rachel
Congratulations, Lady in Line Ahead of Me at Whole Foods last night! You saw that I had a 3 sushi rolls and some ginger, compared to your entire cart full of locally grown and organically produced groceries. It totally made my night when you let me go ahead of you in line. I present you with a Nice Award!

Accommodating Rachel
Congratulations, Parking Lot Attendant! I know the sign says "No in and Out", but seeing as how I just paid you 12 dollars for the whole day, I really didn't want to pay another 12 just because I'm leaving for the doctor. You know, I usually take the light rail, the whole reason I drove today was so I could go to the doctor, and I'll be back in 2 hours, I promise!! You were very understanding and you saved me 12 bucks. I present you with a Nice Award!

Honorable Mention: Seth, the mail room guy. Since I went to the doctor this morning, I didn't get to take a lunch, making for a really long afternoon. Seth let me take a break in the afternoon and I bought a Starbucks.

Complimenting Rachel
Congratulations, Gaylene! You complimented my hairstyle/color in the bathroom today, which made me feel really good, especially since I did the color myself. (little known fact: I've got a cosmetology license and used to do hair and waxing.) Also, I feel a little funny when I wear my hair straight and you reassured me that it doesn't look totally unRachelish. I present you with a nice award!

Thanks for tuning in! Be sure to catch the next nice awards whenever someone else is really nice to me.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Those of you who are married, have been married, or are getting married probably have a good idea about how much work it takes to plan a wedding; the details, the forgotten till' the last minute things, the people, the place, etc. And if you have any shred of common sense, you know it's important to know more about your future spouse than their middle name and favorite color.

My friend Mel doesn't think so. Mel's been my best friend since high school, and we've always been polar opposites. She's quiet, I'm loud. She's shy, I'm vehemently opinionated. Mel is typically described as "wise" and "grounded". I've often been described as "flighty", "flaky", and "irresponsible". That's a whole different subject, though. It seems that in the last few months, the tables have turned. I have become the grounded one. Mel is suddenly making the flippant commitments and forgetting everything.

You see, Mel started dating her karate instructor (sensei) about 3 months ago and got engaged to him about 5 weeks ago. This is fast, but not necessarily unreasonable. The problem is that they're getting married on Saturday. 2 days from today. Basically, they've thrown this together in a month and everything is last minute and crazy.

Try to wrap your minds around this: Mel is having a karate themed wedding which will feature a food fight and possibly a paintball game at the reception. I, as a bridesmaid *get to* wear a karate uniform (gi) in the wedding. (She's a bridesmaid in my wedding, but she's not girly, so I knew she would grudgingly buy a dress and wear it. She asked my opinion on the gi thing, and when I told her I wasn't crazy about the idea, she said "Well, I'm not crazy about wearing a dress..." I'm confused about whether this is a valid point or pure neurotic rationale.)

I just got my invitation a little over a week ago. She forgot to invite my parents and asked me to pass along our invitation. (note on the invites: they were going to be teenage mutant ninja turtles but the store was out) It didn't occur to Mel to have a rehearsal till I asked her what time it was at (assume makes an ASS of U and ME).

Stephen commented "Are we going to a wedding or a 4-year-old's birthday party?"

That's really the question of the hour. I honestly don't care that much about the bizarre details (it's just not my style), but I don't see any of her trademark wisdom of maturity in this process. I guess now I know what all my friends and family feel like. But in the end, I love Mel and I know that when marriage turns out to be harder than she thought, she'll need people to support her and not say "I told you" like I know the little devil in me will undoubtedly long to do. Oh, to be right. Oooh, to do the right thing. This will be a long weekend.