Thursday, January 27, 2011

More photos for Erin...

Session two with Erin on Tuesday. She's getting induced tomorrow! Pray that everything goes smoothly, please!















Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Year

I am happy. There’s no doubt about that. I feel complete, like I am where I’m supposed to be. Besides very few minor annoyances (one in particular being to find a new, more challenging job), I can’t complain.
Kevin and I have been dating for almost a year and a half. It’s weird to think about sometimes … the time has flown by. I hope it doesn’t continue that way, though I’m told it will. Sad.
I’m glad 2011 is here. I think it will be a better year. Not that 2010 was particularly bad. I just think this year will be more memorable and hopefully there will be some fun events occurring! I’ll keep updates of those as they happen…
I know so many people getting ready to bring life into the world, it’s amazing! I’ve gotten the privilege of watching them grow, hear the stories and feel the kicks. And congratulations to my Aunt Trisha, who just had her sixth baby, Grace Isabella.
As with every new year, I make a list of things I’d like to improve or do. Here’s this year’s list.
--Do not miss church. Sometimes, Sundays are my only day with nothing happening and I find myself relaxing or doing things around the house, seeing family, that church gets forgotten. I want to make a more conscious effort to not do this.
--Lose 15 pounds and keep it off. I would feel happier and healthier.
--Run the Lincoln half marathon.
--Play piano more often.
--Learn guitar.
--Pick up new books – don’t just re-read old ones.
--Make a new website for my artwork.
--Learn to knit.
--Scrapbook more often.
--Write more of my book.
--Talk to my siblings more often (spend time with Jacob who lives here and correspond better with Jessica who lives in California).

That’s about all for now. I’m sure I’ll add more to that list as the year progresses.

Much love,
MJ

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Columbine"

“I am a wicket man….But do you know, gentlemen, what was the main point about my wickedness? The whole thing, precisely was, the greatest nastiness precisely lay in my being shamefully conscious every moment, even in moments of the greatest bile, that I was not only a wicked man but was not even an embittered man, that I was simply frightening sparrows in vain, and pleasing myself with it.”
--Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

I remember sitting on the floor in my eighth-grade social studies class at St. John the Baptist School, creating some sort of diagram with information that now escapes my memory, when I heard about the tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. It was April 20, 1999.
It wasn’t easy to hear – or to understand at the time. I don’t know if, before that incident, I had any knowledge of school shootings. To me, it was unfathomable. How would a kid get a gun? I had no access to guns. I would never even have thought of touching a gun even if I did. For me, they were dangerous and scary … objects for adults only. Even today, being an adult, I do not touch guns.
And being in such a small, Catholic school, I couldn’t understand why someone would want to kill their fellow students. Even in high school, there was no person I hated. There were people I would much rather not run into but certainly I never harbored a hatred for a single soul and I didn’t know anyone who did, either.
I don’t remember much about the details at the time it happened. I remember watching things on television that evening and days later. I remember succumbing to the tears, to the sadness. My cousins lived in Littleton. I wondered how it would affect them. They were too young for high school (just a couple of years younger than me) and I didn’t know if they would have attended Columbine but it was a scary thought and it was their community being destroyed as the nation watched it unfold on TV.
The Columbine massacre has always intrigued me for reasons I can’t even explain. I’ve always yearned to understand, to be given reasons why Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold did what they did. On the outside, they appeared normal kids, well-liked by their peers who did well in school. But on the inside it was completely different.
But what could I do? I wasn’t a journalist – I was an eighth-grader, then a highschooler, then a college student. Still, my interest remained.
Over the years, the reports and stories written about Columbine have conflicted. The two killers killed for retribution against being bullied; they were target killers who aimed their barrels at Christians, jocks and minorities; they hated the world. They were part of the Trench Coat Mafia; then they weren’t. They were gay; then they weren’t. The victims were martyrs, then they weren’t, then they were. I wanted to understand the truth.
Recently, I discovered a book by Dave Cullen, a journalist and author who has contributed to Slate.com, Salon.com and the New York Times. He is considered the nation’s foremost authority on the Columbine killers. The book is simply called, “Columbine.” The cover is mostly grey sky with a pre-massacre Columbine pictured drably towards the bottom.
Newsweek said it has “the pacing of an action movie and the complexity of a Shakespearian drama.” The Seattle Times said, “Remarkable…painstakingly reported, well-organized, and compellingly written…For any reader who wants to understand the complicated nature of evil, this book is a masterpiece.”
I am only halfway through the book, but already it has painted a better picture and given me a better understanding of the two high school killers than anything I have ever read. Cullen gives an insight into their minds through journals, sketches, timelines and videos they left behind. There are things I have read that I don’t know that I really wanted to know but it has begun to satisfy the curiosity I have as to why. We’ll probably never completely understand why but through Cullen’s research (including hundreds of interviews with most of the principals, examination of more than 25,000 pages of police evidence, countless hours of video and audio tape, and the extensive work of other journalists), I can at least start to understand … and that’s good enough for me.
Being a journalist myself, the work is astounding and also a way to learn more about journalistic writing.
Even if you are not interested in Columbine but have an interest in police work or research, I would recommend this book. If you, like myself, want to understand the complexities of evil beings, then it is a must read. It’s not gory, it’s not overly graphic but it’s the thought process, the words of the killers from their own journals that really chill my blood.
It also tells the stories of the survivors and the stories of the dead from their families. It’s full of hope and how to move on. I think it will become a popular piece of literature for years to come. Maybe it will be read in classrooms in the future. I think it’s an important part of our American culture and I hope word of it will continue to spread.