Thursday, November 25, 2010

What are you thankful for?

Well, it’s here again. Thanksgiving. Turkey day. The annual stuff-your-face-with-turkey-and-pumpkin-pie day. So while I’ve got your attention, how about letting me know what you are thankful for on this wonderfully fattening holiday?

Here are some thinks I am thankful for:

• My friends, Tim, Jake, Britney, Noor, all you oldies, but the new ones too: Jena, Ryan, Sara, Amy...everyone.

• My parents, my brother (who just turned 21 last week), my aunts, uncles, cousines, grandparents and everyone else in my crazy, zany family.

• My job, and all my interesting co-workers. I know how lucky I am to have a job in this economy, and the learning never stops. Seriously, I thought I was done with school when I graduated college...(;

• All the teachers that have helped and encouraged me along the way - you’ve taught me well and I appreciate it....

• and the teachers that were less than helpful and left me feeling discouraged - you’ve taught me never to give up when someone says I can’t do something or will never succeed, and how to get along with less than amiable people.

• My pets that keep me young...Calvin is quite the trouble-maker

• Chris, who didn’t let me back out of skydiving. (I was having second thoughts and didn’t want to leave the plane so he just kind of just jumped out, and since he was strapped to me, I had no choice but to go along, lol)

• Jordan, who has taken two amazing skydiving videos for me

• And the rest of the AtmosphAir staff, who has been very helpful and informative with the article I wrote. They are all such a nice and fun group of people.

Basically, I am thankful for everything and everyone in my life. I may not necessarily get along with everyone all the time, but my life is richer because of everyone. Thank you guys for everything!

Now unbotton those jeans a little and enjoy a second piece of pumpkin pie!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rachel Wittrock

Monday, November 22, 2010


Typed up Nov. 15....posted Nov. 22

I’m not sure if skydiving has turned me into a thrill-seeker, or if a part of me is just trying to face my fears and life’s challenges with courage, but I keep finding myself doing nerve-wracking things...such as holding a ball python in my hands. It may have only been a baby ball python, but it was still about a foot and a half long.

It definitely was an interesting sensation, feeling his body writhe and tense on my hand. And I’d like to say I was brave, and in a way I was, but I definitely had to try and force myself to relax on the few times he actually turned his head around and faced me.

As long as it was facing away or to the side, it could writhe and wiggle all it wanted and I was perfectly calm and able to pet it, but the moment it turned around and faced me with those beady eyes, and went hissss with his tongue, good Lord did I tense up like a spy in disguise at a nemesis convention.

And the nice PetSmart employee was ever so reassuring, letting me know that the ball python is a constrictor snake, using its body to squeaze its prety before devouring it. But it was OK, I needn’t worry as the snake was winding itself around my fingers - if the snake was going to try constricting on my hand it would be darting in and biting me first.

That made me feel SO much better and reassured. (;

And then for some reason Rey’s voice entered my mind, going “they can sense your fear....”

As much as I don’t like taking advice from him, I had to admit defeat in that instance. So like I said, I forced myself to take those deep breathes, calm down and ignore that primal fear that said this [little] creature wants to eat me.

Hard to imagine what is next for me. In the past five months I have gone skydiving (four times), rapelled 13 stories down the Hilton Hotel in Madison, asked a guy out [and got rejected...again] and held a ball phython. It might not seem like a big deal, but for me, facing two of my biggest fears, it was earthshattering.

On a playful side note, I'm typing this as I watch Toy Story 3. And Calvin, my kitty, is watching it with me. I’m totally not kidding, he is sitting next to me on the couch, staring intently as Andy’s toys try to escape the garbage man. Silly kitty.

P.S. Lotso is quite the meanie considering he’s an overstuffed pink teddy bear who smells like strawberries.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hypocrisy in Government

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Sound familiar? Oh how rote those words are. They were so hard to memorize when I was little, yet now I can recall them at a moment’s notice. Those words, those 11 words, though few, carry a giant load. One nation. Under God. Indivisible. With liberty and justice for all.

But what does it really mean? How will we ever be able to know? We’ve traveled so far away from that path over the years, that it is hard to imagine the meaning and the sentiment that our Founding Fathers first put forth when penning that Declaration of Independence, and later, when Louis Bowman amended Francis Bellamy’s “Pledge of Allegiance” to include the words under God.

We’ve traveled so far, in fact, that we have taken pains to separate ourselves from our roots. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly the most religious person at the moment, far from it, in fact. But I am sentimental. I do think we should honor our ties to our past, and remember where we came from, lest we forget.

Or at the very least, stick to our convictions. Have you noticed that we, as individuals and a nation, tend to pick and choose what we want to believe when it best suits us? Our nation, at its inception, was founded on religious conviction, a solid belief in a not-so-solid entity: God, with that capital G.

Yet here we are, roughly 250 years later, and we have taken it upon ourselves to separate chuch and state - religion and government. But only when it pleases us.

We supposedly keep the two separate, allowing people to complain when a baby Jesus appears on public property, yet we still say the “Pledge of Allegiance” and “one nation, under God,” and the phrase “In God We Trust” appears on all our change.

Now don’t get me wrong, even though I’m not the most religious person, I don’t have any beef with the pledge or our nation’s currency. And you will never hear me bitch if baby Jesus shows up in the park at Christmastime. In fact, I think it is great that we maintain our roots.

One thing I do NOT think is “great” however, is....the gay marriage ban. There, it took me 397 words to say it, but it’s finally out there, the horse in the middle of the dining room.

I know how controversial gay rights is in this day and age, but I do believe this issue is important, especially in light of the recent stories about children and teens committing suicide because of their sexual orientation and being bullied. So I am here to ask you this simple question: for you naysayers on gay marriage, where does your basis come from for denying two people the right to get married?


That’s right. Because in the Bible God tells us homosexual relationships are wrong, they are a sin. Worse, they are an abomination. Something we need to apologize, confess and repent for. Marriage is supposed to be between a man and a wife, so they can have children. Right?

And while I respect those opinions, I feel the need to point out that saying no to gay marriage from a religious or secular standpoint is not only wrong and unethical, it is unconstitutional.

So put aside your personal convictions for 10 minutes, and actually think about the issue at hand. Becuase from my point of view, if we follow the constitution and separate our religious views from the issue, the case is pretty cut and dry: abolish the gay marriage ban and grant homosexuals the right to marry anyone they wish.

I’ve heard people say that states should have a say. Well, I disagree. The constitution is nationally binding. It doesn’t matter if it is a state, county, city or municipality - the constitution is like the Supreme Court of law documents - smaller laws need to bend and come into compliance.

As a country, we need to mend the rifts that have formed between what is written down and what actions we actually take. And yes, I realize that that means we will most likely have to re-evaluate the whole “Pledge of Allegiance” thing and possibly look at some new mints (although honestly I don’t think that either of those things will ever happen), but so be it.

And for those of you that don’t agree with my separation of church and state argument, here is one more little argument for you.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Banning gay marriage takes away liberty, or the freedom to choose who we want to spend our lives with. It makes life harder, not easier, and only serves to encourage and ensure prejudice and bullying in future generations. And finally, it strips away that pursuit of happiness, leaving it as bare as a tree put through a wood chipper.

And take it from someone who was bullied growing up, the bruises may fade and the tears dry up, but the doubt, the sense of insecurity and the fits of depression? They linger, lurking beneath the skin, hiding someplace where nothing can penetrate, and the seeds get sown. And as the years go on, those seeds grow and nourish, spreading that doubt and that blanket of insecurity to every nook and cranny.

We have the opportunity to make a difference, to set a precedent and have a direct and long-lasting effect on the lives of millions of people. My only hope is that the world I was born into changes for the better, not worse.

Thank you for listening.