A year ago the news came in twitter bursts. School shooting. Connecticut. 2 dead. 12 dead. 26 dead. This can’t be, I remember thinking. They must have the number wrong. Our coverage was extensive of course. We talked to CBS reporters on scene that night. They told the story of a clearly troubled man who killed his mother at the home they shared, and then with several of her guns, drove to the elementary school he went to as a boy, shot out the locked front door and starting killing. Teachers locked classroom doors, hid their students in bathrooms, physically covered some of their little bodies with theirs for protection. Six teachers were murdered that day. 20 students. All of the children either 6 or 7 years old. 6 or 7. Babies, really. At school for the first time in their lives. Eagerly awaiting Christmas just a couple of weeks away. Their young brains knowing nothing of the sort of violence that would take their lives. The children who experienced the terror of that day and survived would give heartbreaking interviews, many controversial for how they were obtained, saying there was a “monster” at school and our teacher told us to hide. That Christmas must have been a blur of cameras and coverage and nightmares. They would never return to their classrooms at Sandy Hook. The school and its contents razed. If only memories could be so easily demolished. As we approach another holiday and the anniversary of that massacre nears, the people of Newtown, Connecticut are asking, pleading with the media to stay away. Don’t park your news trucks on our streets. Don’t knock on our doors. Don’t attend our vigils. Just please for the sake of the 20 thousand or so people who call this small Northeastern town home, for the family members of the teachers who died protecting their kids, for the mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, siblings of the children murdered crouched together in their classrooms, but mostly for the children who walked away that horrible day, leave us alone. Let the children go to school Friday, have holiday parties with classmates, look forward to a weekend of last minute shopping with mom and dad, and feel the wonderful anticipation, not of a tragedy that will forever define their community, but of Christmas morning. Not every anniversary needs to be acknowledged. The wishes of the survivors most certainly do.
Today I give thanks for a healthy child, a loving husband, a supportive family.
Today I am thankful for a job, a roof over my head, food to eat.
Today I extend a thank you to friends, colleagues, acquaintances for their kindness.
Today I stop worrying about breakouts and house remodels and hosting Christmas and give thanks for a life free of disease, a warm home on a cold night, and the gift of close relationships.
Today I give thanks to my parents and their parents for laying the groundwork for my life.
Today I am thankful for a country in which I can get an education, vote, say what I want, aspire.
Today I extend a thank you to those whose work makes my life easier, less stressful, possible.
Today I stop worrying about what I don’t have and give eternal thanks for all I do.
It is an embarrassment of riches. And I don’t say thank you for it enough.
Happy Thanksgiving. Be thankful.
Go ahead and let the irony wash over you but I don’t understand this culture of oversharing we currently live in. Yep, I’m talking about this in my online personal blog, a link to which I will later tweet and yet that will fall on the minimal amount of sharing side these days. Honestly, this blog, which I’m still not convinced is read by anyone other than my dear mother and mother-in-law, is a place for me to stretch my writing legs. Since I no longer have time to report and write long form stories, this is my outlet. I enjoy the writing process and sharing my thoughts, concerns, joys with you, in words. I tweet because I have to for work. I’m not on facebook like much of humanity and figured I’d better get on some sort of social media to appease my bosses. Of the thousand or so followers, I don’t know how many are actually viewers or just those who follow back anyone. My point, while I at times enjoy sharing, the trend of oversharing makes me uneasy. The photos of food, of self, of how much you ran or ate or what you cooked or the one millionth photo of your face (because really, how many different ways can you take a selfie?) that litter our digital world. Today, Oxford University declared “selfie” as THE word of 2013. Good call you crazy Brits. Nothing defines our current culture of constant sharing more than an awkwardly positioned, often too close, photo of yourself. My lovely daughter, who by the way is one of the more photogenic creatures I’ve ever seen, has hundreds of them. As do her friends. There are people on Twitter whose entire timeline consists of shots of their face, in the car, at home, at the gym, at dinner.. you get the “picture.” You used to drag the old camera out just for vacations, big life events, the ocassional family shot, turn your film in to be developed (true story, kids), and sit in the car and look at the pictures immediately upon picking them up. Our phones and computers have eliminated the wait, the cost of development, and the barriers with whom we share these pictures. Now eveything gets documented. All. The. Time. I will spare you my lame psychoanalysis of the phenomenon. It’s well covered territory anyway. We have become a LOOK AT ME! society with fame just around the corner for anyone who can make the next viral video. If we don’t put ourselves out there, do we even exist? Whoa now. Sorry. I suspect this isn’t going to dissipate but rather accelerate as our devices get faster and the pictures get clearer and the world gets smaller. On the other hand, is it really even worth worrying about at all? I believe a smaller world is a better world. I believe sharing and communicating and seeing all types of people in any and all situations can bring us closer as a human race. You can always just use the phone for calls (GASP!) or unplug for a while or stop contributing to the selfie wasteland yourself if it all seems to be too much. Or maybe, and this is what I plan to do, turn the phone the other way and start looking outside yourself more often.
Favorite selfie – On St. Thomas as hubs and pilot are loading the plane for our short flight to Virgin Gorda
Being photobombed during a selfie by the master herself
My daughter and I spent our Saturday morning at Target in Midtown doing some Christmas shopping. We chose two adorable outfits with really cool boots, a beach doll house, a beach Barbie with stylin’ beach wear, and some undershirts to wear as our weather turns cold. The items are not for a family member or a friend or even someone we know. They are for our angel Khloe. The TV station I work for partners with the Salvation Army for their Angel Tree Program every year. And even though cameras captured our shopping spree it didn’t make it any less meaningful for us. I swallowed the lump in my throat as my teenager spoke eloquently to the camera about how fortunate she was to always have gifts on Christmas morning and that it was a pleasure to help give Khloe the same experience. Later that evening as I was fine tuning our tile decisions for the master bath remodel, a documentary was airing in the background about organ trafficking. It showed devastating poverty in the Philippines where people sell their kidneys for a couple thousand dollars, more than they make in a year. I felt ridiculous in that moment. And so incredibly grateful. My child faces a sea of presents and an overflowing stocking December 25th. My home is not a shack I can’t stand upright in. Our needs are met easily, our wants, too. I grew up with little money. My incredibly hard-working and kind-hearted mother would make sure during tight months at the child care center she ran that other employees would get paid first. She would skip meals so I didn’t have to. She made sure I had not only everything I needed, but all I wanted. I learned to value a dollar and hard work and appreciate the luxuries money buys but also understand how quickly it can disappear. My concern was that my daughter hadn’t learned that. That wanting was needing. I don’t know why I worried, after all, this is a child who used to give away her toys to friends or wrap up jewelry she had to share with others. The child who always wants to get birthday gifts or a little something for someone. The child who is thankful for everything, writing thank you notes diligently, enthusiastically sharing her joy when she receives a special gift. I worried for nothing. She was gracious, kind, thoughtful, and generous during our shopping trip. She referred to our angel by name and she spoke straight from her heart when she looked at me and said I want Khloe to have the kind of Christmas I do. That’s the kind of wanting I need her to have.
An old friend and favorite blogger (check him out here http://www.rapideyereality.com/) posted his responses to an idea he borrowed from writer John Scalzi – Ten Things I Have Done That You (Probably) Haven’t. The list was funny and insightful and a great way to waste 10 minutes. Below is my attempt. Leave your own in the comments.
TEN THINGS I HAVE DONE THAT YOU (PROBABLY) HAVEN’T:
10. Worked at a Kentucky Fried Chicken
9. Had my dress almost torn off by a llama on live television
8. Sat in the ugly recliner used by Frasier Crane’s dad, Martin, on the show ‘Frasier’
7. Been pulled onstage by Sir Mix-A-Lot
6. Been hit on by a Senator (Strom Thurmond, if you’re wondering)
5. Clutched a box of tampons while talking with Falcons head coach Mike Smith
4. Been part of an inmate’s elaborate escape plan that included me piloting the TV station’s helicopter onto the roof of the prison
3. Been first to interview the first American Idol, Kelly Clarkson
2. Eaten dinner with Robin Leach at a T.G.I.Fridays in Nashville
1. Stayed off Facebook
It is the issue of the moment. Yes, it’s real but in my opinion, often “misdiagnosed” (for lack of a better word). Bullying. The news recently has been filled with stories of it. A girl killed herself in Florida after two classmates tormented her at school and online. Now one of the bully’s parents are charged with a crime, too after video surfaced of her abusing her children. Shocking, I know. This is not something a child comes equipped with. Like hate, bullying is learned. If this woman’s parenting style is any indication, her daughter was simply mimicking what she’d seen her whole life. That doesn’t excuse it, mind you. Maybe just explains why some kids do and some don’t bully. We’ve all been kids, many of us have them, some of us work with them, we know kids can be mean. The honesty that’s so endearing when they’re little can become a weapon as these children sharpen their personalities. Treating people poorly can be a way to elevate oneself. I’m better than you and I will prove it by belittling you at every opportunity. I’m treated poorly myself so I will lash out and treat you the only way I know how. I’m hurting because you a)stole my boyfriend b)embarrassed me c)are different than me d)a million reasons and I will gain control over these feelings by bullying you. I’m just not a nice person. Again, not excuses, more reasons, I guess. The case in Florida is frustrating for so many reasons not the least of which is that these girls were cruel to the classmate on Facebook, Instagram, and other sites they were all on. In interviews, the parents of one of the bullies said they monitored their daughter’s social media sites. No, you didn’t. The parents of the girl who killed herself after the harrassment said they monitored their daughter’s sites. No, you didn’t. Here’s an idea. Get the hell off the internet. The minute you learn this is happening, take phones, computers, tablets, whatever, away. Restrict free time immediately. You go to school, you come home, that’s it. Contact the school, administrators, teachers, whomever you need to to find out what is happening and how to stop it. I understand parents’ complaints can fall on deaf ears. I realize we cannot control every moment of our teenagers’ lives. I know kids find ways to have contact and that getting involved can risk embarrassing your child or upsetting other parents or making the bullies lash out at your child even more. It beats the alternative of burying your child. This case is an extreme one. Certainly most instances do not end in suicide. This young woman who felt so despondent over how she was treated that she jumped to her death needed help. Yes, from her parents but perhaps professional help as well. The girls who face charges now for pushing her over the edge need help too as evidenced by a Facebook post after the suicide that read “Yeah, (blank) killed herself and IDGAF (I don’t give a #$@!).” WHY IS THIS CHILD STILL ON THE INTERNET AFTER EVERYTHING THAT HAS HAPPENED?! WHERE ARE HER PARENTS?! Appalling that she would write something so horrible. Shameful her parents haven’t done more to show her actions have consequences. On the other end of the spectrum is the ridiculous story this week of two high school football teams in Texas. A set of parents whose sons were on the losing team accused the winning coaches of bullying because the game was so one-sided. The final score was 91-0. The parents were upset the coaches didn’t pull starters sooner or encourage the boys to ease up. Are you kidding me? By all accounts the coaches did what they could, running out the clock at times, putting in second and third string players, calling for fair catches but what lesson does it teach to say ‘you know boys, let’s ease up here because the other team isn’t playing well tonight.’ Funny thing is the coaches and players from the losing team didn’t have a problem with the game. Sure, they had a problem with getting their hats handed to them, that’s never fun, but not one of them felt bullied or mistreated. All of this lead to a useless investigation that ended as you might imagine with the coaches cleared of any charges of bullying. There will be a change to that particular school district’s football game bracket to more evenly match opponents but most people interviewed admitted that needed to happen anyway. My point, and I do have one, is crying BULLYING is dangerous. It dilutes a serious problem, makes us less apt to take a case of actual bullying seriously, and frankly, diminishes what happened to the young woman from Florida. She was bullied, no doubt about it. I’m no psychiatrist but I’m guessing her developing psyche and fluctuating pubescent emotions combined to make her feel worthless and hopeless because of those girls words and actions and she, to repeat and oft-used quote ‘found a permanent solution to a temporary problem.’
I talk to my daughter often about bullying. Dad keeps an eye on social media. We’re not perfect, far from it, but I’ve learned the best way to know what’s happening in her life, in person or online, or even in her heads sometimes is to LISTEN. I shut up and listen.
Sending good vibes to Seattle where the teenage son of a dear friend has a bone marrow transplant early Thursday morning. Go Team Mitch! #TitanStrong
Another friend marked a somber anniversary yesterday. 3 years since his son took his own life. Telling this family’s story and helping spread the word about teenage suicide prevention has been a high water mark for me during all these years of television news. I think of you often Trautwein family.
I have made certain to hug our girl a little more and a little longer lately. She may not need it, but I do.
One of the women who cleans the station asked me tonight if my daughter works here. She said she saw another blonde and thought we were related. Why she didn’t ask if she was my sister has me feeling on the old side.
Seems as we get older we shouldn’t have to fight acne. Wrinkles and zits is a particularly cruel combo. A surge of hormones, extra helping of stress, and I don’t know what have conspired to mar my otherwise smooth chin. Frustrating and for someone who spends hours in high definition, terrifying.
Learning to let go of that which we cannot control is a valuable lesson. Yes, I can. No, I don’t always.
For a lesson in control we now turn to the U.S. government. Look, guys and gals, you control the world’s largest economy and so many aspects of our lives, please get your s*!@ together and end this mess.
Could actually happen tonight. It’s leading the newscast. Was a toss up though between the end to the shutdown and a family of bears in Johns Creek. The latter is much more entertaining. And the endless parade of foolish people with their phones trained at the cubs as mama watched could have ended in a bigger debacle than us defaulting on our loans.
Speaking of the gov’t I am completely hooked on the fake Presidency and love triangle in ‘Scandal.’ I binged on the entire first 2 seasons on Netflix and now can hardly get any work done on Thursday nights as new episodes air. Great TV.
Not so great TV – ‘The Purge.’ Rented it this weekend. Was just okay. Good premise, squandered. Did enjoy ‘The Frozen Ground’ about a serial killer in Alaska. Can you tell I stayed in? Trying to heal my chin. Will likely watch ‘The Conjuring’ Saturday.
I’m a bit of a scary movie fan. Although lately, unfortunately, there seems to be enough horror in real life to suffice.
I’ll take the fake fear, thank you. That I can turn off.
A hastag trending on twitter tonight is #BraydenStrong. My dear friend ends her posts about her son with TitanStrong. A certain cyclist built a brand around LiveStrong. The common theme here is, obviously, strong. These people are conjuring an image of a fighter, of someone with great strength, something so powerful as to beat in these cases, the other commonality, cancer. In this month awash in pink for breast cancer awareness, I think of the women I know who have survived and those who haven’t and the strength they all had. The young mother of 4 who lived down the street who was always smiling, even as the cancer spread to her brain. The teenage boy bravely facing debilitating chemotherapy and radiation to prepare him for a bone marrow transplant. The co-worker who found a lump and now celebrates 5 years of recovery. The college friend who fought non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and won. The reporter who lost his fight after cancer cells invaded his tear duct. These people, all of them, and their families, are stronger than I’ll ever know. It is near impossible I would say to find someone whose life hasn’t been touched by cancer. Young, old, every race, every part of our bodies, the faithful and the faithless. It does not discriminate, hesitate, differentiate. It thinks it’s the stronger one. To Brayden’s parents, To my friends by their son’s side tonight, to anyone who is battling this devastating disease, cancer is wrong about one thing. You are all stronger. The strength to fight back, to face another day, another round of treatment, to smile, remain optimistic, love each other, to live. I am in awe of you, moved, inspired, and so, so grateful you are in this world.
It was a beautiful October day. Perfect, really. Blue, cloudless sky, bright sunshine warming things to around 75 degrees, the slightest breeze. I woke up in a strange bed next to an even stranger best friend. Her tiny first house was to be my dressing room for this most important day. We lay there and talked and laughed. We ate, showered, powdered, curled and loaded up her car with one giant off white long-sleeved brocade gown, crown veil, and matching heels. Our trip was not a long one, not a trace of traffic as TLC’s “Baby, Baby, Baby” blared from our windows. If you know the song then you’re familiar with the lyrics “Baby long as you know that I could have any man I want to/ Baby that’s actual and factual/ But still I choose you to be with me.” I had chosen a man. Rather, we’d chosen each other 9 months prior when he got down on his knee in our first apartment and asked me to spend my life with him. This was the day we made it official. I remember climbing into my dress, placing the veil carefully over my curls, touching up my makeup, and peeking through a curtain adjacent to the church entrance to see who was there. I remember my 3 dear friends in their green velvet suits, munching on Wheat Thins my mom had snuck in. I remember the smell of the gorgeous fall flowers in my bouquet, the sweet sounds of my Aunt Cindy playing the piano and singing from the balcony, the feel of the ring, still new to my hand, the taste of champagne as we toasted. My grandfather’s tribute to my grandmother who’d just passed, my little brother’s too big tuxedo, the crunch of the paper holding my puffy sleeves in place as I hugged and hugged. My stepfather writing checks to the DJ and caterer mid-reception, the table of rowdy collegues from the TV station where I currently held my first job, my dad and stepsister doing the Pee-Wee Herman dance to ‘Tequila’ by The Champs. The song my sorority sisters sang while surrounding me on the dance floor, the sachet favors at the door no one took home, the melting cream cheese frosting on the grocery store cake, the headache from smiling too long in pictures, my dad cracking me up during our dance to Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed.” I wasn’t nervous. Not once. I’d never been so sure about something in my 23 years. I’d memorized his face but felt I was seeing it for the first time. His hand was sweaty when I took it, his back warm where I placed my hand when the priest, his Uncle, said he’d always wished his nephew would be a priest, his eyes shining as he looked at me during our vows. The red Acura sprayed with foam, the sad ‘honeymoon suite’ at the Sheraton, the exhaustion of entertaining everyone you know while completing a rite of passage. Our song from our first dance as husband and wife Sade’s “Kiss of Life” still playing in my head. It was October 2, 1993 in Spokane, Washington.
I have more money now, more experience, what some might consider better taste. And I wouldn’t change a thing. It was perfect.
Marrying you was the best decision I ever made. Happy 20th anniversary.
There must have been an angel by my side
Something heavenly led me to you
Look at the sky
It’s the color of love
There must have been an angel by my side
Something heavenly came down from above
He led me to you
He led me to you
He built a bridge to your heart
All the way
How many tons of love inside
I can’t say
When I was led to you
I knew you were the one for me
I swear the whole world could feel my heartbeat
When I lay eyes on you
Ay ay ay
You wrapped me up in
The color of love
You gave me the kiss of life
Kiss of Life
You gave me the kiss that’s like
The kiss of life
Homecoming is this Saturday. Daughter has decided to go with friends. Cute dress should arrive tomorrow. See previous post about how different this ritual is now than when I was in high school and for embarrassing picture of me, my date, and his eyebrows.
When I was in school you didn’t go to dances with a group of friends rather than a date and that’s a shame. It would’ve been so fun and a hell of a lot less pressure.
Speaking of pressure, I have foolishly waited until the week before the deadline to get a physical for my health insurance coverage. Yes, yes, I read the emails and heard the announcements months ago. Hey, I work in news, I’m deadline oriented.
It’s close to impossible to get an appointment for a physical on such short notice so I’m going to walk into an urgent care place tomorrow and get it done.
Never underestimate an urgent care clinic. I stopped in one last spring with a ‘funny feeling’ arm and was sent right to the ER with a blood clot. I called the clinic doc a few weeks later and thanked him. Said it was the first call of thanks he’d ever gotten.
The power of thank you. I remember a few years ago, Deborah Norville was in town promoting her book about the power of saying thanks. She’s onto something. I feel we don’t do it enough. We all want to feel appreciated.
Was reading a post from a blogger I like and she shared the 6 words she thinks we should all say to our children. “I love to watch you play.” I like it. So often, when our children show us something we will critique or say you’re doing a good job when hearing “I love seeing you do that” seems to have a much sweeter effect. Works on adults too I would imagine. Who wouldn’t like to hear that someone loves watching you sing, cook, dance, play an instrument, laugh.. You get the idea.
As an adult, do you know the body parts that give away your age the most? Excluding the face here. It’s your hands, neck/chest and earlobes! Obviously your hands and neck/chest area see a lot of sun in your lifetime so I’m sure that is a factor. I guess those lobes just get dragged down by big earrings and gravity too! My grandmother hates her hands, says they’re too bony and veiny. My mother has the same hands, just a few decades younger, and me too. I’ll never forget my daughter saying “You have Nana’s hands.” She’s right. And she’ll have them too when the baby fat burns off.
She’s not a baby anymore, though. Wanted to wear a strapless dress to Homecoming. Dad and I nixed it. Not yet.
Plus, I told her she’ll be tugging at that thing all night while dancing.
I always wonder that when stars wear elaborate or stapless gowns on the red carpet. How much did they mess with it all night? If I mess with an outfit on set, it’s out of the rotation. Can’t be worrying about my clothes during the newscast.
Loved seeing Jeff Daniels win his first Emmy Sunday for “The Newsroom.” If you follow me here you know I’m a fan of the show and its second season did not disappoint. Although I will admit the season ender almost felt like a series ender. As if writer Aaron Sorkin wasn’t sure it would be picked up for a third season. I trust he’ll find a way to write his way out of most of it when that season starts NEXT YEAR! Why must they make us wait so long?
I worked Sunday because the Emmys mean a large audience for CBS and the bosses like me there for large audiences. And I do too. Thank you kindly, sirs.
But this Sunday will be spent at home with a much smaller audience, listening to our girl describe her first Homecoming and telling her in so many words, “I love to see you happy.”