Recently two co-workers, whom I respect very much, approached me with the same unsolicited message. They enjoy working with me. They appreciate my kindness. They like how I treat them and everyone else at the station. This not only was a pleasant surprise and ended with teary hugs to both but it served as a reminder that it matters how we act. There have been countless times in the 20 plus years in television that I have seen people behave horribly. Many of them anchors. It is a job that attracts a certain amount of ego, of which I am not immune of course. I wouldn’t describe me as egotistical, but I do desperately want everyone to like me. There are anchors I’ve worked with who treated everyone on staff with disdain. Who talked down to writers or production staff or photographers. You know, the people that do most of the work at a TV station. I remember interviewing for my current job and the general manager at the time asking me who I was closest to on the staff. I answered “the photographers” because at that point I was reporting nights and anchoring weekends. She didn’t believe me and thought it was a ridiculous answer. Well, it was the truth. And since I’m still here and she’s not, draw your own conclusions. My point is, it takes all of us at a station to get this thing we call news on the air. All. Of. Us. Just because I’m the person who delivers the final product doesn’t make me better, smarter, more important, than anyone else here. Oh, trust me when I say, there have been times when I’ve wanted to pull out the full stop diva. She doesn’t exist. At least not in me. I talk a good game of “I’m gonna say this and I’m not gonna do that” but I exhaust myself and realize that’s not who I am. I will not belittle those I work with. If criticisms must be made, and they sometimes do, I will do it with tact. If changes are made, and they sometimes are, I will handle them with grace. If someone comes to me to learn, and they always do, I will be not only the anchor of the newscast but of the entire newsroom. Holding us steady. It matters how you act. It matters.
Stories I never want to report on again:
Bank robberies. It is the same story. Every. Single. Time. Yes, occasionally the thief wears a wacky wig or is old or talks on their cell the whole time but you know the drill. Hands teller note. Gets away with undisclosed amount of cash. Our money is insured. You’ve lost nothing. We run it because we have surveillance video or the police ask us to do them a favor.
Gas prices. Gas prices go up and they go down. Unless the prices are 99 cents or 6 bucks a gallon, I’m guessing most people don’t need you to tell them what the price of gas is, or that it’s gone up. They realize that when they’re filling up their car. If there is a shortage, if there is a price gouging incident, if we can sufficiently explain why the prices are higher or lower, then by all means, we should. Otherwise, let the gas stations advertise their prices and let drivers plan accordingly.
A dusting of snow. Hot weather. Rain. Normal seasonal stuff. I understand coverage of tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, flooding, heat waves. I even understand continuous coverage so many viewers don’t like. I feel an obligation to help warn and protect and educate and facilitate recovery. I do not however like panicking people with a snow flurry or 95 degree temps in August or a couple days of rain. Creates a mistrust of the media and I fear a reluctance to heed serious warnings.
This one may be controversial but, child molestation arrests. They make me uneasy for two reasons. At the point we’re flashing a person’s picture on everyone’s TV, they are simply a suspect. Evidence is still being gathered. Stories may change. They may be found not guilty. It won’t matter. They have been labeled. You could argue this for other arrests as well but no charge is as damning as child molestation. People won’t remember the guy who was found not guilty of burglary. Secondly, I’m uncomfortable with divulging too many details. The school, the age, the sport, the neighborhood. People talk. I’m guessing it isn’t too difficult for people who know the suspect to figure out who was potentially molested. Once the conviction is made, then we run the picture, we show the person, we report the heinous crime.
Coyotes. This is in our newscasts today, in fact. Coyotes in neighborhoods. Yes, wild animals on occasion leave their habitat and enter ours. Yes, your small pet could be at risk. Although I would bet most coyotes are more scared of us and getting too close to do any real damage. Take precautions if you live somewhere where coyotes frequent just like you would if you were in the mountains and wanted to discourage bears. Close up the garbage tight, keep an eye on said small pets. And realize we are sharing our world with animals. Leave them alone, they’ll go back home.
Finally, the medical update on people we’ve reported on in the past. I have met and been moved by many people over the years who have suffered at the hands of another, been injured in a horrible accident, had their life change forever because of one moment. Their stories can inspire, outrage, illicit change. But to constantly revisit their ailments without significant progress to report is exploitative.
The bedroom is purple. Not lavender. Not lilac. PURPLE. And it’s beautiful. It took the three of us nine hours over two days to turn a girl’s room complete with Parisian cafe mural and bright yellow walls into a teenager’s purple, black, and white retreat. Gone are the mosquito netting that draped over her polka dotted bedspread, the fuzzy pink rug, the stickers on the wall. Her small attached bathroom is now white instead of sunny yellow. Keep in mind the human part of this transformation has been happening for a while. The curling iron, makeup, and razors replaced the barrettes and stuffed animals a couple of years ago. There are Facebook status updates and Instagram shots instead of picture books and MadLibs (yes, they still make them!) You will seldom find her without a phone at her fingers or an iPad to her face. She is by all accounts a privileged child. Wants for nothing. The only one vying for our attention, and she gets it. But she is a wonderful student, and an even better person. Kind, considerate, respectful. So when she asked me and her dad if she could have a purple room we saw no reason why not. But instead of hiring someone to do it, as we have with other painting projects in our home, we decided to do this one together. This child has never painted a room. Her father and I have painted too many to count. Together we would dig in and get it done. Her patient father explained some of the finer techniques. I stayed in the tiny bathroom painting because 1) patience is no longer an attribute I have and 2) the bath is truly a one person job. We taped, primed, rolled, brushed, mopped up, swore (yes, just me), spilled, talked, laughed, sang, yelled, and painted. The TV was off. The phones were downstairs. We were messy and crowded and tired and determined. I know I’m making it sound like we climbed a damn mountain but my point is when a generation is raised to expect someone else to come to the house and paint it or fix it or clean it, there is merit in tackling things yourself. A satisfaction in seeing a project through. A simple reminder, and one I do not follow often enough, that the joy and reward of something comes not in the getting it done… but in the doing.
The best part of any award show, in my humble opinion, is the fashion. Clearly I’m not alone in my feelings since hours of television and pages of magazines and newspapers are spent discussing such. Women (because, really, who are we kidding, no one talks much about what the men have on) used to show up in a nice Sunday dress, pick up their statue, and go home. Now the speculation about who will wear what begins the moment nominations are announced. I don’t get wrapped up in much of the pre-show hype. Don’t need to watch the Fashion Police rip stars’ choices apart. I like watching as it’s happening, seeing what these beautiful people have chosen for this, the biggest night in some of their careers. So much of how a dress looks, for me, is who is wearing it. If I’m not a fan of the actress, then I’m probably not going to be a fan of her dress. I feel that way about Renee Zellwegger. I always think she looks strained and not comfortable in her skin, let alone a designer dress. I do, however, love me some Cate Blanchett. So, she could probably show up in an afghan and I’d still think she was fabulous.
Ok, maybe Cate ”Blanket” isn’t really pulling that off. But I love that she tried, She makes two appearances on my list of favorite Oscar fashions. The yellow is a Valentino I’ve mentioned here before. The lavender is Givenchy – a stunning, unconventional look.
Two other favorites feature the color I think all women can wear – if they find the right shade – and that’s red. Two young stars rocked the red recently making it sexy, Jennifer Lawrence in Calvin Klein, and fun, Emma Stone in Giambattista Valli.
I’m also a sucker for gold. While I usually don’t like when people wear the same color as their hair, Cameron Diaz is the epitome of a California golden girl in her Oscar de la Renta. Jessica Chastain combines gold with black in her Alexander McQueen. They both look at ease, they know they look good, and they seem to be enjoying themselves, which I believe is what looking beautiful is all about.
Speaking of knowing they look good. The final mention on my Oscars fashion list is this fabulous bitch (yes,I said it). Sharon Stone pulled on a Vera Wang skirt, grabbed a GAP white button down out of her closet and stopped the damn show. Was she even up for an award that year? Who cares.
I look forward to seeing some fabulous gowns this Sunday night while sitting in my Target pajama bottoms and Falcons hoodie.
Oh god, it was a dump. Stained shag carpet, peeling linoleum, an air conditioner you could watch spew Freon. It had a 7-11 to the right of it and one of the busiest roads in town to the left. But the price was right. And it sat across from a drive-in movie theater so on warm nights, my future husband and I would sit above the aforementioned air conditioning unit on the windowsill and watch (not hear) the night’s movie, while adding our own dialogue. Oh god, we were broke. I covered the couches that came with the place with sheets, took a friend’s discarded throw pillows and dimmed the lights. My first reporting gig combined with moonlighting at KFC didn’t allow for much of a decorating budget. My boyfriend scored a rickety entertainment center from a neighbor and with his also beginning salary at a mortgage lending agency we tacked up some Monet posters and bought a fish. It wasn’t much. But it was ours. I remember vividly dragging the mattress into the living room because the bedroom didn’t have a/c. Watching ‘Silence of the Lambs’ sweep the Oscars while sitting on said mattress and drinking cheap wine. We listened to Jodeci on our first stereo we charged on our Montgomery Ward credit card. We set up a rudimentary alarm system involving a sliding closet door, an ironing board and weights. Because in addition to the selling point of being a shady apartment complex, the entire town was crime-ridden.
I remember every square inch. Every cigarette burn in the particle board furniture. Every water stain on the ceiling. I stared out the foggy windows while wondering where my life was headed. I cried in the shower over the horrors I saw as a young reporter. My boyfriend got down on one knee on that crappy carpet to ask me to be his wife.
He and I have since lived on both coasts, in rental houses with fleas, in my grandmother’s basement, in townhouses that required him to move the washer and dryer up three flights of stairs. We have painted, stained, wallpapered, landscaped, built, torn down. We have bought, sold, improved, remodeled, redecorated. Our latest is the family room in our not-at-all-a-dump of a house in a wonderful neighborhood we’ve called home for 10 years. There is money to buy new furniture and have new curtains made. And there are plenty of new pillows to throw. But before the finishing touches are made and the final Crate and Barrel lamp is switched on, I will take a moment to remember that tiny living room in Yakima, Washington and how happy we were to have our own place and be together. The lifestyle may have changed. The life has not.
And I may just drag the mattress in there to watch the Oscars this Sunday.
And that life is not an emergency but a gift — so just. slow. down. There are children at play here and we don’t want anyone to get hurt and the hurry makes us hurt.
Baltimore. Beyonce. Blackout. – This year’s Super Bowl.
Sandcastle (Leon). Soldiers. Smooches. – This year’s Super Bowl commercials.
Much is made of the commercials every year. I enjoy dissecting them on our newscasts the following day. Getting viewers opinions, finding local ties (the Doritos goat for sale ad was made by a Georgia man), and voting on which was funniest.
But for my money, no ad in the Super Bowl, no ad ever aired, is as moving as this one that aired only once during Super Bowl 36 on February 3, 2002.
Moving. Memorial. Memorable.
Not going to the Super Bowl. Repeat, I am not going to the Super Bowl. Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t be working. Nooooooo. I will be here because it’s on CBS and we will have a huge audience and it is a good opportunity for people to see me and there are bazillions of dollars to be made and… But no, I am not going to New Orleans to cover the Falcons winning the Super Bowl as I had fantasized about since we beat the Seahawks.
My poor husband was so torn during aforementioned game. He’s a Seahawks fan. But he knew if the Falcons won that would increase my chances of going to NOLA and then in turn increase his chances of tagging along as a “key grip.”
I always have to work the Super Bowl. Well, every other year since we trade with FOX. But hey, FOX, we had the wardrobe malfunction, so there!
Weather is cra-zay right now. Friday was icy in the mountains. 70 degrees tomorrow. Tornadoes possible this week. Wha..? How about we just stick with winter and cold for now. Thank you, weather gods.
I always watch more movies in the winter. Makes sense since you’re inside more. Highly recommend ‘Argo’ and ‘Zero Dark Thirty.’ Excellent films. The mark of a good film: you know the ending and you’re still unsure how it’s going to end. Both deliver.
Saw the SAG awards were on last night. If you follow me here you know I’m a fan of the awards show. This one didn’t hold me though, don’t know why. Liked seeing what the ladies were wearing. Marion Cotillard won that one in my opinion. Dior Haute Couture.
She was in ‘The Dark Knight Rises” which incidentally I finally watched this weekend. Bane is a scary dude.
Started a new book about a dog who served with the Marines in Afghanistan and a police officer who was almost killed in the line of duty and how they team up to help each other heal and solves crimes and such. Fiction. But feels real.
Parts of the book are written from the dog’s perspective, especially some of the opening war scenes, and it’s fascinating to think dogs have the capacity to sense things as we do, just without the capacity to verbalize it.
I carry on full conversations with our dogs. God, if they could talk, they’d probably tell me to shut up.
We actually spell in front of our dogs. ‘Cause if you say WALKIE – it’s on! You have got to spell that unless shoes are on and leash is in hand!
Just me putting on my tennis shoes gets the tails wagging.
That should give you a general idea of how often I’m lacing those up for a workout.
I workout so infrequently that my husband calls my sweats, “naps,” because that’s all that happens when I’m wearing them.
I come from a long line of serious nap takers. My dad was many things. But he took napping to new levels.
I miss him. I miss his messages on my voicemail singing Happy Birthday Steffer or singing Happy Anniversary to theme from the “Lone Ranger.” I miss him making up desserts with whatever he could find in the kitchen. I miss his laugh and his big bear hugs. I miss his gentle soul.
And I guarantee you, if he were alive, and the Falcons *had* made it to the Super Bowl, that he would have met me in New Orleans for some food and football. He was a Texas boy. Football was a religion.
I never had pool parties. It is often gray and extremely cold. Friends forget it. Gifts are Christmas afterthoughts. There’s no mail delivery. Restaurants and stores are closed.
It’s my birthday.
But I have been honored for 44 years now to share this date with so many historic moments. This is a day of new beginnings, of promises, of dreams. Presidents are inaugurated on this day. We honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this day. We come together as one on this day to remember, in my humble opinion, the most important line of the Declaration of Independence.
“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.”
I am humbled by this day.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release January 21, 2013
BY PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
United States Capitol
11:55 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice,
members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:
“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.”
Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. (Applause.) The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.
And for more than two hundred years, we have.
Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.
Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers.
Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.
Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.
Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character.
But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people. (Applause.)
This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. (Applause.) An economic recovery has begun. (Applause.) America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together. (Applause.)
For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. (Applause.) We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own. (Applause.)
We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. So we must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.
We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. (Applause.) For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.
We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. (Applause.) They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great. (Applause.)
We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. (Applause.) Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.
The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. (Applause.) Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. (Applause.) Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war; who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends — and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.
We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully –- not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. (Applause.)
America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice –- not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice.
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth. (Applause.)
It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law –- (applause) — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity — (applause) — until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. (Applause.) Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia, to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm.
That is our generation’s task — to make these words, these rights, these values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness. Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time. (Applause.)
For now decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. (Applause.) We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years and 40 years and 400 years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.
My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction. And we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service. But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.
They are the words of citizens and they represent our greatest hope. You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course. You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time — not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals. (Applause.)
Let us, each of us, now embrace with solemn duty and awesome joy what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.
Thank you. God bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America. (Applause.)