Sunday, March 27, 2011

my life as this journalist

It's busy. It's stressful. It's long days and shorter nights. It's exhilarating. It doesn't give me much time to blog. It keeps my brain occupied at times when it needs to be occupied with other things. It's exhausting. It's a rush. It's what I love. It's an adrenaline high. It's crashing. It's being mentally exhausted, and creatively finished by the end of the day. It's intriguing and mysterious. It's being on the frontlines of documenting history. It's a personal pride. It's working for a just story, exposing truth and remembering my readers. It's about honesty, meeting deadlines, planning, thinking 7 days ahead, but living in the moment. In the midst of managing this newsroom, I find solace in writing stories like this.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

mouth, TMI

I have a pretty high pain tolerance.
I have a mental system of "filing" pain away from my body and somewhere else.

But pain in my mouth is pain I absolutely cannot live with.

What started as an "hmmm, my back moler kinda hurts" Friday afternoon turned into, "kill me now!" Saturday morning, all weekend, yesterday and into today.

X-rays at the dentist yesterday morning revealed this as one (of four) of the problems:

Going to the dentist or any doctor really is an experience for me, because I don't implicitly trust what they say. I know there are times in my work where I wing it. Let's face it; I'm sure we all do. But if they wing it, there's a lot more at stake (like my life!) then a misspelled name or wrong digit.

So I felt like I was rude at my 8 a.m. appointment, and I felt bad about that halfway through. There were extenuating circumstances. I'd slept four hours last night, got up at 6, driven an hour to get there, and I was hurting.

I just didn't feel like myself.

When the dentist had me join him in front of the x-ray viewing light, I couldn't help but get a wicked grin on my face. I mean, if it's obvious to my untrained eye the problems I was having, what must he be thinking?

He told me not to eat sugar, which thankfully I don't really anymore.
He told me I needed to get my four wisdom teeth out ASAP.
He told me a week after that I needed to have a root canal on my moler, the one you see above.
He told me I needed two fillings and a crown on said moler.

Then he stopped and said, "So that'll be Phase 1."

I stopped listening and he didn't go into Phase 2.

Suddenly, my mouth has become a construction zone.

And it F'ing hurts.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

job love

I love loving my job.

I love that I have a job that I love.

I love my morbid relationship with my job.

I love that my job is so freaking stressful.

I love that I love to come back for more.

I love that on my way to work I almost fall asleep.

I love that the first meal I eat is at 5 p.m.

I love having a weekly paper to produce, a daily paper to produce, stories to edit, emails to sort through, meetings to facilitate, webinars to schedule, phone calls to make, stories to write, people to talk to...

I love being exhilirated.

I love coming home.

burying my face in Hollister

You can blame this post on sheer exhaustion.

Sheer exhaustion.

And yet, here I sit. It's 12:35. I should be in bed, but instead I'm blogging about burying my face in a pile of my sister's Hollister items because they smelled like a "delicious man." While she was showing off her purchases of the day, I was enraptured in the odor emitting from her new shorts and plaid shirt.

A man should follow me everywhere smelling like that. I would hug him always.

Or maybe I should just buy some Hollister cologne and call it a day.

We could squabble over what's more odd.

That I would sniff shorts and plaid shirts, or that I would ask my little sister to photograph me doing above mentioned action on my cell phone. And not just once, but a few times when the picture wasn't what I was looking for.

"Take my picture so I can blog about it," I said.

She rolled her eyes and obliged, laughing.

I don't make sense sometimes. Especially at 12:39 a.m. when I've worked three 12-hour days in a row and have a couple more to wrap up for the week.

I'll be a teary mess come Friday.

Just hand me my Hollister-smelling man, or shorts, or plaid shirt, and I will be pacified.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


It's a phenomenon.

The more money you have, the more you worry about it.

The happier my life is, the more I want someone to share it with.

Or more accurately, the happier my life is, the more I want someone to validate my decisions, to cheer me on, to tell me that I can actually do it.

Someone who's my gender counterpart; someone I'm not related to; someone who I can kiss and who kisses me; someone who's strong in all the ways I'm weak.

That's what I want.

What I have is a host of cheerleaders, supporters, friends and family on the sidelines cheering while I run.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

managing awe

I remember the first news room I entered.

I'd been called in for an interview at the Watertown Daily Times to fill a position of general assignment clerk. I was 18 or 19. I'd made the decision to go into journalism, but had never seen a newsroom, written a story or taken a class.

I was young, socially awkward, fearful, and insecure.

The newspaper office was in an old bank building and the receptionist sent me up a long flight of stairs to the editor's office. He was nice, and gave me a tour of the newsroom. Or, more like stood at one end and pointed.

I was in awe.

There's something awe-ing about newsrooms. They're mystical places, the core of information, the pulse of a community. And behind it all are individuals doing their job for a greater purpose then a paycheck.

Starting Monday I'm taking over the command center of one newspaper. Well, I guess technically it started yesterday in the way of meetings, conversations, planning, and later an email to all the reporters, editors and photographers letting them know of a meeting I called Monday morning, what to bring and what to expect.

Micah's referring to me as the CEO, but I'm far from that. I'm the new city editor, and to put it in one sentence: I manage, organize and plan for all the local content in the daily newspaper.

I'm excited, I'm nervous, I'm managing awe.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

we sit. we fight. we reconcile. we sit again.

Six days ago, my family and I sat down for a family meeting, and it went terrible, which confused me for a couple reasons.

1) we had nothing negative to talk about
2) we had a great dinner, great conversation, and then bombs exploded and we were punching each other in the face.

Not literally, but (new word alert!) sheshush.

After I yelled, I quit talking. A couple people I know who read this blog know what I'm talking about - passion (and not the good kind) translates into yelling for me, and I don't know why. So in inflammatory situations, it's better I shut my mouth and refrain from raising my voice any lower or louder then it already is.

There was so much discord that night six days ago that our family meeting disbanded abruptly, and we dispersed. Some left. Others posted Facebook statuses and sent messages. I grabbed a chair, a glass of wine, my journal and phone and sat on the porch.

The next night I came home and Mom spontaneously told me to go change into something nice, that we were going out. We went to Chilis where we got into lively conversation and whisper-yelled across the table from each other. We went and got a beer and listened to live music.

The next day we were at Micah's first baseball game of the season cheering him on .... together. The day after that I was racing, everyone was cheering for me, and afterward, we ate at Applebees - we talked, we heard each other, we apologized.

Three days later, tonight, we were seated at the dining room table again - Take Two of the family meeting.

We laughed at Micah's prayer when he mistakenly prayed to "sheshush." I cried tears of embarrassment when I exclaimed "Remember the Alamo" and everyone laughed at me. Daniel later referred to me as Ghandi. We made plans. We talked about promotions and direction and bed bugs. We took turns around the table, starting with Mom, and I acted as chairman of the board when too many people started talking at once.

When it came my turn to talk, I didn't do it gracefully. I stumbled, I rambled, my voice got triple times more raspy, and my sentences weren't complete. But the message I conveyed was this:

We have things to celebrate, and in our pursuance of goals and missions and callings, let's not forget what we have accomplished. We're no longer surviving; we're living, and we're living well.

Last Friday, post-disastrous family meeting, I wrote my family a Facebook message, and here's an excerpt:

"The University of Texas has a new Regents Chief, and in an article in the Austin Statesman, the former UT football player likened the current budget woes to a bad first half that requires coaches and players to regroup. And then attack the second half. We had a bad first half, but the game isn't over. We need to regroup and move forward to the second half....

....The Regents Chief went on to say in his interview, 'We have to remember....we have some challenges, but we should not talk about them in draconian terms. They're simply challenges.' The harder things we need to talk about are our 'simple challenges', and we've proven to ourselves and everyone watching that we are big girls and boys who can take care of ourselves. Together.

So, we get knocked down, we were knocked down, but we rally and get back up again. We need to get back up again, we need to meet at our precious dining room table again...."

That's what we did tonight.

We could've eaten in the living room, but there was something symbolic about the dining room table. I cleared it off, Daniel wiped it clean, and we all gathered to eat pizza and discuss.

Because if there's one thing my family has, it's grit.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

fat H, skinny H, curvy H

I've never been the kid who hated her name, or ever wanted to change it.

I have been the kid who noticed that 'H's are chunky, and I've lamented that fact over childhood and into adulthood. My brain is a ruthless place sometimes.

It was a month ago when I was writing news budget items on our white board that I was cramped for space and had to squeeze my first initial into the narrow column when I realized: 'H's don't have to be fat!

It makes me smile to write a skinny 'H' to represent myself.

Being goal-driven can be a scary thing sometimes, because instead of celebrating accomplishments (i.e., I've lost 50 pounds!), I lament the goal I haven't achieved (i.e. I still have 20 I want to lose).

So I'm celebrating my skinny 'H', but still keeping the curvy one in my sights.

Monday, March 7, 2011

post-race report

F that.

That was my predominant thought yesterday on the return 5 miles of my 10-mile bike ride. I did a lot of mental cursing, actually, and on the last 1/2 mile-long climb at about Mile No. 9, I was audible in expressing my distaste for the stupid hill. To the police officer who was directing traffic at my left-hand turn, and who had traffic backed up waiting for me to traverse the last little bit of yet another hill, I said, "I don't ever want to do that again."

Then I rounded the bend, and saw my family there yelling for me, and it was awesome.

But for real, the ride definitely had some rough moments for me. Like, right out of the gate when we had to climb, climb, climb. I wasn't expecting that. I'd never been on the route before and really had no idea. For the first time, about a half-mile into the whole thing, the thought crossed my mind that maybe I wouldn't be able to finish.

On the way back, on the last big hill, my legs were moving just enough to keep me upright on the bike. I tried not to glance in front of me, but rather focused on the white line moving (slowly!) beneath me, all the while repeating to myself, "One pedal in front of the other." In retrospect, that doesn't even make sense, but before I knew it, I had crested the hill and was coasting down.

A couple times I closed my eyes. I sucked water out of my water bottle and put myself into a coughing fit once. I was smoked by a 7-year-old. About Mile No. 3, my head started pounding. I did not fall, but wobbled a couple times. I really considered walking my bike up the last big hill, but was afraid that once I got off, I wouldn't be able to get back on. I never got off. I never stopped. I didn't realize how technical riding a bike is; I know I made it difficult for myself by being in the wrong gear at the beginning of climbing, and then shifting down too soon. By about Mile No. 8, I was catching on.

Some things I thought about on the way:

1) I will never pass anyone.
2) The downhill you're enjoying now is waiting for you on the way back.
3) I don't ever want to do this again.
4) If Lance Armstrong can do this with one testicle, by golly, I can do it too.
5) I don't want to be last.
6) I wonder what I look like right now.
7) I feel powerful.
8) I'm doing this inhibited by a disease, but I'm still doing it.
9) This sucks.
10) Forget everything I said about it "just" being 10 miles.
11) It's all mental. Whatever. No, it's not.
12) My ass hurts. So do my arms, back, shoulders, neck. And, oh yeah, my legs.

Surprisingly to me, when I got off and handed the timing chip to my relay buddy, I wasn't as wobbly-legged as I'd been expecting. And about 30 minutes later, I was tentatively ready to do it again.

Lauren and I finished third in our division. I placed 58 out of 71 on the bike portion - 10 miles in 56 minutes. I haven't done anything physical for 56 straight minutes in a really long time. The first time I even rode the bike was Thursday.

And it felt really cool to win a little trophy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

riding a bike, getting drunk on wine

I rode my borrowed German bike a few miles yesterday. It's the second time I've ridden it. Duathlon is tomorrow. You do the math.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there.

After I rode three or four miles, whichever it was, I felt good, like I could ride for hours more. And then I stepped off the bike, and almost fell over.

That's when I realized that exercising on a bike and getting drunk on wine are very similar experiences - you don't realize how you're effected until you stand up.

As previously mentioned, Tough Cookie is tomorrow. While my teammate and I are determined to win the relay division, we know that "winning isn't everything, but trying to win is." So we're going to try, and see how that works out.

I've been advised not to run or ride today, which is advice I'm heeding even though I'd like to get at least one of both in. Even though I'm not running in the Tough Cookie, I do have a 5k and a 10k coming up in recent weeks that I'd like to participate in, so I feel like I need to run.

Plus, it's fun.

I can't believe I just said that.

So I've got my helmet, and a memory foam bike seat pad, and leggings and a close fitting shirt. I've got a water-bottle holder, and a little pouch that's going somewhere on the bike.

I'm excited.
Tomorrow I'm racing!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

fighting like dogs and dogs with a human in the middle

There were cat fights and dog fights in our house last night.

Not literal cat fights, we don't even have cats.

Mom and I yelled at each other, because that seems to prelude meaningful conversation, not every one, but some, and last night was one of them. Main reason, if you must know, is that sometimes I can be harsh, rude, and a bitch. We're working on it.

The dog fight was much more intense, and it was over dog food, and the fact that my dog can't take mild correction from the patriarch of the family who kindly asked her to stay out of the dish.

She said, "Hell, no," and the fight ensued.

It happened in a tight(er) space, and in the commotion the dog food dish spilled its contents (food and hot water) onto the floor, which made it difficult to gain footing. While they grappled for each other's throats, they didn't have a problem. I, however, did.

Dog fights are frightening for humans, because there's little that can be done. And in that moment of panic, I, apparently do things like:

yell for help
jump over fighting dogs

It also seems to last forever.

There was a point in the foray when the fight shifted from fighting to Skye-beating-the-shit-out-of-Zeb. He wasn't even trying anymore. He was under her, and she went in for the death grip on his throat, shaking, shaking, shaking.

The last thing that was going to happen was me watching my dog kill our dog. The fact that I'd hit her, kicked her, pulled at her collar, yelled and screamed hadn't mattered up to this point, so while Mom tried to pull Zeb away, I went in for my kill.

I grabbed Skye's mouth, and half-pried it open, and half-slid my left hand into her mouth and throat. Her mollers crunched my fingers, but she let go just long enough for me to grab her collar with my right hand and pull her back.

Zeb got up and walked away. The house reeked of wet dog food.

"I'm bleeding," I said, because that's what you're supposed to at moments like that. "I'm not sure how bad it is."

But before I paid too much attention to it, we needed to make sure Zeb was okay. And he was. He wasn't bleeding, just a tad sore.

I drug Skye outside and into the garage, before I rinsed my finger off and took a look at it.

I'll live. Not even stitches required.

I did almost faint, though. After it was all over, and my finger was clean, and the massive amount of adrenaline had left my body, I had to lay down for 2 minutes and regain my equilibrium.

Important things to note are:
Zeb is okay.
I am okay.
Skye is a bitch, and is not a house favorite right now.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

it's the first day of the rest of 2011

There's been something nostalgic about this day, this first day of March. I can't figure out what it is, but I have a few ideas:

1) It's the first day of the rest of 2011. That's worth celebrating, right?
2) In January, I started my business.
3) In February, I registered for my first race.
4) By today, I've lost 51 pounds.
5) I volunteered, I fund-raised.
6) I exercised faith, and learned more.
7) I took a trip.
8) I learned how to maybe, sorta, kinda like running.

Today is the first day of the rest of my 2011.

And it's bound to be good.