Monthly Archives: February 2010

head games.

Well. This blog is but a month old and already I’m slacking a bit. Many apologies, but I promise I have a good reason.

The day after Valentine’s Day (Monday) I called in sick from work. This is a big deal, as we only get two sick days a year. (Yes really, only two. I’m serious.)Β  It was day four of a blinding migraine; I had no choice but to call in to work and see a doctor.

Before even picking up the phone, Dan looked online at my employee status to make sure that I had indeed accrued sixteen hours of sick time. Upon discovering I had, I called the station (two hours before I was supposed to be at work) and told them I’d had a migraine for four days and that I was seeing a doctor and would return on Tuesday with a work release form. The person who answered the phone then sent out an email to the staff that said that I was out sick, and I was going to have a doctor’s note on Tuesday.

Evidently, a reporter also had to call in sick that day. I didn’t know this when I called in because last I checked, it isn’t my job to keep tabs on who calls in sick on the day that I’m sick. Or is it? Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Now even though I had every right to call in sick, being that I had the appropriate amount of sick time available to me and was going to bring in a doctor’s note, my boss sent out an email to everyone in the newsroom that coyly suggests that not only did I not follow these rules, but also must have conspired with the reporter to call in sick the same day as she in an effort to make everyone’s life miserable. I deleted the email because it was infuriating, but it essentially said the following (my commentary in italic):

SUBJECT: Sick leave.
BODY: Let me be clear about who is allowed to call in sick.
You are ONLY allowed to call in sick if you are a full time employee. Part time employees do NOT get sick time at all. I have been full time since April 2009. Full time employees get only two sick days a year. I have one left, after the day in question.
If you are calling in sick on a day before or after your weekend starts (if your weekend is Saturday and Sunday those days would be Friday and Monday) you MUST have a doctor’s note. Good thing the email sent out saying I was sick on a Monday also mentioned that I would have a doctor’s note on Tuesday.
You can not just call in sick any day you feel like it. You must be legitimately ill to do this. We don’t allow mental health days. Do I really need to comment here?

Oh goodness. Typing this out is making me more mad an entire week and some change later.

He then went on to talk about how when more than one person calls in sick it puts everyone in a bind, blah blah blah.

Look. It isn’t my fault that we were sick the same day. If I’m so sick that I need to call in, I’m not going to stop in my tracks and check my work email first to make sure that no one else has called in that day. And moreover, I followed the proper procedure! I was actually sick! It wasn’t a “mental health day” (though working in news should freaking warrant at least one a month, in my humble opinion.) I wasn’t extending my weekend, and even if I bloody well was, I’m an adult, for God’s sake! If I have only two sick days a year, can’t I use them any way I want? Ugh! Must I freaking PROVE to you that I was sick, because you are my mommy and don’t want to catch me playing hooky? LORD!

Fast forward to Saturday night. Dan drives me to the ER as I suffer through the worst migraine I’ve had in my entire life. I can’t see, I can’t breathe. All I can do is scream and sob in excruciating pain, pray for a bullet to the brain if I can’t have painkillers, and thank God this is happening on a Saturday and that I can be at work on Monday and not be forced to use my last (insert expletive of choice here) remaining sick day on another bloody migraine. I get morphine in my veins (wonderful stuff, that morphine) and a CT scan and blood work that collectively tell the doctors that I’m “in perfect health.” I’m perfectly healthy? Why hot damn! This is fabulous! But! It is also deeply discouraging because I was sure the CT scan would expose the problem in my brain that causes these migraines and alas, it did not.

I’ve had a minor headache ever since the trip to the ER. And it has now dawned on me the cause of the worst migraine of my entire existence.

Lent.

For Lent this year, I am fasting fried foods and all beverages that aren’t water. Only while in the hospital bed did I finally think to myself that I can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t regularly consumed caffeine. I have one or two (sometimes more, let’s be honest) Diet Cokes a day, maybe a cup of coffee or two or five. And for the first time since babyhood, I’m now caffeine free, with the hellacious withdrawal symptoms to show for it.

But the good news is that I have slept like a BABY ever since. Like I’ve said before, the only other chronic ailment I deal with is insomnia, and perhaps cutting caffeine out of my life will resolve both that and migraines. Oh God, please, let it resolve both. PLEASE.

All this to say, after Lent, I’m done with caffeine. Seriously. Done. Diet Coke and coffee both come in decaf, and that is all I shall have. I’m really excited and encouraged about what this is going to do for my body. Taking a drug out of my life can only make me better, right?

Check out my sweet wrist bands from the hospital. The staff evidently didn’t know who I was, so they tagged me as both my maiden and married name. You are SO jealous of my two wrist bands.

hospital wrist bands

identity crisis

And finally, three cheers for my unconditionally loving husband who stuck by my side through the whole thing, stayed awake through the night with me, and who has never looked so sad as he did when he watched me writhe in pain. I love him more than words could ever say.

Goodnight.

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Filed under life, on the job, rants

song #2.

I need everything to slow down. Please. Everything is a blur.

Don’t worry. I’m not experiencing a quarter life crisis or anything dramatic like that. But lately I’ve been feeling as though I’m standing still in the median of the highway of my life, with feelings and experiences and emotions and traffic whizzing past me on either side in six lanes of exhaust and horns at speeds upwards of 90 miles an hour. If only I were big enough and strong enough to and brave enough to take one small step to my right and stand in front of the oncoming actuality and stop it dead in its tracks for only a day. Maybe just a moment. Just long enough to completely savor it.

Bringing it back to the backbone of this blog, I blame it on my job. News is only “new” just long enough for another story to break and then another and then another. And before you know it, last week feels like last year and last year feels like five years ago and five years ago feels impossible. It’s one of the only jobs I know of where your workday never begins because the last one never ended. Yes, you leave the newsroom at the end of the day (and week.) But that doesn’t stop the world from turning, people from living, and news from consequently breaking. So when you next set foot inside the newsroom, you hit the ground running even before you put your purse down, and it is only a matter of minutes before you’re up to your elbows in the happenings of the world. All of a sudden you find that your own experiences, the news breaking in your world, takes a backseat to the Olympics and Michael Jackson’s doctor and H1N1 and budget cuts and snow days and meth busts and dead bodies and murder trials.

Today, it all slowed down. For just a moment, I was able to block off the rush hour traffic on life’s six lane highway and transport into my own no-cars-allowed-sidewalk-only microcosm. It was the closest thing to a vacation I’ve had since my honeymoon, and it was only breakfast.

I’ve only ever gotten to hang out with baby Kylin in the evenings when she’s fussy, so to remedy that Dan and I woke up a bit earlier than normal (for a Saturday morning, that is; we still slept in as far as weekly wake up calls go) and went over to Ashley’s and brought pancake mix and eggs. We weren’t there but five minutes before I got a smile out of Kylin’s sweet face. Kathleen, Jeff, and little Jackson met us a few minutes later bearing bagels and bacon, and all of us sat around and ate like kings and drank unholy amounts of coffee and talked and experienced each other for hours in the most beautiful way. We laughed, we gasped, we admired the little ones, we comfortably co-existed without anxiety. We had nowhere to be, and no distractions (no news stories) were tugging at me. I left my BlackBerry out of reach on silent, letting each work email quietly go unnoticed, and sat back to delight in the safe little world we’d created inside that warm apartment, completely devoid of darkness and bursting with light and love.

Tomorrow is Sunday. As a pastor’s wife and ministry leader, I can already hear the engines revving in the distance. My lungs are already choking for fresh air, as I stare blankly, sadly, into another blurred six days.

Just. One. More. Moment. Please. One more smile from Kylin, one more cup of coffee, one more Jeff/Jackson body slam, one more minute to sink deeper into my husband’s arms. Please. Just one.

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don’t let it snow.

I’ve been cranky for the past 24 hours for two reasons.

#1. I’ve had a migraine for two days. I’ve had migraines since birth and they usually last at least two days for me. When I was little, they made me throw up, but I’ve since trained myself to hold it together. I’ve seen doctors for it, but I can never afford the medication I need. ($200 for nine pills, and I need two pills per migraine.) My friend gave me some of her prescription medication. I’m eternally grateful since I didn’t have to pay for it, however it leaves me with horrible side effects of dry mouth, nausea, and aching muscles. So no, I can’t feel my headache anymore thanksforasking but I do feel as though I have the flu.

#2. Snow is in the forecast for tomorrow. Snow. In. Florida. And this would be the SECOND time that it has snowed in Florida this winter.

Now, please, I work in news. I am fully aware of the fact that just over 63% of the United States is blanketed in white powder. And my friends who live up north claim that I have no cause for complaint. But I disagree. To all my friends who are up to their noses in snow right now: you chose to live up north, crazies! I chose to live in Florida, THE SUNSHINE STATE. I chose beaches, 110 degree summers, 70 degree winters, and 100% humidity. That’s what I signed up for. Not snow. And my migraines are triggered by changes in barometric pressure. So precipitation will undoubtedly aggravate my already throbbing skull, and frozen precipitation will only make me angry on top of that.

I. DID. NOT. CHOOSE. SNOW!
I’m being weather raped.

You think I can convince my Chicagoan husband to move to the equator with me?

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is that your anniversary sweater?

The station I currently work at is the only one I’ve so much as visited (save the tour I took of BBC Studios) so I can’t say much regarding how News Directors operate. Evidently word in the biz is that they’re usually pretty heartless and overbearing, albeit completely oblivious to the goings on inside the newsroom.

My ND can be that way. The reporters are constantly frustrated at his policies that seem to make no sense in common practice. Whether or not that’s true (I honestly can’t say) my biggest issue with him as a line producer is the fact that when one of us screws up, he emails everyone in the entire newsroom about it rather than just the person at fault. While I understand this is done in some effort to make us all aware of our ability to make mistakes so that we’ll be more careful, it is the most humiliating and depreciating thing when you’re the person that email concerns.

But other than that, I don’t really have much of an issue with him. I can’t say the same for everyone I work with, but I know that as far as I’m concerned, my boss ain’t that bad. And according toΒ our EP who has worked in newsrooms all over the map, comparatively our ND is pretty tame. And while he can be extremely difficult to work with at times, I choose to believe her.

Four months ago my boss mentioned in passing that he and his wife were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary on February 2nd. Everyone else within earshot may have forgotten. But I held on to that little nugget o’ knowledge and texted him the night before to say congrats. While this may sound way too ass-kissey and a bit creepy, there is a method to my madness that has nothing to do with the hope of a pay raise.

Several of my coworkers hold tightly to the embarrassing emails and nonsensical newsroom rules and simply write our ND off as a tyrant. Any journalist will tell you it’s way too easy to succumb to negativity of the news business. It’s the nature of our trade. The world is gloom and doom, and therefore cynicism and pessimism seem to ooze from our pores. This is especially true when a common foe (read: News Director) is present. But I refuse to fall for this. It’s my personal choice to be a happy producer. Therefore, rather than jumping on the “hate the ND” bandwagon, I’ve decided to hold on to those moments when boss’s heart is on his sleeve. Those are the ways I want to remember him.

Yesterday before the morning meeting, I let all the reporters in on his silver secret. They were both shocked that I knew this (creeper) and impressed that he’d been married so long. So when he walked in wearing a brand new sweater one of the reporters opened up the congratulatory floodgates by inquiring, “Is that your anniversary sweater?”

After all the reporters gushed praises and congrats, our boss began to tell us about his wife Rachel.Β  (Sidebar: Because I’d like to protect my coworkers’ privacy, I’ll normally avoid using names on this blog. But my boss’s wife’s name is Rachel, and I have to mention that, because I feel like the story loses its value without her name.) At the first mention of her, the stern, emotionless face we’ve all gotten used to staring down daily turned into a flush of color and awe.

“I met Rachel at the TV station in Savannah,” he started. “She was working chyron on the first show I ever produced, and she made the only errors in that show. One Friday night, she called the station to ask if anyone was going out on the town. I pulled the phone away from my ear, pretended to ask around, and told her that no one else was going out but that I’d come out and meet her. After knowing her for about six months, I asked her to marry me. To this day, I’ll always say that the best decision I ever made was marrying Rachel. And she raised two wonderful sons. I can’t take any credit for that. It was all Rachel.”

The infuriating emails, the ridiculous video-consolidation policies, each story idea that gets shot down for seemingly ridiculous reasons… those things do not define my boss.

My boss is hopelessly in love with Rachel. And that makes me love working for him.

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Filed under life, on the job