the girl in the grass.

your move, desklunch.

I believe this blog can serve as some sort of “survival guide” for aspiring journalists. I’ve got to pay it forward, you know? Listen up, newbies. It’s so easy to fall victim to the curse of the desklunch. Don’t do it!

Because our industry is dying a slow and painful death our boss is militant about all employees clocking out for an hour each day to save money. Makes sense, right? Well, here’s the problem with that:

a) Hardly anyone at my station gets paid enough money to actually leave for lunch everyday and there really isn’t a suitable designated “break room” area which means most of us just inhale our PB&J at our desks (or nondesk, in my case.)
b) There is always something that needs get done so it isn’t unusual to wind up working through lunch anyway, furiously writing and checking scripts and making phone calls between mouthfuls.

A number of my coworkers just bite it by working at their desk during lunch time and conceding to clock out for an hour despite the fact that they never stopped working. Hence, THE  EVIL DESKLUNCH.

I feel like I should be committed to an insane asylum because I seem to be the only one who fights and refuses to succumb to the desklunch!

In a bout of both rebellion and naivety, I used to refuse to clock out if I didn’t stop working. I figured that if I stayed and worked through my lunch break (and by “worked” I don’t mean “sat my fat ass on Facebook for an hour pretending to work,” I mean “legitimately worked“) I should get paid, right? It might not sound like much but earning that little extra $9 each day really made a difference.

But that lasted only a few pay periods before I got severely reprimanded for being too expensive.

So rather than clocking out and eating my lunch at my nondesk working away for free, I’ve begun taking my lunch hour very seriously in an attempt to maintain my sanity. Getting out of the newsroom for a little bit does wonders for the underpaid journalist’s brain. Despite my considerable lack of funds, I manage to escape the artificially lit, windowless newsroom almost daily.

In the parking lot, there are a few patches of scratchy green stuff that tries to pass for grass. Every day it’s feasible,  I walk out to the parking lot around 1:00pm and head to my car. I then take out a little quilt my aunt made me that I keep folded up in the backseat for occasions such as lunch time. I sprawl out the blue squares on the pathetic green tuft and bust out one of the four books in which I’m currently engrossed and maybe tag team it with my iPod. And for an hour, I absolutely don’t work.

I know this may seem to be a ridiculous topic to actually write about. But the next time you meet a journalist, ask him or her the last time he or she took a legitimate lunch break. If they respond by just laughing, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If they respond by saying something like, “Oh I take a lunch break everyday,” you can assume you’re either talking to me (now that’s just weird) or a news director. And sorry, but news directors don’t count.

Silly me. I thought my personal desklunch revolt had gone quietly unnoticed until a few reporters started poking fun at me. (“What are you, homeless or something?”) And then I heard one of the suits go up to one of the engineers and ask, “Who’s the girl in the grass?”

Listen closely to me desklunch. You will be defeated. Even when Summer hits and I am forced to sit in that scratchy grass in 100+ degree heat with stifling humidity after covering myself in SPF 80, I refuse to work between 1:00 and 2:00pm. Consider yourself WARNED.

vaycay during rayray.

It is April, the month that marks my one-year anniversary as a full-time employee at my station. What this means is I now have ten paid vacation days and one floating holiday suddenly at my disposal!

I’ve heard rumors that this is not how it is at other stations (do I sound like a broken record yet?) but where I work, all employees are strictly FORBIDDEN to take time off or even swap shifts during ratings periods (February, May, July, and November.) Among other reasons, this is why I chose to get married in August. However, all the last-minute preparations/showers fell in July (when I was working overnight and weekends.) Even though I had already found a producer willing to switch with me the Saturday of my bridal shower, I wasn’t allowed because of ratings. So I worked all night and showered all day. Exhausting.

(Just a side note: My boss, who’s worked in news for nearly 30 years, just celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary on February 2nd. How the hell does he get off getting married during ratings? I digress.)

Dan texted me while I was at work a few weeks ago and said, “If you can get June 28 through July 2 off, you’ll be so excited!” This, quite frankly, pissed me off royally. It would be as if someone said to you, “If you could somehow grow wings, I’ll teach you how to fly!” In true masochistic form, I opted to rub salt in my own wound by asking Dan why he wanted me to request to be off those particular days.

“Because I want to take you to Cornerstone!”

WHAAAT??! I’ve wanted to go to Cornerstone as long as I’ve known what Cornerstone is. Being that its geographical disposition is basically a zillion miles away from me, it has never been practically or financially feasible.

So at that point, I instantaneously morphed from angry to supremely depressed. If it weren’t for bloody ratings, I’d be able to go to Cornerstone with my husband. But Dan wouldn’t let it go. He kept begging me to ask the time off anyway, just to see what would happen. Reluctantly, I did as I was told, and received a one sentence email from my boss in response.

“I’m sorry but I cannot allow that during ratings.”

It was probably the saddest “I told you so, Dan” moment of my life.

Just as I was about to leave work for the day, I felt a tap on my right shoulder. I turned around to see my boss holding a vacation request form. With monotonous apathy, he flatly said, “Check your email and fill this out.”

Here’s the email, copied and pasted from my inbox (which is painful, because I want so desperately to correct his grammatical errors.)

SUBJECT: July ratings

Due to the fact that the ratings period for July follows only 5 weeks and that takes away a considerable amount of time for vacations, I am making a one time only change to our July policy.
I will accept limited vacation requests for the end of the last week of June which includes July 1,2 and for the last three days of the July ratings period which are July 26th, 27th and 28th.
No fudging. July 3 through the 25th are not available and this will not happen in May or November or next February. This is a one time only change.
I am not doing this for me. I promise not be off any of those days other than July 9th which the day I am off for working July 5th. I wanted to make sure everyone knew I was not changing the rule to benefit me.



a house divided.

Our TV station is located in what used to be an old movie theater. The newsroom is on the ground floor but there are at least two floors. There could be more, but I’ve only ever heard people talk of the elusive “upstairs” in such a way that leads me to believe there are only two stories.  I have no idea how to get “upstairs.” I’ve heard a rumor that we have a stairwell, though I have yet to locate it. I think I’ve seen an elevator. But maybe it was a bathroom. I’m not sure.

The inviting lobby, windows abounding, comes complete with a large fish tank, framed pictures of all of our news anchors and meteorologists, and a sweet southern old receptionist who can make pretty much anyone smile. And, of course, a giant HDTV broadcasting our signal at all hours of the day.

This warm and friendly room, sitting below a vaulted ceiling, rests between the news and sales departments. If you take a right at Miss Linda (said receptionist) you’ll walk unnoticed into the buzz of a bustling newsroom, with reporters and producers and editors at their desks (or nondesk) furiously typing and clicking and printing and cussing and telephoning. If you take a left you will find…


I don’t know.

The few times I’ve walked through the halls of the sales department all I’ve seen is a few offices, some posters for network programming (CSI:MIAMI!) and two or three nameless faces dressed in name brands that cost more than I make in a month. I never give the sales department and its inhabitants much thought until a) a phone call is transferred into the newsroom and someone asks for an employee I’ve never heard of, or b) there is a company meeting or luncheon, when I find myself uncomfortably immersed in a sea of unknown suits and ties, or c) I walk down the hall and pass someone (I assume works here?) and can’t for the life of me figure out what to say to them because I’ve never seen them before.

It’s bizarre to me that the news and sales people don’t interact more. The suits on the other side of Miss Linda decide which commercials air during which newscast at what time, while the starving, fresh-faced, small market journalists across the lobby make their living solely based on the spots the suits sell. I kind of feel as though I should have a say in this decision. I mean, I’m the producer. It’s my show. Perhaps I’m just being greedy, but I wish I got to choose which commercials my viewers have to sit through. But since this is not the case, I wish I could at least be able to put a name and a face to the person (persons?) in charge the eight minutes of advertising space between 5:00 and 5:30 in the afternoon.

Guess I need to take a trip across the lobby.

happy new year, three point one miles later.

I have a blog that’s actually about my vocation in the works. I promise.

In the meantime…

I have a hard time coming up with new year’s resolutions. Honestly, at the beginning of each year, I just hope that next year is better than the last. But in 2010, I actually set a goal; my new year’s resolution for 2010 was to run a 5k race.

As most girls do, I’ve struggled with body image issues basically  my entire life (which is what happens when a naturally curvy girl tries her damnedest to be a ballerina to no avail.) As part of a “make Lindsay better all around” campaign (inspired by caffeine rehab) I figured it was time I started treating my body the way God intended; making healthier choices when eating, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly.

Well, I’m excited to say that after regular training, dedication, and encouragement from friends, I accomplished my goal on March 27th. I sealed my new year’s resolution in the third month! That has to be some sort of new year’s resolution record. I also have a sweet tie-dye tee shirt to show for it.

I chose to sign up for this particular race after a few of my friends told me I could do it. I believed them, though I’m not sure why. A coworker/seasoned runner actually ended up running the race with me last minute. We started at the same time but she totally blew past me halfway through the second mile. That doesn’t matter though because I beat my best time ever! I ran the race in 35 minutes and some seconds.

For all my readers who happen to run marathons, triathlons, decathlons, pantathons and sweatathons that might not seem like a great time, but it was my BEST time and I’m pretty dang proud!

The plan is now to run a 5k once every other month to give me incentive to keep running and stay healthy. Well wishes and encouragement would be great!

fueled by water and herbal tea.

Let’s all let out a sigh of relief. Lent is over! *phew*

In past years, I’ve always given up a combination of things for Lent. (Fried food and sweets, sweets and sodas, fried foods and sodas…) and this year was no different. I gave up fried foods (sowhatifihaveaproblem) and all beverages excluding water.

I am happy to report that this year, Lent was more than just another 40 days I begrudgingly deprive myself of one of my favorite foods. In 2010, Lent changed my life.

Avoiding fried food was easy as pie (and NOT because I substituted french fries for pie. Though that would have been awesome.) For me, it’s just overdone and stale. (Ha. Pun not intended but still amusing.) Fried foods is my default go-to faster, so now it’s not even really all that difficult for me to evade greasy goodness. On the flip side, fasting liquids threw my entire existence into disarray, an experience I couldn’t have prepared myself for even if I was warned. Hence, the trip to the emergency room.

(in case you missed it: click here)

Since I checked into caffeine rehab, I haven’t had a lick of trouble sleeping (which, if you know me, is UNFATHOMABLE) and the few headaches I’ve gotten haven’t reached “real” migraine status and have gone away after only taking two Excedrin Tension Headache gelcaps (I used to take up to NINE Excedrin Migraine tablets JUST to bring my migraine down a few notches to merely a severe headache.)

(However, last weekend a few girlfriends and I took a road trip to Alabama to see Ingrid Michaelson and Mat Kearney play a show. Over the course of two days, two huge bags of chocolate were demolished between the four of us, and on Monday I got a gnarly headache from -you guessed it- the caffeine in the chocolate.)

And so. I’ve completed my stint in rehab and will now go forth living a caffeine-free life. I’m excited at the prospect of fewer migraines and being able to sleep like a normal human.

What in the world am I going to fast for Lent ’11?

Has giving up something ever changed your life?