Quote of the Week

"We Must be Willing to Give Up the Life We Have Planned, So As to Have the Life that is Waiting for Us."
-Joseph Campbell
Week of Aug 12, 2013

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Enjoy Today

It has been 5 years since I have blogged.

So much has changed.

My very last blog in August of 2013 was when I was leaving the news business...and here I am, back in the news business.

We have 3 dogs, 2 birds, and countless pufts of hairballs & feathers.

Jack was only 13.  Now he's a graduate, awaiting college this fall.
And now I have no children in elementary school. One is about to start the last year of middle school.

We need new carpet.  We need to paint the house.
I'm sure the last time I blogged, we had a huge bald spot in the lawn where kids batted, and 3 smaller bald spots that were bases. Now, it's all back to grass. Sigh.

Ryan has suggested we take down the playset, which 5 years ago was still used and loved.  Now it sits alone; no giggling kids try to reach the sky on its swings or huddle in the little house with snacks.  No one streaks down the slide.  The grass at the bottom of the slide has also grown back in.  But I don't want to take it down. 

In 2013, I couldn't wrap my head around the thought of my kids driving.  Now there are three cars parked at the house ... one will head to California in August.  And another will probably come along as Kyle gets his license this year. Nick driving still seems weird.

5 years seems not that long ago - and it seems like another lifetime. Dare I think of what will come 5 years from now? Jack will be 23! Whoa! Kyle 20! And Nick will be the graduating kid. That's crazy talk. I'm not even going to talk about how old I'll be. What?! Maybe we'll finally have moved out of the mini-van era.  We're still hanging on to one, but I'm guessing over the span of the next 5 years we'll be able to tell it goodbye.

No minivan. No kids at home. No piles of laundry pouring out of smelly boys' rooms. No empty cartons of milk put back in the fridge. So many things that we complain about that will give us an empty feeling when they're no longer there.

Let's get back to the moment. Today. Right now. I'm sure all my boys are still asleep - including the Dad. It's a holiday. A holiday that knows no age.  Everyone's a little kid with eyes lit up by sparklers or watering from smoke balls. A good day for family time. The next 5 years can wait - I'm going to enjoy today.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

For My Kids

Friday, Aug 16th at exactly 10:31:54pm, I'll end 20 years, 11 hours, and 54 minutes in network television news.  I hate writing the sentence.  Reading it turns my stomach.  It's scary, and I have a multitude of mixed feelings.  But it's time.

I've been in TV news for a little more than 20 years.  Half. My. Life.  And for 16 years of that time, I've worked the night shift.  Usually 1:30pm to 10:30pm.  That's longer than all my children have been alive.  They've never known me to be home regularly at night during the week.  Basically, during the school year, I only saw them on weekends.  Don't judge.  It worked for us.  For awhile.

Early on, the kids were so young, most of their activities were on weekends.  But now, sports are often on weeknights.  They are involved in more things - with night activities.  I'm missing things.  Important things.  While I'm reading the 200-billionth script on firework safety, my kids are belting out solos dressed as fruit, racing go-carts in Boy Scouts, and making great catches at the plate in their baseball games.  While I'm going to meetings about needing more meetings, my husband is drying tears, praising accomplishments, and sharing day-to-day experiences with the boys.

I want to be home to help check homework.  To hear about their day.  To sit down to a meal.

But it's not easy to give something like this up.  It's a pride thing.  And I can feel the disappointment from people in their reactions.  Maybe I'm imagining it, but even so, there's guilt.  I LOVE TV news.
I LOVE writing for newscasts. I love making important decisions about coverage.  I LOVE breaking into programming.  (Sorry, I know it's annoying - but if we're breaking in it's because it's something "big" - and that brings a great adrenaline rush.)  I LOVE finding creative ways to present a story.  I LOVE when a reporter or anchor tells me they like something I've written...or that I've helped them.  I LOVE working with producers and seeing them "get it."  Yeah, good stuff.

There are many things I don't love.  But we all have those things, with whatever job we have.

So, this is not a change I take lightly.  I've agonized over it.

But I'm doing it.

I've taken a job as a Broadcast TV instructor.  It's with the Kansas City Public School district.  If you know anything about the district - you probably just made the face everyone makes when I tell them.  (Kind of a "What the HELL are you thinking?")  If you don't know about it - it's a "troubled" district.  It lost accreditation a few years ago.  There's been trouble keeping a superintendent.  Trouble with school board bickering.  All the schools have metal detectors. I know - I've covered KCPS for more than 10 years.  And let me tell you, the job interested me BECAUSE it's KCPS.

When people are ripping on the district - they are ripping on my community.  Sure, I live in "luxurious" Lee's Summit .. but when someone asks where I live, I say Kansas City.  I decided I want to be part of the solution, not the problem.  Or put in a more mushy fashion:  "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Kansas City students deserve a good education.  They shouldn't get "less" of anything - good teachers, good equipment, good support - because they happen to live in a certain part of town. This job is teaching the thing I know more about than anything else.  I'll be working with KCPS-TV - a student run television station for the whole district, shown on cable channel 18.   So, it's a way to keep in the business, so to speak, while also trying to be one of the many "good" things about KCPS.

And there are good things! The school I'm teaching at is the "Paseo Academy of Fine & Performing Arts." If you're from here,  hearing the word "Paseo" makes you cringe.  It shouldn't.  I have a whole new feeling about it.

Students have to audition to come to this school.  You don't pass the audition - you don't get in.  And this school focuses on the "arts."  Students must declare a major - from subjects like creative writing, visual technology, fashion design, vocal music, instrumental music, dance... and oddly enough broadcasting.  They have to take "core" classes here, too.  But they're here for the arts.  These are talented kids.  They're proud they got into this school.  They are diverse.  They are smart.  Think: a whole high school of "Glee." Though I have yet to hear anyone break out into song, but that may be just because I only know how to get to my classroom and haven't been in the right part of the building.

During the interview process, they warned me - these kids are "different."  They pushed on the "why would you want to come here."  And they warned me - yes, the kids are smart and talented, but many come with baggage.  You know what,  all the more reason to step up.

I attended a back to school orientation for the entire district staff.  It really changed my dark, negative feelings about the district.  I walked in and felt like I was at a political convention.  Schools sat together, with someone proudly waving their sign.  Many wore matching TShirts.  Many brought noise-makers, and poms poms.  These people were quite obviously proud of their schools and their work.  The convo hadn't even started yet, and I was inspired.

I sat down and looked around in awe.  Thumping music played.  Various schools yelled their cheers.  Slides played in the auditorium.  It's what I would have expected from one of the more "privileged" districts ... like Lee's Summit or Blue Valley.  But this was Kansas City.

Then came the speeches.  Sure, they acknowledged there was work to do - but they showed major progress...enough for provisional accreditation.  Every speaker was high energy and motivating.  When we interview Dr. Green (superintendent) for news stories, he's always just a "talking head/official."  In this environment, he was a proud ringleader, jumping up and down and yelling 'ooooweee'!  He made me laugh. I like what he had to say.  If only the rest of the community could see THIS part of KCPS.

Our speaker was a feisty professor from K-State.  She sounded like Wanda Sykes. She really whipped up the crowd with her humor, and her take on teaching and education.  But she really got me when she talked about how teachers "love their kids."  Because "they are OUR kids."  I could hear "Amens" in the crowd.  She talked about how we had to love these kids, and be their family, because for some it would be the only love and family they know.  Loving them at school will help prevent them from seeking love in the wrong places.  I heard "I know that's right" yelled in the crowd.  It was one thing to be moved by this speaker's inspiring words.  But it was another thing entirely to hear the crowd reaction.  These teachers DO love their kids.  They ARE proud of their work.  And just, wow.

So now I'm trying to be a teacher.  This does not come naturally for me at all.  Sure I can talk TV 'til the cows come home.  Sure I can teach producers.  But this is different.  These are high school students.  I feel awkward and like I'm pretending to be teacher.  Or I'm doing a one time presentation. I worry that I'm not connecting.  I see them staring at me, and I'm not sure anyone's home.  It's just the first couple of days - so I know we're still warming up to each other.  I can't make the "Bueller?  Bueller?  Bueller?" joke.  They're too young to get it.

Yes, the kids are smart and talented.  And yes they are very "artsy" and full of "expression."
But the other day, I was standing up as my coordinator spoke to a class, and one of the students, a gentlemen, leaned over and whispered, "Ms. Hicks, would you like my chair?"  I was stunned.  Touched. Encouraged.  Soon I noticed, some answered often me with "yes m'am."

Then today it happened.  That "love" I've heard teachers talk about, the "why" they call them "my kids."  It hit me.  I was doing a class on interviewing.  And the students had to interview each other.
I ended up having to participate because of the odd numbers after they paired.

The tough swagger kids answered my questions with a sweet shyness.  They revealed things that broke my heart - but at the same time, won me over to wanting to be one of the good things in their lives.

They all have hopes and dreams.  When you ask them what they're most proud of - they say - "making it this far."  That says something.

Over and over in interviews, students shared one same feeling:  you can't trust people, they let you down.  I took that as a challenge.

So, yeah, I don't have the teacher skills.  I'm not doing very well with "being firm" and discipline.  (How weird is that???)  I'm awkward and bumping along.  But now I have the one thing every teacher needs.  The connection.

So goodbye TV news.  It's a bittersweet break-up.

But now, my future is helping shape futures.

I'm nervous. I'm freaked.  I'm ready.

Time for a change.  A life change.  A lifestyle change.

Time to BE the change.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Because I Said So.

That's what Kyle defiantly told Ryan this morning when Ryan told him he could not wear shorts to school. I knew something was up when I came out of my room and saw Kyle face down on Nick's bed still in his jammies while the others were dressed. But I didn't want to know and went about my business. Later Ryan shared with me Kyle's OUTRAGE that he couldn't wear shorts.

Dear Kyle: it's your Grandma's fault you couldn't wear shorts today. Ok, that's a stretch - somewhat - but there are some roots there. Let me explain.

I have found that there appears to be many things I do or say, and if you were to ask me the reason, and I told the absolute truth, it would simply be because "my mom said."

I used to always leave the stove popped open after baking anything. Ryan disliked this. He wanted to know why. I first told him because it warms the house. He didn't like that answer, so I gave him the real answer: because it's what my mom did. That really didn't help my argument, or attempt to not lose crazy points, but that was the answer. I don't know why she did it. She just did, and so I always did it, until it became more annoying to hear Ryan analyze all the reasons why it didn't make sense. So that's one habit I HAVE been broken of...I mean, of which I have been broken. (Mom will read this and not approve of me ending the sentence with a preposition.)

Towels. Ryan folded towels once. And now, I do not let him fold towels. He "does it wrong." He wanted to know what made it wrong. Again, I don't have a logicial answer, other than "this is how my mom does it." So I went with, "Because it IS."

So let's come back to this morning and the drama over shorts. First, let's address clothing in general. When I was growing up, our school clothing rules were: 1. Nothing revealing. 2. Nothing with holes. 3. No sweat pants. That number three isn't going over well with the boys.
Yeah, kids these days don't really dress up for school. I like my kids to look decent. Matching. Clean. And I adhere to the three rules. But they are boys, and they want to wear their MIZZOU sweats or basketball pants. Ryan actually asked me about it. I did not explain that was my mom's rule. Instead, I recited to him what had been recited to me, "We go to school to learn. We need to be dressed appropriately. We should not be wearing clothes we could sleep in." Or something like that.

Now, this is not to say I don't put my own thoughts into these things. My mom would be the first to tell you, if I did not like or "get" her "rules" then I would break them. But obviously there were things that did stick. Subconsciously. As far as clothes go, I generally go with the "dress for the job you want, not the job you have" theory. And I do believe sending the kids to school in "I'm ready to WORK, not play" clothes makes sense. Jeans and TShirts (nice ones, no stupid sayings or characters) are ok. I let them have their sense of style...with restrictions. But the heart of the decision probably stems from the 3 rules.

Then there's the shorts issue. Which, especially with Kyle, is up there with the coat issue. He doesn't want to wear a coat, ever. And he'd probably wear shorts all the time. Come on, we have to draw the line.

Well, mom had a rule that we couldn't wear shorts unless it was 80. I double checked my brain several times to make sure it was not 70, because that does seem extreme, but no, I'm 95% sure it was 80. Now, I'm thinking this rule was set in exasperation to being asked a million times if we could wear shorts. I get that. So yes, I also set limits on when they can be outside in shorts - or without jackets or long sleeves. So today, yes, it was going to be 70. But it was NOT 70 in the morning. They stand at the bus in the morning. They have morning recess. So, no shorts.

I love that Ryan told me Kyle came in to get a jacket because he was cold in his jeans and Tshirt at the bus stop. I asked Ryan if he pointed that out to Kyle. He said he did, but it only got Kyle going about how it would be "like 90 later" and he would "MELLLLLT."

Yep. Some stuff sticks with you - and you don't even know until someone else questions you about it. Though I am aware when I hear my mom's voice coming out of my mouth. That's creepy. There are a few phrases she used that I have been able to restrain from using ... like, "Butt flat!" So many jokes could be made about what that means, but it was basically getting yelled at in the car to have our 'butts flat' on the seat, and unable to reach whoever we're picking on. Or to not sit like we're about to take off from the dinner table. You just heard "Butts Flat!" and you knew to sit. Now.

Then there's the infamous, "Find a place and light," which only in the last year, did I reveal to her that I. HAD. NO. IDEA. WHAT. THAT. MEANT!!

Ah, the stuff parents say. Sounds like another blog.....
(Feel free to submit your mom-isms & sayings.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Popsicles in Heaven

My childhood babysitter has died. She lived a long life. But it's still sad, and takes me back. Way back.

My memories:
1. My mom learned to never drop one of us kids off without an undershirt on. MY kids have undershirts because it was an "Evelyn rule."

2. I MUST have popsicles in the fridge in the summer - enough for our kids + anyone playing with them. Popsicle day was "special" and exciting. And to this day, they give me that same little kid excitement and happiness.

3. She rescued me once. A neighbor called her because I was crying on the sidewalk trying to walk to her house from school in the snow. I was so cold I "could not go on." Evelyn came and picked me up - and sent me home that day with a hand-me-down-coat that I thought was the best coat I had ever seen. (I still remember: furry brown - with white furry trim and cool latches to close it up.)

4. She did not tolerate bullying. I remember picking on a fellow kid about how she always walked on her toes ... and Evelyn came after me. She sternly reminded me of my bad habit of picking at mosquito bites. (Sorry Evelyn, I still scratch and pick.) But at the same time - she also helped me learn about standing up for myself. A kid who picked on me all the time at school would sometimes try to follow me when I walked to her house and he'd torture me on the way. I remember I was wearing a cute blue dress, and blue tights and a red ribbon in my hair - and he splashed mud on me. And I cried. She gave me a talking-to about giving it back to him. She was all tough love. From that point on, I started pushing back. MANY years later, that same boy asked me out. I politely turned him down.

5. She had the best driveway for riding bikes. And she had some great trikes with giant wheels that were so fun.

6. She loved her dog Rueben.

7. She struck fear into our hearts with her ruler. But she never used it.

8. She's the only person I knew who invited the mailman in and had a cup of coffee with him and just chatted. No one probably does that anymore.

9. She always had a present for each kid at Christmastime. And was genuinely excited to see us open it. I remember getting a Barbie doll and having a huge smile on my face that matched hers.

10. I remember a victory when I pretended to nap and she believed it and praised me for sleeping. She was VERY hard to fool.

11. She would put everyone down for naps - then watch her stories. There were many times when she either let me stay up to watch ... or let me "nap" on the couch where I could still see the stories. I still enjoy the soaps. Got my start with her and Erica Kane.

12. I loved when I got to do special things - like go play with her granddaughter who lived up the street ... and there were two girls who came for babysitting who also lived right across the street...and sometimes I got to go over to their house and play. I also got to play with the little boy who lived next door. Him I DID date many, many years later.

13. She was someone who washed your face and you felt like she was gonna wipe it right off!

14. I remember how "cool" and "grown up" I felt when she let me help at lunch time - and "watch" the babies. I'm pretty sure I learned a lot about proper diaper changing from her.

15. I learned about kids with single dads, single moms, tough times and "different" circumstances. I learned that a new dad could adopt you and change your last name. I experienced acceptance of difference and making the best of things. And that a babysitter could be a support system for families. A babysitter. I think many of those kids who spent many a day at Evelyn's would agree she was more than a babysitter.

God Bless you Evelyn. On behalf of the children, thank you.
I have to believe there are popsicles waiting for you in heaven.

(My mom added some memories in comments. Feel free to add yours, too.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Did he move my cheese? Dreaming Out Loud.

So, I have been having the worst time sleeping lately. The first problem was "brain noise." You know, that spinning spinning spinning your brain does when you're TRYING to settle your brain for a long winter's nap. This happened and that happened and what if this and what if that and if you were in this situation you'd do this and that and that and that. Yeah, it's that crazy and noisy. It doesn't even have to be heavy stuff - it could be; I need to fold laundry, and check school work. Your body is tired. Your soul is tired. But your brain is amped up like it's O-D'd on 5 hour energy.

I actually was in the doctor's office for something else - and asked about it. She gave me something to take. I was so excited at the prospect of actually going to SLEEP. Well, I slept. But not well. This drug took the spinning spinning spinning to a more "Wheel of Fortune" type of spinning - where the life stuff spins once -- then the peg stops it on one topic and begins a vivid, strange, awake-but-asleep style dreaming that is keeping the black circles under my eyes in business.

Take, for example, my dream from last night. A whirlwind of randomness. I don't really remember how it begins -- or ends -- just the wild nonsense in the middle. So much so that it made me want to give a few "real" people the stink-eye (with black circles) this morning.

So here's the deal. First, I was at work. (Current place - to be referred to as "new" throughout.) And I discovered that my desk contents had been moved. Everything on top of my desk, and inside my drawers -- moved to another desk. A co-worker (new) had done it so he could move into my desk in order to be closer to his manager. He didn't think it was a big deal. At first I laughed - but then I was not happy. I talked to him about it, no yelling - just firm, "Hey, I like you. You're great. But WHAT. YOU. DID. WAS. WRONG." I mean - the gravity of his actions were heavy in this dream. So much so that I decided I needed to go to H.R.

But before I could go to her office. I needed to give birth. That's right. It's at this point I realize I am pregnant. With twins. I'm in labor and the doctor determines she is going to break my water and deliver. I tell her over and over, "you break my water - and baby will come with it." Yep - water broken; time to push. It takes like 3 pushes and I have a baby boy. Who in later visions is more like a 6 month old. The other baby boy decides he is not ready to be born yet. In my dream, this is "normal." Sometimes twins come hours, maybe days, apart. So I have one baby in my arms, and now must wait for the other baby to decide to come into the world.

Cut to conversation with Ryan about names for the baby. The names are Benjamin Leroy. (Leroy for his grandpa) and Douglas Robert (Robert for my dad.) There's something we're not agreeing on with the names - but the dream fades into another segment.

I'm pregnant with my 'leftover' baby, and return to work. Oddly slender, but I like it. I have to tell my boss (old job) that I am back at work because I have delivered my other baby, but still have a baby in my belly and need to keep working so I can have my full maternity leave. They are cool with that. (Really?! on so many levels.)

After that conversation I then circle back around to attempting to talk with HR about the violation of my personal space (the stuff moved from my desk). I go to her office -- and she's in there (new job) and so are a couple other people. They seem to be doing non-serious stuff. Laughing, having a good ol' time. One of the people in there is a PTA mom I know. She's joking around and organizing paper work. Oddly enough, it is THIS part of my dream where I pause for a moment and think, "Hm. That's strange." Then I turn my attention back to the HR lady, and try to get across that I really need to talk with her - trying to fully have her see I have a "real" HR issue and it's "serious." She promises to give me a call as soon as she has a moment.

I try to go back to work -- but my (old) boss and the (old) assistant news director want me to see all the "healthy" snacks they have set out for everyone. They want my approval. I think it is strange and am obsessed with my need to talk with HR and give them a shrug, and tell them it looks great. I remember thinking that Cheez-its can't be that healthy.

Cut to me taking a walk around the block -- of the home I grew up in -- and I walk by children setting up some strange and spooky Halloween scenes in their yards. I seem to think this is normal.

Then I end up in the parking lot at work (old job) and the H.R. person is there (new job) - and there's a lot going on and I'm looking at her, like, "Why aren't you talking with me?" And she comes to me and apologizes and tells me, she just couldn't get it together to talk with me because she has Aspergers.

And that's all I remember. How random and crazy is that ?!
Of course, when I come to work, that HR person gets in the elevator with me - and I'm feeling all tingling like -- 'hey, she slighted you.' Standing there all "innocent." Ha ha ha.

So what's it about? The desk stuff, ok, obvious. I like having my "stuff" and my "space." All in certain places. But the poor guy - he's never been anything but nice to me, and has never threatened my space or my stuff.
And the twin boys - also obvious - we know that if I tried to have a girl, that's what I'd get - twin boys. But the random carrying around the "leftover" twin. Bad food? Note to Ryan: no more overcooked jambalaya!

The bits and pieces of that dream were so random and complex I just had to share before all the memories of it faded. Would love to hear your interpretations - real or fun.

Meantime, I'm going to concentrate real hard on a picture of George Clooney all day today to see if I can influence those dream-making-brain synapsis.
A girl can dream, right?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Life in the Cube

I have never worked in a cubicle ever in my life. It's a completely new and different lifestyle. There are many things you have to get used to in this habitat.

First, I'm wondering how long it will be before it doesn't scare me every time someone walks up to talk with me. This area is SO. QUIET. I've worked in a newsroom...people yell to communicate. There are 21-hundred scanners and various other forms of technology blaring in the background. Here, I can hear my stomach growl. And I'm pretty sure everyone else can too.

There's no such thing as a private conversation on your phone. I learned this when one of my co-cube peeps started giggling when I told my husband I didn't care about the "flinging-flanging" whatever it was.

And speaking of growling stomachs - I have absolutely no concept of time in the cube. In news, every little thing is on a timeline. X has to be done by Y time. The entire day is based on the clock. Here I only know it's time to eat when A/my stomach embarrasses me or B/the guy next to me begins his daily, "How does The Mixx sound? Anyone in?"

Cubicles also have cool cubicle things ... like a thingy that hangs over the wall and holds your coat. I don't have one. I attempted to steal one from someone who appears to have several...and in doing so jacked up a sign it was holding on the other side. I tip-toed away, hoping no one would notice. I still covet everyone's coat hanger thingies.

Something else I've learned. It is not at all weird to talk to co-workers THROUGH the wall. However, if you think someone is talking to you, wait about 3-5 seconds before responding. I've learned the hard way. More often than not, they are on the phone. I've had long conversations with people ... who were never talking to me in the first place. And what's worse, my cube mates know it. I hear them whisper "rookie" under their breath. We laugh about it together. Yet, I still keep doing it.

I bet folks who've always worked in the "cube" don't even realize there's a culture about it. And these folks over here in sales have made me feel welcome, even when they're laughing at me. It's pretty cool. Post if you think of any other "quirks of the cube" I haven't mentioned ... or if you have some in your work space people would find funny.