The Year-Ender in books

I was poking around the web earlier today and noticed that Amanda Palmer had tweeted out a link to a post she’d written on her blog. A year-ender sort of post on…books. Books she’d read or re-read in 2014. She mentioned at the end to share our own lists… So I will.

My list of books read in 2014 is laughingly short, I know. I don’t read much. I’m trying to get better at it again, and frankly, it’s a great escape from the reality that is the News Biz, and it’s an alternative to binge-watching something on Netflix.

Probably THE most important book that I read this year was Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. 2014 for me has been a year where I’ve been doing a lot of searching of my own. Janet’s book came out right at a very down point in the year and it was one of the big reasons that I was able to, using Janet’s words from her appearance on The Colbert Report “get it the fuck together” and make 2014 a year of progress. Here is my initial review of Redefining Realness.

The second most important thing I read in 2014, was ironically enough, Amanda’s book The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help. Even though I have had a somewhat complicated relationship with her this year, it is a very fascinating book to me. Asking is something I am very bad at, and allowing myself to be helped is something I’m not much better at. Some of it comes from being an introvert, some comes from being on the Autism spectrum. Or it’s because I’m just plain bad at it. Anyway, it was a book that was highly recommended to me and I’ll recommend it to anyone.
Here is my blog post immediately following reading the book.

The third thing on my list is a book that has a personal connection for me. One of my good friends, Katie, published her first book, Independent Flight, in 2014. It’s a book set in the future, in space, and in a space ship. Oh and the main character is TOTALLY bad ass too. Her follow-up, full-length novel in the series is (hopefully) due in 2015.
Here is my blog post on Independent Flight

The final book in my list is Imogen Binne’s Nevada. I unfortunately don’t have much to say in this post about it. It was a good, quick read. I enjoyed it. And it struck on some VERY emotional chords for me.
Here is my blog post on Nevada.

I’m not sure what 2015 will bring in the reading department. This time, last year I was eagerly awaiting the release of Redefining Realness. So far this year, there’s really not anything like that. I know that Laverne Cox is working on a book, I think it might be out in 2015. I know Susan Jane Bigelow has a new book out, as well. Plus, I’m hoping that Katie gets her “un-named novel” out soon too. I can’t wait to read it.

But as always, suggestions welcome.


This also appeared on my Medium page.

Just a warning for anyone reading, this is most likely going to sound jumbled, disoriented, and unconnected. I write very much as I think of it, and very much from an AHDH brain. So just roll with it.

These are my thoughts on Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help”

I just finished reading the second of the most important books I feel were published in 2014 (The first is Janet Mock’s “Redefining Realness”, as if you had to ask.) This book was recommended to me by a friend of mine after I posted to Facebook something that really was me trying to vent, but in my makes sense to me way:

Some days I feel like I should somehow network my way into Twitter or Facebook. Especially since both companies are going full-in on the news game. Seriously…LOL
(This is also one of those times where I know I know people who know people but am afraid to ask.)

Asking for help has always been one of those things that I have been very bad at. On the surface, especially if you only know me from Twitter or Facebook, I can seem very outgoing, but I’m very much a scared, shy kid inside. I’m forever the dreamer but who has no idea how to make dreams into reality. And that’s why I was told to read this book by a friend. I’ll get more into this block of text copied and pasted from my Facebook later on. So stay tuned! But after the break…

Artists connect the dots–we don’t need to interpret the lines between them. We just draw them and then present our connections to the world as a gift, to be taken or left. This IS the artistic act, and it’s done every day by many people who don’t even think to call themselves artists.
Then again, some people are crazy enough to think they can make a living at it. (Page 17)

That is a quote from page 17 of the book. A quote that I highlighted while I was writing. I had a note written into the page through the wonderful Kindle note taking system, but while trying to bring it up on my shitty ass laptop, I managed to delete it. Damn. It was going to make a beautiful point to why I shared that quote. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to re-make it.

I’m good at connecting the dots. When it comes to video. Hand me a camera, put me in the Director’s chair, and I’m fucking good at what I do. Seriously, ask around. Don’t believe them? Here’s my YouTube: Interestingly, though, until I read this book, I’d never seemed to think of it as an art form. I direct a newscast on OverDrive for Pete’s sake. This was something I did. Something I do. Every. Fucking. Day. Me an artist? But you know what. The more I really thought about it (lmao…accidentally wrote tit there) I guess I too am in this wonderfully crazy mess. It does take a certain artistic skill to frame up a shot, or to know exactly when you need to make a cut, or coax a camera operator into just that absolutely perfect shot. Oh and I’m apparently, also, one of those crazy people who thinks that they can make a living at it. Oh shit. LOL.

Taking the donuts is hard for a lot of people. (Page 179)

Yes. Yes it is. Very hard in fact.

I still am very much like how Amanda was when Neil offered to lend her money. I have several friends who have dangled donuts in front of me. Some people you have never heard of, some, interestingly enough, household names (or at least people with a verified check mark and follower count in the double-digit thousands.) I know they have. I know there are some who want to help me. Very much so. But I have a hard time taking the donuts. (Unless they have sprinkles. Which you should have mentioned in the first place.)

But why is it hard? Ok I’ll admit it: I’m scared.

Scared of being rejected. Scared of “no.” Scared of the own voices in my head which seemingly on a daily basis tell me that I suck. (Seriously, they’re even worse if I make a mistake on-the-air.) And really, scared of the unknown.

Yeah… This was all addressed in the book too. But I never highlighted it so I don’t have a fancy quote to pop in here. So how about this funny one.

The professionals know they’re winging it. The amateurs pretend they’re not. (Page 44)

Oh yeah. You betcha. If only people knew how many times I was winging it when we walked out of a breaking news, OMG what the hell is happening, everything is going to hell show with a sparkling clean show report. Seriously. Winging it. Oops. I probably shouldn’t have shared that secret. LOL.

Our first job in life is to recognize the gifts we’ve already got, take the donuts that show up while we cultivate and use those gifts, and turn around and share those gifts […]
Our second job is to accept where we are in the puzzle at each moment. (Page 306)

I recognize the gifts I have. I wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for donuts given to me a while ago. OK. Pull up a chair, it’s story time.

Back in 2011 I was stressed out, ready to crack, and at wit’s end. Trust me, it was not pretty. I was tossed a lifeline, donut if you will, by my mother: “Quit. Move home. And we’ll figure it out.” So I did. I used another donut to land an interview at a trailer house in Los Angeles. It didn’t work out. But then another landed in my lap. My now boss asked me to just come up for an interview (he’d been working on me for like a year at that point.) I did. And this is where I’ve been for the last 3 years. Directing the news in the 15th largest market in the country. Sometimes at horrible hours of the morning. Or sometimes not directing. Sometimes it’s running cameras, or the audio board, or whatever.

And I’ve shared those donuts when I can. Or at least what appear to be for me. A recommendation that helped Jeannie. A letter for Missi. The countless offers to help out, listen to, or just talk to an intern who is about to graduate college and is scared of the looming darkness of the job search.

Or you know just the part where I don’t abandon those who I have chosen to bring into my circle of chosen family. Where I sit with them while they’re in the ER, or in a hospital room, hooked up to machines, having technically died…twice. When I give a ride to a friend who calls me up in a panic, even though I should have been in bed hours ago. Or when I just sit and listen, because a friend is having a shitty day and needs someone to talk to.

But interestingly, I still have a VERY hard time asking for anything in return. Which brings me back to my original statement that sparked the whole “you have to read Amanda’s book.”

I’m going to preface this with the fact I love what I do. I love the people I work with. And I love the community at large. But I swear this state is slowly killing me. Mostly in the 9 months where the temperatures hover somewhere between meat locker and absolute zero. Which is why I wrote my Facebook update last night. After reading about how Facebook is trying to win breaking news (and how twitter is, and I quote Twitter’s media boss Katie Jacobs-Stanton, “not a media company.”) And all while feeling I could do something bigger, better. And less newsy for a change.

And there in lies where my problem is. I have a network. I have donuts being dangled in front of me. But I have the problem of not knowing how to ask for those donuts. Oh and you know the problem of feeling like I don’t actually deserve to have those donuts in the first place. That…non-authentic feeling.

So I guess I’ll do it here, not that I’m sure any of them is actually reading this. Or if they did reading down this far: Let me take the donuts. Please help me get to a warm part of the country, or at least New York City. Just don’t send me to Chicago. I’m not ready for that drama yet.

Oh and one more quote from the book:

If you love people enough, they’ll give you everything. (Page 312)



P.S. A completely off-track side note to all of this. I still owe Janet’s book a big post like this. That is if I could figure out how on earth to actually decipher my notes. I kind of made random scribblies on paper since I didn’t want to ruin the book (that she awesomely signed for me later on too!!) I’ll have to get the Kindle version so that I can make all sorts of highlights and scribblies directly in the text.

Winter is Coming

So I was just reading the National Weather Service’s Area Forecast Discussion regarding Monday’s snow. This one looks to be a doozy of a storm…somewhere in southern Minnesota. I can handle snow. It’s the freezing temps that follow which get me. Even tonight where it is in the mid-40s but with a brisk wind I was shaking so hard that Missi asked me if I was ok. I was, just really cold.

Temperature extremes and I don’t get along. That goes for both ends of the spectrum. But winter and cold is worse for me than summer and hot. Part of it has to do with the lack of sun. But a lot has to do with it seems like it’s easier for me to cool down that it is for me to warm up. Blast me with air for like 30 seconds and I’m good. But to get me warm it requires like 3 blankets and my cat. I don’t warm up easily and get very miserable and cranky when I’m cold. Great combination for living in Minnesota right?

I have no idea why it’s like this. But it’s why I also never understood people who go skiing and partake in other winter sports. To me it’s way too cold just walking to my car. Now try being out in it for hours? No thanks. Though I did do it with Paige at Bentlyville last year and well….it took about 2 days to warm up after that.

The related problem that develops out of the start of winter and the cold is that I’m less apt to be social when it’s cold out and that leads to all sorts of wonderful issues for me like depression and stuff. We are trying to stop it this year from becoming a huge issue but I need to get out to St. Louis Park and get my light box prescription filled and by increasing my vitamin D. But who knows. I really do hate winter in the northern climates.

from Tumblr

I’m Scared & Words Don’t Come Easy

Today has been rough for me. Tomorrow will be rougher. Mom is going into surgery tomorrow and I’m insanely scared. But I’m having problems expressing that. I’m also having problems talking about other things that are going on that I feel like I should be open about. But it’s hard. And I want to be open with her. And friends. And everyone. But words…don’t come easy. Which causes a lot of pain and stress.

On that note I need to try and get a few hours of sleep. I’m on the AM show in the morning.

from Tumblr

“Where were you?”

The question everyone has asked today, and has an answer for. For our parents, that question probably relates to the assassination of President Kennedy. For my generation, and the one just before, it squarely relates to one thing: September 11, 2001.

Some details of the morning are a bit hazy but it’s still very clearly burned into my mind. I was a Sophomore at Marquette University, living on the 9th floor of Tower Hall (officially titled Carpenter Tower but no one called it that back then as East Hall was still East Hall and didn’t also have ‘tower’ in its name.) I was woken up by Bob and Brian on Lazer 103, as I was every Tuesday morning, around 7:45ish. I woke up to them declaring there was an emergency in New York City and they didn’t know what was going on or if they were able to continue their show or not. Immediately, I turned on WTMJ to see NBC on the air with live coverage of a burning WTC tower. In the process I woke my roommate up and he was pissed until he saw what was happening on TV. That was about the time the second tower was struck. I remember being glued to the television.

I quickly showered and got ready for class as things were unfolding. I was on my way over to Johnston Hall when I was met by a classmate who said that Ksobiech had cancelled class and that were were to watch the events unfold. I didn’t see the first tower fall because that happened as I was walking to class. But I was there watching when the second one fell. I think I was glued to the television for HOURS that day. Split between my room and Jamie & Andy’s room next door.

Three related things stand out for me from that day:

1. September 11, 2001 was supposed to also be our first night of production for MUTV that year. The first night that Jamie and I would be running the show on our own, without being basically an interm Production Director as the both of us had stepped up to do in the last month of our Freshman year. I remember making a phone call to the Entertainment Director that year offering to rally up a crew if we wanted to press on. We ended up pushing production back a couple of days.

2. We had the *raw* CNN Newsource feed on a monitor in the MUTV offices. The images that were shown on the raw feed cannot be unseen. I will not describe them.

3. The terrible line outside of the Subway because the university shut down EVERYTHING including the dining halls in the wake of the attacks. Like the line was out the door, past Kampus Foods, and to Wells when I got in it.

Being glued to my television, I can only imagine the chaos that was working in news that day.

Santa Monica Pier

Anyone who knows me, knows that every time I come out to LA, after I stop at In-N-Out, I have to go see the ocean. And just about every time it has been at the Santa Monica Pier. I don’t quite know what it is about this place, but I absolutely love it. Even if it is basically a kitchy touristy trap these days. It’s just so much fun to be out near the ocean!

Pictures & a Vine after the break.

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Bay Cities Deli

Ok. I’m going to channel @DeRushaEats here for a second.

So acting on a tip from the friends whose couch I’m crashing on this week, I wandered over to 1517 Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica to have a sandwich at Bay Cities Deli.  I’d been there before, many years ago, or well 3 according to FourSquare so I didn’t exactly remember the fun of going there. A few big notes up front: 1) They’re closed on Mondays, 2) Parking is a nightmare (I found a meter 2 streets over), and 3) take a number and be prepared to wait (or order online, like I did, in which case you can walk in, go all the way over by the wine and pick up your sandwich.)

I ordered a Godmother sandwich. I’d love to tell you exactly what is on it, but uh, they don’t have it on their website and their online order is down right now. Basically what you need to know is that it is meat, cheese, and veggies squished deliciously between a baked in the deli bread roll. It’s tasty, wonderful and you’ll thank me when you try one.

I also opted to get a side size (or well side size for me) of their Salami Anti-pasto salad. It was good. Not exactly what I was expecting (I guess I was expecting more of something like Pizza Lucé’s ‘Lucky Luciano’) but defiantly good. Though one caution: the olives still have their pits.

Overall, this place is worth checking out if you ever find yourself in Santa Monica! I know I’ll be back. (And yes, it’s on the list of must-do just like the Pier and In-n-Out are now!)

K.L. Tremaine’s Independent Flight

Full Disclosure: I want to be up front here that the author of this book is essentially family.

Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages… Er wait. This isn’t Star Trek but if you’re a fan of Star Trek, you’re probably going to love this book. It’s a space adventure in the best sense of the genre. You have action, a sassy captain and a great story.

The center of the book is Veronica Gray, a young captain in training, who is being given her first real command. She has a wonderful crew who is surrounding her who add a lot to the story line and the adventures. You also, without giving away spoilers, have an awesome “bad guy” in the form of the drug runner that has an unfortunate run in with our leading lady.

This particular book is a quick read, but it is a good read.  I highly recommend it. And really, can’t wait to see more of what happens to Ms. Gray.

So uh. Go buy it already!

OH! One awesome bonus note with a itsy bitsy spoiler alert on it: Veronica is team #GirlsLikeUs.

Upper Midwest Emmy™ Award Winning Director A. Chernow