Anyone who knows much about me knows that I am a liberal. I wouldn’t consider myself a bleeding heart liberal, but a liberal none the less. I have slight deviations from the Democratic party, I have in fact voted for a handful of Republicans in the past 17 years, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE WalMart, which is sometimes a no-no in the party. But I also LOVE LOVE LOVE The Dixie Chicks, so you see where I’m going here.
Naturally, someone like me who is not only a liberal but also a news junkie has no choice but to watch MSNBC. And that is where I met my girlfriend, Contessa Brewer:
Hello pretty lady. Apparently, when given a choice, I prefer brunettes (sorry Kayla). I mean, her name is CONTESSA. How sexy is that?
Of course, my girl-crush on Miss Contessa here goes a little further than just enjoying her super shiny hair and bright white chiclets as she delivers my mid-morning dose of liberal love. Part of me looks at Contessa Brewer and wonders, what if…
It appears, after a small amount of cyber-stalking on my behalf (I have a Twitter account, and the only person I follow is Contessa Brewer — mostly because I cannot figure out Twitter, though.), I discovered that Contessa is the same age as me. So at the same time, at different universities thousands of miles apart, we both studied broadcasting, graduated (she was Magna Come Lately, I had a 2.5 GPA, so we weren’t exactly equals, but it’s still a parallel dammit!) and started out in broadcast journalism. I worked an overnight shift at a TV station in Rockford, Illinois. Contessa was an anchor and reporter in Palm Springs.
My career in television news was kind of like a hot romance. It was fun, exciting, head turning, sizzling… then one day, it was over. I spent a year in Rockford, and from there, moved on to Baton Rouge, where I had the most awesome/horrible time of my life. When I was asked to leave that place, I moved on to New Orleans. I LOVED it there, but it was a major demotion. I went from being a producer to just being a writer. The pay was negligible, the boss was insane, and the chances of promotion were slim and nil, with nil winning. I adored the city, I adored my apartment, I had great friends and a fun social life. The weather was perfect for me, since I absolutely love hot and sticky days and warm nights. The city was full of life and history and a never-ending supply of “stuff” to do. I was 26, single and childless, and it was the perfect place for me to be at the time. But it wasn’t home. And I was missing home, especially after my grandmother passed away.
So I left New Orleans and went to work in the Quad Cities, a cluster of four towns, each roughly the size of a medium to large suburb, along the Mississippi between Illinois and Iowa. I was a producer there, the big cheese so to speak. I got to make decisions. I even got to hire someone. But I hated it. The company blew chunks, the boss was a moron, and after I got myself knocked-up, I was suddenly being mysteriously “written up” until I finally got fired — four days before Christmas.
So there ended my five year relationship with television news, and I figured, with single motherhood looming in the near future, that news and I had broken up for good. But even as I moved on to other, non-news related jobs, I longed for it. I missed writing stories. I missed talking to people. I missed it so bad. So when I spotted an ad in the weekly Shopper of the small town where I was living that they were looking for a reporter, I sent over my resume, thinking, newspaper, TV, it’s all the same. Somehow, someway, I made a decent impression on the publisher, and I got the job. So now I am a staff writer for a small town paper. I’ll say two things about that: 1. it’s not for everyone who wants to be a journalist, and 2. it is definitely a good fit for me.
In retrospect, I wasn’t good at TV news. It was too fast paced, too frantic, too many deadlines in a single day. I mean, really, why else would I have gotten fired — twice. I was a good fit for slow moving morning shows, but when breaking news happened in the mornings, I panicked. I mean, MY GOD, you want me to dispatch a live truck and go without a SCRIPT! NOOOOOOOOOOO! I had breaking news in New Orleans while I was producing once, and frankly, I can’t believe I didn’t get fired on the spot. It was a freaking nightmare. I cried like a baby, right there in the booth. DURING the show. Not my best moment.
But in my small town newspaper world, I get to pretty much KNOW everyone, and take a little more time. In television, I had to write stories that generally took about 20-25 second to read. In small town newspaper life, I get to write articles that range from ten inches all the way up to 50 sometimes. I love it. It’s so very me.
But still, back to my lady friend, the fabulous Miss Contessa and her sassy shiny hair:
Seriously, those smouldering good looks are mesmerizing. Mmmmmm-hmmmmm.
But when I am not drooling over the raven haired beauty of my favorite talking head, I am wondering, where along the line did I lose my ambition? If I had been as hungry for a career as Miss Brewer, would I have made it to the network? And I don’t mean on the air. Other than a two-semester stint at my college station WWIR, I never really wanted to be ON the air. I was always a behind the scenes type of gal. But what if I had fought harder? What if I had worked harder? What if I had stayed in New Orleans instead of coming back home, stuck to writing and tried to impress the boss and get promoted, rather than give up and go back to Illinois and a smaller market? Where would I have gone from there?
And of course, this is an impossible question. Without coming home, I would not have engaged in an early September tryst that resulted in the conception of Baby Boy #1. Without getting fired with said child in uterus, I never would have come home. Without coming home, I never would have met Jim, gotten married, had Baby Boy #2, and eventually found the job I currently have and love. Still, “what if” is a question that I cannot escape. Maybe if I had been more ambitious, someone would be writing a blog about their girl crush on ME.
I suppose the real question, though, is how do you define ambition, and as a follow up, how do you define success? As I type this, a three year old boy is wrapped around my shoulders, begging me for some more pancakes (which he ain’t getting, by the way, he’s had plenty). And when I am done, I am going to make some phone calls and get ready for next week’s edition. Among the regular calls I make every week, I am usually trying to convince people to talk to me even when they don’t want to. And I usually get what I want. I suppose that could be considered ambitious and successful.
So my lady-infatuation Contessa and I will continue to live our no-longer-parallel lives. Hers like this:
Mine like this:
Yeah — I’d say we’re both successful.