Sunday, March 28, 2010

Another big loss...

Last week, we said our goodbyes to an incredible person - Elijah Alexander. We met Eli through our NFL network here in the Dallas area and have been connected to him and his amazing wife Kimberly ever since. Several years ago, Eli began a valiant battle against multiple myeloma. During his fight against this horrible disease, Eli and Kim began the Tackle Myeloma Foundation (now the Tackle Cancer Foundation) benefitting families who are battling cancer. Through fundraising efforts including golf and poker tournaments (one that we attended just recently), the foundation has donated over $100,000 to families in need. Although cancer won this round of the fight, we will continue to battle this awful disease through our support of their foundation.

Rest in Peace Eli... You are certainly going to be missed, and you're gone way too soon...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dang girl....

Imagine this scene - a pack of media hover in the middle of a locker room while athletes, fresh out of the shower post-game wrapped in nothing but small white towels large enough to cover their nether regions, are icing their swollen knees, getting dressed, etc. Most of the media are men but there are a few women mixed in the bunch, some from highly reputable sports news entities. As soon as the athlete gives the okay (not all do), the media pounce. All of a sudden, the guy on cloud nine who is continuing his consecutive game three-point shooting streak or his teammate who may have had one of his worst games of the season have twenty microphones shoved under their chins as the media fire off questions about why the team looked sloppy or seemed to lack focus. It's a strange post-game ritual that for the most part is unremarkable.

Every once in a while though, I'm reminded that female journalists are not always held to the highest regard in these situations (i.e. the locker room). Several weeks ago, I asked a visiting coach a seemingly innocuous question that I've heard asked before by other journalists. The coach looked at my male media counterparts before glaring at me and giving me a short, rigid answer. It illicited chuckles and smirks from the men, and I was embarassed, my confidence rocked a bit. In another situation, I asked a player about his team being down eighteen points at one time and coming back from the deficit. He didn't hesitate to correct me - he said, "Actually, we were only down by 8." Gulp. I've never seen another journalist corrected like that. Again, my locker room swagger a bit rocked, I hopped onto my 3G-enabled phone the second I got in the car and checked my facts. Actually, Mr. Player, you were down by 18. I was right. I'm still waiting for an apology I'm sure I won't get (I'm not really, but it would be nice to know that he knows that I know what I'm talking about). In yet other situations, I've had the male journalists push me, push my microphone out of their shot, bump into me with their cameras, etc. But I've learned to push back, so it's all good.

Last night I got pushed in another way, and I didn't like it one bit. To say I was unprepared for it is an understatement. It all started when the visiting coach came out of the locker room for his post-game interview. He looked me dead in the face as he said, "Okay, gents." In other words, "MEN, fire away." As the only female in the group, I was a bit taken aback. In that moment, I felt paralyzed and my mind couldn't get past the verbal slap that the coach had just delivered me.

As a co-host and I entered the visitor's locker room in the back of the media pack, the misogyny continued. When we entered the room, the jeering began. We heard comments like, "Damn, is this what the media looks like in Dallas?" We heard, "Are you guys pretending to be journalists." Or my favorite had something to do with spiral curls and Chi flat irons - I'd love to know who made the comment about the Chi because my question for him would be how the heck he knows or is interested in what one is! But I didn't see who made the comment because I kept my eyes on the floor. It became apparent immediately that some of the guys were purposefully flashing us and taking off their towels. It was quite the spectacle - the male media all felt the need to turn and look and see what the commotion was about. It was embarassing. I felt verbally assaulted and my credibility was shattered in an instant. In that moment, we were the cute Black girls that walked into the locker room, not journalists covering a sport. In the "real world" had this been some other work environment, there might be a serious cause of action for sexual harassment. But in the locker room, apparently it's acceptable behavior. No one said a word - no one came to our defense. Humiliated, we left the locker room shortly thereafter and made our way over to the home team's locker room. Again, confidence shaken, I kept my mouth shut, stood in on a couple of player interviews, then wrapped things up for the night.

As a female journalist covering sports (and as a lawyer in "real life"), the tables are already stacked against you. It's hard to earn credibility and getting people to take you seriously is challenging. And don't even be somewhat attractive, because you then become even more of a target. I'm always having to prove that I'm apparently smarter than I look. People are often surprised to learn there is a brain in this pretty little head of mine.

What I've learned is that in order to battle the misogyny, you have to be firm, assertive and somewhat bitchy to be taken seriously. I was so shocked last night, I just didn't even have a chance to bring my A-game. I was ill-prepared. Last night was a learning experience, one I hope to not have to repeat again. Unfortunately, I think it is inevitable in sports culture.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A day in the life...

I'm often accused of being busy. On a day like today, that seems like an understatement.

After an abbreviated shoot day at The Bite, I had another shoot for a training video in which I played a bank teller. I was pumped to get that gig - it was my first non-Bite acting job in a while. Fortunately, it took us less than two hours to wrap things up. It allowed me time to rush home and spend a couple of hours with the kiddos and Ryan before jetting off to cover tonight's Mavericks game vs. the Nets for D210. While this was all very exciting, I'm exhausted and looking forward to a good night's sleep.

An update on the house - after a plumbing inspection, for a hot quick minute we thought the builder was going to be responsible for the house damage. But apparently the leak had nothing to do with any sort of construction defect (although we still have no idea what caused the leak). So, we're continuing with the repairs, the cost of which will primarily be out of pocket because of our outrageously high deductible...

And Miss Layla Grace - her mom tweeted a couple of times today. The family has made arrangements for Layla's celebration of life. The service will be held this Saturday. As a parent, I cannot even begin to contemplate how difficult it would be to plan a toddler's funeral. Something about that just seems so incredibly wrong and traumatic. And I think about all the other parents out there who've had to go through this unimaginable process. It's just so heartbreaking. Continued prayers going out to these families.

Okay, Ambien is kicking in - time to go to bed!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Thank you for changing my life...

Little Layla Grace passed away early this morning according to her family's twitter page.

Little Layla, thank you for reminding me to hug my babies and tell them how much I love them. Thank you for bringing me closer to God. My your little soul rest in peace knowing the tremendous effect you've had on so many lives during your short precious life.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

One day at a time...

Things have been pretty tough lately - from money woes, uncertainty about the future, and our most recent house issues, my life seems to be the epitome of the saying, "It's always something." We just can't seem to catch a break. I was thinking tonight that I should send a letter to the makers of Ambien for allowing me to get some sleep at night though. Without that little pill, the drama unfolding like a soap opera in my head everyday would keep me up way too late into the night. The reality though is that when I wake up groggy from my medically-induced slumber, my problems haven't gone away - I still need to figure out how to deal.

Adding to my emotional instability this week is the continuing plight of Layla Grace (see post below). I don't personally know this amazing little three-year-old battling neuroblastoma. This little mama in hanging on though. She's not given up yet. She's not ready to let go. Although it appears she will be gone soon. According to her parents' tweets and blog posts over the last few days, little Layla Grace sleeps all day, breaths only 8 times per minute while sleeping, and is getting weaker and weaker with every passing moment. This baby is dying. I want to know how her parents are getting through it. Surely they have an answer - they can help people like me in the midst of my own storm because of what they are experiencing. I hope that one day when they are good and ready, they can share with the rest of us their secret for dealing with life-changing tragedy and loss. I'd be the first one to sign up to hear what they have to say.

Well, here is some of what these amazing parents have said and I wanted to share:

I guess you are probably wondering how we manage to pick ourselves off the floor long enough to sit down and blog. It doesn’t exactly work like that. We cry…. a lot. We’re not made of steel, we’re not half as strong as many have made us out to be. We simply hope and believe that God has the power to change anything, even this. We cry and pray, and yell and pray, and shake our fist at God, it’s ok though… he can take it.

I’ve spent all this time praying for her to be healed. AND SHE WILL BE. It just might not be in the way I want. Within a few short days, one way or another, Layla will be healed and absolutely perfect.

These quotes are just heartbreaking, but so simple in their meaning. It all comes back to God and His ever so perfect plan in people's lives. I've heard it said frequently that Layla Grace's battle with cancer has changed more people than anyone could ever imagine. It's changed me. I hug my kids tighter and longer. I've prayed more. Cried more. I ask my babies for more kisses. I can't stop telling them I love them. I pray for them. I am relying more on God now more than I have in a long time, and it all comes back to Miss Layla Grace. If she and her family can do it, we most certainly can.

I can imagine just getting through the next minute, the next hour, the whole day is a constant challenge for that family. But they are making it, even if barely, they are making it. So to learn even a little from what they are experiencing, it's how I will tackle our currect issues - one day at a time - for we know that weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning light!

That being said, my morning today was awesome. Will had his first day of Miracle League Soccer. He wasn't too into it but hung in there. Bryn was a trip though - she was carrying both a soccer ball and my make up brush (which is now MIA). She's going to be a girl after my own heart - she's going to love sports and make up!

A few more tidbits from the day... Hotels should offer childproofed rooms. I'd pay more. I spent more time tonight keeping Bryn from knocking over lamps, opening in closing drawers, pressing buttons on the alarm clock. But boy was that little mama a trip tonight. She laid down next to me on the bed and started making a noise like she was snoring. How does she know that? She didn't get that from me - better talk to dad.

Leak Update

A leak detection specialist was here yesterday trying to figure out where the water is coming from underneath the house. At one point when he came into the kitchen, I asked how it was going. He said, "Well, I found two so far." HUH?!? TWO?!? Then he says, "But the one outside will be much easier and less expensive to fix. It won't destroy your house." Um, meaning the one inside will???

What we know is that the builder or whoever ends up "fixing" or band-aiding the problem will literally have to jackhammer into the foundation to get down to the problem. I had a lot of people theorized that it was probably the cold weather we've had here in Texas recently that caused the pipes to fail. Not according to the leak specialist - he's guessing there is a construction defect, one that probably occurred when the concrete was laid. He said we won't know for sure until we dig everything up and that this would've happened at some point. He even suggested this house is possibly a ticking time bomb and that this won't be the last time we experience something like this.

So what now? We've drafted a letter to send to the builder to give them notice they need to come address this - NOW! Depending on what we find, we could be potentially looking at litigating this stupid hell hole of a house. Updates to come...

In the meantime, please don't forget to pray for Layla Grace and her family -

Thursday, March 4, 2010

There's no place like home, there's no place like... HUH?

So, if I were Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, or maybe even Diana Ross in the Wiz, I'd be able to click the heels of my stilettos three times and miraculously find myself in the comfort and safety of my home. Instead, we're caught in what's turning out to be a perpetual tornado in this house we've now owned for a little over five years. And once again, we're having an issue with water...

Let me refresh your memory with some pictures of what happened to our HOUSE after a toilet broke while we were in Buffalo several years ago - we'd only owned the house a little more than a year. The house was practically destroyed by what we later found out was probably well over 1,000 gallons of water. It took almost two years to complete the repairs....

Even though this incident was resolved back in 2007, the wounds have yet to heal, and after today, they are as fresh as ever. I received a call from Ryan today that we had water coming out of the baseboards in our bathroom and that our entryway closet was flooded. My heart sank. The water seemed to be localized, so I figured maybe it was a problem with a pipe in the wall or something. A plumber confirmed that whatever is causing the problem is much worse - the likely culprit is a busted pipe somewhere beneath the house. Of course, he can't pinpoint the problem, so a leak detection specialist will be here tomorrow.

We've shut off the water - I had to fill up a pitcher of water and go old school to brush my teeth and wash my face. We can't turn the water back on, because when we do, we can hear the water leaking or gushing or doing whatever it's doing in the walls. Our insurance company has already rented us two adjoining rooms at a nearby hotel, and it looks like we'll be relocating for the weekend.

We'll know more tomorrow how bad the problem is, but it's not looking good. From what I know, if there is indeed a busted pipe or something under the house, the repair company will be jackhammering holes in my foundation to fix it and our house will be out of commission for a bit. The thought of it makes me ill. The unfortunate part of this whole deal is that this house is becoming the bane of my existence. If I could sell it, I would. There is no attachment whatsoever. I'm not sure it will ever be our home. Of course, since we'll have to disclose all of these water issues, I can't imagine who would ever want to buy it. We're stuck.

Here are preliminary pictures from today - our good buddies at Blackmon Mooring were here drying out the floors. Sad that we knew exactly who to call when the water appeared...

Already tearing up the plywood...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Layla Grace

You're baby is sick. The word is scary - neuroblastoma. Your child has tumors all over her body. After months of treatments, heartache and pain, your child doesn't get better, and won't get better. Although you are hoping and praying for a miracle, your sweet, beautiful baby is going to die. Soon.

Let me introduce you to Miss Layla Grace...

Can you even imagine being in this situation? I try, but every time I do, my stomach begins to hurt and I break down in tears. My mind immediately goes to my children and I pray that nothing this bad ever ever happnes to them. I hug them and I cry.

I ask that you take some time to read the family's story. I promise that your life will be changed by the preserverance shown by this amazing family.