(As in: everything makes you want to, and your kids do nothing but)

Category Archives: journalism

I was swallowed by a career and just survived getting shit back out.

swallowed whole
I think it’s safe to say most of us aspired to be something great at some point in our lives.

Career day in elementary school wasn’t a gathering of kids with big dreams of someday being underpaid, under-appreciated, mid-level employees facing brutal criticism and daily disappointment.

Upon graduating from high school, I thought I was making an incredibly sensible decision in abandoning the pipe dreams of being an actress to get a degree in Telecommunications.

the end
I had a healthy grasp of reality when I graduated from college.

Shit, I didn’t even walk.

I picked up my diploma from an office and started applying to jobs. Hundreds of jobs. Mostly radio jobs, where the salary offered wouldn’t have been enough to survive on without roommates and lots of Top Ramen.

top ramen3
I had already won a Hearst award, AP Awards and SPJ’s while up against grown men working in radio in the state and I couldn’t even get a gig that paid a fraction of my college loans.

When nothing panned out, I moved in with my mother in Miami and starting working as a bookseller at Barnes and Noble.

Little did I know, that would become my favorite job to date. That’s despite having to wear a¬†ridiculous witch hat on Harry Potter nights.

harry potter night
Months later, I got my first job as a temporary writer at a station in Miami. I was ambitious. I was going to claw my way to the top, but without sacrificing my ethics.

No brown nosing.

I wasn’t giving up my sense of self either. Hoodies and jeans.

Deal with it.

Within a year, I was a full-time associate producer. Within 2 years, a regular producer.

I would sit at bars with co-workers and hash out the bullshit of the day, an alcoholic post-mortem always punctuated by my comments about how it would be “When I run shit someday.”

Four years later, I got sick of working overnight, paying my dues in sleepless nights, power naps that left a dent in my forehead from the edge of my desk.

sleeping desk

Daydrinking because it was normal.

Breakfast baked potato from the 24-hour Wendy’s in the ghetto.

I took a position in Tampa with every expectation I was on the fast track to becoming an Executive Producer.

I watched my mom go from Associate Producer to News Director in less than 6 years.
I had this on lock.

Not to mention that the News Director who hired me referred to my cover letter as “beautifully written.”

He called my resume impressive. Once I started, he said he thought there was no way they were going to get me to come on board.

I was too good for THEM.

I met my husband and had a couple of kids.

Along the way I went from weekend producer, to weekday 11, to weekday 6.

Then, suddenly 2 years ago, I was doing the Noon show.

Then, they told me they were moving me back to weekends.

After 9 years.

I gave my notice the same day.

I don’t have some awesome other job lined up. I am not just giving up a job, I am giving up a career that I once loved very much.

While I couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to focus on being a better parent to my children, there is also some sadness over a dream that has died.

dreams die

But, as one of my very best friends said, “Defeated doesn’t suit you.”

It doesn’t.

Somehow I allowed this business, this job, to dig its hideous black talons into my spirit and squeeze out the very guts of who I am.

skeksis
I leave them now in a trail behind me as I walk out that door for the very last time.

Enjoy my entrails.

Consider them the breadcrumbs that lead to another world, one where I am free to aspire to be something greater than I am every day.

Chew on that.


So, I just finished up a story about a 19 year old accused of violently shaking his 2 month old daughter until she had a fractured skull, ribs and bleeding in the brain.

Gaskins

I’m still waiting to update the story on the 150 people killed in a plane crash in the French Alps.

french alps

Before I started that one, I wrapped up the arrest in the cold case murder of a 64 year old, unarmed hotel security guard who was shot twice in the back by a robber.

William Williams - Cold Case victim

In-between stories, I cried all over the desk after reading a friend’s blog about her friend’s 21 month old son who died unexpectedly last week.

Yesterday, I sobbed on the drive home after a stop at the vet’s office to get my dog’s medication. I saw a woman holding a little boy on her lap in the parking lot as they wept over a dead pet.

When I have a spare moment, I am overwhelmed by sadness over my mother’s struggle to care for my grandparents alone.

They have Alzheimer’s and dementia.

She works full-time in the news business too and comes home every night to soggy adult diapers stuffed in the dog food canister and profanity-laced tirades from my grandmother who is perpetually threatening to kill herself or escape. (When she’s not berating her husband, who has no memory of her insults just moments later.)

grandparents

Last night as I worked out, I sweat, cried and worried for a friend whose marriage is falling apart.

Along with the endless sorrows of this life, I had to fight off panic today when I realized I missed a phone call from the day care because Alma was screaming that her eyes were burning for some unknown reason.

Then, I cried because I feel like a shitty parent. For missing the call. For not being able to rush to the school to pick her up.

Then again for the mother I don’t even know who just had to bury her son.

I am worn thin from the misery, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I love hard, even though it means I hurt deeply.

I care for complete strangers and take pride in my empathy.

I hurt for my family and friends, but I also celebrate their joys like it’s my own private party.

And at the end of the day, when I put my daughter to bed, she will give me a real hug and a kiss on the cheek and tell me she loves me and it will be enough to prepare me for another day of tragedy and despair.

alma

My son will ask me to read him a book and rub my arm nonchalantly and lay his head on my shoulder and I will feel like I can walk around with the weight of the world on my shoulders forever.

huck


Working in news, you have to be detached, even jaded.

You must be bitter, hardened and borderline soulless.

People cope by making dead baby jokes and cracks about crackheads.

I am just as guilty as the next guy.

But, there are days when the stories we cover feel absolutely unbearable. The weight of cruelty crushes your spirit. The injustices, the death of innocence piles up and blinds you to the good in the world.

Today was one of those days.

An unthinkable crime. A father clutches his 5-year old daughter to his chest, lifts her up, then throws her off a 60-foot high bridge into the frigid water to her death.

JONCHUCKNEW

I first read the headline when I woke up at 5:30 a.m.

It was easily shoved into the back of my brain as I worked out, showered, got dressed and drove to work.

Then, I arrived at work and had no choice but to listen to the coverage of the story. I could feel the tears begin to well up.

Then, I see the first pictures of the little girl. Her name is Phoebe and she’s a cherubic little blonde.

phoebe 1

Then, I hear the owner of the daycare she attended talking about how she was terrified of water.

Now, I can’t STOP crying.

The terror she must have felt. Did she survive the fall? Did she struggle to swim? What went through her mind when she realized her own father had just sealed her fate?

MAKE IT STOP.

I could say this makes me want to rush home and hold my children. It does, but it doesn’t make up for the gnawing sorrow in the pit of my stomach, the grieving for a child I’ve never met.

The worst thing I’ve ever had the urge to do to my own children is drop an F-bomb in front of them.

This is unfathomable.

I did see a wonderful post on Facebook where a man similarly darkened by the cloud of gloom suggested everyone use it as an opportunity to post one thing they love about their child.

dark cloud

Just one? Impossible!

I love that my son randomly pets my arm while we sit together on the couch, then looks at me out of the corner of his eye and smiles so I will know that it’s no accident.

I love that my daughter asks every night if it’s my turn to put her to bed and when it is she shouts “Yesss!” and runs to hug me.

I love that my son really believes that if he wears Batman pajamas that he IS Batman.

huck batman2

I love that my daughter demands we call her “Flash.”

alma runner

I love that my daughter wants to cook me with every night and when that’s actually a realistic option, she squeezes my legs and says, “I love you, mommy.”

alma cooks

I love that my son comes to his sister’s defense when we say she’s being naughty. “Alma’s not bad. Alma’s good!” (Even when she was in trouble for hitting him.)

sibling love

I love that my daughter asks me if I’m “okay” when I lose at a game.

I love that my son doesn’t just give you a half-assed hug when you ask for one. They’re long and warm and heartfelt.

huck hug

I love that my daughter is under the impression she can run incredibly fast when in reality it’s more of an awkward sprint.

I love that my son can’t sit still for more than a few minutes before asking, “Wanna play ball?” or “Want punching time?”

I love that my daughter asks a million annoying questions and when you finally give her a real and complicated answer, her eyes get big like her mind just got BLOWN.

alma mind blown

I love that when she asks my son for a turn politely, he hands over whatever is, no matter what it is and without argument.

alma and huck love

I could go on forever… and now I feel, only slightly better about the world, but fantastic about MY world.

dark cloud sun


In less than a year I will become the sole member of my family to still live in my hometown.

It’s something I never could’ve predicted.

At 13 years old, I came home from school to find my father standing by the front door with a suitcase.

The year that followed the stunning revelation that my parents were getting divorced is a collection of fuzzy memories and cloudy snapshots.

My oldest brother was away in college. My other brother chose to live with my dad in our grandparent’s house.

I stayed with my mother in the house I grew up in, discovering the glorious distraction of the world wide web. Late nights with the green glow of the computer screen on my cheeks making the empty rooms disappear.

We started renting a tiny house, the color of mud, with terrazzo floors, jalousie windows and a sketchy neighbor who wore an eye-patch and mysteriously knew our names.

It wasn’t long before our dog Patches died of cancer and the only house I remember from my childhood was sold.

patches

My mother had a job as a librarian at a school for “troubled kids.” She quickly parlayed that into a position as a “media specialist” for the world-renowned Poynter Institute. Months of watching presentations focused on the ethical dilemmas of Journalism and she landed her first gig in T.V. news as a writer at the small station in Sarasota.

This meant she worked overnight and slept during the day and was painfully absent during some of my most formative years. But, her determination earned her a position as a Producer at a Tampa station within a year. A year later, she was the Executive Producer at another station in town. By the time I left for college, she was running a 24-hour news station in Austin, Texas.

My dad was cheating the system and living in a senior living apartment complex.

I was without a “home” to call “home.”

I have always envied those college kids who were able to return home for a long weekend to their moms doing their laundry, home cooked meals and the stuffed animals from their childhood still cozying up together in their bedroom closets. I imagine them sighing with relief, enveloped by a quilt embedded with some comforting and familiar smell.

Fast forward to present day. My mother lives in South Carolina. My brother lives in Massachusetts. The other one is in Orlando. My father is about to retire and move permanently to North Carolina.

I am the last of the Fields to reside in Tampa Bay, although my last name is no longer the same.

Granted, I returned here after four years in Gainesville and four more in Miami.

But, I am HOME.

I cannot gaze dreamily at the white eyelet canopy above my childhood bed. So, instead I stare squinting at the Florida sun.

florida2

I can’t smell my dad’s barbecue chicken on the grill, the smoke filling the sky with the smells of summer.

But, I can dig my toes in the same sand I did when I wasn’t even old enough to swim.

me at beach

Watching a palm tree, strained and bent by the gusting wind of a summer storm can bring me to tears.

palms

My cheeks hurt from smiling hard while watching the “heat lightning” from my son’s bedroom window.

lightning

My Facebook friends probably find it annoying how frequently I talk about my love for this state. I post pictures of the sunset more than could be considered normal.

florida1

Florida is my home, my family, my childhood, my stability and my solace.

While I can’t be sure that I will be able to provide my children with their “childhood home” to return to some day, I am going to dry my darndest. But, they will always be coming home to my home.

My roots here run deep and my loyalty is fierce.

florida3


I am one awkward social situation away from becoming a bonafide recluse.

I am one lonely, drunken episode of Scandal away from throwing a house party.

I have always been conflicted when it comes to social interaction.

I suffer from debilitating social anxiety, yet I crave the company of others, in particular stimulating conversation.

People often make crappy chit chat with me while I’m heating up food in the break room at work or passing by in the hallway. They make some lame joke, half of the time without my getting the reference. I squeeze out a half-assed chuckle and think, it has to be obvious that I seriously don’t care about what they just said.

I grind my teeth into the obligatory half-smile. The second I am out of their line of sight, the corners of my mouth plummet back to a miserable scowl.

I’m like Lionel Playworld’s nightmare.

lionel playworld

I take resting bitch face to a whole new level.

bitch face

It’s not that I hate everyone, just the vast majority of people.

daniel plainview

There was a time when it wasn’t absurd to hear me LOL to something a friend said in the newsroom.

I nearly peed my pants many a time while going over “chat time rundowns” with my old best pal, David.

I could once be heard singing and clapping along to music videos on VH1 on the overnight shift.

That’s the thing, all of the fun was with people at my PREVIOUS place of work and I’ve been at this job a LOOONG time now.

There’s nobody splitting up a pint of Stoli Raz in coffee cups from the trunk of a car before a lame station meeting after a shift.

There’s no Friday night dash to a bar where everyone can dish and bitch about all of the stressful, heinous events of the work week.

There’s no playing, “Who would you rather?” with famous politicians. (Condi Rice or Hillary Clinton?)

condi clinton

There’s no listing of favorite movies, songs, vending machine snack foods.

There’s no commiserating over Cuban bread.

These are all things that just don’t happen here.

So, it’s entirely possible I am a victim of my surroundings.

I once tried to institute Flashback Friday here, convincing my colleagues to take turns playing the best old school roller rink jams. Instead of developing a reputation for actually being kinda sorta fun, I just inched my way closer to getting demoted.

I now daydream equally of two things:

Vanishing to a tropical island, living off the fish I catch, falling into a coma-like sleep at night, muscles taut from a day of useful work, hard labor building huts and shit.

island

Throwing a massive 80’s-themed costume-required house party, the alcohol and fantastic conversation flowing, a never-ending night where everyone is guaranteed to sleep past noon the following day.

80's

Neither one will ever be more than a fantasy.

Now that I am a mom, I wonder if my kids will suffer from a similar affliction. An aversion to frat parties and girl talk, but a burning desire for friendship and camaraderie.

My kids don’t have friends outside of daycare. I usually avoid even responding to any of the birthday party invites that get stuffed into the bottom of their backpacks.

The truth is, I don’t want to stand around awkwardly with moms who want to talk about the cost of purses, their child’s mysterious maladies or what their husbands do for a living.

I also wonder if I am training my daughter to fear solitude since every time she’s naughty she gets sent to her room alone.

“No!! Not time by myself! With all of these toys, books, and games? You have banished me to the fiery pits of hell, you sweater-clad Satan!”

If nothing else, I am probably destroying them by example.

Mommy and Daddy don’t have friends.

Mommy and Daddy believe that in general, people are selfish, rude, arrogant, insecure, manipulative, dull and basically evil.

Mommy and Daddy consider a social event to be on par with a colonoscopy without anesthesia.

I am one more fake laugh away from becoming a mute.

I am one more cabin-fever day with two toddlers away from tearing it up at the club.


You might hate dressing up for Halloween.

You might prefer an event where your cup runneth over with booze.

You might want to spend your Saturday night cozying up with a good book.

But, you… had… children.

Now, it’s NOT ABOUT YOU.

We initially had plans to attend a neighbor’s adult Halloween party, a highly-anticipated event in our hood.

Instead, I traded Jello shots for rum and Coke Zero at my mother-in-law’s house.

I planned to be something cute for Halloween, but couldn’t squeeze into the beer girl costume, probably because of all of the beer I’ve consumed trying to cope with parenthood.

Instead, I wore an oversized Anna costume with a wig and felt like a chunky Disney princess with head lice.

miserable anna

Alma wore her Dolly meets Elsa wig and complained about it the entire time, but refused to take it off.

anna and else

The kids consumed just enough candy to become raging assholes for bath time.

kids candy

Sunday rolls around and Oktoberfest is just around the corner from our house at the horse track.

Instead we head to Cracker Barrel and a farm in the opposite direction so the kids can enjoy a DRY fall festival.

At the restaurant, a waitress named Cessie is regaling us with stories about how much children love her while mine sit and sulk, refusing to answer any of her questions. (There’s nothing more embarrassing than someone asking your child how their food is and watching them scowl and shovel pancakes into their mouth with complete disregard.)

Can I vent for a moment about the perilous journey in and out of the Cracker Barrel lobby with toddlers? You are fortunate if you make it through there without one of them demanding a toy, grabbing a toy, breaking a toy.. or worse, breaking some super fragile, expensive Christmas tchotchke.

cracker barel

We make it to the farm and remember why we were reticent about going.

We tried a few years ago when Alma was just a baby.

She could’ve cared less.

We spent a shitload of money in order to check out some miserable bunnies, cranky goats and comatose pigs.

We were offered a free hot-dog and soda, for which you only had to stand in line for about 45 minutes.

Upon arriving, we are greeted by sour-faced, wrinkle-tanned, apathetic volunteers in neon green tee-shirts.

They are haphazardly snatching up kids by their armpits to place them on zombie ponies. (Picture Santa’s Elves at the mall in A Christmas Story)

I overheard one little girl request a specific pony and a volunteer with rotting teeth said, “Honey, I want a Ferrari, but oh well.”

Alma rode her horse like a stunt man from Seabiscuit. I was so proud… and then depressed while calculating the cost of riding lessons.

alma horse

The kids got to feed a sketchy llama who kept whipping his ears back in irritation. They probably caught the next Bird Flu, Swine Flu, Goat Flu in the petting zoo.

petting zoo

Ebola Sheep

I went to get on a choo choo train with the kids because I saw other parents boarding and the volunteer said snarkily, “Only one parent per train car, I thought I made myself clear.”

Awesome. You just go ahead and speed off in that unregulated vehicle with my unbuckled children as you zoom around your horse-shit ridden farm packed with miserable caged animals that don’t belong.

There were lemurs.

On a farm.

And a Zorse.

The highlight for me was plucking individual grains of food out of the dirt for the poor, neglected donkeys who they had penned just outside the petting zoo.

ebola donkeys

Hungry Ebola Donkey

Alma was obsessed with the hay stack.

alma hay

Huxley got to throw balls at a pumpkin.

The kids has a great time.

I stared longingly at the city block-long line for food and drinks, even though there was no pot of beer at the end of that rainbow.

Back at home, I carved pumpkins with the kids.

All that really means is that my husband ran out for pizza while I carved pumpkins solo with the kids staring at me and repeatedly trying to grab the ridiculously sharp cutting tools.

kids pumpkins

I had to yell at my son every few minutes that he was about to amputate his own finger.

Let’s be honest, does anyone actually enjoy digging out pumpkin guts or that pumpkin fart smell that fills the room? Does anyone who doesn’t use a store bought pattern actually end up with a pumpkin they’re satisfied with?

pumpkin guts

They rode ponies, they played in hay, they watched someone else do all the hard work for Halloween and what did they get most excited about?

Daddy returning with pizza.

Then, it’s laundry, pre-cleaning for the cleaning lady and battling my daughter to get her to go to bed.

By the time it’s all over, all we want to do is watch a good scary movie on Netflix and even that is impossible.

We pick one… it’s foreign and dubbed over in English.

UNWATCHABLE.

We choose another movie, it’s got subtitles.

I am too tired to try and read while watching a movie.

We end up watching a few minutes of something I don’t even remember and go to bed.

All so I can get up at the butt crack of dawn, brave rush hour traffic, get cut off by some douche in a Mustang, fall asleep during a meeting, drink too much crappy station coffee, get jittery and write about dead people.

Well, it’s not about me anymore.

At least they’re happy.

alma pumpkins


Everyone has regrets. If they say they don’t, it’s bullshit.

That one time you drank so much you threw up in some dude’s bathroom sink? If you don’t regret it, chances are good you’re still doing it.

I can’t tell you how many time I’ve heard someone say, “I don’t regret anything, because my mistakes made me who I am today.”

Well, who I am today has shitty eyebrows. Plucking the hell out of them starting at age 12? Yeah, I regret that. I can’t get that back.

I want Jennifer Connelly caterpillar brows and that ship has sailed.

connelly eyebrows

I regret using baby oil in my effort to transform into another ethnicity when I was in high school. I was dark and mysterious, and growing secret sunspots deep underneath that glowing tan.

dark and mysterious

Like a dormant “I told you so”, they’ve arrived to tell me that being WHITE was okay.

I regret getting a Journalism degree. I remember when one of my mother’s big wig Time Warner bosses warned me to stay out of the biz. I burst into tears after dinner and told my mom, “It’s too late! I’m a Junior in college!”

Bwooohahahaha. Too late? If only I could go back and bitch slap my former self and choose public relations instead.

Even better, I would go back and tell 8 year old me to get over the math mental block and start to really excel at science and computers.

I am fortunate none of my regrets landed me in handcuffs or with something that causes periodic “outbreaks.”

But, the regrets continue even today.

I regret that I wore flip flops recently to work and bit it on the stairs.

I regret just about any outfit I choose in the morning halfway through the day.

I am currently regretting growing my hair out. I successfully made it through the Patrick Swayze stage and have now entered the wet dog phase.

Perfectly dry. Still looks like this:

wet dog

I regret putting my son in undies at his request last night. I was sopping up pee pee and stuffing Despicable Me minions and soggy shark slippers into the washing machine.

huck pee pee

Now to the mother of all regrets.

I adore my children. They are my reason for being. I literally could not live without them. I wouldn’t trade them for anyone else’s children. Mine are exceptional. They are sunshine and laughter and all that is right with this messed up world.

That does not stop me from having brief moments of regret. I mostly regret being ill-equipped to handle the little bastards.

As they both sob in the backseat of the car during a dueling temper tantrum or when a battle over some crappy 99 cent toy from Target escalates to toddler fisticuffs, I genuinely question my ability to be a good parent.

I regret not having them younger, so maybe I could better handle their perpetual insanity.

I regret not having them older, when perhaps I would be better at letting things go.

I sometimes regret having them so close together. Double the diapers. Double the wailing. Double the daycare cost. As they get older, definitely double the trouble.

cupcake tutu double

I will never regret having my children. But, that didn’t stop me from saying to my husband the other day, “I don’t think I want kids. What do I do now?” (A joke, of course. Kind of. Seriously, a joke.)

Talk about “No Backsies.”

Can’t take a Mulligan on human beings.

No Safe Haven for the little boy you can’t seem to potty train.

huck crazy

No Indian giving with the little girl with the bad-ass, pre-teen attitude at 4 years old.

Thankfully, we waded through hell and high water to have these babies.

Otherwise, I might start to daydream about going all runaway bride the next time my daughter says, “I don’t like you anymore” because I told her she couldn’t wear her pink cupcake tutu to go to the park.

runaway bride


I am 98% sure I am having a full-blown identity crisis.

I am confident in my gender preference, sexual preference and my current status as being married and a mother.

Everything else is up for grabs.

When you become a parent your priorities don’t just shift. You don’t just put your needs on the back burner. You set them on fire and watch them turn to ash and waft away in the wind.

ashes

When it comes to my self-worth, I didn’t put all my eggs in one basket. There was a basket for being a successful News Producer, a basket for looking good, a basket for being loyal and loving and a basket for maintaining my sense of humor.

I didn’t drop the basket, but I may have crashed the delivery truck.

cracked eggs

I have always wrapped up my self-confidence in a blanket of compliments. I was a great writer. I was skinny and attractive. I was smart and witty. Quirky and fun. Deep and loyal. Cynical and acerbic.

Now, I just feel old and tired. I have been told I am a bad writer and a bad Producer.

I drag my baby weight around like a yoke around my… well, let’s be frank here… belly.

My sense of humor is more bitter than acerbic.

Fun… what is that?

I have forgotten what it feels like to feel awesome.

I know it’s hidden in there somewhere, but you can only be told you’re not good enough for so long before you start to really believe it.

You know how it would feel if someone told you that you have an ugly baby? That’s how it feels when you love something tremendously and are told you suck at it.

ugly baby

I never proclaimed to be a stellar writer, but it’s something I’ve done like it’s a compulsion for my entire life.

To be told that I blow at it is a REAL BLOW.

It has made me question whether I ever had any talent to begin with. Is the full extent of my skill blogging, like this is some extension of a Dear Diary? Is my writing this right now proof of that?

dear diary

I would be content if I was just focusing on raising two wonderful children, being Suzy homemaker but, instead I am stretched thin like a rubber band across the gap between work and home.

rubberband

I haven’t changed how much effort I put into my job, but suddenly have hit a ceiling. While I continue to pour effort into a job where I am underappreciated, my home is collecting dog fur and grime and a stranger is cleaning it up. My kids have started to know when “Linda cleaned” the house.

I am opting for canned veggies, fish sticks and mac and cheese for the kids when I want to master a real meal.

I want to have someone take a picture of me that isn’t just from the shoulders up that I don’t immediately have the urge to delete.

There is the person I was, the person I am and the person I want to be.

They are all entirely different. I would love to say I’m ready to dig deep and reach that goal, but I’ve got to get out of the hole I’m already in first.

I need to be able to pour my heart and soul into something and have someone say just one time, “job well done.”

Let’s make it one word. Kudos. It’s cheap, cliche and a candy bar. I’ll take it.

kudosThat being said, I am now going to rush to the store to buy ingredients to make a bunch of fancy food and still try to make it to a block party on my cul-de-sac without vomiting from anxiety.


This is my platform, so I choose today to take it a different direction. What I want to say deserves more than a one-liner on Facebook.

Your children are no longer allowed to make stupid, criminal mistakes and move on with their lives after they turn 18.

baby criminal

It has been a long-standing policy in television news not to name or otherwise identify juveniles who are accused of a crime. It is not illegal to show them or name them, but a matter of ethics not to.

The assumption being that children are entitled to privacy, are entitled to make horrible mistakes and not be held accountable for them by the public in their adulthood unless they choose to disclose it.

Now, we work in a newsroom divided. It is a business of blurred lines. There are those of us who believe the “rules” of covering crimes where perps are minors were protocol for a reason. There are the others who think if you’re “old enough to know better” then we can blast your ugly baby-faced mugshot (or even Facebook profile pic) for the world to see.

The first time I remember there being any debate about whether to identify a juvenile who committed a serious crime was while covering Lionel Tate.

lionel tate

He was 12 years old when he murdered a 6 year old girl in Broward County.

He was the youngest person in modern American history to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The justification for showing and naming Tate was that he was being charged as an adult.

That became the bar. The S.O.P.

Charged as an adult? We name you. You’re an adult according to the law now.

Sometime during the past few years, opinions started to shift in the newsroom. People started suggesting that any child who committed a crime as heinous as murder or rape could be identified.

I say “child” because you can tell where I stand on the issue. If you’re young enough to be in foster care, young enough to be required to have a guardian, young enough to not even be allowed to buy a pack of smokes… you are a child.

But, now when you kill someone you are “old enough to know better.”

Now begins the slippery slope. People are suggesting naming and showing juveniles charged with carjacking. “It was with a gun!”

I understand the frustration. It really is starting to seem like the thugs are getting younger, the crimes getting more violent.

Is showing their mugshot a deterrent? Not at all.

Is it even our responsibility to attempt to deter crime? That’s what the justice system is supposed to be for.

Is showing their mugshot informative? Not in the least.

Is showing their mugshot going to help the community? If they’re a violent criminal on the loose, perhaps. But, the cases I am referring to are generally not a “wanted murderer on the lam.”

They are children. Horrible children who will become horrible adults. Thank God they were arrested, will be charged and begin the endless cycle of arrest and release, arrest and release.

Or maybe, just maybe… they will someday realize the error of their ways and mature into normal well-adjusted people. People embarrassed by their past. People who want to contribute to society. People who don’t want it to be so easy to find their mugshot online from an arrest when they were 13 with a simple search.

I read an article about a 15-year-old girl who was convicted of smothering her four-year-old half-sister. A newspaper printed her name. The conviction was overturned and THEN they decided not to name her “because of her age.”

Too little. Too late.

I also read an article recently about an aspiring welder who started a life of crime when he was in sixth grade. During his time behind bars he ended up with tats on his face. Barely in his 20’s he went to extremes to make his mistakes less visible.

http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/starting-over-meant-erasing-his-face-tattoos-the-hard-way/2181792

We can’t keep kids from committing horrible crimes. But, we also don’t have to leave an indelible mark that could have a shelf life even longer than a face tattoo.

You lose your rights when you break the law. But, you don’t stop being a child. That’s my view. All opinions welcome.


My husband was gone before dawn, heading out of town for work.

It’s kind of like waking up to realize you’re on a bus with a bomb about to detonate and you have ONLY 45 MINUTES TO SAVE EVERYONE ONBOARD.

cut the right wires

Cut the right wires!

After a speed-shower, I start by trying to dress my son who spends the next ten minutes fake crying and wiggling away from me half-naked.

I move on to my daughter, ignoring my son whining in the background for “daddy.”

She immediately starts to battle me over whether she can keep on her pink knee-high socks that she slept in, then arguing that pink LEGGINGS are NOT the same as TIGHTS and she wants the TIGHTS.

I go along with it.

Downstairs they both stoop down to pet our dog Frankie, who they hate 98% of the time.

petting frankie

Frankie lusting after the cereal.

Huck starts yelling at Alma, “MY DOG, MY DOG!”

I say, “He’s your dog, my dog, Alma’s dog, EVERYBODY’S DOG!!”

No makeup, no breakfast… I pour Golden Grahams into a couple of bowls for the kids and shove them out the front door.

In the car, my daughter reaches up to touch her headband and shrieks in horror.

“This isn’t the one with the flower!! This is Hello Kitty!! I wanted the one with the flower!!!”

She is literally hysterical.

I tell her there is no time to go back inside. I have buckled them both in. I can’t unload them and drag them inside because she suddenly despises Hello Kitty.

hell no kitty

So, I tell her to stop crying, back out of the driveway and whip off down the road to try and reach daycare the second they open the doors. (they open at 7am, my work day starts at 7:30am… for every minute past 7am traffic increases exponentially by at least 5 minutes. I hate word problems, but you get it.)

As I peel out, I hear a strange scraping noise and the sound of plastic hitting pavement.

I watch in my rear view mirror as my daughter’s plastic bowl of cereal bounces down the road.

I left it on the roof of the car.

So, then she realizes the cereal is NOT in her lap and starts screaming about that.

I scream for Huck to share with her. He meekly hands her a single Golden Graham and she shouts through sobs, “I want my own bowl!”

I get her to be quiet in time for arriving at daycare moments later.

Rush them inside, rush back out, hop in the car, speed off only to be stopped immediately by dozens of drivers turning onto the next street to take their kids to high school.

I end up behind a school bus on Hillsborough Avenue that stops to pick up kids at least 6 times. Since when are bus stops lined up alongside a major thoroughfare??

I arrive at work ridiculously late.

Gas station shooting, students stabbed at school, Reeva Steenkamp’s bloodied head being compared to a watermelon.

Before I have even written a tease, I am already getting shit for the video that it will show. It’s not written. No instructions for editors. No video chosen. Yet, someone is already complaining.

Then it’s “You wrote the cars recalled were ‘produced.’ Don’t you mean manufactured?”
(AP wires said ‘produced’)

“You say the ‘mystery man.’ If the identity is a mystery, how do you know it’s a man?”
(the MAN went to the school to drop off the wallet but did not reveal his name)

“Is Obama presiding over the memorial service at Fort Hood?”
(No, it’s going to be someone even bigger! George Carlin’s ghost!)

carlin ghost

I think I forgot to put on deodorant this morning.

If I die in some weird car wreck today, I am wearing Wonder Woman underwear.

I better be careful today or the ME will be joking about my stinky body and humiliating underthings.

And people wonder why I find it completely reasonable to have a glass or two of wine or a couple beers after work. Harumph.