Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My Final Tuesday Deadline

It is no secret that print media is struggling to find its way in a 24/7 news cycle where people get news delivered to their television, their desktop, their laptop, their phone, and almost anywhere but to their front door in the form of a newspaper. Staying relevant is difficult, at best, for a daily paper. Now imagine trying to find your place as a weekly paper. When the expectation is instant results, waiting seven days for breaking news just ain't what it used to be.

The Northwest Times Record is the latest casualty of the trend toward e-journalism. Steeped in tradition, the NW Times Record has always prided itself as being "Your Community

The folder of newspaper web offset printing pressImage via Wikipedia

Newspaper." True to its tag-line, the paper focused on covering stories that its community cared about; school openings, city council and school board meetings, athletic events and Kiwanis Club fundraisers. It was the paper where you announced your daughter's wedding engagement and where I announced the birth of my daughter.

This Thursday will be the last issue of the NW Times Record. With a Thursday print day, I have been making Tuesday deadlines for the last eight years. Today was my final Tuesday deadline. The letter to the editor below sums up my relationship with the Times Record and its owners, publishers, and my friends, Art and Joan Jones. Thursdays in NW Tarrant County won't be quite the same.

Dear Editor,
In 2001 I came to EM-S ISD as the Public Information Officer of what was then a small suburban school district. My job was to facilitate communication with the parent
s, employees, taxpayers, and community of Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD. My background in public relations had taught me that in order to effectively do my job I would need the help of the local media.

Enter the Northwest Times Record.

Coming from the media market in Dallas, I was skeptical to say the least, but after my first
conversation with owner and publisher Art Jones, it was evident, I wasn't in Dallas any more. Art and his business partner, editor, feature writer, and wife Joan, were eager to publish good news, of all things. Something that I wasn't used to, but was definitely glad to hear. In fact, in my eight years here, I can't once recall the Times Record turning away a good news story, something that I don't think can be said for any other news institution I have ever worked with.

Don't get me wrong, the Times Record wasn't all sunshine and roses. They covered their fair share of controversial stories as well, many of which included EM-S ISD. But every ti
me, and I mean every time, that Art got a tip that involved our district, his first phone call was to my office. I can't even hazard to guess the number of calls that I received that started with, "Kristen, Kristen, Kristen, let me count the ways you can help me today." He never ran stories based on anonymous tips, no matter how juicy the information, and believe me, some of it was really juicy. He always checked his facts and as such, his stories were fair and showed both sides. Another dying art in media today.

Northwest Tarrant County is losing a great voice in the Times Record. We have celebrated achievements together, tried new recipes, re-lived Friday night's football game, and kept up to date with City Council and School Board actions.

Thank you Art and Joan for all of the hard work and dedication, but mostly the heart that you have put into the Times Record over the years. This is the last Tuesday deadline that I will have to make, and the first I have sent with a tear in my eye.

All my best ~

Kristen Escovedo

Director of Communications

Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Waiting for perspective

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a lab rat? Living in a glass cage surrounded by doctors, pharmacists, chemists, grad students, and some guy named Rob who doesn't actually have any medical credentials but is working on a film about a particular disease that the lab rat didn't have when he was captured from the wild, but that he is secretly hoping he might catch so that he can document it.

Throughout the lab rat's time in the glass cage, which is not particularly uncomfortable as far as rat living quarters go, but still is a glass cage none the less, he is moved from station to station, where he is subjected to a battery of different medical tests, some with needles that take blood or fluids out, others that inject blood and fluids back in. There are X-rays and scans of sorts, electric and non-electric probes, which even for a rat are somewhat humiliating. Hair is shaved, hair is grown back, hair is braided into sort of cute little dread-locks, which isn't so bad. After each test the lab rat is given some pain medication for the discomfort and returned to his glass cage to await the next test.

Perhaps the most frustrating part for the rat - aside from the constant staring at his own reflection - is the fact that although the doctors, pharmacist, chemist, and even Rob are constantly performing tests, the rat never gets the results of the tests. Or, he is given results of the tests, but the results of one test contradicts the results of another test and when that happens, you guessed it, they have to perform yet one more test to see which of the first two tests provides the correct test results.

All the while, the lab rat's medical bills are piling up because some of the tests are not covered by insurance, some are considered in-network, some are out of network, of course anything that Rob does is considered purely experimental. The lab rat's family has to sell all of the little rat family's possessions just to pay the bills, even though they are hoping that the government is going to reform health care, they aren't sure how that will affect lab rats, but that is another blog post entirely.

Over the past nine months, I have found myself in the position of the rat. There have been many waiting rooms along the way, which I'm sure will be their own posts, but today I just want to give you a brief overview and talk about the waiting room I found myself in this week.

About nine months ago I started experiencing severe abdominal pain. After five months of trips to various doctors, tests that I blushed to explain to my husband, and trying various doses of numerous medicines, my pain increased. Needless to say, this was not the desired outcome, so we scheduled a hysterectomy. It was a routine surgery. A little anesthesia, the doctor goes in, takes out my uterus, I stay in the hospital overnight, I'm out of commission two weeks, three at the most, and I'm as good as new.

Fast forward three and a half months later, where after a blood transfusion, an 11 cm hematomoa, several infections, and an ovarian cyst, my ovaries have fused together and are somehow stuck down in the scar tissue.

The result: My pain is worse than it was to start with. Many trips to the hospital, emergency rooms, doctors, pain clinics, and physical therapists have left me in a situation that seems more hopeless than the one I was in nine months ago.

It was in this waiting room that I found myself looking for a little perspective.

You might not believe it, but there are physical therapists who specialize specifically in women's issues. My PT works out of the Carter Rehab Center in Baylor All-Saint's in Fort Worth.

For those of you who have never been through physical therapy, the waiting room alone is enough to make even the more middle aged of us feel pretty young as most of the clients are, shall I say, old enough to fully take advantage of the senior citizen discount at IHOP. This particular facility also has a work-out area which would definitely be somewhere that I could feel like a rock-star running a 28 minute mile, which sadly is pretty good for me even before I got sick.

During my session I was working on some exercises that had me lying on my back with my knees bent in front of me. From that position I could see a gentleman walking toward me out of the corner of my eye. I could tell that he was using a walker and that he was moving at an extremely slow pace. Because I was on my back I couldn't see any details, but I could hear his therapist encouraging him to move his left foot and then his right. Move his left foot and then his right.

I did several sets of exercises over the next five minutes or so as the gentleman made his way toward me. It had probably taken five minutes for him to walk about ten feet. All along the way I heard the therapist encouraging him to move his left foot and then his right. I could see his shoes come into my line of sight - the bright white tennis shoes that old men wear with black socks and shorts during summer time. That thought made me smile.

As I completed another set of my exercises the gentlemen came fully into my site and immediately my perspective changed. He was 6'4 with a strong athletic build and was 35 -37 years old. The look on his face was determined. Frustrated

They passed the table where I was sitting and turned to begin the long journey back across the gym.

I thought about journey that I had been on and immediately I was thankful. Yes, I was in pain, but in a minute, I was going to stand up and walk out of that room.

I remember when I was in high school someone told me, "Before you complain because you have no shoes think about the man who has no feet." I was reminded of that quote yesterday.

I hope that as I spend time in my little cage, when I look in the glass, instead of always seeing myself reflected back, I will see the reflection of others who have gone before me, beside me, and who will go after me and it will help me keep my perspective.

Image by Rick Eh? via Flickr

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Waiting for true love's first kiss

Like most little girls who grew up reading fairy tales and watching Disney movies, I had a lot of preconceived ideas about what my first kiss would be like. Although I hadn't quite worked out all of the logistics I felt somewhat confident that it would take place in a picturesque setting, with my own theme song playing softly in the background, and small woodland creatures nearby cheering me on or perhaps making some kind of chocolaty snack that my boyfriend and I could share after that magical moment when our spirits and our lips combined to be one.

While this may seem far fetched, keep in mind that I grew up in Montana, so the serene setting and woodland creatures actually shouldn't have been that hard to come by. But alas, the waiting room for my first kiss was not filled with sunshine and butterflies, but instead with vampires and zombies.

Let me set the scene. It was the week before Halloween, and as was tradition, our church was hosting its annual Halloween party. Two important notes: this was 15 years ago, before Halloween was replaced with "Fall Family Festivals" and I didn't live in the Bible Belt where it would be completely unthinkable to hold a celebration of Halloween in a church. Our church held a Halloween party, complete with a haunted house, and our youth group was in charge of staging and executing the event.

But this would be no ordinary Halloween party. This was a night where destiny was shining down on me. My boyfriend, whom I had been dating for three weeks, would be at the party and I was sure that this would be the night where I would move from being 15 and never been kissed to 15 and breathless, wobbly knees, hold me close or I may fall to the ground and need to be resuscitated by yet another kiss. Now, as adults, three weeks may not seem like a long time, but three weeks in the high school First Kiss Waiting Room is like six months in the real world - it's kind of like dog years vs. human years.

Other than a few games of spin the bottle at birthday parties, I had never actually been kissed. However, because of my duties in the haunted house, I was literally stuck in the attic most of the night. I don't know if you have ever worked in a haunted house, but these types of jobs are different then your average day job. As visitors entered the haunted house, my job was to scream at the top of my lungs and them lunge at them with my hands covered in "blood" (a mixture of Karo syrup and food coloring - much more realistic than ketchup for those of you keeping score).

Mid-way through the party, I went downstairs for a quick boyfriend check and what did I see? Another girl, we will call her Jessica Rabbit for the moment, was sitting on his knee. There she was in her size four stone washed jeans, flipping her long blond hair back over her shoulder and laughing at him like she thought he was funny. I was devastated. I was supposed to be pretending he was funny and flipping my hair around - or something - and while I'm busy scaring the begezzes out of people, Ms. Rabbit was moving in on my man!

Well, as you can imagine, I did what any intelligent, loving, Christian, girl would do in this situation; I had my best friend tip me off when little Ms. Rabbit was coming through the haunted house where somehow an entire bowl of fake blood was accidentally doused on that pretty blond hair of hers. Very reminiscent of the scene in Stephen King's Carrie only much more satisfying and well-deserved.

Unfortunately, this mishap caused her to have to leave the party early, putting my plans back on track.

As the party started to wind down, I knew I had to make my move. My boyfriend started walking out to the car with his friends and I walked out with him, my hands, hair and shirt all stained with red Karo syrup. I looked more like a trauma victim than a princess. And although there was a distinct lack of squirrels and bunnies there were plenty of power rangers, spider men, and Barbies with plastic masks who had gathered around. The little munchkins seemed to sense that something magical was about to happen and they wanted to be a part of it. That and all the candy had run out inside the party. In fact, I can't think of anything that could have made the night less romantic, except possibly if my head would have started spinning a' la The Exorcist. But at this point I was committed and nothing was going to stop me from leaving that sidewalk without a kiss.

I quickly reached up and gave him a hug and thanked him for coming. He started to pull away, but I kept my arms around his neck and the hug lingered. Our eyes locked and I knew this was it. He started moving in closer and our lips were so close that they were just about to touch. I stood up on my tip toes so that I could reach his lips. I noticed that he closed his eyes so I closed mine as well. I tilted my head just slightly and took a deep breath in. The air around us was chilly, so I could feel my breath as I breathed out slowly and my lips finally touched his.

The kiss lasted only a few seconds and then I felt his arms loosen. He said something about talking to me later, got in the car and drove away.

I looked up at the beautiful night sky above me determined to take in all the sights and sounds of the moment, took a deep breath, and began to cry.

It was awful!

It was sort of like when you get a piece of meat in your mouth and you have to keep chewing it and chewing it but you can't swallow it so eventually you have to just spit it out.

How could something I had waited my entire life for be so incredibly terrible? Was it me? Was I a horrible kisser? I mean, I really didn't have much practice, other than the pillow, my hand, and the inevitable truth or dare games. I had read a lot of Judy Blume books and even a few of my mom's Harlequin romance novels, which I was sure would have prepared me for this night. I wasn't expecting actual fireworks, I wasn't that naive, but I wasn't expecting the night to end in tears. Come on!

The night ended with me crying to my best friend and my dad taking us out for Happy Meals, which I still contend can fix almost anything. There is some kind of happy chemical in those french fries . . . I'm just saying.

My first boyfriend did not end up being my true love, although he did end up one of my closest friends in high school and college. It's funny how life works out that way.

I've had a lot of kisses along the way, some good and some not so good, but perhaps none quite as memorable as that first.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Are we there yet?

The Waiting Room album coverImage via Wikipedia

The older I get, the more acutely aware I seem to notice that life is a series of never ending waiting rooms. We are constantly shuffled from one waiting room to the next, be it literal or figurative. When we are young we can't wait for our next birthday or Christmas to arrive so that we can attack the presents like hyenas and devour the meals our mothers spent 12 hours cooking in a matter of minutes.

The school year is basically a nine-month waiting room for summer breaj, broken up with smaller waiting rooms for Christmas break and spring break. As we get older we can't wait to graduate high school and then college, after which we (along with our parents) can't wait for us to get our first real job and move into our first place. Sometimes we find ourselves in more than one waiting room at a time. Example: While waiting to graduate from college, many of us young women were also waiting for our MRS. degree. And no sooner do we swallow that first piece of wedding cake than are we shoved by our loved ones into yet another waiting room where people keep asking us (often inappropriately soon) when we will start making babies.

I could go on, but I'm sure by now all you are doing is waiting for me to get to the point.

Whether it is something as simple as waiting for your baby to roll over for the first time or something as complex as watching a loved one as he slowly passes from this world to the next, waiting rooms cannot be avoided. Before you start hitting the "comment" button and telling me that we need to enjoy today and not worry about tomorrow because worrying about tomorrow will only rob of us our joy today, please hear me out. I am not talking about dwelling on these issues. I am not talking about anxiety, although that can sometimes not be avoided, and I am not talking about spending so much time dwelling on the problems, or joys, of tomorrow that you do not focus on those happy times of today. But just as we all had to wait our turn in line at the drinking fountain as children, we must still often wait in line as adults. And in my experience, it isn't getting any easier.

Over the past two years I have experienced numerous health problems causing me to spend a good deal of time in hospitals, emergency rooms and doctor's offices, all of which come with - you guessed it - waiting rooms. My experience in these literal waiting rooms have taught me some nuggets of wisdom that I believe are relative to the figurative waiting rooms of life. Which lead me to the purpose of this blog.

This blog is designed to be a place to talk about those everyday waiting rooms; both the silly and the sad; the practical and the poignant. I think you will find that we will have a lot in common and I look forward to hearing about your experiences as well. After all, no one wants to sit in a waiting room alone, no matter how good the reading material.
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