I still remember my first day at KHNL in March 1996. I was young and impressionable, not far out of college, and eager to make a name for myself. I was excited to be working in my hometown. Every day at work was like a party!
My first assignment was to cover a Hawaiian sovereignty rally at the state capitol. I had to brush up on a quick primer on the issue. I think they threw me on that story because I graduated from Kamehameha and they assumed I knew about all things Hawaiian!
Over the years, I've seen a lot, done even more, and have had the honor of delivering Hawaii's news to peoples' living rooms every night. It's been a wild ride. Thank you, Hawaii, for accepting me as part of the community. I'm lucky and grateful. I've grown, and grown up, at KHNL.
I've met a prince (Andrew) and many politicians, covered several presidents (Clinton, Bush, Obama), ridden all kinds of aircraft (military cargo planes, an aerobatic helicopter, but aww- never a jet), and swam under the sea (a lot). I've met a fair share of celebrities and criminals, musicians and muckrakers.
Oh, the memories! There was the time I stalked Ben Affleck in Lanikai when he was here filming Pearl Harbor. I kept walking the loop over and over, hoping to see him driving in. The moment he did, I was unprepared, so he zipped by with Gwyneth Paltrow in his silver Jaguar. If only I hurled myself in front of his convertible so he'd have to stop and give me mouth-to-mouth!
I've done lots of breaking news, but the most intense was the 1996 triple murder-suicide in Mililani that kept me on scene for 16 hours straight. This taught me to carry food at all times.
I was the reporter in a minor run-in with starlet Hayden Panettierre at the Royal Hawaiian. She was unprofessional and unpleasant, I'm disappointed to say, because I had previously admired her. What was shocking to me is how quickly the worldwide media picked up the story.
The networks were all calling KHNL's newsroom the next day. My boss didn't want to get into a gossip war, so he wouldn't return the calls. I am forever the anonymous female reporter in this story.
My best memory, though, is of meeting my husband through work. I was driving back to the station with photographer Dell Ison when we passed the newly opened Affordable Casket in the Nimitz strip mall. It was right next to Sensually Yours. We died laughing.
Dell suggested I do a tongue-in-cheek story, a la Jeannie Moos of CNN. I did, and Claus asked me out afterward. Meeting Claus has been the best thing to happen to me. He is the perfect husband.
I've reported from a number of overseas destinations, covering the Indian Ocean tsunami while embedded with a Navy unit in Thailand; previewing the Hong Kong handover; finding Hawaii ties in Vancouver, BC; watching doctors treat mudslide victims in the Philippines; seeing Japanese-American internment camp survivors graduate from the University of Seattle; and filing travelogues from Japan, Manila, and Denmark.
While I love the access and adventure that newscasting gave me, what I'll miss most is the people. Not just the stars, but the everyman as well. I've met such wonderful folks on this job, some of whom I've maintained friendships with over the years. That includes both people I work with, and people I've interviewed.
It's such a privilege to be allowed to step into someone's life, ask them all kinds of personal questions, and have them simply... answer! I've experienced a lot of "day in the life of" moments where I've gotten to peek into someone else's reality. When I go home, I always appreciate mine. My line of work suits me.
Or, it did until recently, when I was let go from the only career I've ever known. When the merger was announced, I knew in my heart I would either get laid off, or demoted to a reporter. I am not undervaluing myself. I'm just savvy and realistic. I'm damned good talent, but TV news is not a meritocracy. There were many factors and forces at work, and I glimpsed enough to realize my fate.
It's OK. I was never sad about the layoff. I wanted to be a lifer, but my life hasn't followed the course I planned back in college. For personal reasons, I was contemplating quitting in six more months, anyway, when the revamped morning show turned a year old in April 2010. Dan Schmidt put me on the show, and to respect him, I didn't want to walk away too early.
And to be honest, I enjoyed every single day of it. The show was fun. It invigorated me. I never walked into work not wanting to be there.
I want to be a full-time mother until Olivia goes to school. My whole philosophy on... anything, really, is to give it my all. I didn't want to bear a child only to pawn her off on babysitters all day. I want to enjoy her.
Working a graveyard schedule was extremely hard for me. I get up at 3:30 am, and because it's not a natural biorhythm, I get tired faster. Sometimes by noon, I'd fade. When you have a two-year-old, you can't sleep when you want. There would be some very tired days. I liken it to watching Olivia through a glass window - I see her but there isn't a lot of interaction.
I figured out my body works best if I go to sleep at 6:30 p.m. I ended up missing out a lot of personal time with Claus, and on lots of social events. I had to quit evening jujitsu. I maintained this schedule on weekends for consistency. Boring.
I like this line of work so much, I probably wouldn't have left unless kicked out. Despite the constant struggle for balance and the incredible amount of discipline this weird schedule requires, I love the news business. Therefore, I see it as a gift from the Universe that the decision was made for me to leave. I might have otherwise dickered.
It's time for me to broaden my horizons! And get some sleep.
P.S. YES I will keep blogging here. This blog has nothing to do with my job at KHNL. I picked it up because I like to write. Keep in touch with me here!