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Fishy Hands

AnnKeil

I spent hours with some of the most beautiful animals I had ever seen. Word of choice: majestic.

But they “gotta eat.” (Checkers commercial nod. Yes, I’m a dork.)

So… When I arrived at work, my first priority was breaking a part a block of chum, that was nearly the size of a double sink, with my bare hands and some hot water. Working at a ‘mini Sea World’ is not as glamorous as you’d think. I smelled bad, and my hands, that were cut up from sharp scales and bones, smelled of fish, always.

So, I relied on lemons.

They were my new best friends until I became a waitress. I still have a secret hatred for condiments to this day. I cut dozens upon dozens of lemons at the beginning of each shift that often turned into a double so I’d leave covered in a bit of egg, some kind of fried meat, and beer.  The tips were great though! Especially from the business men who tried to nonchalantly slip into the gentleman’s club next door after their meal during their lunch hour. Maybe they were practicing. Lol.

A designer sunglass store also employed me for a bit. What were they thinking? I am not the best salesperson, but I did enjoy heating the sunglass frames with some crazy contraption in the back of the store so that they would actually fit a customers face nice and snug. I convinced myself it was a craft, and it was the far better alternative than rubbing fingerprints off the countless pairs of glasses on display, which was one of my main duties.

And now, I’m in TV news…something I’ve told you all about already.

Here’s what I think… regardless of what you do, focusing on the little things… the little victories.. the little bits of enjoyment as you work your butt off is your best bet.

It’s called work for a reason. It’s not supposed to be fun all of the time or even at all, but working through it is key. There is nothing better than finally landing on your couch after a long day at work and feeling that sense of pride and fulfillment.

You worked hard, it looked good, and you got paid. Now, for some sleep…. well, a little sleep. I’m always craving a little more one-on-one time with my mattress, and I fear I’m not alone.

Fancy Schmancy

My first trip to Detroit was inspired by lawn seat tickets to a Lauryn Hill concert many moons ago.

My second trip…  involved a chair up against the door of a hotel room that I definitely did not book. It was a layover gone wrong, very wrong. The airline, which I will not name, because I’ve likely cursed all of them by now, also assumed that I’d appreciate an indoor pool with enough chemicals to take out a zoo. I instead used my towel as a barrier between my very tired body and the bed.

And my third trip, ah…
NAIAS

The North American International Auto Show is as cool as it seems. I’m not even a ‘car person,’ but wow! Each hunk of metal is something special, falling somewhere between art and architecture. I just had to touch one or two. The smile came naturally.
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It was a last-minute, “Hey, lets follow the Indianapolis Mayor up there.” The mayor wants all city vehicles to rely on alternative fuel technologies by 2025. In fact, he signed an executive order requiring that almost every new car or truck purchased or leased by the city has an electric or plug-in hybrid engine. I was shocked.

There is even a conversation about converting plow trucks and fire engines so they’ll rely on compressed natural gas instead of diesel. I’m interested to see what’s next, but for all of you who may not be as interested, here is a peak at a few more cars that caught my eye. Some are even green or could be if they were mass-produced.

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My favorite: Cadillac Ciel
Photo caption: ‘Better than a Boyfriend.’

The NAIAS opens to the public tomorrow at the Cobo Center.

In a Nutshell

annkeilMonday through Friday can quickly become interesting, shocking, scary, plain boring, frustrating, inspiring, pleasantly heartwarming or all of the above. The news biz is something else.

I love asking, “Can I come by… now?”

Some of you are quite busy. Some of you desperately want the p.r. Some of you graciously rearrange your schedule and round-up the troops in minutes. Some of you introduce us to your oh-so-unfriendly dog. I thought that only happened to the mailman!

If you happen to see us coming… I get it… the microphone, the microwave truck, the video camera with that little red light that tends to make people recheck their teeth for lipstick, straighten their tie a bit or just run, but, hey, we’re keeping you informed! Plus, why not spice up your day and help us out? Likely, you’re interview victim number …. and we’ve already put some serious miles on the road in one of these bad boys. I also say please most of the time!

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They may look big from the outside, but eight hours in the box can make you want to throw something or yourself out of the window. Kidding, of course… You just need to laugh off the stress, the long hours, the deadlines….

Here’s a sneak peek. I took my camera with me the other day. We have several different units. In this one, I can charge two phones at once and my laptop! When I hop in, oh, the delight. Yes, I can be easy to please. The back-end is tight, and it can get hot, so I’m told. I usually have to peel myself off the passenger seat at the end of the day, and collect all of my things. I have a special way of unloading everything each day. Just call me prepared!

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There are about five or six different photographers who work the day shift, and they gladly accept their fate with one of us. When I’m chatting you up, this is what I see.fox59

This is what our ‘photogs’ see. Poor Bayette  has to get low for me sometimes.

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And… let’s not forget my makeup room/office/lunch table…. that I mentioned before. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but I have mastered black, waterproof, liquid eyeliner in the dusty mirror of a very bumpy, top-heavy vehicle going 55, 60. Yes, I know, genius.

So… not so glamorous but always an adventure. A desk and fluorescent lights just wouldn’t do, and neither would 9 to 5.

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Butterflies and Rainbows

annkeilI was trying to think back to the time when I realized life was.. well life. It can get ugly fast. I remember joking with one of my friends the other day, saying, “why didn’t our parents tell us this???” It was one of those moments where you laugh hard, stop and think “hmm, this is some kind of awful.” I can even visualize my own facial expression.

I know you know what I’m talking about.

But, all joking aside, when we’re talking about the real stuff, there is no question some of us experience life too early. Innocence… just taken.

I can think of countless children I’ve reported on and one baby in particular. Her mother left her with an old friend from high school and her boyfriend, who were house guests/temporary babysitters. The baby’s father thought his child had diaper rash at some point soon after. It wasn’t. It was genital warts. The little girl, who was six-months-old when the crime was reported, had been sexually abused by the couple, and that was not all.

I’m now sitting here wondering what that child’s life will be like. Will she never know? Will she learn the horrifying details of the abuse in an article online years from now? It makes me think that perhaps being one of those people who never allow themselves to fully grasp reality are not completely off base. If they don’t accept it, then they don’t have to deal with it. Then, again, the pain, the devastation and the loss can make us better and push us harder to leave a positive stamp on the World… IF we work through it. It doesn’t even matter if that circumstance was the result of our own choice or someone else’s.

At some point, we’re all victims. We just get to decide if we will live as victims or survivors.

All of this… in my head after a trip to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami. You can walk into a large atrium full of butterflies and orchids. I immediately saw a certain grin on so many faces, young or old, it didn’t matter. I started to picture some of the adults as innocent children as the butterflies fluttered overhead and even landed on his hat or her hand.

Gone were the feelings of real life… just for a few moments, which are always allowed, and it felt good.

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Let’s Fly Away

planeI thought I might as well opt for co-pilot off the bat. At least I could watch and listen if we happened to plummet thousands of feet. Little planes have always made me a bit nervous, or rather the thought of them, so an 8-seater was no exception. I think of two words: ‘tuna can.’ Or maybe three… ‘airborne tuna can’

Then, again, how do you say no? You have to get your kicks somehow. The pilot, who flies for a major airline, is a friend of a friend, and he offered to give us a ride in his so-called ‘toy’ (not ‘tuna can?!’)

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Thankfully, the weather cooperated. What fun!

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In just over an hour, we were in Nashville, Tennessee, and I felt my southern accent coming back already. I only lived in Tennessee for three-and-a-half years when I was working for the ABC affiliate WATE-TV, but that twang was contagious!

Great first trip to Nashville. Live music should be a part of everyone’s life

… as long as I’m not a part of it. I was forced on stage to hit a few drums with the professionals this weekend. Why they picked me, I do not know. Embarrassing moment number 153,854,933,874.

I assumed they’d just expect me to do a little dance. Instead, I was trying to balance on a stool… in a dress… with my legs crossed… on a raised stage using my right hand. I’m a left-handed, randomly shy woman who last touched a musical instrument in middle school. Remember those plastic recorders?? Like I said…  embarrassing moment number 153,854,933,874.


Ah, sunshine

I think one of our producers just wrote it best: “A dreary, damp day across Indiana.”

Looking any better by you?? Likely not… so here’s a little natural TLC courtesy my parent’s yard in Miami. Had to take some pics when I was in town. They even have baby bananas growing! Yum.

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feliz cumpleaños a mí

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I just had a birthday, and no, I’m not telling you guys how young I am!

Isn’t it funny how much we want to be 10-and-a-half. Eighteen. Twenty-one. We want to be older as if it’s a ticket to real life… no obstacles… freedom. Then, you’re squirming in your late twenties, and the questions start rolling in:

Am I happy? Where should I be at this point in my life?

Birthdays have a fantastic way of doing that. Don’t they?

I thought of all of the plans I’ve made over the years: The daydreams I had as a little girl as I played in my parents front yard, and the bold visions I had as a bull-headed college student walking the streets of Boston as if I knew it all. I had it almost all figured out. The city I would live in… the career I would have and the kind of man I would marry. Some of us make so many plans, and those plans always seem to create an expectation or expectations. It’s probably not exactly what we were initially going for. We can do a little sinking under that kind of pressure, but I think, in part, it’s because we’re thinking about it all wrong.

What’s best, at least for me now, is thinking of it as grey area… a charcoal sketch. All of those plans — a sketch that we can turn to for direction as we grow old and hopefully wiser. We can always do a little erasing, smudging and a some shading outside of the lines. I think that may have been a bit of a realization I just had a few days ago, or at least, I really began to truly understand it. So, lets just say, that’s one more year and one more lesson… or TWO. Number two is I’m getting too old for some kinds of crazy.

My uncle offered to let me jump out of a plane strapped to him or some other guy on the big day, but that just didn’t sound enjoyable on any level. He does it every weekend. Picture my face in complete awe every time I’m reminded of that endeavor. Instead, I chose tranquility. I don’t get much of it in the news biz, and luckily, it was the day after Thanksgiving. I was in Miami with my family so relieved I could even put a bikini on underneath a pair of shorts. Well, kind of. Lol.

I had almost forgotten how special the ocean is. How it can make you feel. It had been too long. The translucent, blue-green water…The salt in the air…the birds chirping away…swaying palm trees…It’s magical so I got on a paddle board on Key Biscayne. It was something new, something different…

annWe only get one chance to do this thing called life so I’m planning on living this next year with a freer heart and an even bolder step…

Pink

Sometimes we all need to just stop talking, and instead, listen… learn… and love harder.

I walked in honor of my grandmother and aunt, two beautiful survivors; Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 5k Walk, Fox59 team, Indianapolis, October 20.

An email from my aunt, JoAnn Forster…

I was 39 years old, no history of breast cancer in my family, a mother of a 13-year-old, single, committed to exercise and healthy eating, and my life was about to forever change. I had my yearly gynecological and breast exam two weeks before.  I had no issues or concerns. My Doctor went thru the motions, and I happily breezed out of the office after having been pronounced healthy and good to go. Two weeks later I was doing a self-breast exam in the shower and felt something that sent an immediate rush of fear to my brain…. Fear, to no worries, to fear, to denial, to fast forward to what if, to fear, and to death.

I have always been very sensitive to my body and never had the comfort of youth of feeling invincible. Quite the contrary.  Some of my earliest memories are warnings of vulnerability, and they have stayed with me, as I grow older.

I called my Doctor’s office and requested an appointment and was adamant that I did not want to wait for weeks.  I saw him a few days later, and I was escorted to his office, not an exam room. I told him I felt a small lump in my breast. He smiled and assured me that he had done a thorough breast exam. I assured him in my normal, calm, assertive way that my 39 years of knowing my body and feeling this lump was worth his attention. He stood up and walked to me and asked me if he could he could feel it. To my shock, he did a quick exam over my clothes and once again assured me of my good health. I asked him for a proper exam, which he did.  He said he felt nothing and tried very hard to be accommodating and caring. I told him that even if he could not feel it, I knew something was there, and I wanted to do all I could do to find out what was happening in my body. He reluctantly agreed to order a mammogram.

I owe so much to the young doctor who listened to me, even after the mammogram did not detect any growth.  She would not give up, and to this day, she uses my case to demonstrate to her students the smallest tumor any patient found and was not initially detected thru standard tests. I had Stage 1 intraductal breast cancer in one breast. I opted for a mastectomy on that breast, and, a year later, on a prophylactic mastectomy on the other.  I knew I would never have another day of peace for my son and myself if I didn’t do all I could do.

I am 64 years old with a wonderful husband, 3 kids, 3 grandkids, family I love, a great career, and daily reminders about how blessed I am. 25 years ago I fired that gynecologist and now work very hard to only have doctors that listen, are proactive, and don’t treat me in a condescending way. 

Listen to your body.

Listen to your own instincts.

The message always comes. 

Don’t be afraid to fight for yourself and for your own life.  You are your own best advocate.  If there are times when you cannot, make sure to have someone who can be and can speak for you. Fear is not a fact. 

And… I asked my grandmother if she felt lucky… looking back.
Here’s a short clip.

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A Little One-on-One


This past Sunday… instead of some football watching, I threw on a fleece, headed down a few trails and stopped in a public garden. I know, I know… possibly shameful amongst football enthusiasts, but I have an excuse! I desperately needed a one-with-nature-kind-of-moment.

It’s my special, green sanctuary, and I get lost in it.

Here are a few of my favorite snapshots:



It was Friday

I remember the look on his face as he whispered the words. I remember staring intently at his lips as if I couldn’t hear a word he was saying. I gave him a quick smile.  The kind of smile you give a friend after you’ve done them a favor. No need for even a pause.  Then, I gave my seat belt a little tug, and it started to hit me. He had whispered the words, “you just saved my life.”

We were on our way back to the station after shooting a story at a used tire shop and waste transfer station. My idea, of course. It was a friday, and it felt like it. He was hungry and opted for fast food. I tried to convince him otherwise, but the smell coming from my vinegar cole slaw salad from Whole Foods probably didn’t help my cause in the least.

A few bites in, the car jerked and the mysterious red drink he had just taken a big gulp of went everywhere. We flew off the interstate and came to a screeching halt on the shoulder as he tried to catch his breath. I stumbled out of the car after him into the grass. Was he throwing up or choking? Our intern, who is now probably scarred for life, yelled, “give him the Heimlich,” and well, that’s what I did. His face was starting to lose color.

It was not easy. He’s six feet tall. I was wearing heels that were clearly too high for the steep shoulder that was covered in weeds and tall grass. Each time, I pushed back hard on his abdomen, I realized I would need to get him on the asphalt if I was going to get any more leverage.

What a relief.

He started to talk again between some coughing. I drove us back, hands clenched to the wheel, saying ridiculous things to lighten up the heaviness that hung inside our car. He went to the hospital, and I went back to work. Soon after I’d get a text that will forever go in my file of favorites.

“Ever saved anyone’s life before? Well now you have and I’ll never forget it.”

It forced me to process what had just happened, and I was grateful. So grateful he was okay, but I didn’t feel confident as I played the “what if” game. What if it hadn’t worked? My first aid certification that I got on a whim in Knoxville had long expired, and I couldn’t recall every detail about proper technique. If my job has taught me anything, it’s that anything can happen to anyone at any time, and it’s not always pretty. My first aid book that rides with me wherever I go will now have plenty more folds. You never know when something, anything is about to happen. You just never know so take a class, sharpen your skills, read up… Just in case it’s you next time.

http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class