It’s the end of the year and so time to reflect on what became a highly unusual time. I left radio broadcasting (and KFDI) for the world of local TV news in early January, where I’ve been working as a TV producer for Fox Kansas News at 9:00 — also subbing on other KAKE News shows, mostly KAKE News at 5:00 lately.
When I was hired, the world was a far different place. I was told I faced a “steep learning curve,” which I crushed, of course. But I didn’t have the luxury of learning to produce TV news in a normal time. I had about two weeks of normal before a little football team called the Kansas City Chiefs won their way into the Super Bowl — and then won that. My first live newscasts were with four people on the ground in Miami. I had no idea what I was doing then like I do now. I’d covered things before like 9/11 (live on air at KZZP-Phoenix) and the elections of 2004 and 2008 (as a writer-editor/audio producers at Westwood One Metro Source). But a Super Bowl as a newbie TV producer followed by a two-week deep breath and covering a pandemic since then explains almost my entire 2020.
I had never covered a war, a major disaster, or anything close to the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020. Producing news in 2020 is like being a war-time journalist. This is a red zone here in Wichtia, Kansas, where we are based. The threat is constant. I have lost two friends to COVID-19 and one to suicide due to the isolation the pandemic induced this summer. I’ve been exposed to sick people and had to quarantine several times. Two of my friends who died we covered on our newscasts. There is no escape. There has been no relief. Even my writing of this today was interrupted by my latest test for COVID-19.
So when people ask me someday how I spent 2020, I will tell them I spent it surviving. I will say I spent it covering a war zone of COVID-19 hell. I spent it trying to protect myself, my loved ones, and my colleagues. I spent it trying to cover for my colleagues and keep us operational. I spent 2020 attending an online funeral full of painful buffering and one in-person funeral to which I wore a mask with high anxiety that made mask wearing nearly impossible. But I did it. Nothing was good or calm in 2020, but I did it.
Unofficial 2020 motto: “…But I did it.”
There were good times, too. I continued working on my website, DestinyArchitecture.com and my coaching practice. I continued the Fearless 5 Podcast as an offshoot of Destiny Architecture Life Coaching and Reiki. I started a blog called Aspiring Expat and worked hard on researching my Polish genealogy in hopes of better understanding our lineage of fCJD. This was in lieu of being able to participate in research this year at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center due to COVID-19. I re-started the CureCJD blog and have begun publishing my (edited) journals from 2004, when CJD killed my mother and broadsided the rest of us.
In 2020, I decided to learn, too. I signed up for Yoga Teacher Training (online) and am working on learning my Polish. While these are fantastic pursuits I’ve always wanted more time for, they’ve still taken a backseat to my survival. (Though I did apply for a freelance writing job in Polish, so there’s that one accomplishment, though I didn’t get the job…)
I write this as the sun sets and I watch a snow storm move in from the west. It looks dark out there, but I’m still somehow safe. I think that’s the metaphor for the year besides, “but I did it.” It looks pretty grim, but I’m OK. I hope you and yours are, too. Stay safe.
I’m still cutting my own hair and Schitt’s Creek is finally funny now that I’m on Season 3…
TheWriterHeatherLarson [at] protonmail [dot] com