As with almost every big life change, the transition is tough. Letting go of the old, adjusting to the new... the balance of trying to fit in versus being myself. Not only is it mentally draining but also emotionally, physically, all the "--ally" things.
I've been working at my new station for about a month & a half now -- still learning, still making mistakes, still trying to find my place. The fundamentals of the job are about the same... but there's A LOT more asked of me here than any previous station I've worked at in the past (not a bad thing, just a lot to get used to).
First and foremost, the shift in schedule is a huge lifestyle change as I've only ever worked mornings in my on-air career. For the last 6 years, my alarm went off at 2AM. Six years of saying "here's what it'll look like today..." and "good morning"... and "today's highs temps"... phrases that turned into hard habits to break. Since moving to Austin, my schedule has been flip-flopping every week with filling in for both the chief & morning met... but I end up spending most of my days working nights. So my "good mornings" are now "good evenings"... and my "today's highs" are now "tomorrow's highs"... little changes in vocab that seem to take all my brain power to say or not say.
Besides the craziness in hours, the change in area is also tough to get used to. After 4 years of being able to rattle off any and every seed of every county in the entire state of New Mexico... I now need to squeeze into my brain every name of every town in every county in the middle of one of the biggest states in the U.S. (And to add to the difficulty, after spending the last few years trying to get the Spanish pronunciations of the NM towns.... I move to Central Texas and realize none of the Spanish-named towns are said in a Spanish dialect (ex. Llano pronounced "lan-o" and Blanco pronounced "blank-o". What gives?!)
Between the schedule, the familiarization with the area... and of course, the way the team executes their daily operations... the transition has been (in one-word) overwhelming. I was low on self-confidence and high in doubt... I hadn't had that "I belong here" moment I was looking for. Until Friday.
Part of the "extras" of my job are doing short segments or online write-ups we call "in-depths". It's part of the station's brand... the idea of giving viewers more than just the story. We want you to watch our newscast and think, "I didn't know that" and be able to walk away knowing more than what you did before you watched us.
That being said, my producer told me on Friday morning that my News Director (my boss) wanted an 'in-depth' piece on Tropical Storm Imelda. (Background: I have done a couple of in-depths before this and didn't feel good about any of them. I felt like they were choppy or hard to follow -- I couldn't seem to get it right.) But regardless - I told her I would put something together.
Because Imelda brought heavy rain and deadly flooding to southeast Texas, I thought the tie to Hurricane Harvey would fit... considering some of those *same areas were hit 2 years ago by the Category 4 hurricane. So I spent a couple hours researching the two storms online: strength, intensity, duration, fatalities, etc. I had two graphics and everything I needed to be ready to go for the 6PM newscast.
I never really get nervous on-air anymore... but because I felt I had butchered the other 'in-depth' segments before this, I was anxious. I even had to do the "take a big breath" talk in my head before the anchors tossed to me. One minute later, I did the hit and it was done.
It was the 'FIST PUMP IN THE AIR' feeling I needed. No major stumbles, somewhat easy to follow, confident in what I was saying... I felt GOOD. And it had been WEEKS since I felt like that. I walked back to the desk thinking "OK... you did it. You actually did it."
I've done thousands of on-air hits talking about everything and anything... but for whatever reason... this 1 minute segment gave me all my self-confidence back. I immediately texted Yeomans (morning met) telling him about how pumped I was that I had *finally pulled off a good 'in-depth'. (I even got a thumbs up from Robert, our evening anchor whose been manning the desk for close to 30 years!)
It seems minor but it made all the difference in the world. It was the sign I was looking for... the reassurance I needed to really convince myself I didn't make the wrong decision in leaving ABQ. I finally felt like I did my job... I fit the brand... and convinced myself that yes, this move was worth it... and I belong here.
It's been about a month and a half now since I left ABQ & moved to Austin. Despite still getting adjusted to the new job and schedule, it's starting to feel more like home everyday. I'm enjoying the new adventure, the new city, the new coworkers/friends... it's exactly what I had hoped it to be.
That was until last Friday.
Last Friday, I was called in for the morning show as a back-up for the morning meteorologist who was going to be out live covering a local hot air balloon festival. Initially, I was a little jealous of the guy -- how cool that he gets to go cover this event?! We laughed about the fact that I just moved from the mecca of hot air balloon festivals with Albuquerque being home to the world's largest hot air balloon event. But the festival specifically requested him (he's a BIG deal here) and I understood that so I came in to help out.
Little did I know, watching our coverage of this hot air balloon festival would ROCK MY WORLD. Honestly, it was awful. It was like watching a two-hour flashback of some of the happiest moments of the last 4 years of my life... reminding me of all the goodbyes, all my friends, the guy I dated, my coworkers, & of course, my favorite event to cover, Balloon Fiesta. Most would see it as just a silly balloon event but these rallies were MY LIFE in ABQ. I covered as many events as I could -- from 15 balloons to 500 balloons. So sitting in the Weather Center in Austin and watching the burners & balloons through a little monitor in front of me was borderline emotional-torture. I jokingly (sort of) texted the morning met and told him it was like watching an ex-boyfriend move on with someone else. I was a heap of emotions (to say the least).
That day ended up being a LONG day at work as I had to stay late to turn a couple things for the later shows. Once I got in the car to leave... I cried... the entire way home. It had nothing to do with the morning guy (he did a really good job out there) or even the festival itself. It was more of I had just spent a whole morning being flooded with reminders of the hard goodbyes I had to say when leaving ABQ. I was having one of those "what have I done", "did I do the right thing", "did I mess up" life conversations in my head.
Once I got home, I had a much-needed "come to Jesus" moment.
I reminded myself:
-- I'm supposed to be here
-- God put me here on purpose
-- it's okay to be sad about the closing of a life chapter
-- and it's also okay to make new memories in this *new chapter
I knew I had to change my perspective from "this is who I was in ABQ".... to "this is something I can continue here in Austin". A few more tears and a container of french fries later... I finally convinced myself that it would all be okay.
Fast forward to this morning, I made the 30 minute drive to Kyle, Texas for said festival that sparked Friday's breakdown. I was tired after having only gotten 5 hours of sleep after working nights last night... but I knew I had to go. I parked at the high school, took the park & ride to the field and sat in the grass & enjoyed the mass ascension. There were a couple minutes of sadness... but overall, I was happy. I was happy to be there, I was happy to see some of the special shape balloons that I had seen every year at Fiesta, and I was happy to have a little bit of ABQ in Austin.
I stack this up to be no more than a growing pain... (or a "moving pain" if you will). Change is hard... goodbyes are tough... and starting over is a process. But making the drive to the festival & seeing it all in person was the reminder I needed to get over this mini-meltdown. (I even ran into the media gal to talk about being involved in the event next year!)
It's all a part of the process... and I know that the "ups" I've experienced in the last 1.5 months far outweigh the "downs". But 27 years old and I'm still crying when my balloon floats away?!... come on, Currie.
1. I-35 is a parking lot. No matter the time of day.
Born & raised in the Los Angeles area... I grew up around traffic. Six lanes in each direction, 'stop & go' was a guarantee for the morning (6-8AM) and evening commutes (4-7PM) on any interstate. However, Austin's stretch of I-35 doesn't care about the "normal" commuting hours, the time of day, what exit you're looking for or if it's even the weekend. It is CONSTANTLY packed with cars (& trucks - #Texas).
Whether its 10AM on a Tuesday or 2PM on a Sunday, the standstill exists. It took me 20 minutes to drive 3 miles into work on Monday morning. THREE MILES. That's it. There were no accidents or even construction delays - just simply, overwhelming volume.
Why? I haven't figured that out yet. Solution? Leave earlier. Or scooter.
2. Bring your own bags to the grocery store.
I learned this the hard way. Twice.
I had heard a lot of great things about H.E.B., the Texas grocery store, and was interested to see what the hype was all about. The food looked good... and there's plenty of locally-made items which I'm all about. But I filled my cart only to find out (once reaching the checkout counter) that if you want bags to put your groceries in, you will be asked to buy them if you didn't bring any yourself.
I do have reusable bags somewhere... but until I unpack that particular box (wherever it may be), I'll be dishing out 25 cents a bag and overloading my arms with anything that doesn't fit & making the trek back to the car. Better for the environment (which I'm all for!), but another quarter short in my wallet.
3. Holy humidity.
The suburbs of southern California, the foothills of Colorado, the plains of West Texas & the high desert of New Mexico... none of which see any major problems with humidity. Moving to central Texas --> HUMIDITY PROBLEM.
I've been here a whole 10 days and have not stopped sweating since I stepped out of the airport. Yes, it is the hottest time of the year. And yes, I realize the differences in climate will take some getting used to. But no one can truly prepare you for a heat index of 106 degrees. I feel like there's a constant layer of salty water on my skin at all times. And I stick to everything.
Afternoon errands --> shower. Walk to coffee --> shower. Take the trash out --> shower. Dinner --> shower.
I've now come to accept that I will be a heaping sweaty mess of melting make-up & uncomfortable perspiration until October. Real talk.
4. This town was made for BBQ & happy hours.
On every street in Austin, you'll more than likely find a local restaurant with a unique flare & another with a sign labeled "Texas BBQ". I have begun eating my way through this city and have found no shortage of delicious food & instagrammable cocktails. From South Congress, to Downtown, to Rainey Street, there is a little something of everything here. And let's not count out the dozens upon dozens of food trucks in pockets all across ATX.
How do people not eat out for every meal here?! And even if they do, how do they not let it show?! I'm well on my way to a 'freshmen 15' -- a good 15lbs in my 'freshmen' year of living one of the best food cities in America (IMHO).
5. People are friendly - for no reason.
Some call it 'the Texas way'... but the fact that people are willing to strike up conversation for no other reason than to be kind... can be a little off-putting. At first I was skeptical... but I now find it refreshing. From my movers... to the guy behind the counter at the dry cleaners... to my new co-workers... these people are truly nice just for the sake of being nice. No agendas. No hoping for something in return. No tip in exchange. They're just... nice.
I like it. And I hope to be more like 'em.
After a physically & emotionally-draining last few days in ABQ... I needed to get away to recharge before my move to Austin. My parents had just bought a house in Tennessee a few months back which seemed to be the perfect place to "unwind" for a few days.
MOM & DAD'S NEW HOME: Last spring (2018), my parents decided after spending nearly their entire lives in California, it was time for a change. Dad worked for California Highway Patrol and was anchored to the state for +20 years. He retired in 2011... and once Mom joined him on "permanent vacation", they packed up their stuff, sold the house & hit the road with just a Ford truck & a 31-ft trailer in tow. They roamed the country in search of a good retirement home... stopping in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi & the Carolinas. They spent close to a year living in that trailer before eventually deciding on Tennessee, buying a home just outside of Nashville. Mom got her farm house... and Dad got his land. All were happy.
COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME: I took a couple days to just sleep & catch up with my parents. But we did a little bit of adventuring once I recouped. We spent an afternoon in downtown Nashville visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame. I'm a BIG Garth Brooks & Dolly Parton fan... so the museum was right up this country gal's alley. (NOTE: a bit pricey with tickets running about $25/person... but worth seeing at least once). We also stopped for drinks & apps at Florida Georgia Line's bar right off Broadway.
ARRINGTON VINEYARDS: Of course, it wouldn't be vacation without good food & drink. My sister tipped us off to a really neat winery down the road from the house. So we spent an evening at Arrington Vineyards -- a winery owned by Kix Brooks (one half the famous "Brooks& Dunn" country duo). It was beautiful! We did a wine tasting at the bar & bought a bottle of their Chardonnay to share. They have a HUGE grassy field between the tasting house & the vineyards where everyone is welcome to bring their own food and lawn chairs. In typical Currie-fashion, we forgot our snacks... but we did remember the lawn chairs! The wine was good... the weather was perfect... we all agreed that we would be back in the future.
THE BEST OF FRANKLIN: we also spent a day eating our way through Franklin, TN. Mom found a famous restaurant called "55 South". (We didn't realize it then but it was actually featured on 'Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives' -- a Currie family favorite on Food Network.) I ordered the 'HOT Chicken Sandwich' -- when in Tennessee...
We also made a quick stop at a "Biscuit Love" -- a restaurant known for anything & everything biscuit. We had heard that their "Bonuts" were one of their popular items -- so we snagged a table and put in an order to-go. These did NOT disappoint. Fried biscuit-dough covered in cinnamon+sugar & served with a blueberry compote + lemon mascarpone (kind of like a cream cheese). Another place that will be seeing the Currie family again...
After a 6-day stretch of good food & daily naps, it's back to Texas this afternoon (TUE). An apartment full of boxes needing to be unpacked awaits me. I'll definitely miss morning coffee with Dad in the backyard & talking about ways to decorate the new house with Mom... but we're already in the stages of planning where & who gets to host Thanksgiving this year... so I'll see them again soon.
Until then... it's back to TEXAS.
July 8th 2019 was my final day on-air in Albuquerque. With the stress of packing & goodbyes, I was drained -- but grateful to have completed 4.5 successful years at the station. I can confidently look back at where I was on my first day (December 10th 2014) versus where I am now on my last day, and know that those 4.5 years have made me better -- a better forecaster, a better coworker, a better friend & a better Christian.
Below is a clip from my last day on-air:
#5: BALLOON FIESTA
Four Fiestas out there on the field... dark, early & cold... but the breath-taking views makes the early-morning struggle worth it. Between the balloons, breakfast burritos & Piñon coffee... easily my favorite week of the year. 🎈
#4: THE FOOD
The Frontier Roll, the Laguna Burger, an enchilada/taco plate with Christmas on the side, a chicken kabob from the NM State Fair, the Topes’ ‘Orbit dog’ & “turkey bread” from a local panaderia... I came, I indulged & I fell in love with that NM cuisine. 🌶
#3: COMMUNITY EVENTS
If there’s one thing I spent more time doing than the forecast, it was serving this community. Hoping to get involved in as many non-profits, charities & deserving organizations... pouring my heart into this city, it’s people &, most importantly, the kids.... never saying no to a classroom visit... signing up for every Toys for Tots phone bank, every Mud Volleyball tournament, Lobo football camps & all the KRQECares shoe drives I could get to. Late nights, busy weekends & less time off... and I regret absolutely none of it. ❤️
#2: INTERVIEWS TURNED FRIENDSHIPS
Being stuck in studio most days, I look forward to our 7-9AM show & the new people I get to meet during interviews. From science experiments, gingerbread houses & pets... to veterans, pies & ABQ events... these ‘interviewees’ turned into friends... and I’m so thankful for our weekly/monthly/yearly visits. ❤️
#1: 'FIRST TIME' EXPERIENCES
Unforgettable ‘first times’:
• flying in a hot air balloon
• covering a $3 million horse race
• visiting White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns & Chaco Canyon
• snowboarding down a blue run
• competing in a shovel race
• judging a green chile cheeseburger competition
• talking with Garth Brooks
• meeting an alien at the UFO festival
• flying in a helicopter
Taking it back to December 2014 -- Lubbock, TX to Albuquerque, NM
New Mexico was my second stop in my on-air career, my opportunity to jump out of 'small market TV' and into a place in life where I could actually pay bills & still have money leftover in my bank account (don't get me wrong, I loved my time in the Hub City... but that Market #147 pay was ROUGH).
I joined KRQE in December of 2014 as a naive 22 year old thinking 'OK, I can do this'. Little did I know -- the move to New Mexico would be the hardest transition of my life thus far -- both personally & professionally.
As both a forecaster and as just a gal in her 20s, life came at me HARD my first year in NM. The transition was difficult (to say the least). Viewers were very resistant, I knew no one outside of work, I barely knew the cities/geography of the state. It was a 'what the heck have I done' moment in life.
Everyday, I fought to prove myself. Prove to my coworkers & viewers that I wasn't just a blonde girl who could talk on TV. I spent every shift trying to 'earn my stripes' -- staying late, signing up for community events, getting involved in any way I could.
Slowly but surely, I started to become familiar with the area, make a few friends outside of the studio and the viewers loosened up (kinda). Year 2... Year 3... and Year 4... I became a stronger forecaster & a stronger person. My skin got thicker... I focused a little more on 'me' and a little less on 'them'... and I could do +25 weather hits in a 4 hour morning show and still have enough energy to go to the gym after my afternoon nap.
Looking back now, I can honestly say, Albuquerque was the smack in the face I needed. I have grown more in my last 4 years here in NM than I have at any other point in my life.
There are definitely things I'll miss... and there's a few things I'm looking forward to going on without... but there's one thing I know for sure: I would not be who I am today if it wasn't for what I learned here in NM. I'll always look back on my time in Albuquerque and think of it as one giant kick in the tush. Between viewer criticism, failed relationships & long days in the Weather Center -- I became a better, badder & stronger version of myself. And for that, I'm grateful.