Last week, while researching FINDERBINDER® AZ, I reached out to Christy Little about her position with Channel 12. What I didn’t expect was to get this amazing story and blog from her and Chad Bricks, also at Channel 12.
Christy produces the weekend shows at 5:30, 6 and 10 p.m. and Chad is the photo supervisor. He shoots, writes, and edits video and stills for 12 News and The Arizona Republic … along with managing the entire photography team.
Christy and Chad's story is one for the ages. He was a Navy broadcaster for eight years. She was in the Air Force for five years. They actually met in Baghdad while working for the American Forces Network, Iraq. They were both what you'd consider "lifers," raised in strong military families and planning on retiring in their uniforms. But since they served in separate branches, they knew getting assignments together would be tough, so they made the decision to get out when both of their deployments were up. And hand in hand, they went from life in a war zone to life in the civilian world.
Christy went back to school, with her G.I. Bill, and earned a master's in journalism from ASU's Walter Cronkite School. During the intensive 18-month
program, she would give birth to two of their children -- a feat that shocked her professors and fellow students. As for Chad, he got hired by Channel 12, just one week to the day after being discharged from the Navy. And with only a high school diploma and his military experience, he too would achieve the seemingly impossible and work his way into a manager's position in just a few years. It's been a long journey for the couple, now expecting baby number five, but they are finally where they want to be. Working for the number one station in the Valley, together.
I hope you enjoy Chad's blog as much as I dis (and I would welcome him to blog anytime he wants).
Chad… take it away….
I've drunk coffee black since I had enough energy to not need caffeine. It was a hazard of my first career. I was a sailor. The steel-toed boot kind and not the Sperry Topsider kind. Every ocean-bound sailor worth his salt knows you drink coffee black and thick enough to need a spoon.
My personal coffee rules added to the general Navy way. I never did like the awkwardness of dodging steam as it attacked me through the lid of my styrofoam cup. So I learned to live on the edge and keep the Folgers far from it. I refuse all lids. The room for cream is the only thing keeping me from having to drink my coffee off my lap. But I must admit, the waste of space in my cup has always bothered me. What am I missing when I don't fill the final half inch with a topping that would take the bite off my bitter morning addiction?
For two years, I added Washington D.C. traffic to my hazardous drinking habit. In Navy whites, no less, and carefully sipping, I navigated roads cram packed with commuters. If a cup of Joe counted as a passenger, I'd have skirted the 495 in the HOV. My not quite full cup was always with me as I headed southeast from Fairfax, Va.
My desk at Navy Marine Corps News was at the Anacostia Annex which is the unpopular sibling to the Washington Navy Yard. Even less admirable or attractive was what I looked at on my desk. I kept a wall of shame. In opposition to my wall though, my career had been marked with Sailor of Year and Quarter awards and quick promotions. And adorned on my military pressed whites was a chest of ribbons. But I didn't face my chest, I faced my desk. Every day I saw shame.
I was denied entry to Syracuse's still photo program adapted for the military. The rejection letter was prominent. It lived next to the latest promotion board announcements as if they were neighboring towns in upstate New York. JO2 (SW/AW) Chad A. Bricks was not on the latest list for advancement. The most disappointing memo though was a denial to deploy. Now that was unusual.
I needed a change. I wanted to drink my coffee not in the district, but on another continent all together. The Navy was all over the Horn of Africa in the early 2000s, and I wanted to be there as a “single framer.” I was a video guy that envied the still guys. The extra 29 frames my Ikegami shot was more then I needed. I wanted to simplify, and I really wanted to shoot stills. The Africa assignment was what we call isolated duty. I'd work for myself. I could frame up my shot and my life the way I saw fit.
The Navy however didn't like the way I composed my shot. My commanding officer didn't have to fill that Africa job. That slot would be billeted to somebody else from somewhere else, and I would stay in D.C. until he was tapped to send someone overseas. It was constructive in a Navy way, but it was all the more destructive on my wall.
"I got your deployment."
My senior chief knew how to grab my attention.
"When am I going?" My excitement was unmasked.
"Where are you going is more appropriate."
As the saying goes, my ship didn't sail. Rather, it flew. Three months later I landed at BIAP. Yep, go ahead and pronounce the acronym like it’s an actual word. We do. For you civilian types though, I guess you can just say Baghdad International Airport.
In 30 minutes of thinking, I decided to take my command's offering to deploy. We had a slot to fill, and I had adventure in my heart. I traded Africa for Iraq and a still camera for my usual video camera. American Forces Baghdad was my assignment.
The often feisty road called Route Irish was my first journey into a war zone. As fate would have it, I traveled in a Rhino. But it wasn't gray or fat; rather it was painted desert khaki and up-armored to protect against IEDs. I'd later travel Purple Heart Highway and less infamously named roads. I never missed the 495, and I began watching out for hazards more dangerous than those that spill out of a cup while on my life's journey.
This is no war story, but I'll never forget Staff Sgt. Christopher Frost. I also pause yearly on March 23rd to remember the week of civil unrest. I once boasted that I knew the Blackhawk cab-like system better than those who designed the travel. And I used to think I lost more of myself then I gained during my 12 months of effort at war. I was wrong.
I had met the woman who'd become my wife while deployed. She and I left Baghdad together in May 2008. I left behind my shame and bypassed a new acceptance letter to Syracuse and the once desired rank of JO1 (SW/AW) Chad A. Bricks. You already know I got my deployment. My wall of shame was torn down. It wouldn't come with me when I became a civilian on 8/8/08. Just six days later, I was newly employed by 12 News. I had learned to love all 30 frames video provided.
I never did change my coffee habit. My steamy drink is still black, and I'm now at the age where I need the caffeination.
Lost on me though is not the taste for cream in my cup. The space is still there but now I embrace my design of its perceived emptiness. I fill it with room for change. When I shoot stills or video now, I leave space there, too. I can always later crop out the distractions on the edge of my picture. This way I can better see the subject of my captured image more clearly.
Every morning I still have my coffee. The cup I drink from keeps me going. And although I don't ever see it or taste it, I know I'm enjoying the cream that blocks out a sometimes bitter taste that life pours.
Always leave room for cream.