Sunday, March 30, 2014


Why does buying a vehicle have to be such a time consuming bummer?  

I’ve purchased or leased eleven vehicles in my lifetime and each experience has been extremely frustrating.   Alas, this weekend I’m once again facing hours upon hours sitting in a cubicle listening to a pushy salesman, then his pushy boss try to convince me they are giving me the best deal possible.   And no matter how many hours I invest to get better terms, I always end up leaving feeling like a sucker.

My first purchase when I was 18 was a used cherry red Volkswagen Scirocco.  It was my pride and joy.  My favorite car was a BMW 320i convertible.  I drove in style during my first marriage when I worked at Pepperdine University.  There is nothing quite like driving along Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu with the ocean breeze blowing through your hair. 

How things have changed!  Nearly thirty-six months ago I convinced my current husband to let me lease a minivan.  It wasn’t easy.  When we started planning a family he vowed to never, ever drive a minivan.  However, I finally begged him for one after breaking my back lugging three car seats up into a massive SUV day after day for over a year.  We signed a three-year lease expecting to go back to an SUV when our triplets were old enough to climb into a car.   But I’ve become one of those moms… the ones who can’t live without the convenience of sliding doors and an easy to get to third row, cool ride be damned.

With my lease ending in less than two weeks, salespeople at the Honda dealership have been hounding me for the past several months.  They no doubt want to get me into a new vehicle.  A couple days ago my husband and I loaded up the kiddos and headed to the dealership with the intention of quickly buying out my current lease.  I filled out a credit app on-line well in advance to speed up the process.  We knew we were in trouble when the salesman commented that typical car purchases average six hours.  They also informed us they couldn’t use the on-line credit app because it had been more than seven days.  A tidbit of information I would have appreciated knowing before coming down there.  We left when the boss wouldn’t come clean on what the interest rate would be, instead pestering us about how much we wanted our monthly payment to be.  Our restless kids provided a great excuse to get out of there.

Fortunately one of my co-workers is married to Bull Earnhardt who runs a family owned business that owns several dealerships.  Bull helped us buy my husband’s car last year.  Even with an introduction from the owner to the General Manager, we still spent over three hours getting the deal done and on our way.  We just discovered we can buy out the lease at any Honda dealership.  And If we’re going to have to spend hours sitting in a dealership it might as well be one where we kind a, sort a know someone.  So we’re leaning towards doing our deal there.  It doesn’t hurt that they have Carne Asada on Saturdays. 

In my research I discovered it is possible to be in and out of a dealership in 60-90 minutes.  Edmunds, an on-line resource for car information, gives tips on how to speed up the progress.  It’s worth reading Kelly’s BlueBook’s Ten Steps to Buying a Car before you even start the process.  Nevertheless I believe the concept of painlessly buying a car is an absolute myth.   What’s needed is the fortitude to bite the bullet and accept that half a day of your life is going to go right out the window.  However, if you can get a free lunch out of it, you’re ahead of the game.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Thoughts on Parenting

Stressed at home?  Here are some tidbits that have helped me be a responsible parent.

Being a mother is the most challenging, exhausting, yet gratifying role of a woman’s life.  Becoming a mom almost eluded me.  However, being in my mid-40’s when I finally had children allowed me the maturity I needed to handle the craziness of raising triplets while still managing a successful broadcasting career.  I hope my successes and failures in parenting will help you find balance in your life as a working mother. 

I married and divorced in my 20’s.  My 30’s were focused on my sports broadcasting career.  As the big 4 0 came and went with no potential suitor in sight, a harsh reality hit me… becoming a mother was a long shot.  But as singer Bonnie Raitt wrote, my husband Bert came into my life “in the nick of time.”  We took one shot at In Vitro Fertilization, implanting two embryos.  At age 45 I gave birth to identical tripletgirls.  Presto!  I was a mom times three.  And as if my life raising triplets while working full-time wasn’t chaotic enough, my troubled teenage stepdaughter moved in several months ago.  My life changed light years in just over four years.  

Here are a few tidbits that have helped me keep my sanity: 

When life throws you a curve, lean in. 
At my age I was pleasantly surprised and mildly shocked when I first learned I was pregnant. When I learned I was pregnant with triplets, I was numb.  Everything I’d envisioned about pregnancy and motherhood was thrown out the window.  I had a complicated pregnancy that included weeks in the hospital and the birth of extremely premature babies, born 15 weeks early, who spent three and a half months in the Neonatal Intensive Care.

I not only had to lean in, I had to dive in the deep end.  People marveled at how I held it all together, working while my babies were in the NICU, home for ten weeks and then back to work.  I carried on and pushed through.  Now looking back, I couldn’t imagine life without all three.

Procrastination is no longer an option.
I was a procrastinator before children.  I focused better when I was under the gun.  Now I never know when I’ll get a decent night’s sleep or have a crisis free day, so I chip away at tasks.  If I put off getting something done, then I’ll either not finish the job on time or do shoddy work.    

Don’t try to do it all on your own.
If a friend or family member offers to help out by bringing you a meal or watching your kids so you can go get a massage, take them up on it.   As they say, “it takes a village.”

Love your children completely, but with a firm hand.
I constantly hug, kiss and tell my girls I love them.  They are enveloped in a secure world that translates into being relatively well-behaved children.  Don’t get me wrong they still have utter meltdowns.  I believe there is nothing wrong with a swat on the rear end as well as timeout.  My daughters often respond to discipline with love.  They know they’ve been bad and think twice before repeating the behavior.

Be a parent, not a friend.
Having a teenager in the house has only affirmed this stance.  My stepdaughter’s mother never bothered to parent her.  There was no structure, discipline or boundaries.  She failed classes, stayed out all night partying and disrespected her mother with no consequences.  Find your kid’s currency and use it to keep them in line.  If they can’t live without social media, take it away when their behavior is unacceptable.

Pick your battles.
Not everything is worth fighting over.  “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” is a great philosophy. Certain conduct deserves punishment, but you have to let other stuff go.  For example, if your toddler can’t stay out of the dirt, don’t stress just give them a bath.

End entitlement. 

Most American children are stuck in a negative attitude of entitlement.  Take your children to serve meals at a homeless shelter, pick up trash, or volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. Show your children at an early age it’s better to give than receive.  

I believe motherhood is the most important job in the world.  You can never be fully prepared for it until it happens to you.  If I can raise my children to be respectful, responsible, productive, generous and have empathy for others, then I believe I will have made the world a better place.

Key Words: Motherhood, triplets, child development, discipline, parenting.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Locker room antics


What's it like to be a woman in a men's locker room?  It is THE most asked question I get whenever my job comes up in conversation, whether I'm speaking to a Rotary Club or to a newfound acquaintance.  I'm here to say it's not enjoyable or exciting or sexy.  It stinks!  It's littered with sweaty uniforms, jock straps, and used athletic tape.  On game day, particularly after a loss, it's a hectic scene with players rushing to get showered, dressed and out the door, while I'm scrambling along with a mass of media members to get a good spot in front of the star player's locker. And of course most of the players are nearly naked or completely naked.  

Locker rooms are the inner sanctum of a team's facility in professional sports.  I often feel like I'm intruding on a very personal, private space.  It's an argument that has been around for decades... women don't belong in a locker room!  As a sports reporter it is critical I get the players reaction after the game or practice.  Once they are out the door, it is very difficult to get them to stop and talk.  I wouldn't be able to do my job if I wasn't allowed in, so I push my discomfort aside and focus on the task at hand.  

Some women I've met are intrigued by the idea of seeing a lot of grown men naked... to steal a line from the movie "Airplane."  I do everything possible to avoid seeing anyone's private parts.  I stare at the floor or ceiling, turn my back to the entrance of the showers or someone dressing at their locker.  I have to believe few people, not directly affiliated with the team, feel at ease there.  In fact many of my male colleagues have confessed to me that they are uncomfortable as well.

Thankfully I wasn't a pioneer during the 1970's and 80's when females in sports media had to fight for the right for equal access.  I can only imagine how humiliating and distressing it was for them to be literally picked up and thrown out of locker rooms and clubhouses. I was usually the only female in the locker room when I first started in the business in the mid-90's.  However, today it's a rare occurrence.  There are several women in both print and television journalism as well as radio that work in the Phoenix market.  Over the years, though, I have had a few incidents in the locker room that have left me red in the face.  

One such incident was when I was required to get interviews in a visiting baseball teams locker room for another FOX station.  As I was waiting for the teams star player to get dressed, another player started barking suggestive comments that were clearly directed at me.  The most memorable being that he had a "mushroom cap right here."  All of other media members stared at me for my reaction.  Even the star player, who was known to be an arrogant jerk, looked at me and apologized for his teammates behavior. Awkward!  I chose to ignore the offender and never even turned around, which was probably the best course of action.  However, after leaving the locker room I thought of a perfect comeback which would have put him in his place... "I wouldn't be proud of that mini crimini."

Another time I was covering one of the local teams.  I'd been in the locker room numerous times, but this time one of the players yelled loudly "woman in the locker room!"  He proceeded to make additional comments trying to get my attention as he stood facing me completely naked.  Again, my male colleagues all stared at me with nervous laughs.

Once an extremely large football player tried to grope me while I was sleeping in my seat on the teams chartered plane, but that is a story for another time. 

I love my job, but being in a locker room is my least favorite aspect of it.  If there was anyway for me to avoid going into a locker room without it affecting my job performance I would be all for it.  In the meantime I plan on holding my breath and continuing to avert my gaze.     

My March Madness Addiction


I have a confession to make.  In the 1990’s I struggled with addiction.  My name is Gayle Brisbane and I‘m a recovering March Madness junkie.  I was working as a travel coordinator with the athletic department at Pepperdine University and got caught up in one of the greatest sporting events ever created!  It should come with a warning: “Caution:  The NCAA Men’s BasketballTournament is highly addictive.”  I spent money I shouldn’t have, took red eye flights to watch games and almost slept in my car when I couldn’t get a room reservation.  I was desperate to be apart of the hoopla. 

It turns out March Madness is bad for business.  A study done by Challenger, Gray and Christmas reported an estimated $1.2 billion dollars is lost for every unproductive hour.  Over 50 million people participate in bracket office pools and more than 100 million are distracted by the games.

My addiction started innocent enough.  It was 1990 and I was in Colorado for a weekend ski trip with my then husband.  We didn’t realize until we arrived that the Final Four was in Denver that weekend.  Instead of skiing we wandered the streets.  We spent hours in the NCAA Experience and bumped elbows with big name basketball coaches.  The energy in the city was electric.  During the semi-final games we stood outside the arena and bought tickets to the finals off of a losing team’s fan.

The final game between UNLV and Duke was disappointing.  The Running Rebels beat the Blue Devils by 30 to win the National Championship.  It was never even close.  But that didn’t matter I was hooked on the experience.  My marriage didn’t last, but my addiction did. 

My husband and I split up later that year.  However, the next Spring I was back at the Final Four.  I took a redeye flight Friday night from LAX to Indianapolis.  All I had was a car reservation… no hotel reservation (everything was booked) and no ticket to the games.  As I stuffed a blanket and pillow from the plane in my carry-on luggage I knew I was in deep… those things are disgusting.  But I would need them if I had to sleep in my rental car.   

I drove to a health club for a quick workout and shower, then parked downtown and started wandering the streets in search of the elusive affordable ticket to the games.  A ticket scalper took pity on me and sold me a single ticket for $150.  The semi-final games were thrilling.  Duke got their revenge beating UNLV and Kansas narrowly beat UNC.  Thankfully I was able to get a room at a seedy airport motel due to a last minute cancellation. I took an early Sunday morning flight home and was back at work Monday.  My 24 hours in Indy were exhilarating.  

I traveled to seven Final Fours in the 90’s.  In 1992 it was Minneapolis, 1993 was New Orleans, Seattle in 1995, San Antonio in 1998 and Tampa in 1999.  I was finally able to get my addiction under control a few years after I became a sportscaster.  I know in order to truly kick the habit I should go cold turkey.  But my job requires me to keep abreast of the games.  So I dabble and keep my madness limited to an office bracket and watching a few games.  Airline blanket and pillows are not required.

Keywords: March Madness, NCAA Tournament, hoops junkie, men's basketball, Final Four