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NBC’s Garrett Haake on the advice he had tattooed on himself, and covering DC

When Garrett Haake was a kid, his mom would often recite one particular, age-old piece of advice: “This too shall pass.”

“That principle that everything changes, good or bad, has been foundational for me,” says the NBC News journalist. “It’s a reminder not to let anything bring you too low, or lift you too high. It’ll change.”

Just to make sure he wouldn’t forget mom’s words of wisdom, Haake had the adage tattooed on his ribcage. It’s a phrase Haake, 36, might need to turn to amid the whirlwind of political reporting as he gears up to cover President Biden’s first joint address to Congress on Wednesday.

Since being named NBC News’s Capitol Hill correspondent earlier this year, Haake says the nonstop news cycle has been like “drinking from a firehose.”

“The insurrection, inauguration, COVID-19 relief, impeachment — you name it, it just hasn’t stopped in the 100 days.”

Though one thing that did come to an immediate halt last year for Haake was checking out some of his favorite bands. The last concert the music fanatic saw amid the coronavirus pandemic was at the end of January 2020, when he headed to U Street Music Hall in Washington to see Great Good Fine OK.

“I remember I couldn’t convince anyone else to go with me,” Haake recalls.

“This was pre-pandemic; nobody knew this was a thing. But I sort of went by myself, and I am so glad that I did, so I got to have one last crowded concert show in 2020,” he says. “Before that stopped being a thing you could do.”

ITK wanted to know more about the Lone Star State-raised CrossFit fiend — who’s been separated from his beloved dog because of a guilt-tripping granny — so we asked him to answer these questions.  

Hometown: Kind of all over the place, but mostly in the Houston, Texas, area. I was an energy [industry] brat, so we moved around a lot when I was little. But then Texas has been home for most of my life.

College attended: Southern Methodist University

What did you want to be when you were a kid? When I was a kid, I wanted to be an astronaut. As I got older and realized that involves being good at math and science, journalism started to look a lot more appealing.

I started thinking about journalism in high school. As a family, we watched Peter Jennings a lot growing up — I think my mom had kind of a crush on him. And I just kind of loved the idea of knowing a little bit about everything, and traveling, and seeing the world in that way and sort of being an expert on something different every day. That just really appealed to me. That was my major in college, and I never really looked back.

Favorite hobby: These days, I’ve been very into fitness. I do CrossFit, and that’s been probably the only nonwork activity hobby that remains.

I was a big live music guy back when that was still a thing. I used to go out to shows in D.C. as often as I could, and that probably is the single thing I miss the most. I’m waiting for concerts to come back now post-pandemic.

Most liked/disliked thing about D.C.: This is sort of a hard thing with the pandemic, but it just always feels like there’s something interesting going on here. I mean, it is underrated as an international city and as a city full of interesting people and stuff. You could never be bored here. I think that’s the thing I probably like the most about it.

The thing I dislike the most about it is the tendency of everyone who lives here to pretend like we don’t like it. There’s this whole thing, like this cultural thing in D.C. of like, ‘Well, I live in D.C., but I’m really from Texas. I’m really from Kansas, you know, I’d rather be where I’m from.’ The reality is, most of us who live here actually really like it, and we’re just sort of afraid to admit it.

Favorite/most hated food: Tex-Mex, Mexican food. I could probably eat good Tex-Mex five nights a week and not complain.

I don’t know if I have a least favorite food. I’ll pretty much eat anything that moves slower than I do.

Hidden talents: If they’re hidden, they’re hidden even from me.

Favorite movie: “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” If I had to take one, I would probably take “Empire Strikes Back” out of the “Star Wars” trilogy. This is a very “guy who grew up in the ’90s” list.

After work, you’ll find me: Usually I go straight to the gym. And that’s sort of the one hour of the day where I permit myself to not think about news.

Pets? This is a touchy subject. So I have a dog [a mutt named Shiner, after the Texas-brewed beer], but my dog has been staying with my parents in Texas since early in the summer of 2019, when I was assigned to cover the presidential campaign. I thought I was going to be on the road all the time, so my dog went to live with my parents with the expectation that she would come home immediately after the campaign was over.

Obviously, the whole last year and a half has been completely different, but my dog has stayed in Texas. Unfortunately for me, my dog and my 94-year-old grandmother have like major league bonded. And my grandma is not shy at all about guilting me whenever I talk about bringing my dog back: “That’s fine. You can bring her back. I just don’t understand why you want to take this one joy for me as I’m going old and blind. And you know why you would take this one happy thing away from me in these years?” Well, OK, so maybe the dog will stay in Texas a little bit longer.

Biggest pet peeve: I would say not using your turn signal. Maybe it’s too hard to get around D.C. anyway, but being that person in front of you who doesn’t use the turn signal and gets the entire row of people stuck behind you? I mean, it’s unacceptable.

I have a fear of: This ruins my cool street cred rep, but I’m not a big spider person in general — they’re problematic.

I bought a house last summer, and right after I moved in, there were three like huge spiders. Basically in the time that the house was unoccupied they put a big web up in my back door. And I was like, “Well, I guess I just don’t get to use my back door ever again. Like it’s just not going to be a thing.”

Bucket list item you have yet to complete: There is a whole half of the world that I haven’t traveled to yet. My girlfriend and I have talked for a while about when it’s a thing again, we want to go to Japan, we want to travel in Asia, perhaps. That’s one place in the world that neither one of us have been and we want to spend some time and actually go do that kind of big foreign travel again once it’s back.

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