Saturday, March 29, 2008

What I'd give for a few sourcesI

I hate reporting.

In college I got taken to task by the head of the board of visitors at UVa. for something. My editor in chief did not seem to think it was a big deal, so he was probably just mad, the story was not wrong.

Some peaceniks got so mad at me they complained, too. I went to their meeting and just listened. I didn't tell them I was a reporter, not that I hid it, I just didn't stop their meeting, stand up and announce myself. I did tell the people near me, but one of them wrote a letter accusing me of deceit. I rolled my eyes, but wish I had figured out a way to tell people I was a reporter.

In grad school, I tried to interview a scientist who reportedly was the basis for Jeff Goldbloom's character in Jurassic Park. I was pretty excited, but he turned out to be kind of a jerk. He answered every question with a one-word answer. It was probably my fault -- I should have asked better questions -- but still.

I don't mind answering questions and talking about myself, but I always felt like I was imposing as a reporter. Plus, hearing and writing fast have never been my strong suits, and they are really crummy now.

Nevertheless, I wanted to be a journalist. Gay Talese says in The Kingdom and The Power that Harrison Salisbury of the New York Times was destined for journalism because he was very shy and very curious.

That's me, so I became an editor. That way I could just read stuff.

But with my friends, I find myself back in the reporter role because they don't volunteer much. I have to ask. It is hard for me, and everyone, I am sure, and when I find something obvious out that I didn't know I feel stupid.

For instance, I did not know this couple at work was dating until I got an invitation to their wedding. Well, not an invitation really. It was an email from the groom that he had sent to a number of folks telling us about the wedding website and mentioning that one could RSVP there. I did nothing because I never got an invite to RSVP to. Then I got another email that went to a subset of that first email's respondents asking everyone to please RSVP. I emailed him back that I had never been invited so I didn't RSVP. That was the last I heard from him.

Another for instance: I found out a friend has a boyfriend. Part of me was glad because she is smart, funny, cool and beautiful, and I would hope someone like that would have someone. A little part of me was glad. Mostly, I was kind of sad. She was, I thought, my only unattached friend, and it made me feel better about my unattached status. If she did not have someone, how the heck could I? She doesn't have to deal with a wheelchair. I'd be lying, too, if I didn't say that part of me held out hope we could be unattached together in some way, shape or form.

My friends rarely vent to me either, which maybe I should be glad about. But it actually makes me feel a little left out. My little sister said people probably feel a little stupid venting to someone in a wheelchair, but I miss it. I never think or say: "You think that's bad; try getting into a wheelchair from the floor, you lazy ass." It would make me feel more normal to have regular problems to think about.

I guess I need to do some more reporting, but what if I get sued for slander?

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