Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I'm working on a really cool article for a really major magazine, which I am superstitiously not talking about too much, since I'm sort of convinced I'm going to screw it up and then you'd all be asking me about it and looking for it in the magazine, and I'd just want to kill myself.

But I did just have to say this: It's been a long time since I've done any real science reporting, and I had forgotten just how big of a kick it is to do a really great interview. Don't get me wrong; I hate having to do interviews, because I am insanely phone phobic with people I don't know, and it is almost physically painful to have to dial the number of a relative stranger, even if he or she has agreed to the interview and is waiting patiently for my call. But once the call is underway--and once I determine whether the person on the other end is friendly or aggressive, helpful or annoyed at the interruption, down-to-earth or convinced he's the Medical Messiah--then I can relax and start to enjoy the familiar-after-more-than-20-years-in-this-business feeling of learning something from a master...and learning it before almost anyone else has learned it. (I never said I wasn't competitive.) This isn't investigative reporting; I don't do that, and I wouldn't be any good at it. This is barely reporting at all. Really, what it is is education. And I have always loved learning, especially when that learning involves connecting rather arcane bits of information with a much larger and more relevant subject, and the person I'm talking to helps me to make those connections for myself.

In other words, I'm still just an eighth-grader at heart, waiting for my biology teacher to put a hand on my shoulder and say, "Yes, TC! Exactly! Good work!"

The boost from this morning's interview won't take me very far--especially after the call this morning from the mechanic working on Baroy's car, detailing another $500-plus in repairs he thinks needs to be done but we won't approve because we just don't have it--but it's something. And, right now, I needed something.

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