Monday, February 25, 2013

Very Superstitious

It's been another drought from posting but things have been busy and, let's be honest, you haven't exactly been clamoring for a new post from me anyway.

With a new reporter, Caroline Sweeney, in the fold who started in January, I had to do my best at getting her up to speed on how we go about business here at The Mercury, much like Brandie Kessler did for me when I started.

In doing so, I started thinking about some of the things I do here, especially, the little ticks I have during my work day.

Maybe they're superstition, maybe they're rituals, maybe they're another manifestation of my obsessive compulsive disorder, but they've become an irrevocable part of my job and I figured I could share a few with you.

(This also has the added benefit of explaining to my co-workers some of the stuff they may see me doing day after day.)

- One thing that I have done ever since I started writing articles in college is very simple but pretty integral to my process: after writing out the dateline of my article, I'll type a single, lower-case "d" where the first word of the article will start.

It started by accident in the 6-credit exhaustive class we all called "journalism boot camp" at the University of Wisconsin.

One particular day, I was assigned an article but had no clue how I wanted to start it. After setting up everything, including the dateline, I didn't know what to do, so I stared at the screen for five minutes. Realizing I wasn't getting anywhere, I decided to just listen to a Spring Training baseball game until I got an idea.

Before clicking out of the window with my article, I wanted to keep my place, so I spiked my finger down randomly on the keyboard.

And a "d" showed up on the page.

For whatever reason, every time after that, I've used a lower-case "d" to keep my place.

- The next is another one that I've done for a while.

I've always been tall and, in middle school, I fell into the habit of reaching up and touching the top of the metal threshold of the door leading out of my school's B wing every time I went through. Lots of the other kids had to jump up or get on their tiptoes to reach.

I just reached up.

It became a good luck charm and carried over to high school when I would tap my metal locker every time I left it.

Now, I tap the metal frame of the newsroom door every time I leave.

It's for good luck, especially when I'm heading out to spot news, and I've had a couple times where I'll actually start down the steps out of the newsroom, realize I forgot to tap the frame, then run back up to hit it.

Typing that out, maybe this is obsessive compulsive.

- This may not be a ritual or a standard practice, but it still happens every day and our newly-minted sports editor, Austin Hertzog, noticed it the other day.

Every time I touch my desk chair, I get shocked by static electricity. Loudly.

Obviously, it's not something I try to do, but it happens 90 percent of the time, so much that I actually brace myself without realizing it every time I walk up to my chair.

- We don't have a tremendous amount of competition at our paper for most stories.

However, when I scoop what competition we do have, as a reporter, there aren't too many better feelings. There are few things that make you feel like the master of your domain more than filing a big story no one else has.

Being that I listen to music almost all day, whether at work or not, getting a scoop generally calls for a celebratory song.

That song, as a rule, has been "Get Like Me" by Childish Gambino.

Essentially, it's a message to the people I scooped.

The last time I played this was after covering a high-profile crime. I stood out in below-freezing temperatures in just a windbreaker for three and a half hours before finally getting back to the newsroom and filing the full article (with video) at 2 a.m.

Before I left the empty newsroom, I made sure to crank that shit.

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