I don’t want to write about the State of the Union. I’m giving myself a few days off from thinking about our president, lest I find myself with high blood pressure at 22. Instead, I’m going to take a turn toward the personal. Most people have probably wondered at one point or another: “What’s it like to be a Daily columnist?” (Actually, they haven’t.) Well, as coincidence would have it, I’m the perfect person to offer an unsolicited answer to this unasked question. And my response may be darker than you’d expect.
For we are a strange breed, we columnists. Misunderstood and hated by most of the student population, we work at night, typing feverishly into the wee hours with little hope of our voices ever making an impact. We try, though – God do we try. I’d like to break down the heavy steel barrier between you, the reader, and me, the writer. I’d like to take you into my world. Here’s a typical day for me, a Friday on which I have a column coming out.
10:45 a.m. – Wake up with a start. Realize I dropped $30 at Ashley’s last night. Why don’t they have any beers under $5? Remember that my column is running today; sprint to computer, turn it on and check e-mail to see if anyone’s written me a praise-filed e-mail yet. No. Not yet. Back to bed.
11:56 a.m – Wake up again. Check e-mail. Still no comments about my column. Maybe the server’s down or something. Back to bed.
12:45 p.m. – Wake up for real this time. E-mail: Still nothing. Strange. Walk to Bruegger’s for a morning coffee and bagel. Some people in there are reading The Michigan Daily. Gaze intently at their faces to see if they’re reading my column and liking it. Can’t tell. Go in for a closer look with one girl who seems to be on the editorial page. She looks at me weird. Abort.
1:25 p.m. – Walk around the Diag and the two libraries for awhile, checking to see if anyone’s reading my column. Can’t really tell without getting too close. This one girl in the Grad is reading the paper and talking on her cell phone at the same time. She laughs! But I can’t tell if she’s laughing at me or a humorous comment by the person she’s talking to.
1:45 p.m. – Check e-mail from Fishbowl. Still nothing other than penis enlarging opportunities.
2:16 p.m. – Return home. Check e-mail. No e-mails about my column yet. Google my name to see if the column’s been picked up anywhere else. Doesn’t look like it, but maybe it takes Google a while to register things like that.
2:49 p.m. – Read latest Maureen Dowd column. Starting to get the hunch that she doesn’t like Bush.
3:32 p.m. – Call mom. Tell her about girl laughing at my column or cell phone. She says she has to go to clean the pool. Weird – we don’t have a pool, plus it’s February. Still good to talk to her, though.
4:00 p.m. – Turn on “The Situation Room.” I wish I had a situation room. Wolf Blitzer is so regal.
4:16 p.m. – God, I wish I was Wolf Blitzer.
4:45 p.m. – Retreat to basement to put finishing touches on Wolf Blitzer human skin sculpture.
5:12 p.m. – Google my name again. Still no hits.
6:13 p.m. – Begin work on next column. The first step is to come up with the headline, which should be a clever play on a well-known phrase. Can’t decide between “Every Child Left Behind” and “UnClear Skies Act.” Both are really good.
6:19 p.m. – Settle on “UnPatriot Act.” Make mental note to send the finished product to The Daily Show. Maybe they need a new writer or something.
7:54 p.m. – Federal agent arrives to ask me some questions about Blitzer’s restraining order against me. I play dumb, hoping he doesn’t check the basement. How was I supposed to know restraining orders apply to erotic fan fiction?
8:07 p.m. – O’Reilly time! Bill O’Reilly thoroughly dresses down some jerk from the American Civil Liberties Union who thinks Bush shouldn’t wiretap without a warrant. American Civil Liberties Union? More like, UnAmerican Civil Liberties Union!
8:14 p.m. – Realize I’m now set for my next two columns. Crack a Fanta to celebrate. Head to bed early; my roommates haven’t mentioned any parties to me, so I’m going to assume there aren’t any in Ann Arbor tonight. Either way, a successful day. Tomorrow: back to the library to see who’s reading the Daily and whether they like me. It’s a busy life.
Singal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.