The title isn’t mine. It’s from a book I haven’t read.
When training I was taught three rules of journalism: plagiarise, plagiarise, plagiarise.
Information isn’t private, knowledge can be stolen by anyone. The unwritten rule is that you never steal quotes because quotes have been obtained with that particular journalist’s professional skills. Facts are something anybody can obtain but try and get a good quote, it’s not that easy.
You call that ‘the line.’ That’s the line. It’s gold dust.
I’ve been writing again for a living for about a month now. It’s very different kind of writing from what I used to do but it keeps me learning new things. I think once you stop being curious about the world it’s time to pack it in. Might as well die. Still, an alarming amount of people live their lives with no intention or interest to ever learn anything.
In the first couple of weeks I’m absolutely knackered every night. I stop and eat at a restaurant at a bottom of a hill because I’m too tired to climb it. I wake up three times a night to eat. I’m constantly hungry. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but all of a sudden I can’t get enough of sugary things. Chocolate bars disappear in seconds.
Brain uses a lot of sugar, says a documentary.
I’m also in a constant fast-forward, like someone had gone to my settings and went from 1.0 to 1.75 running time. The world seems to be out of tune, songs on the radio seem to be missing a beat in the middle and it drives me mental. Or more mental in my case.
Some sounds I don’t pick up at all. People are clearly talking to me, words are being said but I just can’t hear them. When I was really ill, I genuinely thought I was losing my hearing. Some sounds on the other hand are so loud that it throws everything off-balance. A spoon hits a table. Someone sneezes.
I want to smack them at the back of the head.
Who the fuck gave you a permission to sneeze so loudly?!
I call dad. Frustrated.
Do you know what I mean when I say that everything is in the wrong speed, songs are in the wrong tempo and sounds are clashing against each other in my head?
Dad tells me about Jimi Hendrix. He’s a big fan of Hendrix. Dad describes how sometimes you can hear his frustration when he can’t get enough out of his guitar, like how he could be doing so much more if he just had the right equipment.
He also had this himself as a young man, driving excavators and other heavy machinery. What the fuck is wrong with this thing?! I could be doing so much more so much faster but I can’t get more out of this piece of shit!
It’s a problem of ambitious people, he explains. It’s gotten easier with age for him but he can still relate to the feeling very well.
Hendrix taught himself how to play with his left hand when his right hand got injured from playing too much. He wasn’t held back.
“You asked me once when you’re in hospital ‘can I ever write again'”, dad said. “The answer is of course you can. It’s always within you. Now you’re just doing it in professional capacity again. It’s waking up and it’s feverish.”
I’m at a gas station. All of a sudden I have to turn my head away from other customers because my eyes are filled with tears all of a sudden.
“This opportunity is here, it’s been given to you”, he continues. “Of course you want to do your best, that’s why you’re frustrated but don’t force it. It’ll come.”
I’ve gained so much weight after starting antidepressants that I can’t fit into any of my old office clothes. At the moment I have three outfits that I liven up with scarves or cardigans so other people in the office don’t catch on.
For my first week when I wear my old favourite shoes with heels I’m in absolute agony, with both my feet in blisters. I’m not used to walking on heels, as a waitress I always wore flats. But I insist on riding the wave. These used to be the comfiest shoes I owned. The pain must go away eventually.
By my second week my feet have stopped hurting.
Now that I don’t wear a uniform anymore it’s so much harder to think what I’ll be wearing for work. I wear a long coat. People who know me say I look smart.
The good thing about my hair is that nobody can tell have I woken up like this or spent half an hour in front of a mirror. It’s a deception I carry out every day.
I’m out of sync. I’ve had a routine and now I need to create a new one. I keep missing the bus. I’m so slow it hurts. I forget things.
In a few short days I master doing my makeup on the train.
I start to find my own face again.
I send an email from my work address to my course tutor who has been there for me throughout it all. This man is my number one professional idol. He walked around the ward in 80 days with me.
The signature under my name says reporter/researcher.
As for the actual message I just say ‘surprise!’
My eyes fill up with his reply.
‘Few email signatures have given me this much pleasure.’
When someone asks me what I do for a living I say I’m a journalist.
And for a moment
my heart sings.