The Thrill of the Scrum
I spent last week three time zones away from home, staying up way too late working, waking up too early (jet lag), and living on tacos and pizza like a college kid. Not only did it become evident that I fail at self-care without the obligation to tend to my kids — or without my husband feeding me — but I was also so jazzed to be on a reporting trip that I kept forgetting my own basic needs. For a freelancer who usually spends my days alone in my office, the company of reporters on deadline kicked off an automatic adrenaline rush.
I’d traveled to sunny California to spend my days inside a convention center covering the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, there to wrap a final scene in a feature story and do some interviews for my upcoming book. It could have been a slow-paced time of observation, but I was watching, in real time, momentum and potential reckoning in a story of sex abuse and coverup that I’ve been covering for years. Plus, like with many large events for which media gets credentialed, I found myself sharing a quiet press room with other reporters furiously tapping away on laptops, sitting alongside other religion journalists whose work I have read for years but never met. People would suddenly pack up bags and dart in and out of the room. We later sat side-by-side at reserved tables live-tweeting as events transpired. I kept introducing myself to reporters whose bylines I know by holding my press badge up next to my face, as if this might have a similar effect to seeing my name beside my Twitter profile photo.
There was significant news developing at the annual meeting, and I landed an additional assignment early one morning. A reporter whose crisp copy and diligent reporting I deeply respect had spotted me hammering away late that evening (my draft still filled with TKs) and asked how I was doing. I told him I still hadn’t filed my story and his eyebrows raised. He scattered to let me work. I see his bylines nearly every day. He’d clearly submitted his work and was onto the next piece or maybe off to bed, I’m not sure. It took me until 2:30 a.m. to file from my hotel room, a few hours before my editor would be starting up for the day on the east coast.