A reporter’s nightmare

July 20, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
July 20, 2015

On Saturday morning, I dreamed one of those weird, detailed dreams that I sometimes dream.

I was working at a small newspaper. I was going through my e-mail. One of the items was about a space mission that would carry a single person to Jupiter. I was surprised, because I’d never heard anything about this expedition, but when I checked it out, it was true — and it was something that had hardly been publicized. I wrote it up and had a modest scoop for myself and my paper.

The dream evolved. The agency (private? public? I’ve no idea) that was launching the mission had arranged some kind of publicity tour, and one of the first stops (if not the very first) would be in my town or city. I got the assignment of covering the local event.

Here’s where things start getting a bit weird. The mission involved a basketball coach (?!) who would be training the corps of potential astronauts for this mission. I’m not sure the extent to which he would be responsibility for training. Would he be fostering physical and mental endurance and flexibility in the astronauts? Would he be overseeing the whole program? Unclear.

At any rate, the coach was putting on some kind of demonstration and/or clinic in different cities around the country. These events may also have given local people the opportunity to try out for the astronaut pool.

The basketball coach — his name was Ross Tay-Sachs or something similarly ludicrous — gave a speech. I sat in the bleachers of a high-school gymnasium and listened. Per my usual journalistic practice, I recorded the talk and took notes. I felt a little out-of-place in the way I used to feel while working as a newspaper reporter, sporting a button-down shirt, a tie, slacks and my notebook and recorder.

Also, I was rusty; I hadn’t used my voice recorder in quite a while. For some mysterious reason, it kept on stopping, so I had to restart it at least twice.

Rather late in the the coach’s presentation, I realized that I’d forgotten an old practice of mine, which was to make notes every so often of the time of day and/or the time of recording. This was a little habit that, when everything went well, made it much easier for me to find, and to transcribe accurately, specific quotations that I wanted to use in my story. I was annoyed at myself for this lapse, of course.

I would get further annoyed at myself. At some point after the public portion of the event ended, I had an opportunity to interview the coach. (I seem to remember, not that it’s important, either going second after or at the same time as another local reporter.) I stammered and fumbled to ask interesting, original questions. Everything felt awkward. I was so angry at myself, and my self-directed frustration only mounted in a terrible cycle.

That’s pretty much where the dream ended. Kind of a bummer, eh?

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