8pm on a Wednesday evening, Champions League on the telly, and I’m at home, sat on the sofa with the crumbs of a pizza (thanks Cat ) on a plate to my right. Average as it sounds, this is an idle evening of relative luxury – if I’m honest, it’s the first evening I can remember for a couple of weeks where I made it home during daylight hours, even if it was dwindling away as I got off the bus and crossed the street for home.
Two issues down.
For the last month I’ve been (an active, unlike the previous two months of my tenure) Deputy Editor at The University Observer . It’s been, to say the least, an all-hours kind of job. You’re in early, you work hard (often more physically than you think), you keep constructive during the idle periods, and when the production weekends come around every fortnight you eat shite takeaway food and run yourself emotionally, psychologically, physically into the ground. You invest everything into it; you preen over every single spelling and every choice of words, you watch out for an opportunity to use a thesaurus, you obsess over making sure you have everything laid out properly, throw together emergency news analysis pieces that in the light of day you probably wouldn’t use as toilet paper, and nitpick over the tiniest things. You drive yourself slowly mad, work yourself into semi-permanent crankiness (sorry, Ci , I know I’m shit this weather), and you leave the office at 5am to get home so that you can wake up early and be back in for noon so that you can start all over again. And when you have a rare evening where there’s nothing much to do and you can let yourself off the hook, you come home and distract yourself from the football by blogging about it.
But then it comes back from the printers, compact and glorious, and you sweat buckets shoving it around in trolleyloads across a 355-acre campus, and you see people pick it up and start pointing at pieces, drawing each others’ attention to the content.
And it’s then that the whole thing is worth it and you start to smile, knowing that that‘s why you do it; that’s why you took the job that pays a third of the minimum wage and demands everything, because it’s a labour of love that’s totally vindicated the second you see someone pick one up and take a look.
I can honestly say – with all the stuff I’ve gotten involved in in UCD, and Christ knows there’s been a lot of it – that I’ve never felt as rewarded or as spiritually fed as I do at the Observer. It’s tough but the connectivity you have and the privilege and duty (in equal parts) you have to share what’s happening with the people who it affects is proper chicken soup for a pale, bleary-eyed journo-kid’s soul.
And so it begins again. Tomorrow we have a news meeting and I’m doing an interview for the centre piece of the otwo magazine; Friday night I might have to tip in to Tolka Park to see if the soccer team can get a result at Shelbourne and keep up their chances of promotion back to the League of Ireland Premier Division, and Saturday… well, on Saturday I’ll probably be glued to a telly, or more likely a computer screen, seeing if the Lisbon opinion poll  of UCD students that I spent two days doing last week bears any resemblance to the will of the nation.
Two down. Four ’til Christmas. And on it goes.