Tired of merely writing about enhancement (and tired, period), I decided to conduct my own unscientific trial of modafinil. As the father of a 2-year-old, I live in a constant haze of sleep deprivation. I vowed to take modafinil for a week and see what happened. Could it transform a lazy, exhausted hack into a brilliant Jeffrey Goldberg? Or recast a grouchy father into Superdad? I persuaded my doctor—and no, you can't have his number—to prescribe me a week's supply of Provigil, seven 200-milligram pills.
Here is the diary I kept.
Day 1, Monday 6:45 a.m.: Woken up by my daughter after the usual six and a half hours.
7 a.m.: I open the bottle. The pills are monstrous. I start to chicken out. I've never smoked pot, much less taken cocaine or amphetamines. I decide to halve the dosage. When I cut the first pill with my pocketknife, half of it shoots off my bureau, slides across the floor, and disappears under a dresser, no doubt to be discovered and eaten by my daughter someday in the near future. I pop the other 100-milligram half.
10 a.m.: At the office. I've felt no rush, but alertness has snuck up on me. I am incredibly attentive, but not on edge. I really, really feel like working, a rare sensation.
12 p.m.: I reach for my usual lunchtime Coca-Cola, then think better of it. Caffeine plus this sprightliness and I will be ping-ponging off the walls.
2 p.m.: This is when I usually fold. Today I am the picture of vivacity. I am working about twice as fast as usual. I have a desperate urge to write, to make reporting calls, to finish my expense account—activities I religiously avoid. I find myself talking very loudly and quickly. A colleague says I am grinning like a "feral chipmunk."
6 p.m.: Annoyed to have to leave the office when there is all this lovely work to do.
9 p.m.: Home. After dinner, I race upstairs to start working again. This is totally out of character, especially on a Monday Night Football evening.
12 a.m.: I want the day to keep going but force myself to go to bed. I fall asleep easily enough, but it's a weird night. I have lots of dreams, which is unusual. All are about Getting Things Done.
Day 2, Tuesday
6:30 a.m.: I wake up feeling good, cut another pill in two, and pop a half.
TODAY IN SLATE
More Than Scottish Pride
Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself.
Yes, Black Families Tend to Spank More. That Doesn’t Mean It’s Good for Black Kids.
Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You
If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter
The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge
The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems
Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.
Giving Up on Goodell
How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.