Finding herself in a new city

As children, we are given rulers and told we must measure our dreams. We are given pens and forced to write our eulogies. There is something about the creative spirit in me that rebelled against those ideas, that sought to find answers to questions I didn’t know how to ask. I think my decision to come to GW was in part an attempt to break from the security of being defined by good grades, and establish myself in a place where nobody knew what kind of clothes I usually wore or how shy I could be.

It’s been almost three years since I came to GW. I have some memory of flight, of breathlessness, of staring at a different ceiling before falling asleep and wondering what my new life would be like. The airline lost all my luggage and I got lost around Washington Circle, but I was the happiest I’d been in a long time because I was living life on my own terms, something every college kid wants to do.

In college you’re supposed to find yourself, stretch your boundaries and establish your independence. I’ve done all those things, and I owe a lot of that to The Hatchet. But I also discovered college was a time not so much to find myself, but to realize I wasn’t lost. In the process, I gained a whole new respect for my place in the grand scheme of things.

Changes in my life always happen quickly. I transferred to GW a week before school started. Without a permanent place to live, I packed my bags and headed to the other side of the continent. For a California girl, it was quite a change. I sometimes wonder if I made the right decision, if the dreams I was chasing weren’t really chasing me. But then I looked at the people and the events that have become such a meaningful part of my life and I know I wouldn’t change a thing.

Although I may not have shown it as much as I could have, I want my fellow Hatcheteers to know they all hold a special place in my heart. I learned a lot about friendship and life from each one of you. I cherished the camaraderie, the late-night Harmony Caf? deliveries, the laughter, the off-color jokes, the projectile wars.

I’ve developed certain idiosyncrasies peculiar to The Hatchet. I now say the word “random” in many of my conversations, i.e., “Did you notice that random man in the street,” or, “That was a random story.” Much of my frame of reference is based on “The Simpsons.” I now eat at the GW Deli, which is known as “Leo’s” in Hatchet speak.

These things belong to me now, they are part of the new life I have carved out, they are wonderful, scary, full of doubt, exhilarating, and most of all, mine.

We are never told we have to go looking for our lives, as if they are out there going on without us. But those with brave hearts and intrepid spirits relish in the search. I know everyone at The Hatchet has the talent, ambition and the passion to find whatever it is they seek.

There is a great quote by Theodore Roosevelt I discovered this semester and it has become my “Ally McBeal” theme song of sorts:

“It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled, or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred with sweat, and dust and blood; who strives valiantly, who tries, but comes up short again and again; who knows the great devotions, the great enthusiasms; who if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement, who if he fails, fails while daring greatly, so that his place will never be among those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

I learned to put my achievements in perspective. I dared to follow my dreams. There is no tragedy in never reaching your dreams, the tragedy is never having dreamed at all. My dad once told me there are few people who get to choose their jobs, most times the job chooses them. GW gave me the gift of choice.

As I reflect on my experiences, I realize the extent of my attachment to people and places.

First, there is The Hatchet house, which was my home away from home. The kitschy decor and the ancient computers endeared me to the struggle of student journalism.

Au Bon Pain was the source of my sustenance. I bought enough latt?s and bagels to fund a well-armed guerrilla army. There was 7-11 where I got a Slurpee every day in the summer, the Lincoln Memorial at night where I did . stuff, the runs at the White House. My first internship at the State Department, my hovel basement apartment in Dupont Circle.

But these experiences mean nothing without my belief in God and the people who were a part of them.

Mommy, you are my best friend and my confidante. No matter the hour or the day, you always lend a sympathetic ear or tell me when I need to stop whining. You show me the meaning of unconditional love every day. Thank you for believing in my abilities and for being my biggest fan.

Daddy, you have given me the imagination and the opportunity to dream such beautiful dreams. Your support and confidence has been a source of strength when I thought I couldn’t finish the race. You are my heart and my poet.

Teo, my brother and friend. Thank you for the e-mails and long phone calls when I first got here. I could always go to you for an honest opinion. Thank you for unselfishly giving of yourself and for the financial contributions, they meant the world. You always know how to make me laugh. I love you with all my heart.

Shruti, my crony in crime. Although we struck up a friendship during our senior year, I know we will remain friends for years to come. You have such a beautiful energy and spirit. You taught me to live life with gusto and dream in color. Your talent and dedication to the craft of journalism amazes and inspires me. Don’t worry about the future, it will take care of itself.

Francesca, your no-nonsense approach to news reminded us on several occasions about what we were working to achieve at The Hatchet and as journalists. I know you will bring a clarity and freshness to the paper next year. Just remember to hold your chin high.

Matt, I think you must have been a reporter in another life. You have an innate sense of what constitutes news. Watching you chase after stories and work on deadline made me realize you have the makings of a good journalist. Just remember to breathe.

Dustin, I know you will keep it real next year. You have been a joy to work with, even though you like to tease Shruti relentlessly. When things at The Hatchet get hectic and you feel overwhelmed, just remember that you have a whole family of Hatcheteers to support you.

Ali, your style and passion will serve you well in life. I admire the fact that you don’t take crap from anyone. Women’s lib needs more women like you. Let your creativity run wild next year and good luck with all your plans.

Helder, what can I say. You have livened up endless hours of editing with your sense of humor and your hijinks. You’ve been a good friend and even offered some decent advice. You brought a sense of spirit and fun to the joint that is one of the things I will remember most about my time here. Thanks for my first Alabama Slammer. Don’t let this go to your head.

Margaret, thanks for keeping me company and helping me get through our class last semester. You will do an outstanding job of turning the paper into a graphic marvel. Keep filling The Hatchet house with that infectious laughter of yours.

Rich, never change your quirkiness and your dream to write the great American novel. Thanks for your strange but lovable insights into obscure trivia. You have the makings of a great opinions editor. Gayle, you are a word wizard. Thanks for making my editing a cake walk. I will keep my eye out for those interesting tales you spin. You are an asset to The Hatchet, not to mention a great gal.

Dave, I admired your attention to detail and quest for fairness and balance. I am confident you will represent the profession with dignity and flair. Thanks for your sense of humor, for recognizing my obscure references and for walking the ladies home after production.

Josh and Matt, the photo crew, you guys brought life and action to ou
r stories. Thanks for all your hard work and good luck in all your endeavors.

Becky, my first editor, thanks for the opportunities and encouragement you’ve given me this year. You taught me to strive for excellence and demand the best from myself and my writing. I know you often have a thankless job, but know that you have raised a generation of journalists who won’t soon forget the lessons they learned at The Hatchet. Thank you.

So what’s the one thing I’ll take away with me from my time at The Hatchet and GW? It’s the struggle that matters, not the victory. And the people we connect with along the way are a blessing.

-Kathryn Maese will leave GW and begin searching for meaningful employment as a limo driver in a major metropolitan area.

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