Behind all of the sound and fury, there were lots of good times

So the end has finally come.

After three years of adopting The Hatchet as my home-away-from-dorm room-away-from-home, it’s time to leave all this to a new crop of kids.

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Who’d a thunk it – I went from delivering Hatchets in the mornings to writing editorials and columns, with a quick stop doing advertising.

The past two years as The Hatchet’s editorial writer have been a trying experience. Twice a week I get to sit down with the other editors and discuss what we will say in the “eds.” “Discuss” is the nice way to describe what happens when 15 people get together and talk about a contentious issue. Ed meetings were what led to various people becoming addicted to ibuprofen, Advil and other mind-altering drugs.

Looking back on it now, it all seems so silly. We yelled and screamed about things that none of us could affect. We passionately argued about U.S. foreign policy, or national issues or local concerns. But with hindsight, it all seems so trivial now – the nit-picking over a word, a sentence, a long dash.

When I look back at all the headaches I went home with after late nights, I wonder why I didn’t just say the heck with it all and get a real job. So many times I was on the verge of just walking out the door and not looking back. But if I had done so, I would be turning my back on my friends. The Hatchet is like an abusive relationship – even though it repeatedly brings you to the edge of a complete nervous breakdown, you just keep coming back for more.

My time at GW was quite a ride. I met the president and shook his hand back in the days when I still had some respect for him. I saw Yitzak Rabin and Yasir Arafat when they were at the White House (granted, I skipped French class that day, but it was damn well worth it). I experienced Tokay. I experienced thousands of things GW doesn’t tell prospective students about in its brochures and cheesy videos.

For those few students who are still reading this, here’s a message – take advantage of every day. College years fly by at an incredible speed. It’s over before you know it.

For the next generation of Hatcheteers, loosen up and have fun. The Hatchet is as much about coming up with a newspaper as it is having fun. We’re college students first and foremost. That means we enjoy life, don’t take ourselves so seriously, have drunken parties, etc. Many of this year’s headaches could have been avoided if we all had just taken a step back, gotten a beer and relaxed. By taking ourselves so seriously, by not being able to make fun of ourselves, by failing to admit we’re sometimes wrong, we set ourselves up to be a bunch of stuffy, “Ivory Townhouse” dwellers.

To next year’s staff, I bequeath you a looser, less-serious environment. You’ll all do fine as long as you never lose the ability to laugh at yourselves.

Dustin, my colleague for many a prank and pastime, you get to deal with all the crap we’ve left for you. The townhouse is in fine hands with you as dictator of Hatchet Publications Inc.

Margaret, my former common-law wife according to D.C. laws, you were my roomie for the first summer I was all on my own. Your creative skills have made this paper much groovier to look at. Your mission is to keep that grooviness going.

Dave, you could always be counted on for the perfect “Simpsons” quote for every occasion. My fondest memory of you is the time the two of us missed ed meeting due to the after-effects of your party. The photo of us passed out on The Hatchet couch the next day is priceless.

Becky, where to begin. There were many times I wanted to kill you. I even came up with several plans, but it’s just too damned hard to find a good electric chair or guillotine these days. There were many times I valued your judgment and thoughts more than anyone else’s. I guess those are the ups and downs in a relationship between two good friends.

Berger, you’re another one I’ve thought about the various ways I could have killed you and gotten away with it. But if I had done that, then we would have missed out on many great stories. You may well win a Pulitzer one day. That is, if someone else doesn’t kill you first.

Francesca, my feminist counterpart, we shared many stories of our Old World ancestors’ ways. Your baptism by fire came along quite early in your Hatchet career, yet you stayed with this paper for several years. With that sort of dedication and thick skin, ain’t no one going to keep you down and oppressed.

Ali and Theresa, my other feminist colleagues, half the fun of working here was listening to your rants about feminism and male oppression. Ali, I’d hate to have to oppose you in a courtroom one day. Theresa, don’t get sucked in by the Dark Side of the Force – the SA beat.

Shruti, you’re the sister I never had. After months of dealing with my antics and bearing the brunt of my jokes, you still talk to me. That says something. I don’t know what, but it definitely says something.

Stacey, you were always the one with the fresh supply of magazines to give me lest I became a pest late on production nights when I became bored. Whoever your next co-workers are, they will be lucky to have as dedicated and thoughtful a friend as you.

Kathryn, I still haven’t fully figured you out. Behind that quiet smile is a vibrant, inquisitive mind always at work. I never thanked you for being a friend when I needed one most.

Josh and Matt, both of you have the creative talents I wish I had. Josh, you never cease to amaze me with your stories and ideas. Matt, one day, the peoples of Latin America will rise up and demand a dictator with intimate knowledge of “The Simpsons.” When that day comes, I hope you will be ready and willing to assume power.

Gayle, you were the new guy and the baby of the group. But your creativity and talent are far beyond any I could ever hope to attain.

Rich, I pass on to you all the joys and headaches that come with this job. May you strive to conquer the demons of technology and computers. I know my pages are safe in your hands. At least they better be safe, otherwise I’m going to write in often.

To the folks downstairs, we don’t appreciate you as much as we should. It is because of your efforts that we receive paychecks. Steve, thanks for giving me my first job here. Todd, thanks for the business advice and bawdy humor. Frank, you could sell anything to anyone. Good luck with whatever you do after The Hatchet. Megan, now I see where Tyson got his weirdness from.

The production kids, both those who are here and those who departed, you were the ones who stayed until the last minute of the creation of each issue. You guys are underappreciated. You should demand a raise.

Then there’s all the people outside The Hatchet: all my eighth floormates from Thurston Hall – when I look back on the “good old days,” that entire freshman year will be at the top of the list. My crew girl friends – Erin, Anne, Jamie, Sam, Eva, Shannon, Stretch, etc., I was always amazed at the dedication you guys put into a sport you loved. Your parties were a blast too!

Jared, my Jewish counterpart, your intelligence is matched only by your wit. Although I can still kick your ass in PlayStation, I can never come close to describing the huge amount of respect I have for you.

Tom, my roommate of three years, one day we’ll have houses with actual views and more than two rooms. Then we’ll look back at our Crawford and Munson days and have a good laugh. Good luck in San Francisco.

Finally, I have a couple of people I need to thank because without them, I would not be here.

First, my family. It amazes me that the son of immigrants can be given the same opportunities as the son of a wealthy family. The lessons my parents instilled in me made me who I am today. Their constant drive to make me push myself harder and farther are the only reason I am at GW. Well, that and their willingness to fork over more than $100,000. I could never come close to thanking you for the years of sacrifice you endured to make sure I was able to get a quality education. I hope
I can live up to your expectations and teach my own children the same lessons you’ve taught me by words and actions.

I am the first one in my family to graduate from college. That is something that means more to me than any awards or honors. Although I wish my grandfather had lived a few months longer to see photos of me in cap and gown, I know he will be looking down on me on graduation day. As will Miss Rose who long ago instilled in me a passion for reading and learning that will never die.

And last, but definitely not least, my best friend and soul mate since September of freshman year – Jody. The past couple of months have been an emotional roller coaster. But it was one of those things that needed to happen. We both forgot what we had until it was almost gone forever.

You were always my confidante and supporter. You’re the first person with whom I share my successes and defeats. Your continued love and friendship are essential to my existence. Our college years are over, now it’s time to begin the next phase. As long as you are by my side, I can get through anything.

So ends my “30 piece.” It’s been an incredible four years. Now it’s time to see what I can make of it. The experience of my college years are now memories, and memories slowly fade. But some of those memories will never be forgotten, nor will the people who make up those memories.

-30-

-Helder Gil will remain in Washington as long as someone continues to provide him with a paycheck. Eventually he will go back to school for a higher degree. If anyone would like to sponsor his grad school tuition, please let him know.

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