Managing, living, learning

My last piece for The Hatchet, and I wish I had something meaningful to say. I don’t. I wish had glorious insights that would resonate with readers. And years later, they’d quote me to their friends mingling over cocktails at dinner parties, wondering where they procured such brilliance.

I wish I could mold this last piece into something stunning. I can’t. Not on a sleep-deprived Saturday with the sun and clear sky beckoning me outside.

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So let’s not exaggerate. This is an end, not the end. An end to four years that treated me well. A goodbye to a familiar place, a cozy routine and a group of fabulous people.

It’s a strange feeling to work on a product for four years, pouring your heart into it for two years, and then just stop. One day it’s consuming you like always, and the next, you don’t work there anymore. It’s sad – and relieving.

I’ve worked in the familiar Hatchet office for four years and thousands of hours of writing, editing, designing, delegating and laughing with co-workers who became some of my closest friends. And now it’s over.

But it’s exciting. I shudder at the thought of editing stories until 4 a.m. with sinking eyes and mind drifting away in fatigue. It’s worn me down. I’m ready to leave.

So what have we learned in college? We learned deductive reasoning (is that smell coming from the sink or the trash?), we’ve explored personal freedoms (I can be late to class and no one gets mad!), and how to responsibly make deadlines (so, I can probably write the last five pages in the three hours before class, right?).

We learned how to survive and stay sane when life’s next climb seemed overwhelming. Most of all, we matured. We entered as teenagers and leave strong-legged and quick-tongued, ready for something larger.

I also made great friends. I’ve heard students ask why Hatchet editors write these things. Well, it’s a nice perk, and you would too if you had a chance to thank those close to you.

So here goes.

Prof. Crowe, your class shaped me as a journalist. It took my talent and molded it. You taught me how to use a comma, put the news first and write four-word sentences. Thanks.

Prof. Stern, whenever Hatchet editors consider whether a story is libelous, someone always asks, “what would Carl Stern say?” A communal law of the press flashback ensues, and we make the right decision. Thanks for the insights, jokes and encouragement.

The Hatchet would have meant nothing to me without the staff and friends I’ve worked with.

Becky, it’s so rare to work closely with someone you truly respect. You amaze me. Your drive, skills and leadership, all tied together with that smile. I never wanted to be managing editor. I was shocked when you asked me. But I’m glad you did. We put out a paper, confronted critics and searched for jobs. We admitted our doubts, gloated our successes and yelled our frustrations – usually on that walk home after production night. We’ve been through too much this year and stayed up too late too many nights producing this rag. Somehow we didn’t kill each other or even have a disagreement. What I’ll miss most about The Hatchet is working with someone as talented as you. Here’s to Waiting for Jack reaching The New York Times’ bestseller list. I promise to keep in touch, no matter where I end up. So keep the Travis Tritt CD handy, because I’ll be stopping by to visit.

Jody, what I can I saw, you’re awesome. From swing to “Simpsons” quotes, your humor and quirkiness made senior year a blast. Even when you’re going through the rough times, I know you’ll be OK, because that slippery laugh and smile always break through somehow. Whenever you feel the urge to quote some “Simpsons” or just talk, give me a call, wherever I end up. Damn, my threads, baby!

Helder, we’re The Hatchet’s two old men in the balcony. We’ve argued in ed meeting, discussed foreign policy, started wars in the newsroom and made fun of just about everyone. I love your twisted sense or humor. Thanks for all that, your friendship and keeping this place loose.

Shruti, thanks for being such a good target and for your dedication. Keep drinking SODA.

Kathryn, I knew I wanted you on the paper when you wrote on your application that your goal was to have this byline: “Kathryn Maese, Washington Post Foreign Service.” You’re a talented writer. Don’t give up on your dreams.

Stacey, thanks for your dedication, catching my mistakes and keeping me updated on Gwyneth Paltrow’s love life (do you think she got my letters?).

Josh, thanks for bringing some flavor to the staff. The ride wasn’t always smooth, but you were dedicated and took some great photos. Good luck down south.

Dustin, you never cease to amaze me with your writing and editing skills or the amount of alcohol you can consume. Leaving The Hatchet is easier knowing we’re leaving it in your capable hands. You’re level-headed, funny and on top of nearly every situation. Good luck, you’ll do a great job. And go Flyers!

Margaret, your laid-back demeanor and ever-present giggle make The Hatchet fun. You’re a brilliant graphic artist (everyone knows that), but you’re also a skilled journalist. Grammar rules are easy to learn (I know, I learned them), but good news instincts are hard to come by. You’ve got them, so trust them. You’ll grow into it and will do a great job.

Matt, I respect you tremendously. I’m glad you decided to stay with the paper. Sorry about all the practical jokes, but you have to admit, they were funny. Good luck.

Ali, thanks for your enthusiasm, and humor, and talking about Philly sports; Francesca, so reserved with such inner strength – you’ve grown into a superior journalist; Gayle, you’re the most talented freshman writer I’ve ever seen, keep it up; Richard Murphy, assistant sports editor, you’re a riot; Matt, thanks for being so down to earth; Theresa, thanks for your amazing dedication; Pieter (Mr. Febuary), thanks for hanging in there on all those late nights and still making jokes at 2 a.m.

Thanks to the rest of the staff, and anyone who’s worked on The Hatchet. Your talent and dedication are The Hatchet.

Now some ex-Hatchet people.

Lee, my writing improved just from working in the same office with you. You pushed me intellectually. And you’re one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. Thanks. We missed you this year.

Tyson, thanks for hiring and having faith in me. I missed your friendship this year.

Heather, we rose in The Hatchet together and became good friends. This year wasn’t the same with you not around (I don’t go to the gym at all).

Jared, you seemed so intimidating when I was a freshman. But your kindness brought me into The Hatchet. You always keep me laughing, even at the bad jokes.

Thanks to Jay, Megan, Claire, Dave Adler, Monique, Kynan, Ben and Matt – you all added to my Hatchet experience.

And now my friends.

Greg, you’ve been my roommate for three years, weight-lifting spotter, tennis opponent, adviser, confidant and good friend. You’ve heard all my stories and know what’s on my mind just from the expression on my face. It’s amazing. You’re a truly kind person, and your friendship has meant so much, even just a nice e-mail when I’m having a tough day. Thanks for everything.

Brian, you’re even more cynical than I am. It’s been fun, from our late-night talks and Play-dough fights to our kickin’ ’70s party. Thanks for everything, have fun mooching and good luck at Yale.

Kev, the laid-back, long-haired, basketball-playing, student liaison and Tai Chi master. Your low-key approach to everything has been refreshing. Whether it’s chasing you down on the football field or dancing in Adams Morgan, I’m always having fun when you’re around. Savannah was great. Good luck.

Eli, one of the first people I met at GW. I’m so glad you came back this year. You’re funny, aloof and literary. But underneath is a kind person. Someday we’ll meet up in the Virgin Islands.

Will, my roommate for two years and Dickey’s Frozen Custard partner in crime. You’re laidback, funny, and so genuine and caring. Your faith a
nd devotion have taught me a lot about religion. Congratulations on your marriage.

Maureen, we always have a good time, I regret that we didn’t hang out more this year. J, sorry I messed things up.

I don’t have space to mention everyone who helped make college fun. But you’ve all contributed to this great experience, thanks.

Chris, you made me feel at home when I was homesick freshman year. I’ve said thanks so many times. But I still owe you.

Bill, your sarcasm and insights have had a great influence on me, thanks.

Laura, such a fun big sister. You’re always there for me.

Dad, a couple of years ago, I realized I was becoming more and more like you. Nothing could make me happier. You’ve told me many times that you’re proud of me. I’ve never said it, but I’m proud of you.

Mom, my friends always tell me I’ve got such a cool mom. They’re right. Somehow you’re always there for me, but never infringed on my freedom. Thanks.

I never expressed how much I love the two of you.

My family has been so supportive, from my grandmothers to my step brothers and sister, thanks.

So I’m back where I started at the beginning of this diatribe, wishing I could end this with a sliver of wisdom.

If college has taught me anything, it’s that when your own words aren’t sufficient, quote someone else. So I turn to Jack Kerouac:

“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s goodbye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”-30-

-Dave Mann is still contemplating his next career move. His possibilities include working in the backwoods of Virginia, on the Virgin Islands or as a recurring character on “The Simpsons.”

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