Of course it’s four in the morning. Of course this should have been done last night. Of course I feel like there’s coffee coursing through my veins rather than blood. There would be no other fitting way to end my year in The Hatchet office or academic career at GW.
I hesitate to make this piece the end-all and be-all of my time at GW – it’s too much pressure. But spare me just a few musings about Hatchet life, and maybe you’ll understand why 7-Eleven is out of three more creamers and six sugar packs each day.
Working at a newspaper is like raising a child. It requires practically 24 hours of attention, seven days a week, and is always there. There’s no clocking out and going home for the day or calling in sick. But the care and feeding of a student newspaper, as with most children, pays off in the end. You have a tangible product that’s usually good enough to prove to a professor your whearabouts for the entire last week when you were supposed to be writing that paper or studying for that exam. The difference between The Hatchet and my other duties as a student (or friend, or daughter, or field hockey player, or girlfriend) is that it had to get done – everything else was optional.
This mentality changes you. You are more focused, more determined and, undoubtedly, more cynical. Our parents say they don’t like what we’ve become. You gain self-confidence, a logical thought pattern and an unbelievable threshold for stress. But after a certain time, the threshold is crossed, it’s time to move on to “normal” life (by the way, if you want to know my secret, how I was ever able to survive – I didn’t care about my grades, and it showed. I don’t recommend it for those of you who think those letters are a measure of your educational success).
Yes, I look forward to Wednesday happy hours and watching “The Simpsons” again. But I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. People shake their head in disbelief when I say I go to bed at 5 a.m. on a regular basis. People have told me that I’m going to die before I’m 30 if I keep doing so. Some kind souls have tried to save me – a woman at the German church, during its annual fall sale (which happened to be on a Thursday), looked at me like I was a charity case and assured me the church is always there for me to meditate. Others have managed to distract me long enough, on occasion, to allow me to relax and return full force (thanks).
A friend mentioned to me the other day that we’ve been able to see an odd collection of things in newsprint while I’ve been editor of The Hatchet. I’d have to say that that is what I’ve been most proud of – providing a forum for all kinds of viewpoints and creativity under the guise of student journalism. And for those of you who didn’t want to see the words “blow job” in print again, TS. Let’s sit down and have a talk about the “audience” component of news values again.
Some people make fun of this whole concept, some purposely avoid sentimentality. Others fill the space with nonsensical dribble about how they are a prophet of the conservation movement (all love, Phillips). However, I’ve taken more from my time at The Hatchet than 180-something bylines. Though the jokes may be lost on most, everyone can benefit from the knowledge I’ve gained over four years in a cramped G Street townhouse. I present to you, in no particular order:
All I need to know about life I learned from the Hatchet staff …
From Lauren- Girls can kick ass when it comes to drinking (think a pitcher and a pint apiece at Lindy’s), it’s OK to be slutty your senior year (think Thurston-style hookups) and there really is no third state of cheese (is it … gaseous?).
From EA- Having a big heart can go a long way in earning respect.
From Snow- It’s OK as long as she called you.
From Liz Bart- Two words: crisis management.
From B. Costa- He did, indeed, find it.
From Alex- Among many, many other lessons – everyone should get his or her priorities straight (it is my fault I always had to choose editing).
From Riezman- It doesn’t make a difference if you’re chillin’ or loungin’, as long as it’s laid back.
From Rebecca- Pink is a fashion statement, especially when worn in a blazer.
From Jason H.- Writing sometimes takes a little hard work and perseverance.
From Mosheh- People can grow and change more than you think, especially in the name of a cause to which they dedicate their heart and soul.
From Julie- Emotions can flare, but it’s best to handle things with gentle determination. Perseverance at a tough job can only make your situation better – though I kind of learned this lesson myself, it was enlightening to watch you learn it.
From Andy- Creativity is limitless.
From Shannon- It’s best to keep your head up when times get tough, and not be afraid to party once in awhile.
From Rachel- Keeping at a task is the only way to get better, and it’s best to face tough situations rather than gloss over them or run away.
From Janice- Panda sex consists of rough humping, biting and lots of bleating on the female’s part – a sign of interest, actually.
From Jenny- Knowing a lot of drinking games makes you popular at parties.
And now for the (even sappier) thanks and good lucks.
To my big bros. – Russ, everything I know about reporting I learned from you. I was also that kid with a reporter’s notebook in her back pocket, and I know for a fact the spirit lives on at The Hatchet. Keep at it, you’ll be famous one day. Rich, I can never repay you for believing in me two short years ago and supporting me as I found my way at the newspaper and in life. You guys are two of my best friends, and there’s no one I would rather get lost with in the woods of Maryland.
Barnett, you have a gift in your writing ability. Don’t let it distract you from your duties as an editor. I know you, Nurko and Lizz will be great, just don’t lose faith after the first month. Call me if you need to, and I’ll tell you about the days of being an associate news editor, with three other inexperienced people, in a time when we had to walk to The Hatchet uphill in the snow, both ways.
Nelson and Chris – there’s no way you would have found a place at the paper if you didn’t truly belong. I see shades of greatness in both of you.
Finally, no sermon of gratitude can exclude my family. Grandma, you were the one who spawned my love for newspapers, and I am forever indebted. Little Bro, this year you finally understood my life a little more, and I know you’re just as capable of handling it as I was. Mom and Dad, what more can I thank you for than a college education. Thank for understanding that half of that bill went toward my work here and not toward academics, but those were the greatest lessons of all.
-Kate Stepan has been an editor since fall 2000.