Departing Staffer: Josh Stager: From GWorld to the real world

I remember reading these departing seniors columns in years past, filled with wistful anecdotes, contemplative ruminations and plenty of nostalgia. The seniors were headed off into the “real world,” and their columns suggested a certain elder wisdom, a Zen-like view of The Hatchet past, present and future.

Now it’s my turn – and I realize my predecessors were full of it.

A word of caution to the young’uns reading this who still have a few more semesters left at GW: there’s no Zen at the end of the road. Instead, you head off into that vaunted real world with scant elder wisdom and no road map (a feeling that’s doubly disconcerting if you’re a geography major like me).

However, I’d like to think that in my journey to that Commencement stage on May 21, I’ve picked up enough morsels of wisdom to fake it.

Of the worlds within GW I’ve called home the past four years – from the Political Communication Department and its infestation of Karl Rove/Josh Lyman wannabes to the crazies who slept, danced and ordered takeout in Gelman at 3 a.m. – perhaps the most memorable will be the one inside 2140 G St., where I’ve designed pages, cursed printers (and photographers) and developed an unhealthy affinity for Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes as a Hatchet production assistant.

I recently realized how important The Hatchet is while talking to a friend who attends another university. She mentioned offhand that her school newspaper had just come back after a year-long hiatus. Apparently they just didn’t have enough interest.

This floored me. I couldn’t fathom GW without The Hatchet or its wretchedly dirty townhouse. Every university needs student journalism.

For whatever criticisms it receives, The Hatchet is a constant presence, and that’s a testament to the dozens of students dedicated to its publication. As the stacks of unopened and forgotten paychecks in the business office will attest, we certainly don’t do this for the money. And the hours – particularly in production – suck.

So why have I done it all these years? I guess as an arts and features designer, it’s been a satisfying creative outlet, but it mainly comes down to the people (if this were an episode of “Full House,” this would be the moment when the sappy music starts and the audience lets out a reflexive “aww” – but I don’t do Danny Tanner hugs).

I’ve worked mostly with the arts, features and production staffs, whose names have changed over the years, but whose dedication has not.

Barnett, we’ve known each other since before college (by the way, are you ever going to retire that JSA shirt?). Best of luck to you in your future career as a Mexican border minuteman – or whatever it is you’re doing in Bush’s home state. But please be on the lookout for praying mantises. I’d hate to see anything happen to you or your nose.

Sarah, Johnny Heins and the rest of the prodo crew – for the countless times you undoubtedly cursed me for forgetting to check my links or using obscure fonts, I am forever in your debt. And I’m counting on Johnny to increase his production of inappropriate casas to make up for my absence.

Speaking of inappropriate casas, Caitlin, be on the lookout for a little something special from me to you. Knock ’em dead next year, chief.

Sam, you’ve been a pain in my ass, as I’m sure I’ve been to yours. What can I say? My cold knees hurt, but I wanted a flower.

Even when he is ruling the planet one day, I will still think of Kyle Stoneman as the “Bananaphone” guy. Doo doo be doo be doop.

Maura, you’re an overemployed vixen who shows no signs of slowing down, yet I have this sneaking suspicion that one day I’ll see your byline in US Weekly – or the newsletter of the local Scientology church. If it’s the latter, please use the pseudonym Bitter Jew. I’ll still know it’s you, but Tom Cruise will never track you down! And don’t forget, it just isn’t an April Fools’ issue without unnecessary Kirstie Alley fat jokes.

Sacha, you may have escaped the clutches of Tuesday night production, but your legacy lives on as the only cat lover who can also churn out a fabulously detailed Adderall story with suspicious ease.

And I would be remiss to leave out someone who should be writing one of these columns this week, too. Jenny may have only been at 2140 G St. for less than a year, but her impact tested this paper like it’s rarely been tested before, or, I hope, ever will be again. She brought us closer in moments both good and bad, and for that she’s still remembered.

Okay, so maybe there is a little Zen.

The walls of The Hatchet production office are lined with artifacts of late, delirious nights, including more than a few of my own. They’re satirical headlines, snarky cutlines and silly house ads. Many of them are from Hatcheteers who have long since graduated and wouldn’t be recognized by anyone today. Yet it’s a grand tradition, and one of the little things I’ll miss most – after all, I highly doubt my first job in the real world will let me plaster a wall with obscenities.

But the walls have to come down for everyone eventually, a time that will probably come for me when my GWorld no longer opens the door to this Superfund site of an office.

I can now join the ranks of full-of-it Hatchet alumni.


-The writer has been a member of The Hatchet production team since March 2003. He has designed more than 350 pages of The Hatchet.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.