Leah Carliner: No longer saving the things left unsaid

There’s nothing like seeing your name in The Hatchet. Nothing. It’s one of the best student papers in the country, it’s read by all of your peers and it’s often sprawled across elevator floors on Sunday mornings by those drunk kids that just can’t keep their hands off of it.

The first time I really sunk my teeth into the newspaper and got my own byline as a Hatchet news reporter, well, the first time wasn’t so exciting. The story ended up online. The second time though, my story got on the front page and I felt The Hatchet rush for the first time. Unfortunately, forces greater than my own ego trip – like the fact that I had no idea what the hell I was doing – got in my way of true Hatchet stardom. I hoped that taking journalism classes, writing for two sections and a little luck would help me move up in the paper.

All was going according to plan until Brandon Butler. The boy just would not print my stories. Everything I did was “contributed by Brandon Butler” or “Leah Carliner and Brandon Butler.”

One probably uneventful day in the life of Brandon Butler, I decided to confront my new editor and tell him that he was making a huge mistake with all these so-called “edits.”

Needless to say I spent the whole five-minute ordeal nodding my head and agreeing with all of his critiques, and I realized that I was back at square one – I still had no idea what the hell I was doing.

I’ve had my internships and my fabulous professors, but nothing has helped me grow more as a reporter than my rejection at The Hatchet, and I mean that with the greatest sincerity.

Whether I was asking Jess Calefati to make me a senior staff writer or David Ceasar to let me be an assistant news editor, The Hatchet’s consistent ‘no’ has always kept me on solid ground.

I eventually did make senior staff and then went on to be the assistant editor and editor of the Life section. And yet, despite all that, The Hatchet will always be for me the place where I learned how to deal with rejection, and for that I owe a great deal of gratitude to a great many people.

When it comes to things unsaid, I can’t help but think of the words of my high school ballet teacher – a woman who is now 78, with the posture of an iron wall and the most youthful gray hair you’ve ever seen. Miss Ellen’s infamous, “What are you saving it for?” are the six words that have been circling in my head in these fleeting weeks before graduation. Granted, she meant them in the context of my subpar dancing, but sitting here, the question seems a whole lot deeper than the grace of my grande jéte.

Did I write every story and coach every reporter and pitch every idea? Did I take every class and ask every question and work my hardest for every grade? Did I meet every person and remember every name and spend every night out with friends?

Probably not. Actually, definitely not. What was I saving it for?

So here’s to The Hatchet, for always turning me down. For changing my ledes and deleting my run-on sentences and reminding me that good is not great: thank you.

To my contributing editors, Laura and Hilary, you guys have been so much fun to work with. A special thanks has to go to Hilary for picking up this position in her second semester of senior year. Nothing helps to combat senioritis like an early Sunday morning at The Hatchet. Laura, you have grown so much as a reporter in these past few months and I expect for you to do truly great things.

Brittany, if you are reading this in your Spanish oasis, enjoy every last minute of it! Good luck in the coming year, even though I know you don’t need luck.

To my girls: you know who you are. And anyone that doesn’t can just look at my Facebook pictures – it’s the smiling beauties holding beers and posing in a variety of kissing faces. I can’t think of anyone else who would put up with my three jobs, gum addiction and indescribably ugly feet like Dana, Leah, Emily, Robyn and Limmer. You all have been there for me in ways I can’t even begin to recall and graduating with you on my speed-dial is my greatest collegiate accomplishment.

To my roommate of four glorious years: I promise that you will never again live with anyone who wakes up at 5 a.m. and I know the thought makes you want to cry. From day one, with our ugly short hair, I knew you would be my besheret and you’ve never disappointed me.

Thanks to my parents for standing by my decision to pursue my wildest dreams. You’ve given me everything I’ve ever asked for and I’d like to think that somehow it has made me a better person.

Jess, David and Lizzie and any of my other former editors who are still on staff, you’ve made my Hatchet experience everything I ever wanted it to be. Thanks for sticking with me, even now, and pushing me to make my section great.

Roper, if there was ever someone to give me a quirky story to hunt down or a secret source to interview, I always knew I could turn to you. I can’t wait to see what you do as editor in chief next year. You’ve earned it.

Jake, I thought about ignoring you in my 30-piece like you’ve ignored all of my e-mails, but then I wouldn’t get to thank you for your dedication to the paper. Your angry yell has given me an extra thick layer of skin this year, which I guess is a good thing. Get back to me, though, in five or 10 years at our inevitable run-in at some McFadden’s-like bar for a straight answer.

To Sam, though we never did get to do our fabulous Gelman exposé, and I don’t actually think we ever did a project together, you are still making it into my 30-piece. Thanks for showing me the ropes around The Hatchet. Watch out NOVA, here we come!

Thanks to the photo boys for always making my page look beautiful. Nick, Alex and Ryder, you guys have a great spirit about you. Thanks for knowing how to keep a girl entertained.

To Kyle, Alex and Tim, have I ever told you that my Sundays would be nothing without you? Special thanks to Tim, for knowing the answer to every one of my questions when I had no business thinking that he would.

And since I have 30 inches, a little piece of advice for the future Hatchet writers – don’t be discouraged by the tough love at 2140 G Street Just keep at it and work your hardest because after all, what are you saving it for?

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Leah Carliner was The Hatchet’s Life editor. She began writing for The Hatchet in March 2005.

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