Is this a headline or just a placeholder?

At last. My first byline.

Thankfully, I don’t have to cover a D.C. Council meeting or write a column about the drawbacks of J Street to earn this honor. And even more thankfully for me, I don’t have to interview a single person to write this piece.

Until now, my name has never graced that coveted space in between a headline and a story. For the past two years, I’ve contributed to The Hatchet in ways imperceptible to most. Save for the newspaper’s staff box, which lists my name in typeface small enough to fit on a grain of rice, my role as a copy editor remains largely unnoticed by the public.

And I’m okay with that. If anything, I appreciate it. Copy editing is not a job for those who love to take center stage and stir the pot.

Rather, the copy team works from behind the scenes, ghostwriting and honing content until it fits our meticulously high standards. Like fairy godmothers, we wave our magic wands and transform rough drafts into polished pieces.

We have lengthy conversations about how to best rewrite sentences. The AP Stylebook is our sacred text. It pains us to see dangling modifiers and split infinitives. And we’ve been known to nerd out to “Conjunction Junction” at least thrice.

We’re not in it for the recognition. We don’t care about seeing our name in lights. We care about rules, facts and standards.

But now, here I am with my first and last byline and two and a half rulers’ worth of white space to fill. And I have to write about myself. Suffice to say, this is uncharted territory for me.

Copy editing for The Hatchet is without question the most enjoyable thing I’ve done for money. But only 8 percent of my love for the job has anything to do with copy editing. The other 92 percent of my love – and the reason I devote hours on end to reading the entirety of a college newspaper twice through – concerns the aspects of the job that aren’t listed in the job description.

Here’s what they didn’t tell me as a shy, awkward sophomore walking into the kitschy G Street townhouse for my first day on the job:

1. Your entire circadian rhythm will shift. Say goodbye to classes before 11:10 a.m. and don’t expect to fall asleep before 3.
2. You will eat like a middle school boy whose parents just got divorced. The Ivory Tower basement is your pantry. You need those Sour Patch Kids, white cheddar popcorn and chocolate-covered peanuts to do your job adequately. So don’t worry about that.
3. Every time you use The Hatchet bathroom, you will stare at a “Dear John” movie poster. Note: That’s not actually Channing Tatum’s signature.
4. Around here, anything “not safe for work” is not only perfectly acceptable, but encouraged. You’ll cross the line, redefine its boundaries and ultimately decide that there really is no line at all.
5. You will meet people who will restore your faith in GW. They will accept you unconditionally. They will join you in letting your freak flag fly. Home, sweet home.

Speaking of those people, I guess it’s about time to salute you assholes…

Ryan: I knew from your first day on staff that I made the right choice in selecting you as my co-copy editor. You’re a brother to me, and I relish our conversations from the silly to the profound and everything in between (yes, that includes our contentious debates). The number of times copy as a unit has been chosen as an answer to the “look around the room” question proves what a great team we make. Thank you.

Priya: We’ve come a long way from when we first “fell in love” playing Andrew Bird that day you filled in as a copy editor. I admire your boundless energy and passion, and to me, you embody the sentiment that if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life. I wish you all the coffee and sriracha in the world.

Jenna: You are without question one of the raddest people I’ve met ever. I know I can count on you for insightful conversations, a whole lotta empathy and the most distinct, unbridled laugh I’ve heard to date. It’s uncanny sometimes how similar we are, and I love your openness and compassion. I know you will do great things.

Gabe: When we hang out, I feel like a kid again. Well, a kid with a really sick sense of humor. You’re brilliant, hilarious and perfectly peculiar. The only subpar thing you’ve done is give me an awful manicure. I cherish the time we’ve spent acting deranged together. Yes, I just used “cherish” and “deranged” in the same sentence. Twice. P.S. – Hatchet prom? Check yes or no.

Justin: I can’t get over how adorable you are. And I love that you are my fellow left-hander on staff. In my mind we’ll always be listening to Wilco and taking selfies with a wine bottle. Keep sharing your opinions and you will soar.

Patrick: Oh, daddy. What would we do without our patriarch? Thank you for taking a chance and putting copy on ed board. It’s been a trip. As you always say, xoxo.

Cory: You manage to be all at once sarcastic and preciously endearing at the same time. Keep going after what you want. If you know what I mean. Looking forward to watching your vision for The Hatchet unfold.

Annu: You have the rare ability to instantly make people feel at ease. Thank you for always making me feel welcome. You’ll forever be foine to me.

Ferris: Cheers to the 3 a.m. crew! Thanks for always giggling when I’m oblivious as to how stupid my headline suggestions are during front page review. Please get chocolate-covered espresso beans at least once a week next year.

Lisa: I’ll always remember the days as the original copy biddies. If you keep playing Bloons, I’ll keep playing Tetris. I know I’ll see your name on a book cover one day.

Connor and Dev: By the time you kids arrive at prodo, we’ve all devolved into weirdness. And then you just add to it. Thanks for always laughing at my jokes and fixing the Internet.

Chloe and Nick: You guys are the perfect hipster couple. You should probably make a Hatchet baby…

Jordan: My mental image of you involves you cracking up at your own jokes as you gesticulate wildly. Just remember during your public health career not to leave out the “i” in “public.” Group hugs.

Traynor: Eventually you will always spell “led” right! Your energy and exuberance are contagious. If you stay as passionate as you are now, you will always find things worthy of toasting. Cheers to that.

Allison: Thanks for working your prodo magic and refreshing pages constantly. You should make copy a mix CD of your Pandora music.

Delaney: I admire your enthusiasm, random stories and bra fitting skills. Keep shooting and being cute.

Robin and Melanie (a.k.a. “baby copy”): I know Ryan and I can trust you guys to take over our jobs next year. It’s been lovely getting to know you during training, and I’m so excited for you. Keep copy weird!

Mom, dad and Jordy: I appreciate your support to no end and love you so much. Thanks for guiding me through the chaos and excitement of college. And I will gladly always be your baby girl.

Mark: You keep me in check when I overanalyze everything, make me giggle incessantly and take care of me always. I’m so lucky to have found someone as strange as I am. I love you, nunu.

The rest of Volumes 108 and 109: Thank you for all you’ve done to make The Hatchet awesome – content-wise and otherwise. Shine on. -30-

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