Senior Retrospective: Zander Bashaw

Sitting down to write this Senior Retrospective pressed for time and without a concrete idea of where the piece is going, I find myself viscerally reminded of my time working for The Miscellany News. I can practically smell “the pee couch” in the production office. I remember the nerves of waiting my turn during Paper Critique to say my name and editorial position. I can pinpoint the sensation of leaving the Misc office at 4 in the morning on production night in an exhilarated, exhausted blur of caffeination and circadian dysregulation. These initial memories seem to reference abject degeneracy, and if you pair that with the fact that I did not finish out my collegiate career as a member of editorial board or even a regular writer, one might think that I had a poor experience working for this newspaper. Why would I want to take on a 600-word piece due during Senior Week if I only could recall the turmoil and toil of my role with this newspaper? The answer is that I feel a great fondness for the Misc and the editors and writers I worked with my sophomore and junior year.

Like almost everything I did at Vassar, I decided to start writing for the humor section my on a whim. Over winter break my first year, I had typed up a listicle discussing my top ten least favorite songs and exactly why tunes like Hey Soul Sister were so horrible. The intended audience or value of this piece was unclear, but the patient Humor Editor at the time was willing to calmly reject the piece while still suggesting that I could submit more articles in the future.

Though my inherent comedic talent remained low, my desire to write articles of this type in- creased, and I was able to secure the Humor Editor position for sophomore year despite the many qualifications of the other zero applicants. During my year-long tenure running the section, my greatest accomplishments were finding and recruiting other contributors. I left the position having trained a far funnier successor and having edited, and more rarely, written amusing page fillers. Having proven myself willing to sacrifice any semblance of a sleep schedule, I joined Executive Board as a Senior Editor my junior fall. To put it bluntly, this position was a tad above my capacity and effort level. Still, I had fun seeing an the production cycle from a leadership position.

My contributions to the paper dropped off precipitously when I went abroad. I did blog, partially out of guilt and also partially to keep at bay relentless relatives daring enough to show an interest in my life. However, I knew then that I had no intention of returning to the paper my senior year. There was no spite in my decision, I just was certain that my editing career was over. After all, it doesn’t exactly match my actual career path: I still get a kick of seeing “Humor Editor” on a CV dedicated to selling myself as a neuroscientist.

Even though I haven’t picked up a copy of the newspaper as often as I should have this year, even if my stint on editorial board seems like a misguided attempt to seek validation or find a community here, I am satisfied with the way this newspaper fit into my college experience. Through the mistakes I made, grammatically and interpersonally, I was able to come to terms with how my skills and limitations fit in with a production team who toil behind the scenes to make stacks of papers that fill various receptacles on this campus. I had the great fortune of seeing the production side of the paper you are holding right now, and I can’t relay enough the level dedication and competence of the students who have edited and formatted my prose into a senior retrospective of what The Misc meant to me.

 

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