Longtime editor reminisces about the org that always takes over: the Misc

The Miscellany News derailed my college career, and it’s about to derail my Senior Retrospective. I could (should?) write about a topic of academic import, like how I––the only graduating Women’s Studies major––respond when professors say, “Why am I doing all the talking? Let’s have the resident Women’s Studies major explain Butler’s Theory of Gender Performativity.” (I nod confidently and use the words “social construction,” “reify,” and “corporeal” in a long sentence, then change the topic to how capitalist heteropatriarchy will end the world.) Or, I could whine about my social life, since I got stuck living with my first-year roommate all four years. (I won’t name names––she’s had my back every moment of the last four years and therefore boasts a bounty of blackmail material––but I will say that she is equally jaded and wants to know why my wardrobe consists exclusively of workout attire.) Alternatively, I could proffer an ode to the AFC (@IvannaGuerra, my athletic aesthetic is not without purpose), or refereeing competitive Bingo matches at Vassar-Warner Nursing Home alongside kindhearted students and senior citizens, or Vassar’s stellar Creative Writing program, or Brody. No leash. No real directional sense. What a dog. 

Instead of waxing poetic about any of that, however, I’m going to allow the Misc to snatch the spotlight one last time. I’ll let you in on a little secret: Vassar’s student newspaper of record since 1866 is actually a cult. I should know; I’ve been a copy editor, humor writer, Co-Humor Editor, Senior Editor and Contributing Editor (today, I’m one of Jess & Frankie’s many minions), and in the second semester of my junior year, Editor-in-Chief (EiC). Every Tuesday from 7 p.m. until 4 a.m. (not a typo, cult members don’t make typos), I’d sit on the snagged and stained mesh of the wobbly EiC chair, vexed by cumbersome design software, endless aesthetic and grammatical minutiae (what’s so bad about ox coms?), and the perpetual fear that the next article I edited would require a comprehensive 2 a.m. rewrite. After sleeping for a few hours, I’d rush back to the office to triple-check the burdensome beast (and restart a crashing InDesign at least twice), prior to sending the paper to print. Wednesday evening brought a two-hour-long Ed Board meeting, featuring the beleaguered semi-smiles of similarly sleep-deprived editors, with whom I would convene again for Sunday’s paper critique and Monday’s pre-production night. Occasionally, I’d take a break to do schoolwork (what a luxury!), only to be interrupted within minutes of finding my stride by a phone call from the senior editors or design editor (thank you for your dedicated leadership and for tolerating my tendency for fastidiousness), or an urgent email from a writer, editor, interviewee, administrator….Oh, and my semesterly salary was a whopping $0. 

If this sounds miserable, it’s only because serving as EiC of The Misc is a miserable (miscerable?) experience. But my misery was not in vain––The Miscellany News endowed me with the confidence, maturity and level-headedness to thrive in the adult world. During my EiC tenure, I learned to remain calm, organized and flexible under pressure; manage public relations; problem solve independently; design an engaging and aesthetically pleasing spread; learn from and bond with those whose work style and vision diverges from my own; work efficiently (40+-hour per week unpaid job + full-time student=move fast or…or…I never risked finding out); find laughter, joy and solidarity in the midst of serious stress; remain humble (I considered myself a splendid leader before I experienced my first week as EiC); own up to my mistakes, no matter how embarrassing or terrible they might be; exercise resilience and open-mindedness in the face of conflict with friends, peers and mentors; and even choreograph a staff-wide dance to “It’s the Hard-Knock Life,” complete with the mattress we keep in the Misc office and the bucket used to catch the chronic EiC office ceiling drip that taunted me throughout my tenure. (Ok, technically that’s still in the works, but I expect to have it prepared in time for a Commencement 2023 performance. Rising sophomores, get excited.)

Best of all, I learned to love collaborative work. Prior to my Miscian (adj., add it to the style guide) stints, I was a misanthrope (miscanthrope?) when it came to group projects. I preferred to grind ‘em out by my persnickety, perfectionist self, because I had not yet had the honor of working with a group of humans as driven, devoted, conscientious, strong, resourceful, gritty, witty and wonderful as The Miscellany News Editorial Board. And they’re a microcosm (miscrocosm? When does this get old?) of Vassar writ large––this college boasts some of the most curious, caring, kind, generous, engaged and empathic students, staff, faculty and administrators on earth, whether in the thick of finals week or the midst of a global pandemic.

Back to The Misc. Of course. Dear Misc-ers, I could write a personal shout-out to each of you, because I have a connection, common interest, or shared (mis)adventure (miscadventure? Yep, it’s gotten old) with virtually every Ed Board member. But in the interest of copyfitting this article (you’re welcome), just know that you are all hyper-focused, badass, bright and bold humans. Thank you for making my Miscellany News––and Vassar––career exciting, challenging, surprising, edifying, memorable and altogether incredible. I cannot imagine my college experience without you all. And you haven’t seen the last of me. If I could keep the Misc (relatively) afloat for a semester, I can figure out how to Zoom-bomb. As for when y’all meet again in person…I know where you work.PS: Current EiC & Managing Editor, I appreciate your appreciation of all the Billies. Beautiful. Hellloooo. Also, Francisco Andrade ’22 will not serve as Humor Editor in Fall 2020 because the Misc fired him. We do, however, enjoy his dog.

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