Senior Retrospective: Confused Humor Editor experiments with sincerity

Image courtesy of Madi Donat '23.

It has been, lately, a season of endings. In these weeks, I’ve walked halls and felt that unignorable thing in my chest, like: “What if this is the last time I’m ever in Rocky?” or, “What if I never lay on the Quad again?” or, “What if this is the last practice room I cry in?” Some of the goodbyes have been, well, just that—good; I can’t say I’ll miss wandering aimlessly around Retreat trying to find something I can put in my body for sustenance that won’t taste like squishy cardboard, or constantly whipping my head around anytime I talk about literally anybody on this campus because, no matter who it is, they’re always somehow right behind me. Some goodbyes, though, have felt too big to be known, like an insistent, stinging grief for something that hasn’t even died yet. And won’t ever be dead, I guess; not really. How can you mourn the thing that won’t even do you the dignity of leaving for good, but instead just continues on as though it didn’t hold you through the four least imaginable years of your life? 

For a long time on The Misc, I didn’t do much. I wrote the Horoscopes every week because I liked making people laugh, and I was scared of writing full-length articles. As Assistant Humor Editor, I graduated to the infamous Word on the Street, a bygone game of dubious consent wherein I would ask random strangers questions that I didn’t write, most of which made them uncomfortable. It was the evil older brother of the fated TikTok trend, “Excuse me, what song are you listening to? And do you think women deserve rights?” I would wander the Deece or the COVID tents, the latter buzzing with yellowjackets and sticky with day-old ketchup, green grass plodded beige by students all too willing to brave the freezing Poughkeepsie cold to eat dinner with their friends. I would shove my phone in people’s faces and transcribe their interviews by hand. I would spend my Sunday evenings poorly reading the stars—so poorly, in fact, that I sometimes had to wait to read them until Monday afternoon. 

The Misc’s virtual year happened without me, basically. I was but a lowly Assistant, communicating only through email with a student who had now graduated. I walked into Rocky the first day of Ed Board in Fall 2021 fresh to my stint as Real Editor, and I knew no one. I knew nothing—I wasn’t left with a list of writers. I had no idea who to email for content. And, to everyone’s horror, I didn’t even know what InDesign was. I was guided, carefully, through the process of contacting writers and making arrangements for assistants by Upper Exec, and coached through Layout by Design Staffers. I sat at Production Night with my head in my hands, unable to fit a picture in a box. For months, I didn’t have enough content to fill up two pages.

And then, something remarkable happened. People started asking to write. Like, a lot. I was saying yes. I was filling page counts. I was learning where things went and how they worked. I was endlessly hyping up my friends and coworkers and writers when they became brave enough to get an article to me. (Every writer who has given me the privilege to edit their work has been a genius, btw.) And I knew people—and people knew me. Production Night slowly transformed from the most stressful night of my week to the most fun. Layout became, inexplicably, relaxing and exciting instead of dreadful and fearsome. The staff became a group of my friends who I waved to when I saw them, not just a scary, professional cadre who knew a lot more than me. I started writing full length articles, and I started to love reading others’. 

The thing about college, at least for me, is that you never think about it ending. You think about an after, maybe; I’ve cried to professors, advisors, voice teachers, friends, family about the big, uncertain future—about grad school, jobs, where to live, who to live with, why do anything at all. But in all of those conversations, through all of those tears, I never thought about the moment where it all ends. The moment you have to actually say goodbye to something. Once, at the end of a too-long winter break somewhere in the blur of Delta, I told my mother I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to school. “But you love The Misc!” she said. And I did. 

You know, in the moment, that the thing won’t last forever. But it isn’t until you’re sat in a circle eating ice cream cake and hearing the words from the mouths of the people you’ve grown to love more than anything that you realize it’s actually ending. That moment, the line where one thing stops and another begins, is the worst one. Except for all the moments after that, because those are just filled with you reliving that impossible, instantaneous second, that physics-defying threshold of time and space and love. Is the true ending found in that one moment, or all the moments after that? Was it over when the last Ed Board dismissed, or must I live in this exhausting limbo until PB puts me out of my misery with a shake of my hand? Or is that, too, not long enough? Do I wait until I’m booted out at 9 a.m. sharp on May 22, a sweaty, migrained mess with arms full of IKEA bins? 

There’s no one ending. I don’t become a new person once the diploma reaches my hand. I won’t start anew when I send in my last Horoscopes. That’s the hard part—you just keep going. You leave the place that was your home, and the people that made it in any way tolerable, and the simple answer is you do something else for a bit. It doesn’t really matter what it is. And what you left goes on. The Misc goes on. In the best of hands, I must add.

Part of me wishes I could’ve sent myself off with more jokes. I loved being funny for you, and I won’t ever not love remembering how people would read my astrological predictions to each other in the Bridge or at the Retreat. But The Misc meant a lot more to me than my silly columns could ever convey. There’s humor in sadness and grief, too. One day, I’ll find it. The stars tell me it’ll all be fine. They haven’t been wrong yet.

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