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Fare thee well, sort of

 

At the beginning of the semester, Chancellor Dan Jones challenged me to enjoy the ride. What he meant was that in an overly busy life that is being lived out in the public where you will get your fair share of criticism, sometimes it is easy to get so stressed out that you don’t enjoy the experience.

Did I enjoy the experience? Overall, yes, but that’s not to say it was easy. I deliberately disobeyed studies that suggest you need to get a certain amount of sleep every night. I also spent way too many hours on campus — I often forgot where I parked because I would arrive at campus before 8 a.m. and not leave until after midnight. To add to that, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen the morning custodian crew come in — they arrive at around 3 a.m.

And then there were the classes and all the stuff I put my professors through this year and even last spring when I was training for the job. I earned my first B here last spring, added some more to my transcript in the fall, and this semester I have a class in which I’d be happy to escape with a C. Thanks to all of the professors who put up with me and my endless excuses and also thanks to all of those who did not. You certainly pushed me to new extremes, and it has made me a better person.

Then there is the job itself. There is a lot of stress in putting words in print and sending out 14,000 copies per day. If there is a slip of a finger and the word “Mississippi” gets misspelled and is sent out to the campus and community, well, those people will not be laughing with you. If you accidentally get a time wrong, you can ruin someone’s event. If you get some facts wrong, you open yourself up to looking pretty stupid. And then there is making decisions on the fly. I can’t remember any nights where something did not go according to plan, and the plan then has to change. Sometimes that something was minor, but often it was something major, where we’d have to scramble to make plan B or even plan C something that was worth a reader’s time. And then there were the many nights when someone on my staff was sick or had a prior engagement, and I was stuck doing my job as well as the job of the absent section editor. Sometimes it even worked out where I got to do three or four jobs in one night. Thankfully, coffee with extra shots of espresso was a short walk away at the J.D. Williams Library.

That said, I made it through it all, and I am definitely a stronger person and journalist than I was before. There were many times where I would be rushing to class or to print off my homework last minute, and I would see someone enjoying a copy of The DM. Sometimes I would hear people talking about topics that our columnists or news stories brought up. During class, I even witnessed people stop to admire a photo on their way to the Sudoku. Knowing that we helped inform people, helped set the tone for conversation on campus or even gave people a quick laugh through the cartoon genius known only as Josh Clark, well, it makes all the work worth it.

Putting together a newspaper around classes is a lot of work. It is probably akin to writing a research paper every night as an extracurricular activity before you do your real homework, but it is also a lot more fun and rewarding than writing a research paper every night. Because of it, I’m not going to graduate when I thought I would. I’m coming back for a victory lap, or more truthfully, to take all of those classes that I dropped this year. And I still could not force myself to break free, as I’ll be serving as next year’s photo editor.

I’d like to thank this year’s managing editors, Emily Roland and Lauren Smith, for putting up with my craziness and helping to keep me sane. If I taught you two anything, it was new, creative uses for four-letter words when something went wrong after 11 p.m.

I’d like to than our adviser, Pat Thompson: first, for believing in me to do this job, and also for always being available whenever I needed advice, even if that advice had nothing to do with the newspaper.

To the rest of my staff: Jon Haywood for the random jokes that made me laugh; Kelsey Dockery for putting up with all of us and being a refreshing, positive force in an often cynical newsroom; Mallory Simerville for being weird and funny in all of the best ways; Jacob Batte for always having cold beer and knowing when it is necessary; Austin Miller for making the sports section something I never had to worry about; Petre Thomas for giving it everything you had and then some; Heather Applewhite for stepping up big when it was needed; Austin McAfee for being willing to take photos of everything this year and stepping in to help out; and of course Norman Seawright for having the finest taste in everything. 

And I’d be in trouble if I did not thank my girlfriend, Danielle Thornton. I’ll never know how you put up with me this whole year, but thanks for everything you’ve done. I’d probably be somewhere dead in a ditch if you had not been there.

Lastly, thank you to all of the readers who have made it this far with me, through the year and through this mini-novella of mine. I really can’t thank you enough. Without you, I wouldn’t have had this job and this chance to enjoy the ride. Yes, chancellor, it was never easy, but looking back, I’m glad I had this opportunity, and even though I’m going to enjoy having free time to do homework and play video games, I’m really going to miss it. Good luck to the new staff (including myself) and the new chief, Emily Roland:  May your year be just as awesome of an experience as mine has been.

 

Cain Madden is a journalism senior from Natchez.