Four years of college began and ended with the San Francisco Foghorn. Since I started, I switched from a journalism minor to a film minor, and as such, I can no longer write in the upside-down pyramid format. As a film kid, I’ll have to describe things in snips and snatches and scenes, editing four years of footage down into four minutes, the four minutes it takes me to walk in front of a crowd of strangers wearing a big, silly gown.
Minute #1: I’m seventeen years old, maybe only a few weeks old at this school. After eagerly blurting out that I was the editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper (weren’t we all, darling?) at the Foghorn’s open house, I show up at sunny noon to the Foghorn office to help out with layout. The open door reveals that the layout editor is nowhere to be seen, and the editor-in-chief is catching a fitful night’s sleep on the couch. Welcome to the Foghorn. This is how we do.
(This editor-in-chief, one Hunter Patterson, later predicted I’d have his job someday. I didn’t believe him.)
Minute #2: November 22, 2008. I’m doing a ridiculous victory dance in my dorm room, fists pumping, “YESSSS.” I’ve received an email offering me my first editorial position—Chief Copy Editor—at the Foghorn. It comes with a place in the Foghorn’s staff box and a sweet little stipend. This is the first time anyone’s ever paid me for anything, so damn right it’s a big deal, and this dweeby freshman will dance if she wants to! In her underwear!
Minute #3: Two years later, I was in the midst of the emotional and academic turmoil that was sophomore year. A year in which I struggled with internal demons, and almost lost my scholarship. I received another email from my editor, but this time a sickening drop. I wasn’t meant to see this. “If Dani is unwilling/unable to do her share, I think it would be fair to just give you the entire stipend. I am just very tired of her attitude lately, and I have been impressed with yours.”
People say that you don’t realize what you have until you lose it. This is wrong. You don’t realize what you have until it sends you an accidental email telling you it doesn’t want you in its paid employment anymore. The way I saw it, there were two options. On the one hand, I could resign with dignity, since I already had enough on my plate and couldn’t really handle this position. Or I could swallow my self-respect, crawl to the Foghorn office on my hands and knees, and beg like a whipped dog for forgiveness.
(As I write this column, I suppose we all know which option I took. When you love something enough, dignity becomes superfluous.)
Minute #4: Right now. Right here. Right this second. (Except really four days ago since I’ll have distributed my final issue of the Foghorn on Thursday, and I’m writing this hastily on Monday morning a day after deadline.) It’ll only take me a minute to finish this farewell, because my word count is growing, and really, what else is there to say?
Four years, three editors in chief, two offices, and hopefully one diploma later, it’s all over. I’ve summed it up in four minutes, but I think I can sum it up in four words:
I belonged here once.