I’d originally written this post as a long, rambling, somewhat cliche retrospective at 6AM this morning (though it was last night for me). When I woke up and re-read it, it’s not what I wanted to say, so I’ll save it for another day. Instead I’m going to go the route of a recap because, at the end of the day, I think it sums up this last year in a way that the 1000+ words I wrote when most people were just waking up to go to work for the day will never capture. Here goes…

It’s 5AM and I just got home from The Sun. Tonight was the last night of publication for the 126th Editorial Board where I’ve served as Photo Editor for the last 363 days. This Saturday afternoon I will be handing off the Photo Department to Matt.

It was an insane and intense evening. I walked down to the office around 8PM and arrived to an office full of outgoing editors, incoming editors, staffers, music, noise and beer. Though I suppose the only thing that was really different was the beer…

Camera in hand, ready to document the evening, I popped open a bottle of Dos Equis and joined in the fun. It was an interesting dynamic - there were the outgoing editors, myself included, who were absolutely giddy over the fact that we were a mere 40 or so hours from officially handing off our departments and only 6 hours away (in theory at least) from sending our last ever edition of The Cornell Daily Sun to the printer. Then there were the editorial compets, those who are still technically “in training” and will be facing the torture of elections on Saturday. They weren’t nearly as giddy. They were actually kind of scared - heads down, typing away frantically because to them, it’s only the beginning. There’s still a whole year ahead of them and they know they’re only just embarking on the journey of sleepless nights and a deadline-centric existence.

Jenn-BamaAnyway - we set about the business of actually putting out the paper. We did the usual things, but it was with all of the outgoing editors instead of the compets who have been pretty much running the show for the last six weeks. There was also the matter of our goodbye spread - the page of the paper that we take over as an homage to the outgoing editorial board. We’d been throwing around ideas for it for about a week now but hadn’t settled on anything until someone brought up the idea of using obamaicon.me and making Shepherd Fairey HOPE posters for each of our editors. PERFECT! But then I read the Terms and Conditions and we couldn’t use them in the paper. Not so perfect. I sat down at one of the computers and fired up Photoshop to try to recreate the poster in as few clicks as possible. I ended up settling on using the Cutout filter, some toning, and some pattern-fills to get the “look”. Luckily the page was running in black and white. Normally I would see that as a detriment, but not having color meant that I didn’t have to color-adjust until I could get each and every photo to use just the 4 colors used in the Fairey posters. I could just greyscale them and pray that no one counted the colors.

chugging contest on the back porchThen we hit the next hitch - our usual mug shots were way too boring for this page. Who wants to look at an entire page of people just staring straight ahead? Not me, that’s for sure. So now, in addition to having to make 35 or so individual posters, I needed to take and edit about 25 new mug shots. Joyyy. Keep in mind that it’s at least 11PM by this point and the paper is usually due to the printer by 1:30AM. Luckily by this point most of the board had had a good amount of beer and that saved me from having to take 15 shots of each person because they wanted it to be just perfect. Good stuff.

Now we’re around midnight and I’m just loading up the new mug shots. I finished about…3 and it was time for the midnight edit meeting. It’s a Daily Sun tradition and it could not wait until after I finished the other 30 posters. Upstairs we went, alcohol in hand and sleepiness setting in.

We arranged the chairs in a circle and got comfy. Then the bottle of really cheap, disgusting, reminiscent of rubbing alcohol that has been sitting in your medicine cabinet Light Rum came out. It’s also tradition to take a shot out of it once you’ve said your piece. The bottle was passed around the circle as the editors, one-by-one, shared their feelings about The Sun and each other (meanwhile one of the editors was passed out from a bit too much to drink). It was really sad, actually and I found myself on the verge of tears on more than one occasion. The end of my term at The Sun is one of the major “ends” that I will be facing in these next 86 days and let’s face it, I’m the sentimental type.

The midnight edit meeting made me realize, once again, how much of a family we’ve become over this last year. We went from being almost complete strangers to very close friends and will gravitate toward each other even when we’re not at the office. We hang out in Libe Cafe a few times a week and if there’s a completely unrelated event that some of us just happen to be attending, we tend to hang out with each other there, too. We stop to talk to each other in the middle of the road as we’re walking to or from campus. We spend more time with each other than we spend with nearly anyone else in our lives. It’s kind of nice, actually.

So the bottle continued to be passed around with some bathroom breaks in between and a few more breaks to make sure that the passed out editor was still conscious. We reminisced about the fun times we had and the adventures we went on as a group over the course of the year. It’s been truly a great year. It’s nearly 2AM at this point and we’ve pretty much halted production of the paper so that we could get together to reminisce. We knew that we had to get back to work, but leaving our edit room was like acknowledging that it’s almost over. I know I wasn’t ready.

But it had to be done. As soon as the EIC finished his shot, I ran downstairs and sat down in front of the computer to crank out the rest of the HOPE photos. I had the design editors pull old mugs for me to try to streamline the process and I magnetic lassoed, feathered, cropped, scaled, typed, and keyboard shortcutted faster than I’ve ever done before, and ask anyone, I’m a master of keyboard shortcuts.

the one and only page I will ever sign outEnter 3AM and I’d just about finished up. Carol, the outgoing Design Editor, placed the last of the mugshots onto the page as everyone looked on. The page was printed and I had the honor of signing it out. The one and only time. Off to the printer it went. Now all that was left was for Sammy, the Associate Editor compet, to finish the full mast. We all stood around waiting with our coats on and half asleep (though some did actually fall asleep) until he finished and then basically sprinted out of the office and started walking up to the State Street Diner. It’s now 3:45AM.

Still at the sun.Another Sun tradition, the State Street Diner has been around since 1936. It’s a few blocks from the office and was frequented by the likes of Kurt Vonnegut and other former Sun editors during the days when the paper was finished at midnight and they all went out to eat after. These days we tend to stick to Shortstop Deli, home of the Poor Man’s Pizza (a.k.a. the PMP). Absolutely starving, we took up the entire back of the diner and inundated the kitchen with orders of bacon, eggs, pancakes, toast, and pretty much every other breakfast food imaginable. I love diners and this meal was just what we needed after a long and somewhat drunken and somewhat emotionally draining evening. There’s really nothing like grease and carbs to make your sorrows, sleepiness and intense hunger disappear. We stacked ourselves six to a table (though we probably could have used 5-6 tables, we decided to go for 3 and we just sat around and talked. I don’t remember what we talked about at all. Time just kind of slipped away as we relished our last moments together as a board and our stacks of pancakes, toast, eggs, and goodness.

I remember thinking at one point that it was funny how we ended up arranging ourselves into tables - it had nothing to do with who our closest friends were on the board or who we hung out with the most, it was just a matter of the order we walked into the diner. We honestly could have arranged ourselves in any combination of six people per table and would have had a great time. We get along that well and that just astonishes me. After an entire year of working together under such intense pressure, we actually came out of it as really close friends instead of wanting to kill each other. That, right there, is a testament to the type of people I had the opportunity to work with.

It’s now just about 5AM and we filed out of the State Street Diner and walk back to the office. Luckily, by this point, everyone had sobered up and we piled into the four cars we had at the office. It was time to go home. It wasn’t sad, it wasn’t happy, it just was. I think by this point we all just wanted to get our heads onto our pillows and not wake up until well after noon. We knew we were going to see each other again. After all, there was still the matter of elections on Saturday.

We just sort of sat in silence as we drove up the hills of Ithaca in the wee hours of the morning. It was an absolutely gorgeous night out - low 40s and unseasonably warm. Just perfect, really. Into the doors of Eddygate we went (a good number of us live in this building) and we parted ways at the elevator. “See ya Saturday.”

58/365 - the 126th's last paperAs I looked through today’s paper, my last as the Photo Editor, I couldn’t help but think back on how far we’ve come in this last year and the amazing friendships I was able to develop with some of the smartest, most talented people I know (and arguably some of the smartest people around). It’s kind of poetic, though, that despite the changes and passing of time, it all ended in the same way that it began.

And as the twitters and facebook updates streamed in this afternoon, I chuckled at our shared haggardness - we’d all woken up sometime around the 2PM hour and some of us ended up finding each other around campus. So much for “See ya Saturday.” It’s these random meetings that keep me from becoming too sad about this particular ending. I know we’ll see each other again and again as we go through life. Sunnies always find each other. It’s just the way the world works.

discussing the front page