30: Managing editor fights perfectionism, ekes out goodbye

Michelle Zhang

Editor’s note: A 30 column is a chance for departing permanent staff to say farewell and reflect on their time spent in the The Daily Texan. The term comes from the old typesetting mark (-30-) to denote the end of a line.

To prepare for writing this column, I put on my special playlist of melancholy music and scrolled through old 30 columns for inspiration. I read through ones of people I admired for the lucky semesters I got to work in this musty basement with them, and those of people who never even knew my name but whose presence I was in awe of when I was just a nervous sophomore working in the copy department.

And yet I was still stuck. Like with everything else in my life, I wanted my 30 column to be absolutely perfect. Tearjerker. Heartwarmer. Pinnacle of all 30s.

But if there’s one thing the Texan has taught me, it’s that perfection is overrated.

It’s the late nights when we weren’t perfect that I remember the most. I remember the collective anguish whenever InDesign crashed half an hour before deadline. I remember spending valuable 9 p.m. time to investigate a possible possum nest in the ceiling. I remember our front-page infographic that got 20k upvotes … on /r/shittydesign.

I remember the really hard days. Staying in the office until 2 a.m. talking about the awfulness of Haruka Weiser’s sexual assault. Rushing into the basement to get to work amid bomb threats and terrifying rumors. Those days, I admired management for their poise, dedication and behavior under pressure. Thank you to Amy, Jackie and Akshay for being my forever role models.

The more I worked here, the more I fell for this ruckus of a basement. The magic of the Texan comes from the nights spent surrounded by people who love to be here despite exams, papers and all the other drama of being a full-time student.

Kirsten, Ryan and Taylor — you’re all rock stars. Can someone please keep Ryan in check once I’m gone? Bella, you’ve been such a spark of energy ever since you joined my copy team, and I’m glad you befriended me even though you found me intimidating.

Sunnie and Mallika, I always look forward to working with you because we talk about everything and anything. Rena, you’re one of the most talented people I know. I can’t wait to be hip artistic ingénues together.

Ellie, I couldn’t have handpicked a better news editor. You’re going to kill it no matter what you do. Juan, my Sagittarius twin — are we friends yet? Please be my friend.

To my AMEs, Natalia and Matthew, thanks for putting up with me. I know I can be anal-retentive — still going to try to crunch the numbers on that deadline Excel sheet — and a mess at the same time, so I appreciate your help more than you know.

To Peter, I know we both hate sentimentality, so I’ll just say this: I couldn’t have gotten through the semester without your guidance. I’ll miss your unique ability to be awkward in almost every situation.

And of course, Laura Hallas. We’re the perfect Harold & Maude pair, and I’m worried I’ll never find another partner in crime as complementary to me. I’m still mad about the matching bangs.

This column is far from perfect. In fact, I have a strong urge to hit ctrl + A and backspace, but I think design would strangle me because this is already overdue and if I don’t submit this then I’ll never submit anything. So I’ll part with what seems like the most apt farewell from a nostalgic, grateful managing editor:

All right. Let’s go make a paper.