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Grace Miller: Maybe it was by design

Auden Yurman

I don’t know what made me stay at The Hatchet, but I can’t help but feel it was meant to be.

I joined after sending a panicked DM in the fall of my first year — asking if I was too late to apply since the fall deadline had passed. Somebody responded saying it was not too late and that applications were rolling. I quickly submitted my application, skipping the writing portion and only applying to the design section, though what I really wanted to do was copy edit (spoiler: I never ended up copy editing). 

Though I was still at home for the semester, I started helping out Sundays — laying out a page each week and sending it back to the design editor. By the end of the semester, though, I no longer remembered to help out. After moving to D.C. in January of 2021, I emailed the Design Editor Olivia and asked if I could work on pages again.

Within a week of that, I was hired as the contributing design editor for spring of Volume 117. Joining staff, especially during COVID, gave me a sense of pride — that I was a part of something at GW even from my apartment. From then on, Sundays were about The Hatchet. I would lay out half the pages of our PDF paper, including the front page, and attend weekly staff meetings with 40 strangers over zoom. I didn’t even think that eventually some of those strangers would become friends. 

It became immediately apparent to me that they were priming me to be the design editor for the following year, and being the people pleaser I am, I said nothing about it. I accepted the late nights not knowing how late they would get and wanted to do what I knew I was capable of and revive the design section. I didn’t necessarily choose to be design editor, but in some ways I feel like it chose me. Or maybe that’s a nicer way of saying it was forced upon me — but either way, I’m somehow grateful. 

One of the final jobs Olivia bestowed upon me was to export and send the final PDF to the editor in chief to forward to the printers. My job was to write a subject line that rhymed with the issue number. Obviously, I took this job incredibly seriously and wrote weekly rhymes with stride — I wrote one each week for the 45 weeks I spent as design editor.

On April 12, 2021, I wrote my first rhyme as design editor: “issue 27, why is it so hard to stay up past eleven.” It’s funny looking back on those times doing The Hatchet online, where 11 p.m. was my standard of late. Over the next two years, the rhymes often included how tired I was or how late we ended staying when we “thought prodo was going to end early this week.” Here are a few of my favorites:

Sept. 7, 2021: Issue 7, we’re in mold heaven !! (3:39 a.m.)

Jan. 18, 2022: Issue 19, in order to read through pages over Zoom we need a wider screen (3:14 a.m.)

Jan. 24, 2022: Issue 20, stories about burnout are aplenty (3:05 a.m.)

Feb. 14, 2022: Issue 23, laughs for you and laughs for me (12:16 a.m.)

April 4, 2022: Issue 27, watching harry potter + pretzels = Jarrod’s heaven (2:36 a.m.)

April 11, 2022: Issue 28, never before have I been here this late (4:23 a.m.)

Feb. 13, 2023: Issue 20, Nick’s deep snoring slumber was actually pretty funny (3:03 a.m.)

March 6, 2023: Issue 22, If I am ever here until 7:35 again I will sue (7:35 a.m.)

April 3, 2023: Issue 24, tonight I was very close to sleeping on the floor (4:57 a.m.)

May 22, 2023: Issue 1, in Vol. 120 let’s have some fun (4:13 a.m.)

When I look back on these last three and a half years, I don’t think too much about how tired I was all those nights (though I do think of all the times and places I fell asleep). Mostly, I think of the 3 a.m. fits of giggles and shenanigans we got into to lighten the mood. I think of the movies (and football games) watched, and the banana breads and garlic knots baked. I think of the quotes on the board, and the baseball mitt chair Zach Schonfeld Facebook Marketplaced that I controversially think is the comfiest seat in the basement. I think of the FOMO I felt junior fall when I was abroad, and the joke that missing the townhouse basement is like Stockholm Syndrome. I think of the disastrous basketball font and our newspaper hats, of David Diemert and asking for secrets at Hatchet Prom. I think of how many hours I’ve spent in the basement, and how sophomore year we always wondered how many hours it would take to go from strangers to acquaintances to friends. I think we surpassed 200 hours pretty quickly.

Let me be clear, I am not a journalist nor was it ever my intention to be involved in journalism after high school. Yet, the thing I ended up dedicating most of my time to at GW was The Hatchet. In doing that, I learned three things. First, I am an English major who has no desire to write and simply likes designing pages. Second, the work that I witness every day at The Hatchet by student-journalists fills me with pride and admiration. The amount of work that editors do is incomprehensible and so impressive to people like me who don’t do it. Third, I’m far too anxious to ever be a journalist. 

That’s what the beauty of The Hatchet is, really. It became a place that made us all want to stay, full of people that made us want to stay, even when there were moments we wish we could leave. We did not have to be interested in journalism at all to find our place in the townhouse basement.

I think often of how I’ve spent most of my time at GW longing for home. And yet, when I move back after graduation, I know I will spend Sundays longing for the home I found at The Hatchet.

To the people who got me through it all:

Jaden: My fellow English major and vegan. When we first met, I instantly knew we would be friends. It sounds fake, I know, but I really did look at you over Zoom and feel excited that there were people at The Hatchet I would meet in the fall that I felt like I could be friends with. After I got to know you, I realized how similar we actually are. Rarely do I meet another person that is so alike me. I feel like every time we talk, I learn something new we have in common. Though this is true, there are also always moments where you shock me with your hot takes. The basement now would not be the same without those quiet Sundays during Volume 118 with Grace Hromin, the first CVS and Whole Foods runs and walks around the block. I told you early on that I wanted to merge the basement and upstairs, and I’d like to think the us from back then would be proud of how much we’ve done that. I’ve said it before, but I really don’t think I would have made it this far without you. 

Izzy: You were the best fellow design editor I could have ever asked for. In many ways, you are the design editor I could never be — your creativity and willingness to think outside the box while doing something so repetitive is, and has always been, astounding to me. I’m so happy that you passed your creativity and passion on to the next generation of design editors. It feels like fate that we both ended up at The Hatchet doing design while simultaneously becoming friends through our roommates. It has been so rewarding to get to know you in and outside of the basement, and I’m so glad we both got to follow our study abroad dreams. I can’t wait for the years to come. Cheers to us and design — from pints and baby guinnesses in Edinburgh to Sam Adams summer ale in Boston!

Auden: I don’t really remember when we actually met, but I have to think that we’d crossed each others paths a couple of times before becoming friends. I remember you sitting in front of me in Children’s Litearture and wondering if you recognized me from The Hatchet, since Grace Hromin and I were always hanging out in the basement. The basement brought us together in the way it does, and now I can’t imagine a time when it wasn’t you, me, Izzy and Jaden. Thanks for being a cool prom date last year, for letting me tag along on nights out with your roommates and for carrying on Amanda’s quaff legacy.

Grace C: I’m so proud of all the work you’ve done in your time at The Hatchet so far, and I’m so grateful that I became your friend so that I get to cheer you on from the sidelines from here on out. I cannot think of anyone more capable to handle the responsibilities of being EIC, and I know you’re going to handle it with grace (pun very much intended). You have a drive that I admire endlessly and a willingness to work that I cannot even fathom. Thank you so much for being there for me last fall — I will miss our frally sessions endlessly.

Nicholas: Your willingness to voluntarily stay in the basement for prodo on Sunday nights has always impressed me. I’m so happy we got to know each other in this time, and working together in the design section. It’s crazy to think how long we’ve been working together and how much we’ve both grown during that time. I know how hard of year it has been, and I am so proud of your ability to stay positive regardless and bring energy to The Hatchet. 

Zach B: I know I don’t say it very much, but I really am impressed by how much work you put into The Hatchet. You’ve handled the amount of stress you’ve been put under so well and have always been so gracious with me when I make mistakes. For how chaotic of a year it has been, we somehow managed to get through. It has been great getting to know you in the basement and I always love seeing you at random parties of mutual friends (why does it feel so silly seeing Hatchet people during normal hours and settings?). I know you’re going places as a journalist, and I’m just glad I got to be a part of it. 

Nick P: I’m pretty sure you have little recollection of this, but when we first really talked at Hatchet Holiday in December 2021, you recommended me a book — “Cutting For Stone” by Abraham Verghese. Being the immense people pleaser I am, I read it over winter break and it became a favorite of mine. Thank you for that. I have always admired how much work you’ve put into The Hatchet, and am so glad we have got to spend over the last two years of late nights (and naps). 

Volume 121 Management: I’m so excited to see everything you are all going to, and I know that I will be following along and cheering you on the whole way. Cristina: I can’t think of a better person to follow up as MD — you stand your ground and speak your mind. Good luck with conference, I’m rooting for you. Faith: Getting to know you in the basement this year has been so fun, and it has been especially fun getting to know you in some moments outside of the basement (the night Grace and I were collapsed on your couch really sticks with me for some reason). P.S. I always appreciate your love for my garlic knots.

Ethan Benn: Being able to get to know you last year, first in edboard and then in D&D has been so fun and rewarding. You are the best DM ever (I’m not biased I promise), and I’m really going to miss having fun in imaginary worlds with you and the rest of the group. Beyond this, your leadership of the opinions section has always been incredibly admirable and it will not be the same without you. Thank you for letting me write an essay about hammocking. 

Maura: I wish we got to work together for longer, but you were the perfect addition to the design team. Thank you for being so flexible while Izzy and I switched off as design editor. Not only did you work hard and with creativity in page design, but you also drew some amazing cartoons and helped me with some of the merch designs. 

Past Staff:

Jarrod: You were the first person I met in person after joining staff — I was racked with nerves as I dropped the design computer off at your Shenkman dorm. As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about, as over the next two years you and I were often unserious, making eye contact and laughing at inopportune moments. It was your hot seat over Zoom the first time I asked my iconic “If you were a fruit what fruit would you be” question. My mom was sitting in the car next to me, and although I was wearing headphones and she had only heard the question, she looked at me and said “he better have said banana.” I don’t know how she knew, but that’s exactly what you said. I’ve really enjoyed seeing you at random times and in random places this last year, but the basement has not been the same without you. You did set the precedent for the quotes on the board after all: “It’s the wizarding world Jared!” Even though we always joked that I was actually EIC, I could never have done half the work you did — you have, and always will be, the real EIC. 

Amanda: It’s hard to picture townhouse (and basement, specifically) without you, and I’m so glad that it brought us together for as long as it did. Beyond years of hard work in the video section, your contribution to The Hatchet via the quaff is (no pun intended) revolutionary. The energy you brought to staff is unmatched, and I’m so glad we got to randomly find each other at a bar in Shoreditch last May. I’ll never forget our great work with the hat from prom the last two years — I would run around drunk taking pictures of people in a red straw hat anytime with you. 

Zach S: I feel like in a lot of ways you were the person I laughed with most in the basement, but maybe that is because we were the two people most willing to laugh at dumb shit. From to the time you set David Diemert as my profile picture, all the memories I have of Volume 118 are of us laughing. I also particularly enjoy the memory of you showing up at Amsterdam Hall with the design computer in a suitcase, sparking the idea weeks later for me to bring it back to the townhouse in a suitcase. As far as basement shenanigans go, getting into the suitcase to scare you and Lia is still one of my favorites. 

Lia: You once told me that when we first met on Zoom you thought I was a quiet person. As you found out, I am for the most part not a quiet person, and especially not at The Hatchet. Something about being in the basement at obscene hours unlocked the most chaotic and chatty version of me. That first year back from COVID in the basement, as we found our rhythm and became more comfortable with each other, will always be my favorites times at The Hatchet. I’ll always remember our walks around the block with Jaden for some fresh air and your list on the board of your summer favorites. 

Jared: My fellow INFJ for life! I feel like we’ve always understood each other so well, and you’ve always managed to find a good balance between the serious and silly. I could not have imagined the basement in Volume 118 without you and I’m so glad we introduced you to Harry Potter. 

Grace H: You were one of the first friends I made in person at The Hatchet, and I am forever grateful of how you took Jaden and me under your wing and made the basement a fun environment to be in. Our walks home from the townhouse are a core memory of my time at The Hatchet — from walking in the street to avoid the rats to FaceTiming until Jaden got to Shenkman and you got to The River Inn. The basement will always be our Gracement. 

Volume 118 Editorial Board (Anna, Shreeya, Andrew, Nuria): I truly had a great time with you guys each week, and often think of how much unnecessary knowledge I gained about the SA in my time on the editorial board. I wish we got to do 420 edboard, but I appreciate the rest of the laughs anyway.

Olivia, Sarah and Parth: During a time when designing a print paper was not very practical, you taught me everything I needed to grow and perfect the design section. The standard you held me to followed me for the rest of my time as Design Editor. Parth, I heard your voice in my head telling me to adjust the spacing or tracking whenever something was slightly off or could be better. Even though I didn’t necessarily know what I was signing up for, I’m endlessly grateful you all nudged me in the direction of The Hatchet. I don’t know if any of us thought I’d still be here, three and a half years later, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. 

Grandma, Popop and Mom: Thanks for always being my biggest supporters and supporters of The Hatchet. Despite my involvement being mostly limited to design, your click rate on the newsletter is surprisingly high. Popop, you always point out interesting things in the paper that I’d never even noticed before. It’s been a bumpy ride but somehow we’ve made it through. 

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