What I learned this weekend: 9/21-23

This weekend was a whirlwind! Roots ‘N’ Blues ‘N’ BBQ came at me hard on Saturday; I saw four different musicians, including the Rev. Al Green, and blogged about each of them. I went out for the first time in Columbia. I realized how much I like the people I’m working with. I got caught up (kind of) on reading for classes. I got hooked on McAlister’s chicken dumpling soup.

It was a big weekend.

But let’s break down the lessons day-by-day, shall we?

Friday

Friday morning was the usual rush to get all of the stories for Vox’s 9/27 issue up on the server so the art directors could design the pages over the weekend (woo). Add to it the panic of getting all of our portfolios burned to CDs* and you’ve got one lively mag office at 8:30 a.m.

*CDs? What are CDs? Is this 1998 or something?

Then Berkley Hudson came in. Now, to explain who Berkley Hudson is would take another blog post in and of itself, but for now I’ll just say that he’s the kind of guy who would wake up in the morning and think to himself, “I want to learn to play the ukulele” and go immediately to the music store to buy one. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not; he actually did that one day. Oh, and he’s also our voice of sanity, our stress-reliever and our mastheaded Writing Coach.

Like every Friday at 11 a.m., he called us to the middle table of the office to slow us down for 50 minutes. What proceeded after this call to sanity was a “mind dump.” He had us write down everything we had crammed in our heads under the heading “To Do,” prompting us with things like, “Do you have a pet? Do you need to buy it food? What about your eyesight? Are you in need of new glasses? Does your car need to get tuned?” For about eight minutes we just unloaded everything crammed in our heads so that our papers were so full that we almost had to start writing up our arms to fit it all.

And you know what? It felt…good.

That was the lesson of Friday. Sometimes, slowing down and unloading the head is the best way to get rid of the stress. You might think looking at a sheet of loose leaf now mostly black with “To Do”s would be more stressful than not, but really; we all left class with some of the weight taken off our shoulders. Thanks, Berkley.

Saturday

Apart from Roots ‘N’ Blues ‘N’ BBQ giving me a whole new type of festival to cover for a blog (I’ve done film fest coverage with True/False since 2011), I learned something far more dynamic on Saturday. Or, rather, Saturday night.

As a department editing staff, the seven of us (Chantel couldn’t make it) met up at On the Rocks, a bar in the heart of downtown. After toasting to making it five weeks as editors (and to Laura’s 22nd birthday), someone made the astute observation that it was a “damn good thing we all like each other.” We laughed at it, but really, it’s true.

It’s a shame we don’t like each other.

Last spring there were around 20 people editing departments for Vox. That’s 5 people per department, roughly. I work with two other people on a three-department merge. We have our difficulties, but we also have a phenomenal amount of control and creativity. And a phenomenal amount of fun.

Yes. Yes, we have Fun. But we also have fun. Feel free to sing “Some Nights,” if you wish.

Twenty people can’t be as tight as the eight of us have become in just five weeks. Just looking at the relationships we’ve developed, I’ve learned that pressure cookers of stress and productivity, i.e. editing Vox every week, can create the most intense relationships of hate or love. Luckily, it’s all love for us. Saturday night showed just how in-the-office teamwork in the best of circumstances can translate into out-of-office friendships.

It’s going to be tough saying goodbye to these wonderful people in 10 weeks…10 weeks? Holy fast-moving semester, Batman!

“They may be drinking magazine editors, Robin, but they’re still human beings.”

Sunday

Sometimes the best thing you can do is say, “Screw it!” and go to McAlister’s for lunch with your two best roomies. Because a lot of times, all you need is three giant refills on iced tea and fast WiFi to make it a productive afternoon.

The source of all energy and bathroom breaks.

So that’s it! I hope you could all live and learn vicariously through this blog post. Be sure to check out all my Roots ‘N’ Blues coverage for VoxTalk and keep your eyes peeled for a ukulele writing coach and his team of stressed-out, laughing-till-it-aches department editors armed with either beer or iced tea and with “To Do”s up their arms.

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