“PDF to check!”: My last day at Vox Magazine

I never thought I’d be so glad and yet so disappointed to hear the last call of “PDF to check!” notifying us that our last issue of Vox Magazine was just about to go off to the printer.

On my last day at the Missourian, I wrote a post encapsulating the scene taking place in the newsroom. I mentioned what people were talking about, the stories in process, the sparsely ringing phones.

I couldn’t do that today in the Vox office, even though I wanted to capture every moment of our final production day. I took some notes on Tuesday night with the intention of typing something short and sweet up when we had a moment of downtime.

Each one of those long white paper sheets is a story that has to be put through production. Down time. Right. (Photo by Matt Veto, deputy editor extraordinaire)
Each one of those long white paper sheets is a story that has to be put through production. Downtime. Right. (Photo by Matt Veto, deputy editor extraordinaire.)

The truth is, there’s really no such thing as downtime when you’re putting almost 60 stories through production. But there’s still time to build friendships and gain professional respect for those you work with.

I’m not sad to leave the volume of work behind. It’s totally fine by me to get rid of the stress stomachaches I’ve been having all semester, to finally be able to go to a yoga class without wondering what I could be doing instead to get ahead for the next issue and to have a life outside of 320 Lee Hills Hall.

That last one’s a lie, actually. I had a spectacular life inside 320 Lee Hills because of the people who were in there with me. I’d go into how each person influenced me specifically, but that would take an entire 24-page issue, and I’ve already put together more than my fair share of those.

Call it a business-to-friendship relationship, call it Stockholm Syndrome, but I grew tight with the teaching assistants who guided us through production weeks. For once, TAs weren’t the mightier-than-thou third arm of professors. They were the ones who got us singing along to “Space Jam” when things got stressful or mused for half an hour over whether “the undead” is singular or plural. They broke the tension of the last three production weeks by sharing a quote page they’ve kept all semester long so we could see just how many stupidly funny things we had said — and more importantly, learn that they’ve listened all along to both your glee and gripes.

But no matter how close I seemed to get with my superiors, the relationship was always trumped by the way I felt about those on the same rung of the ladder as me. We had very tough times — issues that barely got out the door on time, sources who backed out at the last minute, stories that had to get postponed. But what’s important to notice is that the conflict never came from within our ranks. We stood together against all sorts of challenges and came out on top in the end because of our devotion to each other and to the magazine. We conquered a grueling dragon of a capstone.

As I looked around the office this afternoon before people started leaving, I saw more than a staff sitting at the computers or conversing over the potluck of cleaning-out-my-fridge snacks. I saw a group of people who had weathered both the worst and best moments of their academic careers together. Together.

And as I walk out of the office tomorrow afternoon, when all memos are turned in and PDFs are safely downloaded to my portfolio, I know I’ll feel a mixture of relief at finishing the toughest thing I’ve ever done as well as the sadness of leaving a family I grew accustomed to laughing with over the most mundane things.

Like rainbow sock monkeys.
Like rainbow sock monkeys…
...and mussels...
…and mussels…
...and Rachel's need to know "What's the art for that?"
…and art director Rachel Krause’s need to know “What’s the art with that?”

And I would add a lot more, but that would take up a whole coffee table book, similar to the one on Tarzan I just brought home after Chantel fact-checked our review of it (that should explain a little bit about my work at Vox).

Vox was one of the first magazine issues of my career, and tonight I’m turning the last page over to see an ad for the rest of my life. It’s on to another edition, another set of articles and art. It’s time to start pitching a new batch of stories.

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