Something rather miraculous happened the week before last. Waiting to tell you about it was torture. But what happened was so delicious, so extraordinary, so wait-till-I-tell-you-what-happened-today, I had to do it just right. And because it had everything to do with a quilt, I felt the most appropriate place to share the story was over at the Quilt Scout.
I’m going to email Barbara Brackman about this one. She is, by the way, my No. 1 Sewlebrity Obsession. I’ve talked to the famous quilt historian on the phone but have not yet had the pleasure of meeting her in public, but I will not rest until I do. I’ve got you in my sights, Bracks. In my sights!
This weekend was press weekend for F Newsmagazine (also referred to as “F News” or just “F”), the student-run paper at the School of the Art Institute (SAIC) where I am fortunate to serve as associate editor.
By the way, “associate editor” really just means I edit the F+ section (culture, first-person stuff, listicles, etc.) and do a few items of business that other editors don’t have to worry about. My title sounds fancier than it actually is; I don’t have seniority over anyone, for example. But a) I don’t particularly want seniority over anyone and b) I like sounding fancy, even if I’m not. So I’m keepin’ it!
Press weekend means that it’s it’s time to produce the latest print edition of F News, so the editorial staff — there are five of us — along with the designers and the two faculty advisors sit in the newspaper office at 116 S. Michigan Avenue all day Saturday and Sunday and copy edit and do layouts and spend our only free moments in the whole entire week working on the paper.
Yes, we get paid. We do not get paid much, though. The hourly pay is not commensurate to the talent and love (and hours) that everyone brings to the project so there has to be another reason why we work at the newspaper.
I remember the moment I learned that SAIC had a student magazine. I was in Arizona, in a hotel room near the airport. It was late. I had just finished the gig where my quilts had been misplaced by UPS, a gig that must have been not long after the gig in Buffalo where I discovered sponge candy because I remember that I was eating sponge candy in bed and I was really tired. I was so tired but I was staying up to read the SAIC student paper because by then I knew I had been accepted to grad school at the college/museum and I had been on campus earlier that week to do some paperwork. That day, I picked up a copy of F News while I was in a waiting room. When I understood what it was, I thought, “Well, Mary Fons. I think someone needs to send an email.”
I missed making Quilty. I missed deadlines and sign-offs and editorial meetings. I emailed the paper and asked them if they were hiring. It was summer; they were. I met Paul, the faculty advisor, and Sophie, the managing editor, and I interviewed with them and before too long they said I could have a job on staff, even though I was to learn that the skills I developed as the editor of a hobby magazine were not totally transferrable to a college newspaper. Let me tell you, in case you’ve forgotten: You’re never done learning and you are never done feeling really dumb.
But I’ve learned. My writing has gotten better. My copy editing skills are way, way better. I feel like F News is this other school I get to go to.* It feels like this other class I get paid to attend.
Boy, it’s a lot of work. We all have office hours, a two-hour editorial meeting every week, press weekends like this one, and other activities, which is to say nothing about the job itself, which requires much thought and action. There are times I get frustrated because I’m working on F News stuff instead of doing my schoolwork or working on my book, but then I think to myself, “You can only work at this place while you’re in school. Don’t miss this.”
And I also think about the people. It’s the people at F News who make it worth the time and the not-money. Where to begin?
There’s arts editor Irena, the beautiful art history graduate student whose goofball tendencies are perfectly in balance with her naturally brooding temperament (a fabulous, fascinating mix!); there’s the recently-turned-21-year-old undergrad entertainment editor, Rosie, whose love for her fellow man, woman, and punk rock kid would melt the crustiest, grumpiest of hearts; there’s news editor Justin, my colleague in the Writing department, who has read All The Most Interesting Books and Articles That Have Ever Been Written and whose sartorial choices put mine to shame. And then there’s Sophie.
There are others. I could go on. I should go on. I need to. But I also need to do homework because I was at press weekend all weekend and I’m also still sick.
Thank you, F News, for teaching me better copy editing skills. Thank you for having a great color printer that we are not supposed to use for personal things but that everyone totally uses for personal things. (Thank you for being so great that everyone cares about you and therefore doesn’t abuse their printer privileges often.) Thank you for the staff of people who make you.
Thank you for doing my homework.
*Yes, that’s a dangling participle and if you wrote it, I’d make you change it.