Last Words

Like most of my predecessors, I still don’t really know why I get such a thrill out of arguing at full volume in public meetings or browbeating police officers and administrators into giving me financial documents and court dates. I don’t know what fuels our love of the printed word despite the increasing volume of what some have deemed its death knell. At first I thought we were cynics, bent on uncovering the inherent damage in everyone. I haven’t yet ruled that out, but I’m also beginning to think maybe it’s because we’re incurable ideologues, lured by the idea of objective truth and desperate to spread it around.

Either way, it makes little difference because, despite the incredibly self-referential nature of this piece, little of all of this has anything to do with me. And so I will, as many before me have, begin my last contribution to this newspaper by expressing my undying love for the people who kept me coming back.

Gabe, you have kept me in line for the last three years and helped me grow into the state of semi-adulthood I now occupy. I will love you forever and always. Please hug Glen for me every once in awhile.

MT and BK, you gave me the foundation upon which I’m still standing. You can squirm about it all you like, but your high fives and heart-to-hearts picked me up off the floor and sustained me through comma catastrophes and academic uncertainty.

Katherine and Katrina, you might have the fewest words here but know that I’ve scoured my vocabulary for ones worthy of this task. I don’t have any. And that, ladies (at the risk of great hubris), is saying something.

Hey Angela, remember that night at players? That was, like, a week ago right? You dealt with the worst in me and still had my back when no other sane person would have come near me. Because of you, I was never alone in this. I can’t tell you how much I’ll miss you but I know I’ll see you soon.

To the ones who endured six-minute bouts of marginally coherent rage left without warning on answering machines, the ones who were never too tired to meet me for a drink when I just needed some quiet and to the ones who always found a way to hold me together when I began to come undone, I wouldn’t have made it through without you.

To my illustrious colleagues: I could have no worthier cause than you. You are the reason I have spent the last 12 months bombarded by people who cared enough about what you do to be angry. I couldn’t be more grateful.

To all those who made news, who came to me to yell or cry or condemn or demand an answer, who gave me a reason to raise my voice and show my face, to those who forced me from my office to defend my honour and that of my staff, you validated my faith in newspapers and reminded me every day that all the sacrifices we make (hello victory lap) are worth it for the shit we stir up and the changes we can and must make.

And to you, dear reader, in particular the 400 or so of you who marked on your reader surveys that you preferred to read the paper in print rather than online, you proved us right.

A cocky kid when I first wrote down my name and residence telephone number and pocketed the blue and white pen, I quickly learned I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I now appreciate that no one ever does. I still have no great missives about the state of journalism. All I can tell you is that we did what we could to make some sense and meaning of the things around us, to make a connection with the people and to find answers to our questions and theirs. My greatest hope in leaving is that, in a small way, we helped point at least a few of you in the right direction.

Erin Flegg maintains that figure skating is a sport.

Lately, I have been having a lot of conversations about the demise of the newspaper. For some reason, everyone seems to have an opinion about this and although people approach the issue from a lot of different ways, they all finally pronounce that I shouldn’t worry, the newspaper can’t really die.

After a year at this newspaper, they needn’t have worried about reassuring me. Is the newspaper industry in trouble? Perhaps. But newspapers as an entity are too important to disappear. Newspapers, in their tangible form, offer a record of what happened and what people thought in a way other media can’t.

Working at the Journal, the reality of what a newspaper is weighs pretty heavy. When big things happen at Queen’s, like it or not, people turn to us for the facts and an explanation. After reading the story, people may disagree, they may get angry or they might be uncomfortable, but it’s our job to push the issues and get people talking.

This year, I think we did that pretty well. The staff of Volume 136—all those beautiful, sunny faces you see below—put their lives on hold to let you know what was going on this year. Without them I wouldn’t have had a job and Queen’s wouldn’t have had the Journal. If you don’t know them yet, you’re missing out. For making my job not only enjoyable and enviable, but also often easy, I want to say thank you. Your sass kept me going all year.

Anna and Katherine: I don’t know why you hired me after I didn’t show up for my first interview, but I’m sure glad you did. Thanks for seeing more in me than a girl who has trouble telling time.

Yoon: You are the Journal Brownie and I don’t know what I would have done without your smile this year. You made the business office both productive and cheerful and I hope you realize how very much you mean to me.

Gabe: You never let me get away with anything and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. You assuaged my fears and made me laugh and I will miss you very much.

Erin: I wouldn’t have done this job with anyone else. Whether it was 7 a.m. deliveries in the rain or late-night election coverage, we managed to laugh through it all. I will miss our office-to-office chats and the general banter that comes with being such good friends with the person you work with. I may be leaving the Journal, but don’t think for a second that I’m leaving you.

You, the reader: Please don’t stop reading, talking and commenting. You kept us on our toes this year and I hope we returned the favour.

The first time I walked into the Journal house I was a scared little first-year. Next month I’ll be leaving it as a slightly harder fifth-year. The Journal has been totally integral to my Queen’s experience. It has affected the way I see this university and the students, professors and staff who give it life.

So it’s fitting that I leave the Journal just a month before I graduate. It’s also fitting, then, that these Last Words be a kind of break-up letter. I could go with the “It’s not you, it’s me” refrain or the “I just really need some time to myself right now” line (both of which, incidentally, would be correct), but I think in this case the hard truth needs to come out: Dear Journal, it’s been fun and I’ve learned a lot from you, but I think it’s time we started seeing other people. It’ll be tough for the first few months, I know, but we’ll get over it and move on. I know you’ll be great with Mike and Jane. Don’t you worry about me, when I’m ready, I’ll call. I’m sorry, and thank you­—it’s been fun.

Love always, Angela.

Angela Hickman is heading down the lake, wind in her sails.

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