PARTING SHOT: Hakuna matata, or something

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I have always had a great respect for writers, as they can pull to the surface that which is anchored in only the depths of our minds. As someone who spends the majority of her free time writing and performing for the University’s comedy organizations, most of the “depth” I seek is usually cast onto folly and absurdity for the purpose of getting a laugh. Yet The Cavalier Daily was the one organization in which I could write what I wanted to without such an obligation. What’s more, it was a place where I was surrounded by a group of people who shared a passion for writing that paralleled my own.

But that was only part of what kept me on staff. I became an Opinion columnist for The Cavalier Daily in the second semester of my first-year and started working as an Opinion Editor exactly a year after that. In addition to two talented staffs, my tenure coincided with the big redesign, Honor reforms and the Sullivan debacle. As I’ll tell my grandchildren one day, “it was an excitin’ time to be on the paper ‘cause new things were happenin’ and we were a swell bunch o’ kids.”

It was an especially exciting time to be an Opinion Editor, as I got the chance to read and format the columns of prominent students, alumni and faculty. Aside from an occasional appearance in the Jefferson Society, The Cavalier Daily was my only lifeline to the University’s traditions and formalities, which in the case of the press, were the difference between an en-dash and an em-dash, the correct way to punctuate “U.Va.” and the omission of an Oxford comma.

But The Cavalier Daily also opened my eyes to several informal formalities. It’s customary for Parting Shots, for instance, to have headlines that sound like lead numbers in a Disney musical. In fact, a lot of people don’t know that “Circle of Life,” “You’ll be in my Heart” and “A Whole New World” were all parting shot headlines before Disney bought the rights to put them to music in the late 80s. “Cutting Through the Fog,” a more recent example, is featured as a song in the up-and-coming “Fog Princess,” which is set to release in 2018.

I’m graduating after only three years, so it’s possible that I haven’t had as much time to develop what some might call “maturity” — at least not enough to just write a damn parting shot without any jokes and without referencing those jokes later in the sentence to take up space like I’m doing right here, right now, at this time.

All jokes aside, however, I was able to contribute to The Cavalier Daily a coy little corner of the paper to publish the writings of those who just wanted to make people laugh. As one of the Opinion Editors after the redesign period, I championed the creation of a bi-weekly Humor Section, which — thanks to the wonderful staff and production team — became a reality within a matter of weeks. With that, I feel as though some part of me has fossilized in a broader tradition, however tiny it may be.

I realize this parting shot has no broader theme, which will probably make it harder for the editor to write a header for it. I’m sure whatever’s up there underneath the Disney lyric captures the sentiment perfectly, though, because I am a witness to how effortlessly the writers and editors on this staff can arrange thought into written word. Just as I’m eager to graduate myself, I am eager to see how they, too, will carry their love for writing into the real world. And that, of course, is no joke.


Published April 14, 2014 in Opinion





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