Senior Farewell by John Phillips | How I learned to stop worrying and love the DP




Enjoy it.

That’s what my esteemed colleague Mike Tony would always say whenever anyone asked about how he handled the late nights as one of the hardest working editors in DP history.

But I didn’t get it. I came to Penn with the mentality that I had a job to do. I had to put my future over having fun in the present.

That’s why when I was approached to be an editor on the DP’s 129th board in November of 2012, I laughed at the proposition.

But a funny thing happened on the way to 4015 Walnut.

Invariably, working at the DP and forsaking classes and tests and projects made me feel so much more confident in my future, because the future is not wrought by structure so much as it is molded by the experiences that you have and the people with whom you share them. While in the windowless haven that is 4015, I became the main character in my own life again. Rather than reading and writing about others’ experiences, I was ready to have my own.

I sprinted back from 45th and Baltimore on Homecoming — after covering two games that day — because I had accidentally forgotten to publish my basketball recap. I went on roadtrips with some of the my favorite people to some of my least favorite places (Ithaca though? Really?). I went to Wawa at 3 a.m. every day for a week and threw snowballs that left bruises and had conversations that left marks of their own.

I finally felt a confidence that only comes with feeling like you’re at home. And within DPOSTM, we had our own weird family, one that made inappropriate jokes and would sing songs too loudly and crack jokes while Mike proofed and Carolyn tried to not throw something at us.

My best stories were the ones about people — Greer Cheeseman and the toast toss, Tyler Kinn overcoming immense adversity to help his team to an Ivy championship — and it will be the people that I will remember once I’ve graduated, not Penn basketball’s record in the 2012-13 season (though I’ll probably remember it wasn’t good).

It was the people that I surrounded myself with that helped me to learn to enjoy it, every up and down. But now my watch has ended, and all that’s left to do is thank them for everything:

To the Penn athletes I had the pleasure to cover, no matter what I wrote about your team’s performance on a given day, I respect the hell out of each and every one of you.

To Alexis, for all the stories.

To Jen, for teaching me to take risks.

To Ian, for always being a good sport even when you could have gone full wumbo on me.

To Riley, for stepping in and filling my shoes admirably and for making me feel like I was still part of the DPOSTM family, even as a has-been.

To Steven, for talking to me about television, bad decisions and everything in between. You’re one of the good ones. Always remember that.

To Mike, for making me feel like I had value as a writer, an editor, a person and for helping me find the story in my own life.

To Hailey, for letting me walk you home, for your incredible passion towards the people and things you care about and for taking a leap for me. This has been the most hectic semester imaginable, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. You’re the best.

And to my family, for supporting me through this four-year roller coaster ride, for reading my stories and — no matter what terrible, irritable mood I might have been in on a given day — for always understanding.

I graduate in a week as I write this column. My bound volumes from my time as an editor still sit in the sports office at the DP.

I’m going to wait until the very last moment to take them out.

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