Just a guy
In which the commencement column commences, five months late
My shower wasn’t working one morning, so I hauled my sweaty self out to North Campus before work to shower in Alumni. I sent a Snap to one of my fellow editors that said, “Just a guy, showering with some college kids.”
That’s been the joke all semester: David’s just a guy.
I graduated from UB in December with a degree in media study and a journalism certificate, because I don't want to make any money, I guess. I’m still here because our editor-in-chief asked me to finish out the year as managing editor. I was hesitant, mostly because I was afraid of being just a guy. Of being Matthew McConaughey in “Dazed and Confused,” graduated and still hanging out with the high schoolers. Alright, alright, alright…
I ended up staying, obviously. I’m glad I did, and I’ll always be thankful Hannah gave me the opportunity.
Of course the “just a guy” jokes started, half of them probably made by me: “Where am I going to park now that I’m just a guy?” “Don’t ask me, I’m just a guy.” “Nobody tell John Della Contrada that I’m just a guy.”
All good stuff, I know. But the real joke, for me, has gone unspoken until now. And it’s that I have never felt less like just a guy than I have this last year as managing editor.
I came to The Spectrum as a contributing writer my first semester at UB after transferring from ECC and taking some time off to almost become a sheriff. I moved up a rung on arts desk each semester after that: staff writer, assistant editor, desk editor, senior editor. People I shared the newsroom with those two years will say they didn’t really know who I was. I don't blame them. I came into the office with my articles done, finished up my editing for the day and left as soon as I could. I was just a guy.
Hannah asked me to come on as co-managing editor last semester after one of the people in the role stepped down — still the second-best gift Grace has given me.
I don’t know if I was the best person for the job, but the job was the best for me.
Staying all production, every production. Reading every article. Getting it to a place where it could run in the paper. Making that decision at 3 a.m. I felt vital, never more at home in a role and never more myself, for better or worse.
I got to write obnoxiously about movies every month for the movie guide. I hope at least one person enjoyed those half as much as I did.
I got to tell the wrestling story I had been wanting to tell since my first journalism class with Keith McShea, in exactly the way I wanted to tell it. I know I’ll never have that sort of creative control again on any project.
I managed The Spectrum while it was — what I can honestly say — the strongest I have ever seen it. Critics agree. I’m sure that’s not because of me, but being a part of that is the most rewarding experience of my life so far.
I hope they continue that momentum after this year. I’m sure they will. I’ll miss being a part of it, though. I’ll miss all of the people in that office who have become some of my closest friends. I’ll miss the late-night riffs on Brad Pitt’s one-man “Wicked” production, esoteric Guy Fieri game show ideas and something about sloppy ice cream. Band name?
Once this column is done, I’ll no longer be a writer for The Spectrum. Once I put my red tag on the last article, I’m not managing editor anymore. Unless we all keep up correspondence, we may not be that close of friends for very long after the semester ends. The group chats have already started to die down.
I’ll go back to being just a guy. And that’s cool.
I still have my job at the library. I’ll probably go back to Target and hopefully get off my butt and start writing and producing my own projects like I’ve been saying I will. Maybe I’ll get into CrossFit.
It’ll be nice to breathe. Since I started managing, life has been non-stop. I broke up with my girlfriend of nearly two years not long after starting, partly because the responsibility of both got to be too much. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve hung out with my non-newspaper friends since November. I miss my bed.
I’ve only been at this for something like six months, but it feels like I’ve never not been doing it, in the best way. I’m curious to see what life looks like from here, when I’m back to being just a guy. It was nice being more than that for a while though. Maybe I’ll do it again sometime.