As a graduating senior and Daily Texan associate editor, I’m given the unenviable task of composing a farewell column in which I’m expected to simultaneously reflect on my time at UT — a wholly uninteresting topic to people who aren’t me — and engage the vast plurality of Texan readers who have undoubtedly come to expect thoughtful and stimulating insights from work penned in my name.
Faced with such a daunting balancing act, I went to the only natural source for help on how to make a goodbye column light-hearted — yet thought provoking — and entertaining, but something that still leaves the audience with a little glisten in their eyes. For help on my final column, I looked to the series finales of television’s finest shows. After meticulous and pain staking research, I identified some traits prevalent in nearly all great finales: characters say goodbye, tell each other how much they care and finally exit with a subtle poignancy. Hopefully this formula translates to print and makes my goodbye slightly more bearable and interesting.
Much like Michael Scott or B.J. Hunnicutt of M*A*S*H, who had to spell out “goodbye” with stones because he couldn’t bring himself to say it, I’m not very good at goodbyes. Perhaps its because I’ve never felt the need to say a real, finite goodbye. Sure, I had to say farewell to friends in Carrollton when I moved to Austin for school, but it’s hard to really feel like you’re leaving home when 40 people from your high school class come to the same university.
This, on the other hand, is a legit, big boy goodbye. Goodbye, UT community. Being paid to pontificate my generally arbitrary and ill-conceived opinions has been the best job in the world, and I’ve learned a lot. From my first column, published in the summer of 2009, about Gov. Rick Perry’s stupid and fat-headed politics, to my last column, published Thursday, on the topic of Perry’s ignorant and stubborn approach to governance, I can honestly say my vocabulary grew tremendously in my time here.
After a thematic goodbye, finales always allow characters to tell each other how important they are to one another. If you don’t want to read my shout-outs, proceed to the final paragraph.
To my readers: Thank you. Both of you inspired me to produce quality content throughout my time here.
My parents: I guess you’ll need to find something new to email Grandma on Thursday mornings. Thanks for always supporting me in every meaning of the word. If I’m half as good as the parents I have, I’ll consider my life a success.
Ross: Thanks for introducing me to TSM and most other things on this planet. Congratulations on your new job. While I think we’d all prefer you to live in the same time zone, we’re all proud of you nonetheless.
Kelsey: You’re the best buddy I could ever have hoped for.
Finally, summer, fall and spring editorial boards: This time last year I didn’t know any of you, and now I consider each of you among my closest and dearest friends. We’ve been through a lot together, probably too much, and although we’re going our separate ways, I honestly think this is merely the end of the beginning of friendships that will last a very long time. As Mary Tyler Moore told her own motley crew of journalists as they parted ways, thank you for being my family.
After characters say their goodbyes and tell each other how much they care, it is time for the subtle and poignant exit. Many finales could serve as a model for my departure. Seeing as how I’m in a comfortable place, surrounded by people I love and am absolutely terrified about the future, I will take my exit cues from Tony Soprano.