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A copy editor's field journal

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NOVEMBER 13, 2016

“Wow, I know nobody here,” I think to myself.

“Except my boy Hooman.” I give an abrupt, vertical jerk of the chin to Hooman as he waves to me. “He’s my boy.”

I’m very conscious of my sore arms. I haven’t played flag football in years, and although skipping arm day at the Recreational Sports Facility might be a good punchline in a group of runners, it doesn’t really translate well to anything else.

My eyes flit about the field, searching for someone to distract me from my ineptitude.

There’s a guy tossing a football up in the air and catching it, repeating the action with ease. Enviable ease, in fact. I walk over, hoping that some of his ease will osmose over to me through conversation.

“Hey,” I say. Good start.

“Hey,” he replies. Great start.

“What mumblemumbledepartment are you in?” Nice.

He tells me what department he is in.

“What about you?”

“Oh, I’m in Night.” I give a little smile, to show just how at ease I am with myself and my life and all of the cumulative decisions that I’ve made in the past 18 years.

“Really? Why’d you choose it? I always ask people in Night why they chose Night.”

“Well, I like it.”

He looks at me.

“Uhm, I really like it.”

He looks at me.

“I like checking for grammar and things, and when I did it before joining Night, like, I’d feel like kind of an ass, because, well, yeah. But I always notice things when people text me, for example, and I don’t want to say anything about it, because then I’d be an ass.”

Of course, I don’t tell him that copy editing just feels intrinsically satisfying. I don’t tell him that it allows me some miniscule amount of order and linear progression as I come to terms with the notion that I, as a freshman, can only pretend to have plans for my own future. Wait, so I’m intentionally playing myself? If that’s the case, can I actually say that I genuinely enjoy copy editing?

As my circumlocutions circle around me, I peripherally notice that this conversation isn’t quite developing in the way I had hoped. His body shifts a bit, one shoulder dipping a few inches below the other; his eyes widen slightly, then narrow slightly more than slightly and his lips part, forming a small “o.”

“Oh,” he says. “You’re one of those people. You use perfect punctuation when you text, because it gets to you, right?”

Crap. I try to walk it back. “Oh, no, no no, I try to separate my grammar life from my real life.” Forced chuckle. “I just mean that, I don’t know, it’s fulfilling?”

No, I’m not one of those people. My writing isn’t stiff, right? I seem like a cool guy when I text. I never spell out “true” in its entirety, instead opting for the truncated “tru.” Very colloquial. Very edgy.

He looks at me.

I realize that all of these emotions had been playing across my face, probably over the span of a solid 30 seconds. Nice.

Hooman motions for us to get back in. I remember that I am bad at flag football. I nod to the guy and jog on over.

Contact Arjun Savel at [email protected].

NOVEMBER 13, 2016

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