Savor the stupid moments: Parting words from a graduating features editor


Jack Weaver

Emily Girard poses for a portrait on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Emily Girard, Features Editor

I’ve been at the Kernel for four years … sort of.

In the fall of my freshman year, I decided to join after multiple Kernel-related presentations in my JOU 101 class. I officially joined that spring – spring 2020. One week later, I was reporting from home.

Fall 2020, I was back on campus, but now my dad was dead. I did not have the energy to grieve and write at the same time, so I left the paper. I was writing occasional features when I could by the spring, but I was still not officially on the staff.

I joined back in summer 2021, just in time for the Kernel’s six-year lawsuit against UK to end. Welcome back, friend. Read some legal paperwork that you’ve never heard of before.
My first official, in-person semester was in fall 2021, and what happens? Lofton Hazelwood dies under suspicious circumstances, leading to another debacle that lasted over a year. Then Bill Gatton dies. Then Queen Elizabeth dies. Then Anne Gieske dies.

There was just … so much death during my career.

I am very tired now. I now understand why former editors have gone on tirades in their goodbye columns. They’re tired. We’re tired. Everyone is tired. If you went through four years of issue after issue, oftentimes discovering all the ways UK hates you, in an office that is not even wheelchair accessible, you’d be tired too.

Still, there will come a point, after the work stops, the semester ends and I’ve relaxed as much as I need to, where I’ll miss the Kernel. I already kind of do. I just got an awesome features team that I’ve come to know over the past semester, and I’m very sad to leave them behind.

But I can’t focus on the bad things forever. When I think of the Kernel, I think of the individual moments and people that I love.

Courtney Suber, Amber Chaney, Delaney McGuire, Olivia Walton, Lindsey Davis and Jemi Chew, you are the best features team ever. Christening this revived desk has been so much more rewarding when I’ve got a team to back me up.

Ryan, David and Bryce, thanks for giving me an internship at the last possible moment after my previous internship efforts were for naught.

Rayleigh and Jack, thanks for trusting me to head the new features desk, especially with no assistant editor. And Hannah, you’re a much better news editor than I ever was.

Rick Childress, remember when I called you in a panic after covering my first Board of Trustees meeting because I had no idea what to write about? Full disclosure, I was in the bathroom of the law building making that call, so the situation was probably more dire than you realized. Thanks for helping me out.

Natalie Parks, you were my biggest source of support after my dad died. I want to be as good of an editor to my writers as you were to me. I will always have good memories of you.

Jordan Prather, thanks for letting me shadow you to take pictures of that gymnastics meet, back in February 2020. Thanks, also, for lending me your camera when I arrived with my dinky Nikon … and your memory card when I filled mine up within the first half of the meet … and your laptop when I did not own one.

Pro tip: The optimal number of hours of sleep to get before the Kentucky Press Association awards varies from person to person, but the answer should never be two. If that still ends up being the case, an awesome friend like Carter Skaggs that will drive you home before you throw up from fatigue is essential.

Another pro tip: getting stuck in an elevator with someone else is much better than getting stuck in an elevator by yourself. I recommend Brooklyn Walters.

Ryder From, thanks for not having a heart attack or murdering me when I came at you with a 1,900-word story that you then had to design a layout for.

Additional shout out to Muhammed Masadeh for letting me interview you about Taza Grill for my first ever story. Sorry your restaurant got replaced by a Pita Pit.

Thank you also to whoever gave the final approval to the column I wrote while having an anxiety attack in a condo in Florida. Whoever that was, please know that you told me that my often-disjointed ramblings make good columns, providing I clean them up a little. That column is also one of the reasons I’m still here.

My advice to everyone I’m leaving behind? Savor the stupid moments. Don’t let this world break you. It almost broke me, time and time again.

I debated ending my career in that condo, and maybe much more. I was – and still am – geared up to run away. I’ll be slinking around Lexington for seven more months until my lease is up, and then hopefully I’ll be moving up north.

To everyone still here, especially my fellow queer and neurodivergent folks – you’re going to want to run away. You’re going to see all the reasons why some people don’t want you here. You’re going to wonder why your efforts never seem to mean anything. It’s pretty much inevitable.

But you can still have your moments. Savor the stupid little moments and the people that come with them. Every overzealous gymnastics meet has a Jordan Prather. Every questionable pre-KPA decision can have a Carter Skaggs that you can lean on. Sometimes all you have is a Brooklyn Walters to keep you company until the elevator moves again.

But sometimes, you just need proof that you’re happy. That you’re alive. We’re alive.

I hope, even if it’s just for one person, that I can be that proof.