‘So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish’

“Long Live the New Flesh.”

“T-t-that’s all, folks.”

“Away from the things of man, my love. Away from the things of man.”

“Well then, kiss me quick before you wake up!”

“Do I still have to sleep in the cupboard?”

“Always.”

Alright, enough nonsense.

I’ve been putting off writing this. For a lot of reasons. Some of it has to do with how busy the closing of the semester always is. A lot of it has to do with saying goodbye. Goodbyes suck. I figured that I could turn to the Internet for some kind of help — find that stellar one liner at the end of a film that would sum up how I feel. But none of them were just right. So I guess I got to do this myself.

Heading SLAA and the Jenny has been an amazing experience. I’ve made a lot of good friends and had a lot of good times with this club. Maybe sometimes things were bumpy — it isn’t always easy getting folk to show up to a lit reading — but things were always fun. Honestly, some of my favorite moments were those bumping times. Every now and then I catch myself thinking about our costume contest this fall. Attendance was minimal, but man, it was fun. I think it was one of the most fun events we’ve had.

And everyone who was with us during those times was so passionate. When I first heard of SLAA and started getting involved, it was obvious that they were the smartest, cleverest, funniest, and wildest kids on campus, and even though the faces have changed, those facts have remained the same.

YSU has basically been my home for the past 8 years. My Hogwarts, as I’ve called it on several occasions (basically any chance I got). Graduating and heading off into the big, bad, real world isn’t easy. It’s exciting. But it isn’t easy. Without YSU, the English Department and its wonderful faculty, and my peers, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I can honestly say that. As a writer I’ve grown immensely. I discovered a love of academics that was earnestly surprising, even to myself. I learned to think in new ways. I made friends, so many friends. And I watched some of them leave. And now it’s my turn.

There’s a lot coming up on my own personal horizons. The possibility of a few years teaching English in Japan. Hopefully, one day, a Ph.D in Creative Writing. Maybe, if I’m lucky, publication. None of that would have been a possibility without YSU. But my time here has given me even more than that. It’s given me a sense of connection. With my community, with others as individuals, and with myself. And for that, I owe everyone involved a deep and heartfelt thanks.

As for Jenny, I know great things are going to keep coming from it. I’m leaving it in the very capable, very creative, and very clever hands of Jordan McNeil, our next president and editor, and a dedicated team. I know Jordan will keep everyone on track, and I know she’ll come up with some amazing plans. And I also know her, Amber, and Dom will keep having fun with it. Hopefully I’ll be around to see Jordan up behind a podium doing the public speaking thing for at least one premiere. No matter where I am, I look forward to seeing what they do. I’m grateful to have worked with them.

I’m also grateful to have worked alongside those who came before, and who have stuck around. Chris Lettera, the founder of Jenny, was a really inspiring leader and a big pair of shoes to fill. His passion for Youngstown and his vision for Jenny made all our work here possible. His work just goes to show how much of a difference a person can make when they set their mind to it. David Drogowski, of course, has stayed super loyal to the magazine and continued his work with us as our Web Editor long after his tenure at YSU came to an end, and without him I’m not sure what we would have done. He’s kind, and passionate, and just all around awesome. I’m really glad to have worked beside him. The night we spent putting the final touches on the Eddie Loves Debbie print edition is one of my fondest memories, as a president. He’s the kind of guy who makes what would otherwise be tedious loads of fun.

Mr. Barzak is a wonderful advisor, a fantastic mentor, and one of the best teachers I’ve had in my long and spotted academic career. No goodbye to YSU would be complete without a nod in his direction. I know alongside Jordan, who has promised to keep bugging him, he’ll keep this magazine up and running and producing wonderful literature. I’m almost jealous, thinking of the years ahead they have to work together. They’re both really lucky! Throughout my time at YSU, he has been a great supporter. Of the arts in general, and of his students’ work. That moment, when you realize you’re being taken seriously as an author, is a really affirming and formative moment in a young author’s life. I have Mr. B. to thank for that moment, and I know I’m not the only one.

I’ll miss my time at YSU dearly. And, if everything pans out right, I’ll soon have the chance to miss Youngstown dearly, too. This is my home. It’s always going to be my home, no matter where I go and for how long I’m gone. There’s been a lot of loss in this area, but there’s also so much potential. I look forward to seeing what comes out of it.

Thanks, everyone. All of our contributors. Everyone who has ever sent work in. Everyone who reads the magazine. Everyone who has come to our events. Everyone who has worked on the magazine. You keep the engines burning. It’s been a really wonderful ride. And, gosh, I’m going to miss it. No matter what happens after this, I know I’ll look back at my time with SLAA and feel proud. I’ll know that this is where it all started.

So now is my time to bow out and say goodbye. So that I can start missing it. So that it can start starting. I’ll see you all around, I’m sure.

Signing off,

Couri Johnson

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