Maddy Fangio / Daily Nexus

I love when life’s biggest developments hinge on the smallest of coincidences. In 2019, somewhere, somehow, I found a sticker with an alien skateboarding over the word “Nexustentialism.” It was the spring quarter of my freshman year and one of my darker times at UCSB; I was wandering listlessly around questions of the future, I was unpassionate, uninspired and unwell, self-medicating my then undiagnosed depression by steeping my brain in ungodly amounts of Phoebe Bridgers. I picked up the sticker simply because it made me laugh. I brought it back to my dorm and googled “Nexustentialism UCSB.” 

Thus began my first Nexus experience, as a writer with Nexustentialism (now The Daily Stench). It was terrifying. I was in awe of (and a little bit in love with) Emma and Max, the editors at the time. They’re some of the kindest, funniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. There is nothing like telling a joke in a room full of funny people, some of whom you admire, and having it HIT. An incomparable high! There’s also nothing like telling a joke in a room full of people you want desperately to impress and having it flop. Mortifying! Both incredibly important though. Nexustentialism helped me grow a lot as a person and as a writer. It made me bolder and funnier and most importantly, it gave me direction! I felt a strong sense of community with the other Stench writers, something I’d been missing at UCSB. I loved to write, I loved these people and I loved the newspaper; it felt like home. 

A few months later, I moved into an apartment of my own, which meant a kitchen of my own, and started to explore my passion for food. Food, the ritual of mealtime, and the absolute pleasure in eating something delicious are constant and important over the entirety of my life. Get a glass of wine and a good meal in me and I’ll start waxing poetic about how this! right! here! is the meaning of life. Food and community! Two inseparable threads throughout my 23 years. My mom cooked nearly every night, and “family dinner” was tradition. In high school, my friends and I cooked together all the time (we referred to ourselves as the “chef boiz”), emulating our favorite chefs (mainly just Roy Choi) and putting on massive feasts for each other. Food has always meant love, laughter, pleasure and absolute joy to me. 

So, when I discovered On The Menu, I jumped at the chance to combine my passions for writing and food. Shortly after publishing my first couple articles, I applied and (miraculously) was hired as assistant editor! Joining the Daily Nexus Editorial Staff was a dream of mine (mainly because I wanted to be like Emma and Max), and it felt right to do so as the food section editor.

The rest, I suppose, is history? Something like that. The past three years I’ve spent on Editorial Staff have been truly wonderful; some of my favorite moments at UCSB happened in our musty, crusty, dusty office. Walking into that room always felt like coming home, in a way; to spend hours surrounded by people I love, joking around, laughing, and creating something beautiful is a blessing I do not take for granted! The Nexus is such a special environment, and I thank freshman Chace for stealing that Stench sticker way back in 2019. 

It’s getting misty in here! I want to say thank you to Emma Demorest, Max Myszkowski, Winnie Lam, Michelle Lee, Stephanie Gerson, Atmika Iyer, Sierra Vakili and all of my wonderful writers for making my time at the Nexus so fulfilling. It wouldn’t have been the same without y’all <3. 

A version of this article appeared on p. 10 of the June 1, 2023 version of the Daily Nexus.