Whenever I make small talk about my college career with relatives or strangers, I like to say that – as a journalism major – I have a lot to show for my degree. This sentiment is nothing more than a convenient lie perpetrated for brevity’s sake. The truth is, I attribute only maybe 15 percent of my growth, education and ability to academics. I can count on one hand the professors and their associated classes which have actually meant something to me during my four years here. The remaining 85 percent of my development into the person and journalist I consider myself to be today is owed entirely to a hideously orange office and the lunatics who have over the years chosen to inhabit it. Yes, my time at The New Paltz Oracle has meant a great deal more to me than I’ll ever be able to put into words. That said, here’s my attempt to do so anyway.
Working at the newspaper has given me an insight and understanding of college and the outside world that I wouldn’t have received, had I keep my head down and drifted through the monotony of academic existence. Thankfully I’ve never been that kind of person. Before I joined staff at the beginning of my junior year at New Paltz, I held with me a sense of disappointment over the slow realization that college, as it was marketed throughout my life, was not nearly the idealistic haven of free expression and thoughtful discussion I had believed it would be. I don’t know exactly what I had pictured, but it was promised to me that a college education was free of the restrictions and limitations that made public education cookie-cutter in nature. College, I was told, cared only for an individual’s enlightenment, attuned and achieved in whatever manner said student thought best for themselves. Maybe I was naïve. Maybe I missed the memo. Maybe my belief in ideals clouded my rational thought. Whatever the reason, I felt lied to and cheated, unable to properly verbalize what I saw as flaws in the system. However, after two years writing, interviewing, discussing and learning all there is that makes this little ecosystem of ours tick, that’s now changed.
It’s sad to say that my final takeaway of college is that, to put it blunt, all of it is bullshit; a systematic bureaucracy hiding beneath the virtue of guiding ideals and goals of which the focus has long since been shifted from. In my time at the newspaper, having been in direct contact with the inner workings of the system, I’ve finally been able to comprehend and legitimize the feelings of disillusionment that I’ve been stuck with since coming to college. However, a friend of my recently said to me that maybe the realization that such a large entity like higher education is in fact, bullshit, is a lesson in and of itself – perhaps even the most valuable lesson one can gain. Seeing past the lie, recognizing the falsities; if you’re able to do that maybe you have been educated as the college wants you to be. Personally, I like this sentiment. If anything I’ve certainly learned to trust nothing and seek the truth on my own, and really I’m thankful to have that instilled in me. But as some old guy once said, it’s less about the conclusion and more about the journey, and while I’ve spend 500 words speaking abstractly about what The Oracle has given me philosophically, I’ve yet to talk about my journey’s companions and what they have given me emotionally. So, once again, I’ll try my best in words to credit those whose presence has made my life exponentially more enjoyable, without whom I would be a lesser person for. Those familiar with my personality know I have extreme difficulty expressing feelings of sincerity, so hopefully everyone who is mentioned below is able to read between the shenanigans and recognize that I how much each of you mean to me.
Cat, you are the Mother of Dragons, making everyone who has ever been on staff with you one of your dragon-pups. Hopefully your apartment allows pets, and is in close proximity to a dragon daycare. Take care not to set the drapes ablaze.
Katie, you are the deadbeat dad I’ll always be looking to impress despite the fact that you are usually not sober enough to recognize my existence. I forgive you though and will never stop believing that one day you’ll come home from your 12-year trip to the corner store to buy cigarettes and lotto tickets.
John, you’re the cool older brother who sits up in his room listening to records of punk bands, the one who’s parents are far too conservative and afraid of to say anything to when you leave the house in your flannel to go jam in Stinky Pete’s garage. I also look toward you for approval, but totally understand that you have cooler things to be doing than talking to me.
Suzy, you are the irresponsible big sister who thought it’d be funny to put rum in my juice and film me drunkenly singing along to Dora The Explorer. Usted es un gilipollas, but I love you anyway. You are the Queen of the Gunk, and your resulting physical mutations are horrendous in the best of ways.
Maya, you are the crazy cat lady who terrorizes the neighborhood children and secretly practices arcane magics in your bathroom; the one who I, as the quite loner, am morbidly fascinated with despite having seen the dark atrocities you are capable of. I promise to honor our blood contract once I collect enough souls.
Roberto, you are a journalistic Superman, which is to say, you are Clark Kent. As you leap from tall buildings, protecting truth, justice and the innocence, remember that myself and the other children look up and are inspired by your humbleness.
Hannah, you are the ideal image of a Greco muse. Your enthusiasm and encouragement toward everyone you know should honestly be illegal. Please turn yourself in to the Fun Police because you are clearly in violation of something.
Maddie, you are this world’s most divine beach queen, living life as the exotic adventure it was meant to be. Wherever you may be right now, I’m sure you’re soaked with sun and margaritas, even if it only be in spirit.
Max, you are a level 90 wizard with PhotoShop. Thanks for satisfying all my selfish silhouetting needs. The dogs, wolves and corn appreciate it. Holly, although our time together was short, you’re photos were always stellar. Keep it up.
Jack, I can see the dark potential for News in your soul. Explore it, embrace it, use it for evil. Mike, being a Mets fan will never get easier. However, if you stick with it, you’ll build up a superhuman tolerance for disappointment, so it’s worth it to some degree.
Karl, play as many fighting games as you can will you still have the chance. I don’t need to tell you how satisfying it is to know the intricacies of a system through frame-data and lag-time. Amaya, I don’t know you very well at all, but I won’t leave you out of this because that would be a dick-move. Obligatory ‘have a great summer!’ comment.
Nate, just like you I’ll keep this simple and elegant: you’re a real solid dude. You get two thumbs up in my book, and I’m glad we got to share some snarkiness together. Amanda, I’ve never seen you in or around Bouton. Just an observation. That said, you’re a nice girl and I’m sorry we never talked that much.
Sam, you are a goddamn rock and I’ve always been able to rely on you. Don’t stress anything unnecessarily, because trust me you have a lot of ability and I know you’ll be fine. Melanie, I honestly regret that I’m leaving now because I’m more than certain we would have been really great friends had we more time to together. I’m really, really proud of you and I’m very glad I scouted you for the paper.
Melissa, anyone who has known you this past year and a half will tell you how much you’ve grown as a person and as a professional. I know I like to poke fun at you a lot, but really, I’m impressed. Russell, you are definitely one of the most stand-up guys I know. Seriously, your genuine character is really refreshing, and I hope no one takes advantage of that.
Jen, I honestly consider you one of my closest and most trusted friends even though when you think about it, we haven’t really hung out that much. You’ve always looked out for me with such sincerity and care — something I’ve never really understood, but hopefully I’ve been able to reciprocate that compassion toward you in my own goofy way. You’re too good to be true. Smile once more for me. Lief, I really wish I had made more of an effort to be friends outside the office. You and I shared in a lot of dumb jokes and palled around like brothers. I legitimately missed you this semester, but I know we’ll meet up again someday.
Kristen, you are too pure to have been roped into the lunacy this job breeds. I honestly look at you as a role model of serenity. You are Zen, and likely the reincarnation of Buddha. Abbott, you are a diamond-clad princess, brightly sparkling while being sharp to the touch. Your ferocity is something to be equally feared and admired, and when it’s channeled toward your work results in unbelievable tenacity. Don’t stop until you pierce the heavens.
And I guess that’s all I have to say about that. Saying goodbye hasn’t hurt as much as I expected but, truth be told, I’ve been mentally ready for awhile now. I’d like to think that I can interpret that as a sign that I’m prepared to get on with my life. I wanted to end with an appropriate quote or something, but the only thing I can really think of is “with great power, must come great responsibility.” Good enough, I suppose.