Letter from the Editor: May 7, 2020

Dear Oracle Readers, 

I just let out a sigh of relief. Not a metaphorical one — I quite literally inhaled oxygen to maximum capacity, then slowly exhaled until I was once again slouched over (I, famously, have bad posture.) It was as loud as an explosion, or a firework, or any live Demi Lovato performance. At the time of this article’s posting, The Oracle will have published its final set of stories for the Spring 2020 semester.

Though it feels like I’ve been at this for 87 years, minimum, my first year as Editor-in-Chief of this fine publication has come to an end. On my final night in New Paltz before departing for winter break, I was alone in the Oracle office. Very ceremoniously, in a performance I only wish someone would have witnessed, I stepped back, shut the lights and thought to myself, “That was easy.” 

It’s how I tackle most things in life. “It’s not that deep:” an infamous mantra I’ve adopted. I say it to my parents, when they’re upset with me. I say it to my dog, when she’s begging for food. I say it to myself, when I realize the assignment I’ve been putting off for weeks is due in 20 minutes — “It’s not that deep.” 

That’s the energy with which I tackled my first semester leading The Oracle. Sure, I at times found myself overwhelmed with how much work I had taken on for myself. There was no shortage of nights spent pacing back and forth in my shared living room with Maddy — Managing Editor of The Oracle, in what some (read: us) would call the unofficial Oracle home — Lana Del Rey blasting from my laptop as I asked, “Am I actually good at this?” 

I still don’t quite know the answer to that question. I seek reassurance, fish for it even, but don’t buy it once I get it. But one semester down, I at least felt like things were off to a good start. 

At the start of the spring semester, I was still riding that high. I had completely redesigned our cover, and made some much-needed changes to our internal layout as well.  We had a full staff of dedicated writers, and I had a wealth of ideas. Since joining, I had never been as excited to see what we did with The Oracle as I was this January. 

Remember the water crisis? I don’t want to laugh at something that had a true impact on our campus community and the New Paltz community at large, but I can’t help but think about how massive that seemed at the time and how small it is in comparison. If someone gave me the choice of a contaminated water supply or our current reality, you would find me back at Lola’s in an instant, drinking a tall glass of gasoline water to wash down my salad. 

Always the optimist, I did my best to keep the energy positive during what would end up being our last production night of the semester. I told everyone that we would once again congregate inside the orange walls, and assured the seniors that their journey with The Oracle was not over yet. In all fairness, I wasn’t lying at the time. Like I said, optimist. 

When things got really bad and it was clear there was no coming back, I gave myself a break — from everything, really. I spent my first two weeks at home laying on the couch in my basement, watching old seasons of “Survivor” and wondering if the Coronavirus symptoms I was experiencing were just in my head (Spoiler: They were). I felt sick, I felt tired and I felt bad for myself. 

So I dove headfirst back into my work. I owe a lot to The Oracle, but one of the key ways it has bettered my life has been the option to escape into it. Whether it’s the articles, or the layout, or the logistics or the people, I can always find a way to let The Oracle distract me from my own intrusive thoughts. 

Somehow, we kept going. Amidst an ever-changing world, The Oracle managed to publish five online “issues.” I could never put into words how proud or thankful I am of everyone involved with this publication for making that happen. I can also never put into words how happy I am to never have to sit at my kitchen table for hours upon hours, working out who’s fact checking what, and approving copy edits and pasting stories into WordPress – it felt neverending. 

But alas, everything in life has an end, and the Spring 2020 semester is no exception. No one knows what summer will look like, or fall, or life P.C. — post-COVID, which will be used in history books one day, quote me — and that’s, frankly, scary. So I will focus on what I do know. We made it through the semester. Whether you’re an Oracle staff member, or a New Paltz student, professor, faculty member, community member…. You did it! 

I don’t know what I’ll do in the three Oracle-free months that lay ahead. Maybe I’ll finally start a blog. Maybe I’ll actually learn some vegetarian recipes instead of eating fake chicken nuggets for every meal. I will finish my deep dive into the life, career and music of Madonna… that is one of the few certainties of this infamously uncertain life. Whatever I, and all of you, choose to do with this time, I hope it’s refreshing, relaxing and ultimately fulfilling. 

Despite the sentimental tone, this is not a goodbye — simply a rumination. And since I’ve droned on for long enough, I’ll leave you all with well wishes of happiness, health and peace of mind. 

Until the Fall, 

Jake Mauriello

About Jake Mauriello 100 Articles
Jake Mauriello is a fourth-year journalism and public relations major, with a minor in film and video studies. This is his seventh semester with The Oracle. Previously, he has worked as an Arts and Entertainment Copy Editor, Features Editor and Managing Editor. He dedicates each of his stories to his personal heroes, Taylor Swift and Alexis Rose.