Reflection — Suzy Berkowitz

suzy berkowitz

I’ve been putting off writing this thing for quite some time now, because as much as I joke about chaining myself to the copy desk, I know that once this piece of volatile word vomit completes itself and is staring right back at me, the weight of my numbered days is truly going to solidify.

But I guess I should bite the bullet and seize the day. Here goes:

I started on the copy desk my second semester here, a sophomore transfer hailing from a private university whose school newspaper existed in name alone. With an overwhelming affinity for grammar and a desire to make up for lost time, I jumped headfirst onto The Oracle’s Editorial Board. The rest, as they say, is herstory.

Throughout my five semesters as an editor, I’ve had the privilege of working with a plethora of writers, photographers and fellow editors whose insight and attention to detail have consistently encouraged and challenged me to be the best version of myself.

John Green once said, “surround yourself with people you like and make cool stuff with them.” There is a special kind of bond formed between people crammed into a tiny, flammable office for 12-hour-long stretches, all simultaneously doing what they love; it is the kind of bond that needs to be experienced to be fully understood. We have all brought out the best and the worst in each other at every hour, and continue to love one another despite and for this. And if that’s not family, goddamnit, I don’t know what is.

This pseudo-eulogy to my time here on The Oracle will never be enough do it justice, but suffice it to say, joining this puddle of psychos has been one of the greatest joys of my life.

Julie, you are unselfishness, personified. Your dedication and perseverance inspires me to be a better journalist every day. You will always be the Harry to my Zayn and I look forward to a lifetime of homoerotic One Direction music videos, Mom.

Andrew, you may be a derp, but you’ll always be King Shit to me. Thank you for trusting my skills as a social media monster and letting me jump into the driver’s seat of the “LIKE ME” bandwagon. We’re still waiting for you to dye your hair pink.

Carolyn, we hatched in the A&E nest together and following in your footsteps has been a pleasure. Your prose poetry will always make me ugly cry. You’re my favorite Planter’s peanut, monocle and all. Bye.

Katie, you are one of the most brilliantly hilarious people I know. Thank you for throwing me a life vest when I almost sunk in The Gunk, for shamelessly harmonizing with me and for being Bev’s #1 Fan. You’re so hip, you’re a pelvis.

Zan, my first page editor, you challenged me in all the best ways. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a mere contributing writer, you emailed me in response to the first article I ever submitted telling me how impressed you were with my writing. I want you to know, whenever I’ve hit a roadblock, I refer to those early words to keep me going.

Princess JohnBenet, I adore you as much as I despise writing news. Thank you for that twerking lesson, even if it didn’t go exactly as planned. Rachel, your ability to hit an extended word count and still make every word count is one I dream of having. I can only hope to be as soft grunge as you. Maria, you are genuinely the sweetest and I’m eternally jealous of your lipstick game and cat skull tattoos. Molly, thank you for gracing the copy desk with me in A&E for a semester. Please serenade us again soon.

Sam, you were never my photographer but I always admired your work from afar. I’d still love to accom-pun-y you to The Punderdome sometime in the near future. Dana, my almost birthday twin, your photos always made The Gunk better. Thank you for sharing your talent with us. April, please let me move my cardboard box into your penthouse apartment when you’re on the cover of a fitness magazine. It’s been a pleasure sharing this ‘zine with you for however long. Alfonso, I knowbolobo you’re actually The Mole. Please bike down from Albany soon so I can make more memes of you at The Great Wall.

To the ghosts of Oracle’s past: you have all instilled in us a violent love for this craft and this paper. You’ve given us the necessary tools to believe in ourselves, our reporting and our writing. You were our first, last and best journalism teachers.

To the babies I currently serve on staff with (and I can call you babies because I realized between sips of whiskey that I’m currently the oldest editor on The Oracle): please don’t think of this in any way as a goodbye. I will always be that embarrassing alum waving newspaper pom-poms, dancing in the aisle a la Regina George’s mother, pretending I still go here, and I will be a mere carrier pigeon away in case of a silhouetting crisis. Call me, beep me, and above all, keep calm and Command+Z.

Cat, you Glamazon, shut the door because I need to tell you something. As much as you love J. Crew is as proud as I am of you. I wouldn’t want to be the Mayor of Shady Pines with anyone else. Thank you for letting me simultaneously vent and pelvic thrust in your general direction.

Robin, my roomie and OTP, you’re welcome. You were my first best friend on The Oracle and you welcomed me with open arms. Your ability to see the world through your lens is incredible, and you better believe I’ll be putting my fucking hands up at your Big Fat Ass thesis show.

Lil’ Lief, thank you for always being there to point out when the crowd went silent. You’re gonna make a sick Editor-in-Lief, bro. Even though you don’t think I’m funny, we always had the best music nights, volume 11.

John, don’t ever lose that secret sass. The American Turd Association thanks you for your loyalty, even if you don’t wash your hair. Sorry I only wrote for you once, but that 1,400-word-long review was enough for the both of us.

Anthony, letting De La Rosa go to print was the best mistake I’ve ever made. I admire your modular passion and skinny ties. Let’s get drunk in The Gunk again soon.

Abbott, you are the greatest nug in all the land. Thank you for laughing at the jokes Lief refused to admit were funny. I look forward to watching you unapologetically glide up the editorial ladder in your Sperry’s and Nantucket Reds.

Zam Zaddy, I’m excited to hand this section over to you and your Sanjayna. I hope you know I only put pressure on you like I did because I wanted you to be your best. I can’t wait for more Zam’s Jams, ya tu sabe.

Jen, you’ve been with me through every doer task I’ve taken on and I’ve learned so much from your ambition and independence. Thank you for listening to me complain about boys. Stay sexy.

Hannah, I’m convinced you’re a superhero. Monday treks to and from Po’town are made possible and brighter because of you. Maddie, you’re the only person who can look like a model at 4 in the morning. You’re a delight, even though you wear overalls.

Melissa and Kristen, you nugs are our future. It’s been a pleasure having you both on staff and I can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the years to come.

Max and Rosalie, your artistic visions have kept The Gunk intact. You always pulled through and managed to keep me calm. Julie G., my twin, I actually don’t understand your talent, but I’ll wear your screenprinted sketches till the day I die.

They are sneaky little monsters, time and change. They wait for no one and they have no problem leaving people behind. As unsure as I am about the next chapter of my life, I take comfort in knowing that being surrounded by these orange walls and the static cling between everyone within them has made me better.

I implore you youngins whose days aren’t as numbered to understand the magnitude of what you do. Writing about the arts has allowed me to capture other people’s passions using my own. Keeping your finger on the pulse of this campus, town and village takes a certain amount of ambition and perseverance that is too strong to be discouraged.

Keep your heads up and away from those who say the work we do is a lost cause. Stay humble and stay hungry, because headlines are larger than bylines for a reason. Seek out the stories that matter and hold true the notion that the most important and necessary forms of journalism are those which comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

And above all, remember why we work. We work because after all that’s said and done, through InDesign-related breakdowns and sources who won’t return phone calls, there is still a glimmer of hope and humility in this field. No matter the pressure, the frustration or the exhaustion, remember that this holds true. We work because there is healing power in watching the sun rise while listening to “Born To Run.” We work because people are not just people; they are stories, and we are their voice. We work because the pen is, and always will be, mightier than the sword. We work because we haven’t given up on honest, accurate, sensitive reporting, and we probably never will. We work because we love this shit.