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The December breeze seeps through the cracked-open door, but I only feel my heart, throbbing in eerie unison with the clock behind me. At a heartbeat a second, my heart will beat ten thousand eight hundred times before editing of The Oracle finishes for the night. “Kiss me,” I scribble. Keep it short and simple for me. As my pen continues to glide steadily across the printout of Forum page five, my muscles slacken and my mind tenses. Only mental endurance, not fleshly strength, is needed to outrace time.
Time. Six days every month, I am drawn to the L-14 computer lab, home of The Oracle. I am like a moth drawn to bright light, though the attraction of newspaper production is less deadly, its only consequences being lost sleep and bleary eyes. I remember the first time I saw editors manipulating their page elements in Adobe Indesign. The sight enthralled me. The production process — of presenting three-dimensional ideas in a two-dimensional manner — had never seemed so alive. L-14 hummed with the fans of twenty blueberry iMacs and smelled faintly of extra-buttery popcorn. I could feel the devotion and energy.
The most memorable interview I conducted that sophomore year was with Kazuo Yamazaki, a senior who loved writing rap and freestyling — activities far removed from my own cultural domain. Reading from my list of questions, I wondered whether I would understand the responses — was I even asking the right questions? But Kazuo talked. He remembered playing baseball passionately for ten years — until he was cut from the team, dashing his hopes of turning pro. He told me how he turned to rap — honest rap that never glorified drug dealing. “I don’t write about lies,” he said. “I write about hardships.” As Kazuo proceeded to recount a humorous story, the beginning of a smile formed on my lips. And then suddenly we started laughing. I abandoned the prepared questions; we were chatting like old friends.
Working on The Oracle trained me to adapt quickly to change. On February 28, 2003, in the middle of our production period, a car driven by a former Gunn student struck six-year-old Amy Malzbender. I redesigned the front-page, the issue came out on schedule, and I received positive comments from friends. But the most poignant response was an unexpected email from someone I did not know. The writer of the message, who had known Amy, thanked me for my “sensitive coverage of Amy’s passing.” His brief words meant more to me than any page-long letter of praise. They made me realize why I stay in L-14 late into the nights.
It is not obligation, but love. Love springs open my eyelids every time they begin to droop on late nights in L-14. Love motivated me that December night — ten thousand eight hundred heartbeats of it. And sometimes love makes me indulge in a dream: I imagine The Oracle in my hands transforming into the feminine figure of Pythia, the priestess who spoke the oracular prophecies. She is holding out a bowl of water, and in its depths I see myself a year from now — scurrying to cover late-breaking news for my Stanford Daily editors.
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