I hope all you Vikings had a delightfully relaxing and fulfilling holiday weekend! I was definitely thankful for the mini-vacation. But I suspect that if, like me, you spent most of Thanksgiving Day in the kitchen, you may have also had a few holiday-stress-induced breakdowns. At my house, we rarely have the dinner table feuds you see on TV – but I was still tearing my hair out over putting together one meal that met everybody’s dietary needs.
You see, in my extended family, we have strict vegans and die-hard carnivores, pescatarians and picky children, diabetics and dieters, as well as a gluten-free baker. Some of us like to try new recipes for the holidays; others are strict Thanksgiving traditionalists. Even when we do it potluck-style, it takes some very careful menu planning to make sure everyone sits down to a satisfying meal.
The week before the holiday, my phone was constantly buzzing with text messages from my mom and my grandma: “How many people are eating meat this year?” “Is chocolate vegan?” “Should we make all the stuffing gluten-free?” “Is anybody bringing veggies???”
Everything worked out perfectly in the end, but it got me thinking about all of the holiday entertaining that’s still to come this season. How do you deal with different diets at your holiday gatherings? Do you make something for everyone, or do you let those vegans and paleo-diet devotees fend for themselves?
After four and a half years, two universities, two stints abroad, and hours upon hours spent pleading tearfully with academic advisers about my transfer credits, I am finally (FINALLY!) going receive my bachelor’s degree. I’ve fulfilled all of my University Studies and major requirements, done the proper paperwork and paid my “graduation fees” (since I haven’t poured enough of my money into educational institutions already, thank you very much). My GPA is even high enough to graduate with honors. All of this — and I still don’t know if I will graduate in the traditional sense.
You see, Portland State, unlike some other institutions, doesn’t offer a commencement ceremony in the fall term. Last summer, when I learned that finishing college was within the realm of possibility and I began envisioning my stylish cap/gown/diploma ensemble, I discovered that my only options were to walk at the summer commencement or wait until the spring ceremony. (Note to future graduates: I also learned recently that last summer was actually the last summer term commencement ceremony at PSU, so keep that in mind when making your own graduation plans!)
To me, these are hardly satisfactory options. An early commencement would mean taking part in a ceremony celebrating an accomplishment that I hadn’t fully accomplished — the fact that I’d be returning to classes a few weeks later made the whole prospect seem rather anti-climactic. And as for waiting until next spring to walk, well, I don’t even know if I’ll still be living close enough to Portland to attend.
PSU seems to pride itself on being accessible to so many non-traditional students – I know I’m not the only student whose academic career has not fit into the standard four-year college plan. I just wish that our university was equally accommodating in celebrating the achievements of its non-traditional graduates.
Confession time: It’s campaign season, and I am stressing. And guys, it’s not even the results I’m worried about (well, OK, not only the results).
My first election as a registered voter was in 2008, my freshman year of college. I caucused in my home state, Hawaii, and was totally excited to experience a big election on a college campus — until I met my roommate. As I hung my Obama/Biden posters, she declared her love for the GOP (and her boyfriend made racist jokes about my man Barack on the regular). As you might imagine, by Election Day the atmosphere in our tiny dorm room was tense.
Now, as the 2012 presidential race enters the home stretch, I’m feeling that anxiety all over again.
When I watched the first debate at PSU on Oct. 3rd, I saw a few familiar faces around the room, and I started to wonder: Who are they voting for? Should I ask? I’d like to think I could have a rational political discussion with any of my classmates, but that isn’t always what happens. I’m proud of my convictions, but defending them to someone with different beliefs often leads to heated confrontations or awkward social situations — and nobody likes that.
So what should I do? I can’t just stop talking to everyone who disagrees with me until Nov. 2nd. How do you deal with election year awkwardness?