Is Crazy Bad?

IMG_0830By: Anna Sobczyk

Ableism is a term that didn’t pop until the 1980s and is a term I had never heard of until I moved to Portland. A quick Google search defines ableism as “discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). I recently sat in on a presentation on ableism given by PSU’s Disability Resource Center (DRC), and learned there’s a lot to unpack on the topic. The part that struck me the most was when the DRC presenter said we should be eliminating certain words from our vocabulary. Specifically, “crazy” was bad to say. Quite honestly, I still can’t wrap my head around it.

Another part of the conversation that made me check my perceptions was the notion that our society doesn’t inherently know the history of disabled persons or mental health. Everyone I know has learned about slavery, voting rights, and the Holocaust—including the derogatory terms that arose from these time periods and events. During the DRC’s presentation, it was evident neither my peers nor myself knew anything substantial about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the general history of disabilities and mental health. Perhaps this lack of education early on is to blame for why words like crazy are normalized and why it’s so difficult to recognize their harmful impact.

Although to me, using the word crazy is equivalent to using the word stupid. Both are adjectives to describe something or someone. If I called a person stupid, that’s simply a hurtful way to use the word. Crazy can be used in the same capacity. However, just because a word has the potential to be hurtful or mean doesn’t justify eliminating it from our vocabulary. Of course, slurs do exist that are implicitly hurtful, degrading, and derogatory—but is “crazy” really one of them?

Don’t Tolerate Disrespect

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

When it comes to summer jobs, there’s nothing quite as notorious as working in customer service. Coworkers and friends complain amongst each other, and entire memes exist based around the lamentations of the job. I work harvest during the summer, and so my job is a unique form of customer service. I see the same customers (the drivers and farmers) over, and over, and over again—and I’ve been seeing these same people for five years now. Each year I inevitably have to deal with cranky farmers and drivers who are upset about waiting in lines that are completely out of my control. In the past, I tolerated inappropriate and rude behavior. I also believed I deserved it, and that I was somehow bringing it upon myself.

One particularly negative experience this year reset my thought processes. A farmer chewed me out for something I had no control over. Everyone working was following a specific system for moving trucks along, and the farmer didn’t agree with it. The system set in place was done so by someone higher up than me, and yet this farmer decided to come unhinged on me. He cussed, pointed his finger in my face, and raised his voice. This, by far, was the nastiest experience I’ve had at work. I stood my ground and explained the reasons behind the system, but only once he’d left did I realize a few things:

  1. I did not owe him any explanation. He was upset over a decision, but that did not give him the right to yell at me.
  2. In any case, I do not need to offer explanations of how I do my job in order to—first and foremost—be treated with respect.
  3. Since he was so angry, he should have taken it up with a higher ranking employee instead of berating someone who wasn’t involved in the decision making process.
  4. My instinct was to stand there and take it, because I felt like walking away was a sign of weakness. However, listening to that hot-headed tirade was a waste of my time, and I was under no obligation to stand there and take it.
  5. He will likely never apologize.

I regret my tolerance in years past and shake my head at ever believing I deserved to be treated poorly. However, I know these feelings are a reality for a lot of young, service industry workers. My only hope is that others will recognize their worth on day one of the job instead of five years down the road. 

My Reluctant Craving for Adventure

_DSC6107 by Jennifer Vo-Nguyen

I have never been a traveler. I’ve actually never been outside of the country, but I know that even if I did, I wouldn’t like it. I don’t like leaving the comfort of my own bed and home, and I never understood why people want to travel so much.

It wasn’t until about a month ago, I took a road trip to Las Vegas. A few of my friends and I drove 16 hours to Vegas, and within this short amount of time, my opinion of traveling changed completely.

During the trip, my friends and I took turns driving with each of us at the wheel for four hours. This car ride from Oregon to Nevada was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Going 85 miles per hour through the lonely road, going past the sand dunes, passing by the mountains, and especially seeing the sun rise in the desert was a sight that I will forever hold in my heart. It may sound kind of cheesy, but it was during this time that I realized that there is so much beauty to explore in the world.

I am now looking into studying abroad during my last term of college next year. I don’t know where I want to go yet, but I know for sure that wherever I choose to go, I will make it a goal to explore the nature and beauty of that country even if it’s something as simple as a sunset. Like I said, there is so much beauty on this Earth and all of us should take some time to search for it.

Goodreads for Summer

IMG_0830 By: Anna Sobczyk

A typical summer for me involves relaxing, adventuring, and working. In the moments between working or exploring, I love to fill my downtime with reading. I’ve always been a bookworm; the only thing that’s changed is the amount of time I have to sit down and read. During the school year that time is nonexistent. When it comes to building my summer reading list, I rely completely on Goodreads.

Goodreads is a website I discovered in high school and is a book-lover’s dream. You can build virtual bookshelves and mark books as “read” or “to-read.” Based on your reading history and preferences, Goodreads will also generate recommendations in several different genres. Since I live under a rock when it comes to any recent literature during the school year, Goodreads is great for catching up on books from my favorite authors or finding a new breakthrough series that I missed during the school year. 

When it comes to obtaining the books, I always use the library. Most people are surprised to learn that you can find fiction, fantasy, and young adult novels at the PSU Library. The library’s online catalog is easy to use and shows a book’s location and availability. If the PSU Library doesn’t have the book, there’s the option to request it from a Summit library. This is nothing fancy—you just have to log-in and wait a few days for the book to arrive from a neighboring university. Between Goodreads and the library, finding books to keep me occupied during the summer is easy. 

The Vegetarian Lifestyle

_DSC6107 by Jennifer Vo-Nguyen

I have officially been vegetarian for a year and seven months. The decision to transition to this diet was random and spontaneous, but one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I chose to cut meat out of my diet because I simply wanted some sort of change. At the time, I was going through a lot of struggles and decided that I needed to make some sort of difference in the way I was living, so I started with my diet.

I know that changing  what I eat wasn’t going to affect my personal problems in any way, but it was still a small step that would get the ball rolling for me to make bigger steps. Since then, I have not gone back to being a carnivore, and at this point, I feel like I would never go back.

I’m actually so grateful to be living in this hipster of a city because the vegetarian options for food are endless. Every restaurant that I’ve gone to in Portland has had at least one vegetarian and even vegan and gluten-free options, and it is such a blessing. The bad thing about this is that I got so comfortable and confident that wherever I go there will be vegetarian-friendly food that I forget that this is only a norm in Portland. When I took a trip to Vegas a month ago, I went to a restaurant and was shocked to find that there were absolutely no vegetarian options whatsoever. For vegetarians and vegan, we’re lucky to live in Portland.

I’m not a die-hard, vegan and animal rights activist or anything but I do encourage people to transition to this diet if they can. No, you won’t magically have clear skin or lose 10 pounds in a day but you may (keyword here is “may”) reduce your chances of getting diabetes, lower your cholesterol, and overall feel “cleaner.”

If you are hesitant about making this change, maybe you should try it out for week or maybe even a month and see how you like it. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up sticking to it and like me, feel like you made one of the best decisions of your life.

 

Beacon Of Color

35734876_10209214198830669_4585640907247714304_n (2) by Kassandra Johnson

Standing in the hot sun, cheering as each float passed in a flurry of color, it seemed like everyone in Portland was on that street. In that moment I realized something: I’m thankful to live here.

It was Sunday, June 17, and I was at the Pride Parade in downtown Portland. As I looked around all I could see were happy faces. People were clapping along and high-fiving strangers as they passed by. I felt lifted up by the people around me and knew this is why I chose PSU.

There are always ways to get involved in the City of Roses, whether it’s supporting a parade or marching in a protest. Portland and PSU’s urban campus give you the tools to have your voice heard. While living on an urban campus can come with its own trials and tribulations, there is always support to be found in the city.  Becoming a PSU student lets Portland become not only your city but also your community — a community that’s supportive and very accepting of all who call it home.

The Great Unknown

IMG_7864 by Molly MacGilbert

I’m graduating in 11 days. The emotion that arises when I think about this fact can only be expressed as a cross between a celebratory squeal of freedom and a blood-curdling Hitchcock scream. The question I’ve been asked at an increasing frequency in recent months, weeks and days provokes a similar cocktail of excitement and terror: “What’s next?”

Really, the person who has asked me this question the most is myself. And despite the ominous tick-tocking of the clock of my undergraduate education, the answer remains: I don’t know. I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. And regardless of my search for answers and the anxiety that arises when I come up short, I think I’m becoming more okay with not knowing.

From a young age, there’s so much pressure to know what we want to be when we grow up. We grow up playing house and prescribing careers to our Barbie dolls, from pastry chef to firefighter to fairy princess. Our high school years are geared toward preparing for college, and most of us start applying our junior year. I don’t know about you, but at age 16 I could hardly plan my breakfast, let alone pinpoint the career path I was supposed to follow for the remaining (hopefully) several decades of my existence. Which is probably why my college years have been full of indecision, confusion, change, dropping out and transferring.

But with every stressful semester and unpleasant job, I’ve gotten a little closer to figuring out what I want. And even if we never figure out what we want to be when we grow up, I think that’s okay. I’m pretty sure no matter how old I get, I’ll be stumbling blindly through life with more questions than answers. And anyone who honestly thinks they have all the answers is someone I neither want to be nor be around. Life is inherently mysterious and ridiculous, and we might as well accept that.

The one thing I know I’m doing after graduation is taking a well-earned road trip down the Pacific coast. Not only does this give me an opportunity to get a little less pale, it also gives me an opportunity to run away from my anxieties and put off the job search until July. Cheers to that—and cheers to the great unknown.