A Sunshine-Filled Summer

by Beth Royston

Anyone that knew me while I was attending high school in California would be shocked if they saw me voluntarily leaving my house during the summertime. In my defense, when it’s super hot almost all year long, one can get rather tired of that weather. I’ve never liked the heat, but living in Portland has definitely changed my perspective. I am always grateful that Portland actually has seasons, and I find myself looking forward to every one, because there’s things I can only do during that season coming up. This summer, I will actually leave my house and voluntarily be under the sun! If you’re looking for fun summertime activities, I’m here to finish off my list of seasonal jaunts with one tailored to celebrate summer.

Attend a festival!

Portland has some awesome festivals and events over the summer. Portland Pride, the Soapbox Derby, tons of concerts, floats on the river, and more. There’s something for everyone, and there’s great ideas here on Travel Portland. I’ve done a bunch of these, and it’s always a blast! My favorite event ever has to be the all-you-can-eat ice cream festival in the city a few years ago. Pure heaven.

Get outside!

Summer is a great time to go camping, and there’s plenty of places to go. Even if full-on camping isn’t for you, there are still swimming holes and gorgeous short hikes close to the city. You can swim in natural rivers, kayak, and visit waterfall trails when nature is in full flourishing mode. I highly recommend seeing if any hikes that end with a swim might appeal to you!

Berry picking!

You’re really missing out if you’ve never gone berry-picking. There are a ton of places fairly close to Portland to drive out to, and afterwards you can make a jam, a pie, or just cram bucketfuls of berries into your mouth. You’ll probably find other U-Pick farms while you’re driving about, and I’ve come home with homemade lavender products from a lavender farm and more fun goodies that make me excited to go exploring every year.

Attend a Thorns game!

I’ve written before about how much I absolutely love going to Thorns games at Providence Park. And great news — the Thorns are coming back after the pandemic! In June, ticket sales will open for summer games, and it looks like all attendees are required to be vaccinated. Personally, I’m over the moon, and can’t wait to go!

There are plenty of fun things to do this summer. It feels like there’s a different energy in the air — people are ready to get out and enjoy the sun, especially after all this time locked up. While it’s critically important to still follow state regulations and be safe — acknowledging the pandemic left lasting scars for some of us — I’m so excited to get out. I’m graduating and will soon be enjoying the purchase of my first car. This is my last post for PSU Chronicles, so thank you all for reading and following along with my posts while I’ve been at PSU! Best of luck out there, and enjoy your summer!

Portland State grad serves community by fixing up Black-owned homes

Randal Wyatt

In June of 2020, Randal Wyatt started Taking Ownership PDX, a grassroots nonprofit that helps Black property owners keep their homes by repairing and renovating them. He’s about to graduate from Portland State University with a degree in Social Science, a double minor in Black Studies and Sociology and a 3.92 GPA. 

His PSU story: “I was born and raised in Portland, attended community college, then had twins at age 19 and dropped out. I started a band called Speaker Minds. We rap about social issues, and I built a name for myself doing benefit concerts and fund raisers. I went back to community college and got my associate’s degree, became a residential treatment counselor, and then a mentor for Black and Latino boys on probation. Then I moved to Portland Youth Builders as a student advocate with the stipulation that I go back to school and get my degree. I started at PSU half-time in 2017, worked full-time, raised my sons and my music career was taking off. So yeah, it’s been a long road.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the way society works, why things are the way they are, why are  systems the way they are, why can’t we have nicer things in America. Last year around this time people started asking me how they can be better allies to Black and marginalized communities. We have to develop more of a village mindset, develop equitable practices that help uplift communities that have historically and currently been excluded. That turned into Taking Ownership PDX, because my studies at PSU taught me that one of the most effective ways to use resources is to keep wealth in communities that are preyed upon for their land.

“I didn’t want to just talk. I decided if we’re really going to change the social climate,
I’m going to go out and do it.”

— Randal Wyatt

“I didn’t want to just talk. I decided if we’re really going to change the social climate, I’m going to go out and do it. I was naive about it initially, I thought we’ll just get a bunch of volunteers and start swinging hammers at homes and fixing them up. There’s a lot more to it than that. By the end of the first week, I had $10K. I had one home to work on, so I took the money and started fixing it up, redid the carpet, windows, gutters, all that. Then I got two to three more homes to work on. 

“In one year we’ve helped 35 black families fix up their homes with jobs ranging from fixing leaks to roof and window replacements, landscaping, cleanup. We serve primarily the elderly. We’ve raised about $400,000.

“At PSU, not only have I gained knowledge of myself, but it’s inspired me to create an organization that helps the community. It gave me the know-how and what areas to target. It’s worth it. It’s been stressful, but the knowledge that I’ve gained has been invaluable.”


Randal’s story has been featured on KGW, Willamette Week, Portland Monthly and CNN’s United Shades of America

Different But The Same

By: Adair Bingham

When I was a preteen, I remember getting flack from extended family for lugging my old Nintendo DS around and always venturing over to the toy aisle in stores where we were shopping. Teachers marked out my harmless doodles on the corners of homework with red ink or took away my art supplies until the end of the period. In elementary school, I was thrown in and out of special education classes because of my overactive imagination. It often felt like I was getting side-eyed for following my interests and doing things I happen to like, no matter what form they took. 

At the time, the criticism bothered me plenty, but as I’ve gotten older, I care less and less. It’s cliched to say, but life is too short to spend it worrying about what others think. Although I still find myself bothered by feeling “immature” or behind everyone in life (enough so to write a post about it), I‘ve made an active effort to stop censoring myself around others. I no longer berate myself for living my life the way I’d like to live it.

Remembering the quote “growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional,” helps me to settle down and think things through when I’m feeling down. Over time, it’s gotten to the point where I’m unfazed by what people may think of me or how I may do things. Although it may catch me by surprise when someone gives me the side-eye for doing things my own way, I remind myself that as long as I’m happy and content, I really shouldn’t be bothered. I’m a firm believer in there being no age limit on harmless fun or interests. Other people’s mental hangups shouldn’t be anyone else’s problem but their own. 

If I’ve learned anything since starting (and graduating!) university, it’s that I’m different, but also very much the same person I was when I moved into my dormitory back in 2017. While I might not have reached many of life’s milestones yet, I feel like I’ve finally grown into my own person and I know that I’ll get there one day. At the end of the day, I’m different, but the same. If anything, I know for a fact that I’ve changed for the better.

Moving Forward, Looking Back

by Beth Royston

Somehow, we’re a few weeks away from the end of spring term. I’m about to graduate, and it feels really bizarre. While I don’t necessarily feel like a completely different person from when I started, I recognize that I’ve grown a lot through the things that I accomplished and the trials that I went through. I also don’t feel as thrilled about graduating as I thought — this past year was really difficult, and it’s caused some burn out from school. Graduation definitely feels bittersweet, as I was really looking forward to being able to walk. However, I absolutely respect that Portland State is holding off on the in-person ceremony due to safety concerns. To help celebrate my own accomplishments as I prepare to graduate, I wanted to remember some things that really marked personal growth for me during the years.

Shifting my attitude towards life

As I’ve mentioned in past posts, I’m a very type-A person. I have a folder that has the things I’d like to accomplish in the next five years of my life organized by season — if that’s any indication of how I think. Planning is soothing to me, and helps me feel like I’m in control. But frankly, a lot of things happened while I was in college that I couldn’t control, even though I planned otherwise. It freaked me out. I definitely had a crisis or two where I felt like I didn’t know who I was and I wouldn’t ever recover from what was happening. But I made it through. I not only got through life taking crazy twists and turns, I can feel that my own attitude towards life has become more relaxed. There’s definitely things that I’d like to be proactive about and make happen in my life over the next few years, but I’m learning to slow down more. There’s a lot that fulfills and sustains me that I want to spend time on, and I have plenty of time to accomplish the things I want to accomplish. I definitely suffer from worrying that I need to do everything important I’m ever going to do before I turn 25 — a sentiment that I’ve seen reflected in a lot of other people my age. Right now, I’m not exactly sure what I’ll be up to in the next few years, and that’s okay.

Making it through college

I didn’t doubt when I started that I would get through college — I love school. But a lot of things happened that really tested my perseverance. The worst part was the massive mental health struggles I had in my junior year when I was incredibly physically sick. Trying to be a good student during that time was really taxing, and continuing to get up and go everyday while I was feeling so awful was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I got through it, despite being really sick, despite the pandemic, despite other things not going so well. I’m also graduating with honors, which may not mean much to others, but after how things went for me I feel incredibly proud of myself.

Starting a business 

I’m really proud of myself for starting a business in 2020. While it’s been a blast, it’s also a lot of work. I wasn’t particularly intimidated to start, but it’s a lot more complicated than I thought it would be. It’s taught me a lot and humbled me a lot, and while I don’t intend on making my side business my main source of income, I want to try to grow it even more this year. I’ve learned a lot about how to improve my products, and made a lot of advancements that are very important to me, like making my packaging process as eco-friendly as I can. 

Other accomplishments

I finished the first draft of my book in college, which has been a lifelong dream. I got engaged to the person that makes me the happiest in the entire world, and felt our relationship strengthen over time. I’ve come into myself a lot more, and feel like I know who Beth is a lot more clearly. My sense of self is already strong, but I hope that I only continue to hone that over time. I grew a lot, in directions that were healthy for me to move in. That’s definitely what I appreciate the most as I prepare to graduate.

23 Things I’ve Learned in 23 Years 

By Claire Golden

This is my last post for PSU Chronicles, and I’m going to miss being a blogger here. But since I’m not a student anymore, I couldn’t stay around forever. My life has changed so much since I started at PSU. I’ve been diagnosed with and treated for OCD, had my gallbladder removed, made some friends, lost other friends, came out as bi, got engaged to the love of my life (whom I met while working at PSU’s Learning Center), got a degree, and got a book published. But I’ve also cried in many PSU bathrooms, failed homework assignments, had an existential crisis (or three) and wondered what on earth I was doing. 

A lot of the things I learned in college weren’t academic, and I think they’re the most valuable lessons I took away from my time at PSU. So I thought I would share the top 23 things I have learned in my 23 years on this good ole planet. (I forgot how old I was and had to ask my fiancé to confirm.)

1.     Say “I love you” to people more often.

2.     Every bad moment will pass.

3.     Learn to be okay with good enough.

4.     If you wait for something to be perfect, you will be waiting forever, so go after your dreams.

5.     Don’t procrastinate things on your bucket list, because life is unpredictable.

6.     Take care of your body — go to the doctor when you need to!

7.     Do the things you want with your hair, it grows back! (I am rocking a DIY pixie cut at the moment.)

8.     Approach things with a sense of humor and learn to laugh at yourself, kindly.

9.     Reach out to people you think are cool, because you might just make a new friend.

10.  Learn new things just to experience being a beginner again! (I am working on my third language, German, as well as how to read tarot cards.)

11.  Do things that you’re bad at if you like doing them: draw, sing, dance, write.

12.  Be generous with your compliments, because you never know what they will mean to someone.

13.  It’s okay to ask questions, big or small. And it’s okay if you sound silly while asking them.

14.  Just because your parents or family do things one way doesn’t mean you have to do things that way. This applies to little things like loading the dishwasher and to big things like religion. 

15.  Waste time with the people you love, because that’s not actually wasted time.

16.  If you can, live somewhere you love, because every day will feel like a vacation. (Shoutout to Portland, from a former Midwesterner.)

17.  It’s okay to be childish…collect stuffed animals, read Middle Grade or Young Adult books, color a picture.

18.  Don’t be normal just for the sake of being normal, but also don’t be weird just to “stand out.” Find your happy medium.

19.  If you get excited about the little things, then life will become much more exciting: a great glass of ice water, a spinny door, a really shiny pigeon.

20.   Write down your feelings to help make sense of them.

21.  Send letters to people you love — it’s fun to have a pen pal and it will make both of your days to get mail.

22.  Reading books helps me escape, but also makes me a more empathetic person as I learn about new things.

23.  Probably the most important thing of all that I’ve learned: It’s okay not to know the answer. 

Bonus tip: Hugging a fluffy animal makes everything better.

A Scaly New Friend

It is no secret that I’ve wanted a snake my whole life. I have been talking about reptiles since childhood, begging my parents for a scaly buddy since I could talk. The answer was always no. (Honestly, more than fair, since we were/are a household of tender-hearted vegetarians.)

I’ve been scrimping and saving for a snake since I moved out of my parents’ home at age 18. I did multiple years of research, I combed through snake-owning Facebook groups and subreddits for hours. I looked at all the ways one could — intentionally or unintentionally — abuse or mistreat their snake. It seemed like surprise financial situations kept getting in my way, however. Unexpected medical bills, vet emergencies for both my cat and my dog within a few months of each other. COVID rendering me unemployed. Moving twice in a year. It adds up!

A few weekends ago, my fiancee and I decided to get out of the house by visiting a local pet store. We promised each other that we wouldn’t come home with an animal (five cats, a dog, and four people in one tiny house is enough!!). “We’re just going to get Theodore a dog toy. Maybe we can buy a hide and a water dish for the snake when we eventually get it,” I said.

My fiancee agreed. We’d planned to get the set-up for the snake little by little, over a period of months (or even a year), so we would be prepared. Set-up first; snake last.

Well … then we met Ganymede. They (too young to tell their sex) are an albino California kingsnake. Just a few months old! They came with a cage, substate, one hide, a water dish, and a heat lamp. It was too good to be true!! We snapped up our expensive new baby, and it has been a joy.

I named them Ganymede for Zeus’s favorite cupbearer, a beautiful youth the god stole from the mortal realm. They are incredibly well-tempered and open to handling. We truly love our new buddy, and cannot wait to give them the best life ever!

(This is a picture of the albino morph from Google Images, unfortunately, not my own phone. The little bugger is too quick for a good photo!)

Albino California Kingsnake Photograph by David Kenny

A Hard Lesson in Slowing Down

By Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell

Content warning: discussion of dental procedures, descriptions of physical pain, descriptions of my own emetophobia

Recently, I got all four wisdom teeth pulled. While this is usually an unpleasant experience for anyone, it was made all the more difficult by two things: 1) my intense phobia of dentists and 2) the nasty reaction I had to the pain medication I was prescribed. I will be open: due to mental illness, my teeth aren’t in ship-shape condition. I have some cavities that need to be filled and could use a deep cleaning. But when my wisdom teeth started growing in, I knew that that was one procedure I couldn’t just skip.

I was getting splitting headaches, jaw pain, and terrible earaches the like of which I haven’t had in years. It sucked. I held out as long as I could, but eventually had to give in. Those suckers had to go!

I tend to pop up almost disturbingly quickly after surgeries, disabilities, be damned. Anaesthesia doesn’t bring me down long. My energy levels for the first three days after the surgery were high. I was doing chores. I was walking the dog. I was reading, eating solid food, even doing homework. On day four, however, something changed. I threw up two times in quick succession. I started feeling feverish, I couldn’t stop crying, and I would get dizzy and nauseous if I so much as shifted on the couch. The next day, I threw up four times, and my symptoms were more of the same. My jaw ached, I could hardly speak, and I couldn’t stop throwing up! Terrible.

And if the dentist fear wasn’t bad enough —I am paralyzed with fear when it comes to vomit. If I hear someone gag, cough too hard, or even make a grossed-out face while eating, I’ll flee the room. I literally haven’t — well, hadn’t — thrown up in 11 years before 2020. And the six times I threw up in two days was more than I had thrown up in my entire life.

I learned a pretty powerful lesson over this past week: it’s okay to slow down. I got so physically sick because of the pain medication, and also because I pushed myself too hard. The harder I pushed myself, the more pain I was in: so it was this awful cycle that just fed itself. So, reluctantly, I put down the laptop. I let my housemates take over the chores. I took an extra day off work.

I’ll be frank — I didn’t enjoy it! But my body has healed much faster than I expected. I hadn’t let my body rest because I didn’t think my surgery was that big of a deal. “People get their wisdom teeth out all the time. They don’t bitch and moan about it as much as I am. They don’t cry for two hours and throw up a bunch. I’m just being dramatic.”

Well … no. I wasn’t. I honored my body’s needs, slowed down, and I’m on the mend now!!

Quarantine TV Recs: Netflix

by Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell

I have never been much of a TV person. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I’m much more of a reader, a theatre/opera person, or a writer. I get very antsy sitting still, but books and the like occupy my mind decently. During quarantine, however, and at the behest of my fiancee, I’ve been sitting down and binge watching dozens of TV shows.

So, from someone who isn’t much of a TV buff, here’s a list of shows I’d recommend

That 70s Show

A childhood/high school favorite of my fiancee, this quickly became one of my favorites too. It is definitely a product of its time, and is worth being looked at with a critical eye. That said, the genuine friendship the characters have makes my heart ache with a kind of nostalgia for a time I never knew. My parents, who were in their late teens and early twenties in the 1970s, noted that it is remarkably accurate to their high school years. Its cheeky humor and the growth of its characters makes it a very fun watch.

iZombie

iZombie is a show I used to love in high school. I’m a horror fan, and zombies are my weakness. So a snarky-sweet assistant medical examiner zombie and her zombie hunter boyfriend made for some campy fun. The acting isn’t the best, nor is the writing, but it’s a lot of fun. The characters are totally lovable, and the plot twists make it worth watching!

-GLOW

I never thought a show about uber-objectified 80s lady wrestlers would be my thing, but it totally is. This is one of the most brilliantly written shows on Netflix, in my opinion. The costuming is incredible, the moral ambiguity of the characters makes them all the more compelling, and the plot is fast-paced and realistic. One of my biggest must-watches!

The End of the F***ing World

This is one of the darkest shows on my watch-list, but also one of the best. Two teenagers, one of whom thinks he suffers from psychopathy and the other who is simply bored with life, run away. The young actors are incredible! The show is intense and definitely a black comedy, but I highly recommend it!

Look for my Hulu recommendations next time!

Stylish

By: Adair Bingham

Conformity in art is a huge deal. Being able to replicate realism in a moment’s notice is what makes artists valuable in most—if not all—creative industries. Expertise in anatomy and proportion of all kinds can make or break an artist’s portfolio and, more often than not, companies are afraid to take a chance with someone who bends the rules or does things a little differently.

I’ve been told that “in order to break the rules, you have to learn them first.” I believe this wholeheartedly, but I also rather conversely think that art is more fun when it looks out of this world. By no means am I advocating for artists to forfeit learning the fundamentals and basics of anatomy, set-up, or things like that, but I do think stylization is just as important as having a good grip on the basics. Stylization makes things unique: it can make the most mundane objects eye-catching. It can transform normal into whimsical. The most humdrum and overplayed scenarios can become breathtaking and otherworldly if stylization is just given a chance. It’s refreshing to see studios taking a leap of faith and giving artists with an otherwise “unconventional” style the spotlight.

Now I know I don’t speak for everyone when I say this, but I’d take unorthodox and weird over tried and true any day without a second thought. Strange and unusual tend to stand out a lot better anyways and are also remembered better, for better or worse. It really all boils down to preference, but the general consensus is that more people are likely to actually remember something if it looks different, i.e Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse or Invader Zim. Two franchises that have nothing in common, save for the fact that they don’t conform to industry-standard styles. Not only that, but taking chances with strange styles such as these open up the doorway for smaller, independent artists to stay true to their own merits and visions, rather than censoring themselves in the name of consumerism. What makes something good or stylish is subjective, as always, but there’s a lot to be said in how it plays into the media we consume on a daily basis. So, next time you’re sitting down to watch something, pay attention to how it all plays out. Does it take risks with its narrative or does it play it safe?

Subscription Services!

by Beth Royston

I love receiving packages in the mail. Even if I know what it is, it’s still exciting, though never quite the same as a mystery piece of mail. In the pandemic especially, sometimes I’ll turn to a little retail therapy, but that doesn’t quite scratch the itch of a package arriving where I’m not entirely sure of the contents. I’ve tried a few subscription boxes lately that fit perfectly in the middle — I know when they’re coming, but not exactly what’s inside. Here are a few that I’ve tried personally, or friends have tried, as well as some that are on my future-subscription list.

Atlas Coffee Club 

I tried a subscription to Atlas Coffee Club, a coffee subscription service, as a gift to my partner. There are many coffee subscription services out there and most consist of options for you to choose your roast, grind style, and delivery frequency. My partner enjoyed trying different coffees from all around the world, and was impressed at how quickly the beans arrived after they were ground. Each Atlas shipment also included a postcard about the coffee’s origins. Overall it was a super cool way to try some things my partner might not have come across normally!

Check Atlas Coffee Club out here

Book of the Month

I love to read, but find myself busier and busier. Sometimes finding time to read is difficult enough, and if I don’t have anything new, it seems like I don’t have time to peruse my local bookstore and find something I’d like. A subscription service I want to try is Book of the Month! You can choose from up to five selections for them to send to you each month, and you can always skip a month if you’re not ready. Their books are specially curated and it seems like a great way to stick to reading more!

Check out Book of the Month here.

Sipsby 

I love tea. I’ve dabbled in making my own personalized blends and vastly enjoy trying fun flavors. While my tasting experience is a bit limited by the fact that I can only ingest decaf (thanks, caffeine intolerance) I was thrilled to hear about Sipsby, a tea subscription service. Sipsby is similar to a coffee subscription service, but sends you many different types of tea in a personalized box each month. You can specify what kinds you’d like and if you’d like decaf! 

Check out Sipsby here.

Hunt a Killer

You might have heard of this one. While I personally haven’t tried it, my roommates are true crime fanatics and love Hunt a Killer. It’s a murder mystery subscription box that comes with all the clues you need to crack a case, spread out over several episodes. It’s a blast with several people playing, and comes with a lot of really well thought out material to make every box a fun and thrilling experience.

Check out Hunt a Killer here