Chiron studies operating pro bono

Chiron Studies is pretty great. It took me till my last year at Portland State to take a course, but in “Active Anthropology” we’re volunteering and gardening through local nonprofit Wisdom of the Elders. The gardening in particular has been great—there is something so satisfying about the peaceful property near Powell Butte

Chiron Studies appears under “independent studies” in the course catalog. It doesn’t count toward any degree, but the credits count as electives. Chiron lets anyone teach their own college class, providing they have a faculty sponsor and can pass other miscellaneous rigamarole. Continue reading

The Bowling Hustlers

It was only my first time there, and I accidentally tried to hustle the PSU bowling alley.

I stop by the desk to pay before I head in, and the guy at the desk says, “Nah, your boy already got you.”

“Thanks!” I tell my boy inside.

He’s only my boy in the colloquial sense, however; I don’t have any kids.

It’s a ghost town in there; we’re the only people in all six lanes. We start playing, and the balls are badly chipped. The bowling machinery at the end of the lane clanks loudly at regular intervals, like there is something stuck back there. Projectors display the score on the walls.

Matt and I play through a few games, and then a few more. As the minutes turn to hours I develop a strange fondness for our bowling alley, and even the annoying clanking seems like personality and flavor. It’s cheap and it’s right here, and it’s really not too bad for what it is.


Suddenly the guy from the desk comes running out.

“Hey! You gotta pay if you’re gonna keep playing!”

Whoops! Got carried away there. Unlike other bowling alleys you’re not automatically cut off when you’re done. I go and settle up.

“Where should I go for lunch?”

It’s the eternal question of 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. You’ve decided to go out to lunch—but where? Sometimes it seems like the longer I’ve been here and the more options I’ve tried, the harder it gets. But having spent money at nearly every business within a few square miles of PSU, I’ve got some answers:


  1.  Loco Loco’s Burritos (1728 S.W. Broadway) – My longtime favorite place on campus. Located down a perhaps overlooked stairwell next to Parking Structure 2, they serve large portion, real Mexican restaurant style food at a reasonable price. Bonus is the atmosphere, which is relaxed and homey.
  2. East Side Deli (1438 S.W. Park Ave.) – Featuring massive sandwiches with vegan options, they have all the deli flourishes like fancy sauces and cheeses at decent prices. They even serve beer.
  3. Hot Lips (1909 S.W. 6th Ave.) – My favorite of the pizza places on campus. Don’t expect a massive meal, but they’ve got those great pizza slices with odd toppings like potatoes.
  4. Asian Noodle (In front of the library) – Sometimes you need some food quick. This place is delicious, relatively healthy, and there is rarely much of a line. I’ve never been disappointed by their nice plates of protein, vegetables and rice.
  5. Bring your own lunch (Your house) – Whoops! Sometimes I forget this is an option too.

Where do you like to eat lunch PSU?

Warning: Feelings Ahead

Emotionally drained, in a good way.

This is not a frequent experience for me in college. Sometimes classes can be appreciated, in a distant, intellectual kind of way. Sometimes I am moved to laughter. But very rarely do I experience the higher and more vulnerable emotions in a classroom: awe, or even tears. I just got out of dramatic reading day in Susan Reese’s Writing from the Earth Class, where we all read our essays out loud.

Think This American Life, except it’s from your peers who are going through the same struggles as you. I was so blown away by the depth and talent of some of my peers, and I do not often give out compliments. A few students had to pause while they were reading to let their shaky voices settle down. I would pay money and consider it a good Saturday night to hear storytelling like that.

Topics ranged from frustrated love and female circumcision in Africa to growing up and finding yourself. Anyway, if you are in the mood for some touchy-feely stuff, as I secretly am sometimes, then take a personal essay class. I’ve experienced a lot of college, and yesterday’s class was one of the most memorable ones I’ve ever had.

Just over-do it!

Uh oh.

It’s the middle of the term, and I’ve got a stack of work like nothing I’ve ever seen before. My work is like a mountain, and it’s about to erupt.

I’ve organized it all into a nice tidy checklist, knowing that each item is a task that will take hours. What’s worse, I’ve seriously overbooked myself this term, knowing that some of these items just aren’t going to get done, or else they’re going to get done really badly. My checklist feels like a game of chess, where I might have to strategically sacrifice my knight for the greater good.

I whittle away at it. Weeks go by, and finally, most of it happens. The most comforting thing during my “hell weeks” is simply hearing the complaints of others. Like I am not in this alone. So what have I learned, if anything?

Unfortunately, I am one of those people for whom basic life lessons must come through hard and vicious experience, despite all the warnings anyone has given me. The basic adage is “don’t over-do it,” but I think I have learned a twist to that piece of advice: Over-do it. But learn about your limitations afterwards.

Sunrise at the library

It’s one of those mornings that feels like every other morning. One of those mornings that becomes lost in the blur of your daily routine. But I’ve noticed something different on my way into work, something special, one of those little veteran “extras” that anybody who has been in the same place awhile learns.

I hold onto my secret and perform the opening duties of a library computer help desk person. I wash the computers down with a rag. I wipe the fingerprints off their screens. I make sure nobody has left their valuables behind the night before. Then, as I take my seat next to the window in the morning sunrise and watch the stream of morning patrons head into the library, I make my move.

Off to the front of Hoffman Hall, where the new students are standing in line to get their transcripts and materials for their orientation. And more importantly, where catering has set up a table of coffee and bagels and muffins.

Score! I grab some for my coworker too.

So, my question to any readers out there, have you ever happened to score some free food on campus, and more importantly, would you care to share your secret with the world?