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!

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.

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

5 Tips For Living It Up in a Tiny Living Space

By Claire Golden

If you live in downtown Portland, you probably know the struggle: Housing is so expensive around here that a lot of us are crammed into a tiny living space. Lots of college students live in a dorm room, which is not exactly known for its spaciousness. In my own case, my fiancé and I share one small attic room, with my office wedged into one corner. But I’m quite content in this space, because I have everything that I need. Here are my tips for making a small living space yours.

1. Decorate: The first thing I did in my “office” was decorate the walls. You can hang things up with tape or sticky wall hooks so as not to anger your landlord by putting holes in the walls. I’m not picky about what goes up on the wall. It doesn’t have to be an “art print” to go on my Wall of Art. Right now I have a picture of my chicken, my enamel pin collection on a pin banner, a pigeon ornament, an embroidered cat, a John Green quote poster, and the parking pass from the place where my fiancé proposed to me. These things have nothing in common with each other except that they all make me smile.

2. Double down on storage: Storage is key in a small space, and I take great delight in my miniature drawers from Target, which hold my school supplies, makeup, and knicknacks. I am also probably the target customer for IKEA’s Raskog cart, which is a three-shelved storage cart on wheels. I have two of them, one for yarn and one for stuffed alpacas, and they are a lifesaver when it comes to storage.

3. Try journaling for frustration: Journaling is a great way to create something beautiful on paper. You can go for a basic journal or go all out with art journaling — there’s lots of inspiration on Pinterest and Instagram. Journaling is also an excellent way to cope with frustration and process your emotions…and you can do so in a pretty way.

4. Go online: When  get fed up with not having enough space to express myself,  I turn to online platforms. Then, when I can’t control something in my physical space, I can make my online space a haven. My blog and Instagram are my creative outlets and ways to connect with people. I find happiness in curating them exactly the way I want.

5. Let go of the unimportant: Above all, the most important thing I’ve learned about living in a small space is not to hold onto things that don’t make me happy. There’s no reason to keep something you don’t want to keep (except, perhaps, those tax papers…) that will only clutter up your space. My favorite book on organizing is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, in which she advises only keeping things that “spark joy.” This is the rule that I live by when it comes to my living quarters. Because of this, everything that I have makes me happy when I look at it, and it’s enough to make a small living space feel exactly the right size.

Reading Fatigue: Pulling Myself out of a Literary Rut

By Erika Nelson

Every month, the Goodreads newsletter pops into my inbox. These emails taunt me by singing the praises of newly-published books: colorful rectangle covers lined up into neat rows by genre; enticing blurbs draw me in. I used to pore over these newsletters and make library holds based on book suggestions, but now emails from Goodreads just evoke guilt.

I love to read. As an English major, I think that goes without saying, but I love to read more than the average person. I’ll read pretty much anything. Fiction and nonfiction. Science texts and sci-fi novels. The latest poignant, “deep” literary triumphs alongside “comfort food” stories from childhood. A few years ago, I consumed the New Yorker cover-to-cover in an evening.  I read a book (or more) every couple weeks. More recently, however, my “to-read” list has grown longer and longer, my Goodreads account sits in stagnant silence, and I rarely read for fun anymore. Why?

College involves a lot of reading, and majoring in English involves even more reading. I read so much for school every day that by the time I have some free moments the last thing I want to do is pick up another book. Instead — and I hate to admit this — most of my spare time is spent glued to my phone. I keep up on news articles and current event pieces online and off … but when it comes to reading for the sake of reading, anything longer than 280 characters doesn’t have much of a chance.

Reading fatigue is fairly common in academic circles. In a recent discussion post on D2L, I asked classmates if they had any ideas to wake up from my word fugue. People commiserate and several expressed the same problem. They had some great ideas for combatting reading fatigue: reading while sipping my morning coffee, having a specific reading space, and reading in bite-sized pieces. From their suggestions, I’ve decided to set myself a New Month’s Resolution: read one non-school book a month for the rest of the year.

I think this is a reasonable goal, if I can manage to tear myself away from my phone more often … this is where self-discipline comes in. However, I’m going to allow myself some grace if I fall behind — after all, life happens, and instructor-assigned reading comes first. I’m excited to get started! Step one: Look over that email from Goodreads.

The Game Of Two Halves

By: Adair Bingham

Video games have always been a huge part of my life. Some of my earliest and happiest memories are of sinking hours into platformer games on the Playstation 2 out in the living room or buffing up my party team in a roleplaying game on a handheld console. I don’t think that I’ll ever “grow out” of my interest in gaming or popular culture, it’s just too embedded in who I am as a person and, to be frank, I haven’t ever really felt a need to let go of these hobbies from my childhood. I consider video games an art form, a way to escape from reality, and much, much more. I like to think of them as their own little universes, really, something that’s easy to get lost in. They’re harmless fun for a lot of everyday people and get a bad rap for no real good reason at all, namely as a waste of time or something only for kids. 

If anything, the world of gaming has quite an interesting story, especially as it relates to mental health. Naturally, it’s important to consider the concept of  “too much of a good thing”, but games are a much-needed outlet for a lot of people, no matter their ages, and I think it can be a wonderful thing. In the same vein, they can serve as a form of self-expression. They can also be a way to cope with the stressors of daily life. Video games are a lot more than just mindless entertainment for people. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that my interests and hobbies, specifically gaming, have largely remained the same, if not rooted in the same things. A few things have changed here and there, like the genre, title, or console, but otherwise, my interests still lay in popular culture and the nerdy side of things. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s very likely that these will still always be a part of my life and a huge part of who I am. That’s okay. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of my biggest gripes about having a keen interest in these kinds of things is the kind of backlash that often follows it. People are often quick to call them a waste of time or something meant only for kids when a good majority of those who actually play games are older and, on top of that, most titles are geared towards a mature audience. Maybe I’m just stewing on passive-aggressive comments from the past, but when I get to really thinking about them I still find myself getting peeved. Games are so much more than what most people make them out to be and, in all honesty, they deserve to be on the same pedestal as film and literature. That’ll likely be a long time from now, but for the time being and as the bare minimum, I think some respect is in order for video games.

A Stellar Spring

by Beth Royston

It’s time for me to share another season’s worth of favorite activities again! A lot of these activities are open all year long, but the bright colors and fragrant blooms that come with springtime makes them particularly special.

Visit the Rose Garden!

Located in Washington Park, which is also home to the Oregon Zoo, the International Test Rose Garden is a stunningly beautiful trip. It’s host to more than 10,000 rose bushes and is truly a perfect visit for anyone that’s a fan of spring. There are some absolutely gorgeous varieties of roses that I never knew existed, and every time I feel like I see something new! Plus, you can make it a day trip with Washington Park’s other activities.

Cherry Blossoms at the Waterfront Park!

Perfectly instagram-able, not everyone knows that a large majority of the trees in the downtown Waterfront Park are actually cherry blossom trees. They bloom every spring, and pictures don’t truly do it justice. You can stroll along the park while observing the blossoms, appreciating this official sign that spring is here! For anyone that’s ever wanted to travel to Japan to see sakura season, this is a wonderful experience.

Check out the Portland Japanese Garden/Lan Su Chinese Garden! 

Located in Washington Park and downtown Portland respectively, these two attractions are open all year long, but are particularly beautiful in the spring (I can also vouch for the beauty of the Japanese Garden in autumn!). Seeing lush gardens so full of life always makes me happy after winter, and you can see them at the height of their beauty.

See the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival!

Tulips galore! Located in Woodburn, this extravaganza of tulips is a perfect way to celebrate spring. The best time to see the tulips is the first few weeks of April, but the festival is usually open until early May. They have an immense variety of tulips and other flowers to see and purchase, and also hot air balloon rentals! I hope you’ll keep these Portland spring attractions on your mind this year!