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!

Five Common Misconceptions About Homeschoolers

by Claire Golden

You belong at PSU no matter what your educational background is, traditionally-schooled and homeschooled students alike. I’m a proud homeschool graduate, and today I’d like to share five common misconceptions that I have encountered through the years. (Plus, a picture of me with one of my classmates.)

Misconception #1: Homeschoolers are smarter than other students. 

Nope, just because somebody is homeschooled doesn’t tell you how smart they are. Homeschoolers have a reputation for being nerds, and while that’s true of some of us, it’s not true for all of us. 

Misconception #2: Homeschoolers are dumber than other students.

Same here — you can’t tell someone’s intelligence just by looking at where they went to school. I often got teased for not being super in-the-loop about current events. But I was always like this, even when I went to traditional school, and it doesn’t mean I’m not smart. I just find other topics more interesting. 

Misconception #3: All homeschoolers are taught by their parents.

It depends on the household! People assume that because I speak French, my parents are French. But my parents don’t speak a word of the language (except buzzwords like “croissant” and “oui”). I learned through online classes without my parents ever getting involved other than to pay my tuition. It also did not work for me to learn math from my parents; we all got too frustrated. So I took online classes for that, too. However, some homeschooled kids do learn from their parents, so it all depends what family you’re looking at.

Misconception #4: Homeschoolers don’t interact with other children.

I’ll be honest: I wasn’t a particularly social child (nor am I a social adult). If I didn’t have to leave the house, I wouldn’t. But that says more about me as a person than it does about homeschoolers as a group. We often attend co-ops to take classes or are involved with clubs and societies where we meet other kids. (You’re looking at a former homeschool chess club member here. Yes, I’m cool.) We aren’t locked in our house for eight hours a day, five days a week. We go out and about, run errands, and learn out in the real world. We have plenty of social interaction. There’s just as much variance in levels of introvert and extrovert among homeschoolers as there is in any other population group.

Misconception #5: Homeschoolers have it easier than traditionally-schooled kids.

I sure do hear this one a lot. Luckily, COVID has made it easy to debunk this particular idea. Just because you’re doing something at home doesn’t make it less hard — in fact, doesn’t it seem harder to work from home sometimes than it is working in the office? There are so many more distractions. The vast majority of homeschoolers are hard workers. If they have it easier in one way, it usually balances out in another. For instance, I didn’t take chemistry in high school, but it’s because I was spending my time doing college-level French class instead. My history knowledge is sparse, but I’ve been writing novels since I was 15. I didn’t have it easier than kids in regular high school. I just had it different.

The biggest thing homeschooling has taught me is that everywhere can be your classroom, and that you can learn something from everybody. That’s a lesson I’m grateful for and that I continue to use every day. 

Hang Tight Just a Little Longer…

by Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell

Vaccines are rolling out and the weather is getting warm again. I myself am fully vaccinated and feeling the pull of a social life. I miss going out to eat. I miss concerts and bars and hanging out with friends. I miss going on dates and seeing movies and attending classes on-campus. I miss not wearing a mask everywhere. Simply put? I miss life.

But I also miss the grandmother I lost to COVID. I miss not feeling like I was risking my fragile health every time I step out the door. I miss my elderly clients not feeling scared and trapped in their own homes.

It is so important, now more than ever, to take COVID precautions seriously. We are getting more and more people vaccinated. We are close to a future where, seemingly, real life could exist again. I’ve begun to make tentative plans for the summer and fall. I’ve dreamed about a trip to the coast with friends where I don’t have to worry if my actions are selfish. 

I feel, though, like I’m going crazy. People I know are travelling. I know someone who went to Hawaii, someone who went to Mexico, someone who went to California. I know people who are having large dinner parties, who are going drinking with friends, who are wearing masks less and less. I’m staggered by this. We’re so close! These actions are putting us farther and farther away from our ideal COVID situation. It feels stunningly selfish, especially those who are travelling to other states and countries. I’m going crazy in isolation as much as anyone else. I’m an extrovert who thrives on social interaction — but I refuse to give in to these selfish actions. 

There are so many ways to safely do things. Order take-out! Sit six feet apart, masks on, outside with your loved ones! Go for a countryside drive instead of traveling across the country! There are plenty of places that are taking wonderful COVID precautions: tattoo parlors, barber shops, grocery stores. And it is important to support local business. But hold on just a little longer, everyone! Our normal lives are closer than we know! 

The Best Beverage: In Praise of Coffee

By Erika Nelson

On any particular day, my morning routine always begins with coffee. It’s a stereotype: the college student who runs on coffee. But in my case, it’s true.  I. Love. Coffee. My morning coffee is the simple indulgence that kicks off my day; a form of self-bribery to hoist my tired body out of bed instead of pressing the snooze button. 

One of the little ways I show affection for my partner is by making coffee. We have an Aeropress, which is like a French Press but FASTER, meaning less time to wait for that caffeine jolt! I add a splash of cream to mine, and we sit and watch the news together before getting on with our respective days. If I’m at my place, I either brew a pot of drip coffee or trot down to Starbucks for the frothy goodness of a Grande Nitro cold brew. On days when I’m having trouble working up the motivation to study, I head to one of my favorite places on campus, Park Avenue Café. A mocha and an almond biscotti while I study? Heaven. 

Enjoying a caffeinated beverage (or two or three) in a place where I can have alone time, yet experience a fair amount of background stimulation while I work, is where I’m most productive. The concept of “productivity” is a double-edged sword that seems to go hand-in-hand with coffee culture: social media is saturated with pictures of espresso next to laptops, attached to hashtags like #onmygrind and #butfirstcoffee. Being busy (and the tasty brown beverage that gets you through the busy-ness) is glorified in our society, and some people criticize “busy culture,” pointing out that it can lead to burnout and feelings of inadequacy. 

I’m no stranger to burnouts and feelings of inadequacy. I’ve had depression and anxiety since I was a kid, and was recently diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 27. My ADHD diagnosis has led to a new perspective on my own habits and productivity. Like others with the same concurrent conditions, I’m in a weird spot: common wisdom for the depressed and anxious is to avoid caffeine to prevent exacerbating symptoms. However, coffee’s mainstay stimulant helps many people with and without executive function disorders sharpen their focus. Many people with ADHD use coffee instead of (or in addition to) prescription ADHD medications for this very purpose. 

I sometimes wonder: is it the caffeine, the taste, or the ritual that makes me love coffee so much? Maybe it’s a combination of all three: caffeine helps me concentrate, coffee is yummy, and a morning cup of Joe signals my brain that it’s time to sit down and get things done. Whatever the reason for my coffee obsession, I don’t see myself switching to decaf anytime soon. 

I could probably stand cutting back to one cup a day, though.

So you want to be an Ambassador

By: Ragan Love

Portland State University has many different programs that help prospective students decide if PSU is right for them and one of these programs is the Students Ambassadors. This group of students is often the first connection that future students have to the university. They are hired to represent the student and campus experience. Ambassadors come from all walks of life and represent every college on campus.

I am not an ambassador but my friend, Sophia Hogan, has been involved with this program for the past year and is preparing to continue her involvement the next term. 

The different activities that she has done this past year include giving tours, currently virtual, to prospective students. As they would do in real life, she shows all of the different buildings on campus and shares the history behind them all. 

She has also been a part of different student panels. These panels are moderated by PSU counselors who describe the admission process and what the school is like. The counselors then ask the ambassadors about their experiences at their specific school. 

This spring, she participated in Admitted Students Day where they help admitted students decide if PSU is right for them. This is when students can talk to ambassadors in their same pathway to get an idea of what the culture is like. The ambassadors also have questions for themselves to answer if the prospective students are nervous to ask.

PSU is currently in a transition toward being back on campus where the ambassadors are holding “live from PSU” tours, where Sophia and other ambassadors will livestream a tour of campus. 

Giving these tours has actually helped Sophia still feel connected to her acting side which she hasn’t been able to do since she was in high school. These tours allow her to memorize lines and “give a show” of the campus which gives her a little break from her academics. 

Sophia has had a fun experience while at PSU and she has been wanting to share her experience with others. She also comes from an immigrant household so she is able to help prospective students who come from the same background feel welcomed.

If you are a prospective student and would like to get to know more about campus, college life, and academics, you can schedule a one-on-one meeting with a student ambassador who will tell you everything you need to know about PSU!

If you are currently a PSU student and are interested in becoming an ambassador, applications open every Winter term. Information about this process can be found here!

https://www.pdx.edu/visit/student-ambassadors

Art With A Side Of Psychology

By: Adair Bingham

Now that I’ve graduated from Portland State University and I’m moving on to the next big thing, I’ve made it a goal of mine to finish up as much personal art as I possibly can for my ever-changing and evolving portfolio. Since graduating high school, I’ve challenged myself to finish at least two sketchbooks a year, if not more. This goal has largely taken a backseat since my progression into digital art, and I don’t often feel the incentive to doodle on paper, but I’m going to make a serious effort to pick it back up and keep at it. I honestly can’t think of anything more satisfying than flipping through a sketchbook that’s been finished cover to cover and I want to see how much I’ve improved since completing my last one a little over a year ago.

So, my new goal is to to complete a halfway decent and a mostly finished portfolio by the end of summer, if possible. There’s a long way to go but I know that I can see it through if I push myself hard enough. In my previous post, I mentioned not being entirely sure of what to do with my psychology degree. That’s still pretty true. So, at least for the time being, I’m waiting on it before potentially pursuing anything with it to make sure, to make sure I don’t make any impulsive decisions. If possible, I want a career that’ll allow me to combine my degree with my passion for art—  and make something out of that, which is what I’m aiming for! I’ve always done things with a bit of unconventionality, so why not? I don’t see why that wouldn’t be an option for me. 

There’s a world of possibility out there, from art therapy to other professions that will let me use my art skills in ways that relate back to my degree. Besides, who knows what else may happen along the way? New opportunities show up left and right all the time., There is always something waiting for me, it’s just up to me to go out and find it.

A New Look!

by Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell

In July 2019, I got my lower lip pierced in some 2005-throwback-glory. I got snakebites and I love them SO much. These little pieces of metal have quadrupled my confidence and I don’t regret them. 

I have had the itch to get another piercing every day since then. Little things have gotten in the way: unexpected bills popping up, opportunities for tattoos instead, etc. When I received my stimulus check, I was determined to put it in savings … and do one nice thing for myself. One self-indulgent, unnecessary, fun thing. I thought about buying some new clothes, but couldn’t find anything that caught my eye. I thought about splurging on some first-edition books I’ve had my eye on, but couldn’t justify the several hundred dollars it would have cost. And then it hit me: I’m gonna get another piercing!! 

I considered what kind of piercing I wanted for days. Another lip piercing? No, my lips might look too crowded. A belly-button piercing? I’d always wanted one, but it took my fiancee’s piercing a year to heal, and the thought of not wearing high-waisted pants made me want to cry. An ear piercing? Unfortunately, due to a misadventure at Claire’s, my earlobes are so heavily scarred that it would take a miracle to get a needle through them. An eyebrow piercing? I couldn’t think of any negatives! I’d always wanted one, and I thought it would make me look like the 2005 punk-rocker I’d always wanted to be!

I found myself lying face-up on a table with a needle through my face a week later. And I have to say! I love it! I’m so happy I did this little thing for myself, and I can’t wait to rock a face full of metal in the next few years.

A Peaceful Respite

by Beth Royston

Video games are not only a huge hobby of mine, they’re also a form of stress relief. They can serve as both an art form and a way to decompress. I play a lot of games normally, but over the past year that we’ve been in the pandemic, I find myself turning to more calming management-style games. They’re distracting and perfect when I need to relax. I thought I’d recommend some of my indie favorites in case you’re also looking for your next fix. I tried to include several, but realistically, I could go on forever. These are either games I’ve played myself and have given a happy stamp of approval, or that have received raving reviews from friends. I could also recommend several other games that wouldn’t quite fit the management tag, but that’s a list for another day. 

Stardew Valley

Personally, I feel like Stardew Valley is super well-known, but I still haven’t played it! I’m hoping to remedy that soon. However, almost all of my friends have played, and no one has anything negative to say about it. In Stardew Valley, you take over a farm and make it the best it can be, while getting to know the townsfolk and exploring a gorgeous world. Stardew Valley has an “Overwhelmingly Positive” rating on Steam with 290,206 reviews. It’s available on multiple consoles, but if you play on PC, you can find a lot of mods that people have lovingly made to enhance your experience.

Slime Rancher

Slime Rancher features you taking the role of Beatrix LeBeau, a rancher living on a foreign planet who spends her days wrangling various types of slimes and exploring the Far, Far Range. Slime Rancher is super charming, with many different environments to explore and cute characters to meet. You can combine slime types and grow their favorite foods, while keeping an eye on the changing market prices. In my opinion, Slime Rancher does an excellent job of balancing exploration with management that actually feels necessary and real! You’re required to pay attention to your ranch and venture out in order to advance the game. It also has a timed mode and a relaxed mode so you can customize your experience. Slime Rancher has an “Overwhelmingly Positive” rating on Steam with over 54,461 reviews and took me about 20 hours to play through.

Potion Craft

Potion Craft isn’t released yet, but you can play the demo. It looks like a unique, promising concept. You play as an alchemist in a small town, taking the townspeople’s various requests for potions while trying to figure out how to make most of them through wild experimentation. What charmed me the most was the art style of the game — it looks like a medieval text. I found the demo extremely fun to play and spent time exploring what happened when I added various ingredients together. I’m really looking forward to spending hours in this game, managing my little alchemy shop when Potion Craft releases.

Spiritfarer

I’ve saved the best for last. Spiritfarer was my personal game of the year in 2020. You play as Stella, the newest Spiritfarer replacing Charon, and sail around a beautiful world in your massive vessel with your cat Daffodil. Your goal is to find lost spirits in the world and help them pass on, while discovering more about yourself. You complete charming tasks, like cooking, gardening, building workshops and spirit houses, and chasing adorable nebula rollie-pollies that sink onto your boat like falling stars. (Extremely important note — you can hug Daffodil at any time!) Spiritfarer is ultimately a game about loss, death, and grief, and it definitely made me sob every time I helped a spirit pass on. With the disclaimer that it’s a sad game, it definitely struck a chord with me as a sentimental, beautiful work of art about how those you love will never be far. The soundtrack is incredible, the quests are charming, and I literally cannot say enough about it. The developers are releasing new spirits this year, which has motivated me to start a new playthrough and experience it all over again. Spiritfarer has an “Overwhelmingly Positive” rating on Steam with 7,340 reviews, and I have almost 40 hours in the game — but disclaimer, I did spend extra time getting all of the achievements. 

I hope that this list gave you some inspiration for calming management games to try! 

The Rule of Three

By Claire Golden

It’s no secret to anybody who knows me, even in passing, that I don’t like change. Whether it’s something big like moving, or something small like not having Thai food for dinner as planned, change feels disruptive and sudden to me. This is exacerbated by severe anxiety, which is notoriously triggered by disruptions to routine.

However, change is unavoidable, and it isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s a change for the better. If I hadn’t come to Portland State University, I never would have seen Little Cow Pigeon. (Yes, I will take any opportunity to use a picture of Little Cow Pigeon.) If I hadn’t started working at my new job, I never would have met my fiancé. Starting therapy was terrifying, but it changed my life for the better. Life doesn’t stay the same forever, whether or not you want it to, so I’ve had to learn coping mechanisms. One of the most useful techniques is what I call the Rule of Three.

I developed this rule during college, when I had to change classes every term. It was difficult getting used to a new classroom, subject and teacher every ten weeks when it felt like I had just gotten used to the last term. However, I always ended up settling in and feeling more comfortable…it just took me a couple of weeks. So I learned to give it three weeks before deciding the class was a lost cause.

Sometimes the change is smaller — a restaurant I was planning on going to for lunch is unexpectedly closed. This used to ruin my day. But there’s always an alternative, and sometimes that ends up being just as good as the original plan. I learned to pause and take three minutes to process my disappointment and consider the new options. That’s usually all it takes to I feel a lot better about things.

Same thing if someone asks me out of the blue if I want to go on an outing with them — say, a hike in the park or a trip to a food cart. My initial reaction is always to say “no.” I started wondering why that was, because I’m not a negative person. In fact, I’m generally rather optimistic. I figured out it was my anxiety getting in the way, because anxiety does not like spontaneity. Now I ask the person to give me a few minutes to think about it. More often than not, after I have three minutes to consider the question, I end up wanting to go out after all.

What if the change is massive? I moved twice during my childhood — I’m originally from Michigan — before moving to Ohio and then to Oregon. Those were huge changes. In this case, the rule of three had to be three months. That was how long it took me to adjust to my new home, city, neighborhood and friends. 

The Rule of Three has worked well for me when it comes to adjusting to change. Perhaps it will be useful for you, as well, if you also struggle with new things. I’m always trying to remember that just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s bad. It might be scary at first, but more often than not, it’s a change for the better. And that gives me the courage to power through.

Illness Advocate

by Julien-Pierre “Johnny” Campbell

As I have shared many times in my Chronicle articles, I am chronically ill and disabled. I have a compromised immune system, I am hard of hearing, I walk with a limp, I am allergic to everything from pet hair to plants to hand soap, I have fibromyalgia, crippling pain, I have intense sensory issues, I have delayed motor skills, I have multiple mental illnesses, I have plantar fasciitis, GI issues, I’m severely anemic … I could go on. This makes my daily life no less joyful, but pretty complicated. What can exacerbate the difficulties is that 99% of my illnesses and disabilities are invisible.

If someone looked at me, they would see your average Portland twentysomething: skinny jeans, T-shirt, high-top shoes. If I were to walk, they may notice the limp. But from the outside, I look able-bodied and neurotypical. While this does include some inherent privilege that I want to acknowledge, it can also make things quite frustrating. One cannot know that I am in so much physical pain I can hardly walk, or that I am covered in painful hives under my long sleeves because I pet my dog. 

Because of my complicated health, I have had to be my own fiercest advocate in the medical field. I’ve been told my pain is all in my head, that I’m just suffering growing pains, that my pain tolerance is just bad. My favorite is when a family doctor told me at thirteen, “Well, your weight just puts too much strain on your body! Of course your knees hurt!” I was a hundred pounds soaking wet.

Recently, I had to go to the ER. It was the first time my pain levels had landed me somewhere of this caliber. I’d had to go to urgent care several times, and been to my PCP countless times. I was scared out of my wits of the ER, especially as an immunocompromised person in the middle of a pandemic! I had woken up at 2 a.m. sure I had broken every rib in my body. I could hardly breathe, and felt a stabbing pain and then a crunch with each breath I took in. It was terrifying. I’d cried for hours until my fiancee urged me to go to the ER at 5 a.m..

The pain was indescribable. I could barely breathe, let alone sit up and walk. Even still, I felt that I was over-exaggerating. The pain will probably go away in a few days. The medical bills aren’t worth it. I can’t breathe, but maybe I’m just being hysterical. They won’t believe me anyway. Maybe the pain will go away if I just buck up and deal with it. The denial was real. 

Unfortunately, all my worst fears came true at the ER. I was treated exactly as I’d feared: like I was making everything up. The doctor insinuated that I was there trolling for pain pills. When I explained that addiction ran in my family and I was very wary of pills, the physician leveled a look at me like I was lying. An exact quote from him was, “Well, it’s not like you’re having a heart attack! It’s not a real emergency.” At that moment, the pain in my heart was worse than the pain in my ribs. Another useless trip. Another doctor acting as if I was some kind of hysterical hypochondriac. He interrupted me as I rattled off my list of diagnoses to say, “But are you actually diagnosed with that?” Of course I am. I’ve had to fight like hell for these diagnoses since I was thirteen years old. 

I wanted to lay down and give up. But I refused. I have repeated it a million times: if I don’t advocate for myself in the medical world, no one will. If I don’t demand the treatment I deserve, I will not receive it. And so I went on another endless visit with my PCP. I was firm: I wanted a blood test, I wanted referrals to a chiropractor, and I wanted suggestions for how to engage in pain management. I wasn’t rude, but I was steadfast. And I received all of these things. The blood test gave me answers I’d long been seeking, the chiropractor is incredibly helpful, and the pain management skills are at the very least helping my mental health. 

I am ill. I am disabled. But I am proud of myself, and I am not making my conditions up. I am someone who suffers greatly, but someone who advocates for himself fiercely and firmly. And I’ll just have to keep doing it!