A Queer Complaint Against Valentine’s Day

ec08db75f9ef95c1180ca428f5ecf0e1 By Naomi Kolb

It’s been hard to miss the fact that Valentine’s Day is this week with the bake sales, posters, and sex-themed events that have been seemingly taking over our campus lately. I’ve been actively trying not to be bitter about Valentine’s Day because this is the first year in awhile that Cupid forgot to fire the magical arrow that would land me a cutie to spend it with. Rather than being bitter about “not having anyone” to spend this holiday with though, I’m making genuine efforts to appreciate the love that I already have in my life. Just because I don’t have a romantic partner this year doesn’t mean that I don’t have anyone at all.

One of the legitimate complaints that I’d like to lodge against Valentine’s Day is the fact that it totally overemphasizes romantic and sexual love as the be-all-end-all, and specifically straight romantic and sexual love. None of that represents what my or my friend’s lives look like in college. For the most part, we’re a bunch of queers stumbling through loving each other in the best ways that we know how. The love that I have in my life right now might not consist of Netflix and Chill or romantic dinner dates, and I’m OK with that. The love that I’ve got in my life right now is singing at the top of my lungs while making dinner, calling my friend two time zones away to read her a passage from a book that I love, listening to previously unspoken poetry over Saturday morning brunch, and is certainly more than enough to fill my heart with even if I don’t have a romantic partner this Valentine’s Day.

I’m not ready to write off Valentine’s Day altogether – I’m not saying screw romantic love, screw relationships, or screw straight people. However, I am definitely saying screw the idea that you need a romantic partner to be happy and fulfilled. I’ve never been happier than I am right now, and I’m doing it without a traditional romantic partner by my side. This Valentine’s Day, I’m going to be busy loving myself and loving my friends more than ever before. Maybe Cupid didn’t miss me this year after all – maybe he just aimed his arrows towards unexpected places that still landed exactly where I needed them to be.

Putting the Pub Back in Publishing

Kellie Doherty

By Kellie Doherty

Every year the second-year graduate students of the book publishing program join the new students (we call them “little fish”) at a local bar. Last year it was at Cheerful Tortoise and this year, Rogue. Not all the little fish go, of course, but the ones who do get to meet the second years and mingle with their incoming class. It’s a fun process, and one I was glad to be a part of two years in a row. I have to say, though, the way I felt about this informal meeting couldn’t be more different.

Last year, I was part of the incoming class. I was the little fish. It was seriously overwhelming, meeting all these new people and hearing about the jobs the second years had, but it felt good to be part of a group, too. Knowing I could learn from these awesome people diminished some of the fear of starting the program.

I’m a second year now. I know things! I’ve been through the gauntlet, survived, and had a blast! So when I walked into the bar and saw all the cheerful (yet apprehensive) faces of the little fish, I felt pretty good about easing their worries. At the very least, I made them feel welcomed, feel part of a group like the second years in my term did for me. And hopefully, when it’s these little fishes’ turn, they’ll do the same, too.

Do any of your programs have an informal meeting like this?

English 101: A sentimental summer lesson

By: Sharon Jackson

England was absolutely more than I could ever ask for. I have been to London, to the south in Devon, to the north in Chester, and to the phenomenal countryside in Yorkshire. I have seen medieval churches, ancient Roman remains, and pubs that date back to the Domesday Book of 1086. I have eaten Devonshire cream teas, Cornish pasties, and full English breakfasts complete even with a bit of black pudding, and I liked it. My two week venture felt like an accelerated Summer term at Portland State University!

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Considering all the splendid things that are England, the memories that I smile at most are the ones that involve spending time with my new family thanks to my boyfriend. From watching a movie around a cozy fire at Grandma’s house, spaghetti bolognese at Uncle Graham’s, a blast to the past in Huyton [the town where my boyfriend grew up] to the 90th birthday party for the man who is responsible for most of this very large and very loving family [seriously, all are not pictured].

Nevertheless, I am glad to be home and anticipating and preparing for another rigorous year at PSU. The most important thing that I gained from this trip is a reminder that in the coming endless hours of studying, gallons of caffeine and white nights that any college student will undoubtedly endure, I will always remember to make time for family and friends. At the end of the day, all we truly have are the people in our lives.

How will you make time for your family and friends this school year?

A live phone call — someone loves me

By: Theo Burke

"Hey, I didn't know it could TALK!"

“Hey, I didn’t know it could TALK!”

Not long ago, while working on a PSU Vanguard story, I received a return phone call, within 24 hours, from Scott Gallagher of the University Communications office. I nearly fell down from shock.

I had not received a live phone call in months from anyone other than my mother. And it seemed as though an ever-increasing amount of important people in my life had barricaded themselves behind “email walls.”

When I recently asked to meet with an editor at one of the three student media outlets I worked for, she simply refused to do it. Her supervisor had established a policy, she said, that editors could limit communications with writers to email. No meetings, live conversations, or body language required.

A professor supervising me on a huge term paper could only be reached by email and was only on campus two days per week. She had not even set up the voice mail on her office phone. But this makes her no different from most PSU profs —not a single professor in my three years here has used the office phone.

Mr. Gallagher reminded me what humans are capable of. Follow up.  Consideration. Professionalism. Simple human respect and kindness. And he understands that the old standards of professionalism still matter to do your job.

I submit to you all that we will not be able to live without live voice communication and nonverbal body language over the long run. We will not be able to abandon those and hold onto the jobs that we like, as well.

No amount of quiet, feverish tapping on our devices will replace our voices and ourselves.

A relentless secret at PSU . . .

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There is a secret held by many a Portland State student, closely guarded, but not really secret; not shameful, but not boasted of. We keep it from others, and ourselves as well.

It is the grinding, relentless poverty of the college student. Students push poverty out of their minds, taking loan after loan each term without dwelling on the ramifications, trying to hang on until graduation, concentrating on academics.

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Our university community may not fully realize how deeply many students live in the quiet perseverance of being broke and being a student. And the weird ways that poverty can manifest.

A busy student I know led a prestigious student group last year while racking up $1800 in parking fines and impoundment fees on her car. She gave up on recovering the car, and eventually purchased a different vehicle. Some students can’t afford their textbooks. I’ve visited ASPSU’s food pantry myself several times this term and in past terms.

The wolves just catch up with you. You feed the ones that must be fed, and try to ignore the howling of the others as you bear down your latest term paper. Eventually, the checkbook gets empty, the next pittance of income too far away.

That is when I have been grateful for the existence of several things:  ASPSU’s food pantry in Smith. The endless help of the Financial Aid office. Emergency loans from the Bursar’s Office. A little help from my friends in my personal life.

I would not have made it through without them.

How I got Involved

How I got Involved

Being a part of the Orientation Team has been my absolute, without a doubt, favorite part of the summer. I’m glad I decided to get involved in my school, or else I would not have met all of these amazing people and I never would have gotten the same type of work experience anywhere else. Everyone always says “Get involved!”, but you never realize how much of a difference it makes until you do.

When MAX introduced the neighbors

The MAX train.

About a week ago, my best friend and I were on the MAX riding back to Portland State. We had been in Milwaukie, and were coming back to get dinner at my place and then head to a concert that night at the Crystal Ballroom. We were excited to see Brandi Carlile live.

Sitting across from us on the MAX was a mother and two daughters. The youngest was fast asleep in her mom’s arms, but the other was busy asking questions and acting, shy as most little kids do. Eventually, she got up the courage to ask both us if we were Portland State students, since we were studying and talking about classes. We answered, and a conversation was born. The mother, my best friend and I all began talking and soon discovered that she too was a student. But more than that, she even lived in the same building as I do.

It struck me that night that we are all strangers passing each other by, and the community of Portland State is indeed wide stretching and very diverse. I think we take for granted doe faced youths as college students, and forget that we students come in all shapes and sizes and ages. So next time you are sitting on the MAX, keep in mind that maybe you are looking at your neighbor two floors down, or a future classmate. We don’t always have to be strangers on a train.

It’s a mad, mad world

We all know going to school is stressful and being on your own is too. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with a psychiatric condition. I’m happy, healthy and stable due to my doctors, prescriptions – and most of all – due to the amazing support system I have in my family and my friends – my two best friends to be precise.

On the days when I am “off”, because of stress or being sick or meds mixing wrong, I lean more heavily on the people around me. I had one of these days recently, and I was not functioning well, if at all. Someone, whom I love dearly, stepped up without question to take care of me. While I knew before how valuable my friends are, and how much I love them, this instance only made me understand it better.

For some of us though, our support systems are far away – either in different states, or maybe in different countries. I say, be aware of the people in your life. Take notice of them, and when someone is having a bad day, be a little nicer. Because you never know, it might just make a difference to them. For those out there like me, be aware of your resources. Sometimes all you need to do is tell a friend, “I’m having a bad day.” But if you need more support, PSU’s Center for Student Health and Counseling (SHAC) can help.

Going into this academic year, I plan to stay healthy, and to have as much fun as I can. With the support and love of the people in my life, I know this is not only possible, but guaranteed.

Moving In and Moving Out, With Friends or Without.

There is nothing like moving into a new place, a new environment, and I could even say into a new chapter of life. The city has always attracted me, and with it came many opportunities to meet people and make new friends. Being one of the few Mexican Americans living on campus made it interesting trying to fit in. Nonetheless, with time I made new friends, and eventually got close with a few. At the time, I was living alone in Broadway but knew that I eventually wanted to move in with my friends.

From my experience, the more roommates you have, the more issues and tensions come up. The question is how these issues will be addressed and solved in a respectful manner?

I am a pretty laid back person, and I admit, shy. It takes me awhile to trust any person, I observe first, talk little, and try to understand the person. However, we all have different personalities, different ways of thinking, and making friends.

At the beginning of one of my move-ins, everything looked promising. We all expected to get along, go out during the weekends, and even throw parties at our place. However, issues came up. Someone wouldn’t clean up after themselves, someone would always be late paying bills, someone would constantly have their girlfriend over, someone had a huge ego, and someone was under age, the list goes on. By the end everything had changed, the lack of communication and respect didn’t help. I saw it as a learning experience, good and bad.

In the end the six of us separated, three of my former roommates stayed together and found a new place to live. I fortunately, paired up with one of my other roommates and found a new place. Nonetheless, some friendships were lost and others were changed.