Winter is Coming.

Wash your hands. Wear a mask. We’re in this together.

By Erika Nelson

Governor Kate Brown recently announced new social-distancing requirements across Oregon. Most counties will have to follow the new guidelines for at least two weeks, but Multnomah County and other COVID hotspots will stay shut down even longer. Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee recently announced similar restrictions. I’m willing to bet that it’s only a matter of time before Governor Gavin Newsom follows suit in California, making shutdowns in the West Coast states three-for-three.

Needless to say, this is unwelcome news. Everyone is fatigued from the months of isolation, and it’s easy to fall into a false sense of security from the warmer months’ improvement. But the pandemic is nowhere near over, and as we move into the colder months, our collective situation is likely to become even more dire. It’s more important than ever to continue practicing social distancing, wearing masks, sanitizing, and taking the basic precautions to slow the virus’ spread.

Yes, these measures are inconvenient. Like everyone else, I’ve been irritated and upset by the shutdowns and restrictions. Earlier this year, I had to postpone medical procedures that weren’t deemed essential. A large part of why I chose PSU was Portland’s vibrant social and cultural scene, and I haven’t been able to experience most of the places and businesses that Portland is known for. In fact, I might very well finish out my time in college without seeing the inside of another classroom. The lower half of my face is constantly breaking out in “maskne.” None of these inconveniences are life-and-death situations, though.

What I’m saying shouldn’t be controversial: People need to face facts and follow the safety measures that save lives. I am sick of the head-in-the-sand science denial, the conspiracy theories, the people endlessly complaining on social media about the basic measures meant to keep themselves and others safe. It’s disheartening. It’s disheartening to know that millions upon millions of people complain about masks: Masks causing people to inhale carbon dioxide (they don’t), masks being uncomfortable (fair enough, but not important), masks somehow violate constitutional freedoms (not true), or any number of excuses. Some people flaunt going maskless and give performative, self-righteous rants in private businesses or record themselves marching through public in some kind of virtue-signaling display, extending America’s hyper-partisan us-vs-them narrative into public health.

Masks are not political. Public health is not political.

There are some things you just can’t argue about. There are facts, and then there are opinions. “That’s just my opinion, and you need to respect it!” Well, your opinion doesn’t mean much when America’s premier health advisor says the country “could not be positioned more poorly” with regards to the virus’ spread. Your opinion doesn’t mean much when cases are surging almost everywhere. Your opinion doesn’t mean much when hospitals are overwhelmed and record numbers of people are dying. Dr. Anthony Fauci and others have long warned that the cooler weather will bring more cases, and that if we don’t collectively change our habits, the pandemic will become even worse. 

The only way to prevent future lockdowns and stricter requirements is to follow the rules now. Everyone needs to take this pandemic seriously. Please. If you go out, wear a mask. Wash your hands. Sanitize. This isn’t hard. This isn’t forever. The more we adopt these lifestyle changes, the closer we are to going back to normal.

Winter Wonderland

by Beth Royston

I’ve slipped in snow and plummeted headfirst into an icy road with cars coming, but I still can’t quite bring myself to adopt the same dread regarding snow that a lot of my friends have.

Growing up in California, snow was always a special treat requiring a several-hour drive up the closest mountain. It was magical and also one of the few times I was permitted to eat instant ramen, clustered around steaming cups with my cousins, our cheeks red from chill. I was already looking forward to Portland’s actual seasons instead of 365 straight days of heat, but I was gently warned not to have high hopes of snow. I moved here in September 2016, and that winter was one of the biggest snowfalls Portland had experienced in a while. I was nothing short of elated being able to walk out my front door and jump into a snowbank.

Snow also meant stress: being stuck downtown during rush hour after a shift at the restaurant I worked at, realizing it would cost several hundred dollars and take several hours to get an Uber, because the buses had stopped running. I eventually went home with a coworker for the night and the next morning one of her saint-like roommates volunteered to drive me home from North Portland to West Linn, cheerfully chatting with me as we skidded on ice and I feared for my life. It can mean missing work, which seems fun until you remember you’re a self-supporting student and your paycheck is kind of important, but I don’t think I’ll ever truly gripe about it.

When the first few flakes start to drift down, even if they don’t stick, snow holds a timeless kind of magic for me. I secretly hope for another absolute coating, but we’ll have to see.

Winter is Here

Noowong_Headshot By Anchitta Noowong

Winter is coming, winter is here. Are you feeling sad this winter? You’re not alone. Being born and raised in a hot tropical country, it was difficult for me to live in a place where it’s cold and dark half the year. I remember my first Portland winter, and it was brutal. I recalled that it rained all the time, there was no sunlight, and everything was just gross. I remember feeling depressed, sad, tired, and unmotivated. I figured that I couldn’t live like that, so I adapted and found ways that help me get through Pacific Northwest winter.

Looking for more information? Follow these links below:
SAD: https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/seasonal-affective-disorder
Endorphins: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320839.php
PSU SHAC: https://www.pdx.edu/shac/aboutshac

It is a wonderful life

By: Sharon Jackson

I absolutely adore this time of year! See expression below.

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Bulky sweaters. Knitted socks. Hot holiday beverages. “I could go on forever baby!”

My dad and I used to pull out several boxes of tangled strings of large light bulbs from the attic and attempt to wrestle them into a straight line.

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After many hours and a few curse words, we would finally attach them ever so precisely to the outline of our home. I am certain we had the best looking house in the neighborhood.

For this reason I get a bit nostalgic on Peacock Lane: a block in Southeast Portland where each vintage Tudor home has been entirely decorated since 1920.

My mother and I would watch A Christmas Story every year [I seriously believe the movie is an accurate representation of her childhood holidays] and laugh hysterically at the leg lamp catastrophe and terrible gifts from distant relatives until we would cry.

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My first holiday in Portland, I started to feel a bit homesick.

For this reason I am always present at Portland’s Annual Tree Lighting ceremony in Pioneer Square : the official start to the holiday season with the lighting of the 75-foot Douglas fir and a sing-along of all the favorite holiday carols by a family of random strangers, even in the pouring rain!

Singin’ in the Rain

I’m sitting in the lobby of the Rec Center watching the rain pour down with a vengeance. People are running through the Urban Plaza in a futile attempt to stay dry. I sigh and go back to studying. It’s only 4 o’clock and already so dark. I squint to make out the words on the paper. It’s cold in here, so I slide my bag over and sit up on the window ledge directly on top of the radiator. My eyes are starting to feel heavy, which is absurd given that I’ve had at least three cups of coffee already today. I will myself to focus. I really need to study, but I’m just so sleepy.

Suddenly, I hear the strumming of an acoustic guitar coming from overhead near the street level entrance. I hear someone clear their throat and then: “I wanna make you smile whenever you are sad, carry you around when your arthritis is bad, all I wanna do is grow old with you,” a male voice croons. People start to cheer and sing along. I can’t see what’s happening, but I think someone is probably feeling very surprised right about now. I hear giggling and imagine that the recipient of the serenade is quite red in the face. The singer gains confidence and belts out the last few lines to his sweetheart, “Oh, I could be the man to grow old with you. I wanna grow old with you!” Wild applause and laughter fills the air. I smile to myself and go back to studying feeling a little lighter.