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what we did on Earth Day/plus… QOTD

April 23rd, 2009

Do you need a simple quote, in honor of Earth Day? Sure, why not.

“Live simply that others may simply live.” — Elizabeth Seaton

Ahhhhh… There. Don’t you feel better?

Seriously, I wanted to do something Important and Significant for Earth Day, but you know where I found myself? Driving the kids to school (“God, don’t make us walk, please no…” actually — wait. I think Hockey God drove them. Who knows. Do you really care? Me neither), then driving myself to class, because the train makes me sick to my stomach and want to die. (Busses — same. Boats — same. Airplanes — same. If I’m driving I’m mostly not carsick.) I was early for class because, you know. I DROVE. When you drive YOU USUALLY GET THERE EARLY OR ON TIME, IT’S MAGIC. So I went to Starbucks and got a shaken/frozen Arnold Palmer (lemonade/black tea) and then I made a list:

What Has Changed at Portland State University in the Last Twenty Years


Me, the Girl Who Graduated from University Twenty Years Ago Next Month. Well, in June. Whatever.

1) Starbucks. We didn’t have that before. But we didn’t need it cuz we had…

2) Strong coffee at Mother’s Deli, where someone once left a note in the Suggestions box saying, “The girls here should wear bra’s.” hahaha.

3) There is no more Mother’s Deli, which is too bad. We used to all sit there together every morning and have tea, practice our German, our Spanish, our French, our pick-up lines. It was nice. One of the guys used to bring tea strainers and loose tea from home, then we’d talk the girls behind the counter into giving us cups of hot water. Cheap. And sociable. And there was that good hiding place to study up above — the crow’s nest? Goodbye to Mother’s Deli.

4) Now that I think of it, I wrote a v. negative review of Mother’s for the student paper, senior year, because they glammed it up with track lighting and got rid of the comfy couches and started serving quiche or something. I guess I said goodbye to Mother’s at that point.

5) Out back of Mother’s was the Beach, a rolling expanse of green, green grass where you could sprawl and visit and drink beers that you’d bought at Montgomery Market, which I’m sure is no longer there. (I swear, I really did go to class. Mostly.) Now you can’t do that cuz the Beach is gone. There is a field with astro-turf and a list of rules: No Cleats, No Dogs, No Beverages, No Food. No, no, no. No more Beach. Goodbye, Beach.

6) Whispering in class: Out. Texting in class: In. Eating a yogurt quietly: Out. Bringing in a g.d. picnic, spreading it out on your tiny little desk and noshing away while the prof attempts to lecture: In. (Damn. That is just icky. Grab a bite between classes, why don’t ya?)

7) PSU ran TV commercials of a very perky Mary Kadderly, who is now a well-known Portland jazz vocalist and teacher, and soooooooo pretty (Hi, Mary!). I believe in the ad she was in a helicopter that landed on the roof of Smith Memorial Center? (C’mon, someone, refresh my memory.) And she delivered the line: “Portland State is my University and the city is my campus!” We all thought that was simply delightful! Such an urban school, what with the panhandlers and the flashers and the sex crimes.

When we were pulling all-nighters, or hungover and ditching class, or stomping cockroaches in the Ondine (student housing), we’d be all, “The CITY is my CAMPUS!”

A visitor also wrote a letter to the Vanguard, freaking out about how out of control the campus was, deeply offended. “WHERE ARE THE MONITORS?” So that quote got blown up, xeroxed, and plastered all over the buildings. Funny. I still ask myself that question sometimes. Publicists plastered the campus with pictures of the “Ghostbusters” ghost, in the spring before the movie came out. That little guy was All. Over. The Campus. He was a better mascot than the Viking, I thought.

8) The Ione Plaza, where the retirees lived (not in the Roach Hotel Ondine, where the stinky football players and punk rockers lived)… well. That was the best place to drink, cuz they had a retro firepit right in the middle of the room, and the skeezy diner attached. The skeezy diner where they made the best damn cheeseburgers. Except that time I got one that tasted like it had been marinated in bourbon. That was  a lil weird. Bar: Still there. But no longer retro — it’s alt now. Diner: Gone. Now it’s an Italian cafe. Puccini’s? Something. Goodbye, good drinks, good atmosphere and good burgers. See ya later.

9) The Simon Benson House used to be a few blocks west. Now it’s right smack-dab on campus. It had been turned into a rooming house — I had friends who lived there. They did not have $$$ to renovate, obviously. They got so sick of all of the, Isn’t it a shame? comments that they put signs in the windows: CAREFUL! OLD FALLING DOWN HOUSE ZONE and A REAL FIXER-UPPER!!! So, those of you who busted your asses to save the house, move it, restore it, love it? Thanks for taking the signs seriously.

10)How about… Older, crotchety students who take Higher Education Very Seriously and Pine for the Past?: Well. That was the norm twenty years ago — the average age of a PSU student at that time was 27. “Commuter college.” I had peers who were in the 80s, auditing classes. They kicked my ass, I’m serious. I remember one gentleman who wrote his term papers and handed them in two weeks ahead of deadline, politely asking the profs, “If you have time, maybe you could give it a read and give me some comments?”

I remember the profs, not always, but sometimes, being a little disdainful of the auditors. I thought that was uncalled for. The 80-somethings were the only ones paying attention and asking questions. No trust-fund babies, there. (Me, neither. I worked 1, 2 and 3 jobs at a time to put myself through school, with a little bit of help from my mom and Social Security.) (Which was sliced, slashed and filleted by Ronnie Raygun, our former president. Thanks, sweetie. My late father thanks you, too. I also had to start college spring of my senior year of high school, in order to continue to qualify for my benefits. I was luckier than my younger sister — she got nuthin’.) (Can you imagine a world now, where we encouraged people to go to school and gave them support? Where it wasn’t dog-eat-dog you better get your MBA if you can afford it, you loser. Survival of the fittest. Etc.)

Everything I learned about respecting my elders I learned at PSU. Every reason why I hated my elders I learned from Ronald Reagan.

Hmm. Even though the average age at PSU now appears, to my tired eyes, to be Quite Young (12), the older students? We’re still there.

Only it’s me paying attention this time.

Ha ha ha, suckers. I’ll get that master’s degree, even if it takes me ’til I’m eighty and auditing.


  1. WackyMummy says

    Isn’t it nice to move on? Seriously? It’s hard to go back and see the old things because it’s never the same. I went back to my high school just a few years after I left, and I must have realized idealized it because… what a letdown! Just didn’t feel right. Because I must have moved on. =)

    Did my first QOTD… check it out. Cheers!

    April 23rd, 2009 | #

  2. WackyMummy says

    Oops. I meant to say “really idealized” in my note.

    April 23rd, 2009 | #

  3. Nan says

    I wanna go back, back, back to school, yeah!

    I can’t remember who sang that.

    April 23rd, 2009 | #

  4. Qanzas says

    I don’t remember who sang it either, but I do remember it was the theme song for the 80’s Rodney Dangerfield flick, “Back to School.”

    WM: You know I know what you’re talking about! Lifelong learners unite! What you’re doing is so cool.

    One more thing, my favorite Alice Cooper lyric: “School’s…Blown. To. Pieces!

    April 24th, 2009 | #

  5. wacky cousin says

    HEY! I lived in the Ondine. I am neither a stinky football player nor a punk rocker. When I lived there, it was tiny Japanese girls and me and my friends. I’ve never felt tall before or since. And people would say “What are you? European?”. Uh. Sure, yeah, why not?

    April 24th, 2009 | #

  6. The Other Laura says

    I love a university campus – they all smell so earnest and serious and just a bit like beer.

    April 25th, 2009 | #

  7. odiousvermin says

    I lived in the Blackstone, the Adeleine (?), and co-habitated in two other campus buildings: they were the rottenest best years of my life. To be continued….

    April 27th, 2009 | #

  8. MamaToo says

    just wanted to say that your wacky girl has inherited the good-writin’ genes. I loved her article about earth day in a recently-published (but remaining nameless to protect the innocent) newspaper.

    April 29th, 2009 | #

  9. Wacky Mommy says

    MamaToo, I’ll pass the compliment along! She is already a MUCH better writer than mama — you should read her sci-fi.

    April 29th, 2009 | #

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