On April 20, the city of Portland exploded in holiday celebration. Lewis & Clark students gathered in observance, in a commemoration that was a welcome break from finals plagiarism and publicly crying in the silent section on the third floor of Aubrey R. Watzek library.
What, you may be asking, were these students celebrating? Well, dear reader, with my honed journalistic senses and Jewish aptitude for gossip, I wondered the same. I grabbed my spiral-bound reporter notebook, donned my Mossy Log baseball cap (available for purchase last semester! Sorry, you snooze, you lose), and ventured out to get to the bottom of this story.
Feeling optimistic and admittedly a little self-important, I initially assumed students had gathered to celebrate a very special birthday: mine! Ninteen is a big milestone for any young journalist; the typical age when a plucky writer can expect her first big libel lawsuit, and I was hoping for some congratulations and well-wishes from the community I humbly serve.
I began multiple interviews with a subtle “Guess whose birthday it is today?” and got a truly upsetting range of answers: Queer Eye’s Tan France, George Takei from Star Trek, Shemar Moore from Criminal Minds (and my hometown!) and a litany of hesitant “umm, Adolf Hitler?”s. How can I have been outshined by all these passingly significant, B-rate celebrities, at my OWN college?
Still, I held out hope. Maybe it was an elaborate scheme! I walked into multiple dark rooms in J.R. Howard, expecting a group of my friends, fans and mentors to say “Surprise!” and shower me with gifts, affection and monetary tokens of their admiration, but was disappointed to find only discarded Nalgenes and inconspicuous plastic black bags with childproof zips.
Resigned to insignificance, I gathered my dignity and soldiered on, professionalism the priority. As I always do in times of crisis, I turned to the Feminist Student Union (FSU) to ask what the day held for them. FSU representative Mary J. Ayn ’25 shared that April 20 marked an important anniversary for them: a year exactly since Monica Lewinsky ’95 returned to LC to speak on her activism and story. Finally, a lead! The sun had already begun to set, but I was determined to get to crack the case before the day was out.
I headed to the MSA, assuming, naturally, that it stood for Monica Student Appreciators, formed to honor the iconic alum. I arrived to find tables and tables of food set out and a group gathering to celebrate.
“That’s sweet,” I thought. “They’re honoring her, even in her absence.”
It seemed, however, Monica was nowhere to be found! As I took in the room, I saw no mention of her at all. Instead, people kept talking about “breaking fast” and “Eid celebrations.” I realized I had found myself in the Muslim Student Association. President Yzma Daizan explained that the evening marked the end of Ramadan, which is when Muslims around the world make me feel extremely weak for struggling to get through a single day of fasting on Yom Kippur.
Though the FSU and MSA have impressive participation rates, they do not have enough members to account for the festivities I had seen. Large groups of students were gathered all around campus, far from the student organization offices hidden behind a secret bookcase door accessed by pulling on Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.”
I began to connect the dots. The smell in the common room. The “happy holidays!” Instagram stories. The giggles. The hacky sack. The towels under the doors. Nothing obviously out of the ordinary for LC, but at scale, the pattern finally became clear. I was so focused on the story that I ignored the obvious: 420! Like for drugs! Those pot-smoking hippies get a whole day for carefree cannabis consumption and I had forgotten about it completely.
How could I have missed the obvious? Weed and Portlandia are the two things people ask about when I tell them where I go to college. Still, I was struck by a strong sense of belonging. The whole community, in a way, really had come together to celebrate my birthday, each in their own way. From the Criminal Minds fans and closet neo-Nazis to the girl-power Psych majors and snacky Muslims/stoners/Muslim stoners, the community spent the day in observance of what they find important.
And me? I spent the day doing what I love most — soliciting attention by telling people I work for The Mossy Log.
All in all, not a bad birthday at all.
But next year, I expect a banquet. Seriously, I have been cranking out 5-star Backdoor articles all year, and I know you people never read the other sections. You flip right to the sillies because you are perverts and we keep writing about men on leashes and you eat that shit up. We love all our readers, but thin ice. HAGS, from all of us at The Mossy Log. But especially Features.
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