Road Trip Through the South by Sonali Khatri

When I went to Florida during spring break, I was not prepared for the culture shock that awaited me. My family decided to drive instead of flying and so we were able to immerse ourselves in all the Southern landmarks. 


I was born in Georgia, and my parents and grandparents raised us there for a couple of years. I remember when we were getting gas in West Virginia, my grandma let out an excited “piggly wiggly!!!!!” I thought at first it was just another one of her funny sayings but as I followed her pointed finger my eyes feasted upon a huge grocery store topped with a brilliant red sign of a smiling pig in a paper hat. 


My sister, Seema, had been raving about Buc-cee’s weeks before the trip. She refused to make it all the way home without walking through the doors of one of those ginormous convenience stores. She passionately explained that it was known for its:

  1. Large, sparkling clean bathrooms
  2. Beaver nuggets: corn puffs covered in caramel
  3. Plethora of food choices
  4. Gas pumps that stretch as far as the eye can see
  5. Cult following








So in Jacksonville when we were running out of gas we stopped at one. When we walked in it was packed to the brim. I instantly became overwhelmed as people pushed and shoved around me to get their food and beaver memorabilia. It was insane. Time functioned differently inside those walls. What was supposed to be a quick in and out situation became an hour-long excursion. 

On the way to Florida, we stopped at a couple of outlet malls against my will. The only reason for these detours was because my brother forgot his suitcase. Of all things. We arrived at our halfway point in Charlotte, North Carolina … 515 miles away, and he had the audacity to ask “what did you guys do with my suitcase?” So in Savannah, we stopped at an outlet so he could go to Banana Republic. He liked his purchases so much that he wanted to stop on the way back too … as if once wasn’t enough.

On the bright side, while he was shopping we were able to try the Southern delicacy “Zaxby’s”.


Although some experiences were better than others, I was happy that during my trip I was able to get back to my Southern “roots”. I don’t know if I’d do some of them again but at least I can cross a couple of things off of the road trip bucket list.

Ode to Gordon by Mia Compton-Engle


In honor of senior spirit week’s Marsupial Monday, I dedicate this blog post to Gordon the Gray Shark, my very own bashful buddy whom I have taken to carrying around in my (backpack) pouch, even when unprompted. What can I say?—he’s my lucky charm. This 5” softie has all the physical characteristics of his fuller-sized counterpart—sleek gray skin with a round white belly, three fins (in the north, west, and east cardinal directions as per the image above), wide black eyes which are more like bottomless pits of emotional depth, a smiley smile with a carnivorous killer’s teeth (never fret, dear reader—the dude is a self-conscious vegan, bless his soul), silly gills, and most importantly, brilliant blue goggles for the brilliant blue brine. That’s right; my guy Gordo is sensitive to salt water! Better salvage those shining stars, eh? And as a responsible plushie parent, it is my moral obligation to protect his health and well-being first and foremost. Hence this oh-so fashion forward safety measure. We aren’t deep sea diving here, people; Gordon and I prefer to splish-splash in the shallow end.

But let’s submerge into more intimacy. According to the Squishmallows Wiki fandom, I need not fear (for) Gordon, as he is “one of the friendliest Squishmallows around (enthusiastic exclamation point)!” My beloved “loves helping others so much that one day he wants to start his own nonprofit.” Profound or what. How freaking adorable (and admirable) is that! Evidently, I have much to learn from the little fella. For now, though, I am content to be helped by his cuteness overload. Especially this Marsupial Monday. Whoot whoot!

* It should be noted that this occurred only once, during an especially challenging school day. I have not surrendered myself wholly to inanimate object separation anxiety… yet. 

Revitalizing Your Garden by Will Welsh

Spring is the time of year that leaves are beginning to unfurl and bright colored daffodils start to peek out from under the bare branches of bushes and push up from the recently frozen soil. The new splash of green and beautiful flowers serve as reminders that winter is in the past and warm summer weather is on the horizon. In the spring, many gardens are hot spots of early season color. They sport yellow daffodils, red and pink tulips, and purple crocuses. But then again, many gardens remain brown and bare, only to bloom when summer sets in. 

If you are an avid gardener looking to add early season color, I have a few age-old remedies for you. Perhaps the most recognizable sign of spring is the tulip. These flowers, a Dutch, specialty are some of the first bloomers and come in a dazzling array of colors from white to purple. Tulips start from bulbs, not seeds, and they must be planted the previous fall to ensure they will bloom in the spring. Another classic flower is the daffodil. They bloom soon after the last frost and sport bright yellow and yellow-white color varieties. Daffodils are also very well acclimated to Northeast Ohio’s climate and have begun to grow wild. While this is not great for biodiversity, it foreshadows their success in your garden. To ensure a productive spring, daffodils must also be planted the previous season in mid to late fall. My third and final recommendation is hyacinth. These are fragrant bright blue and purple flowers that have a droopy, flowing appearance. They add some color variation to spring gardens and bloom for longer than most other early season flowers. As a plus, they are also resistant to deer and other herbivorous animals. Hyacinths must also be planted in the fall, six to eight weeks before the first frost, so early fall is the best bet. 

These three flowers are not an exhaustive list of spring color possibilities, only a sample size. Although these three plants are some of the most popular varieties, they may not fit your space or you may want to experiment with native flora. Whatever direction you take, good luck, and I hope your garden space looks like a Van Gogh painting next spring!

Bright, Sunny, and Angry by Evan Barragate


The sun was shining this weekend for what felt like the first time in years, and it warmed me up so much that I felt as if I had skipped three months and cast myself in mid-July; it was horrible. This may make it seem like I am insane, begging for attention, or filled with hatred, and while all of these are accurate ways to describe myself in general, none of them have influenced my paradoxical claim regarding the weather.

I resent the beautiful sunshine and humidity because they only exist to force people to do things that they do not want to do and to give people an excuse to avoid doing what they have to do––apart from the more scientific explanations for the existence of the sun and heat. With this, I mean that a sunny day brings the greater expectation that I ought to immerse myself in it throughout my entire day in ways that I typically would not have. The tasks that I am expected to do in the sun are often out of my way and not enjoyable. Why should I suddenly spend half an hour getting to a store just so I can walk there in the sun when I could drive there in five minutes? Why is it less unproductive for me to do nothing while melting in the hot sun when I could be doing nothing in my air-conditioned home? These are things I will never be able to comprehend. I also see the lovely weather as something that occurs only to prevent me from completing the tasks that I have to do––or making it torturous when I do them. I view it as impossible to do any work while it is warm outside or the sun is shining, and I laugh when others suggest that life in California, Florida, or anywhere with good weather would be ideal. I would freeze to death before walking into work wearing a sweaty, sticky suit in 85-degree weather in pants and a jacket when all I want to wear is shorts and a T-shirt.

But these are not the only reasons for my bitterness toward warm air and clear skies. When I am in a foul mood, the last thing I want is a bright, yellow sun telling me to cheer up; it feels like a slap in the face. As an obnoxiously selfish person, I do not want to see kids running around in the yard, birds chirping, people enjoying the sunny day on the front porch, and busy lemonade stands when I am upset. 

If the rain were to pour on my head after having a horrible day, I would not think of it as an ironic twist that makes me want to tear my hair out, unlike most. I would see this as something that can bring me a sigh of relief––because then, everyone else gets hosed down by the start of a bad day, and I am not alone. Yes, I know that this may make me seem like a life-hating pessimist, but I view it as something that makes me enjoy life in different ways. I find it idiotic and immature to rely on the temperature outside, the state of the sky and clouds, and whether or not you can see a giant, fiery ball of death from outer space to determine your mood.

Lost Pants: Updated by Anna Welsh

As so of you may remember, I wrote a very, very sad blog post months ago about two pairs of pants I had lost. The first were a pair of thrifted blue jeans, and the second a pair of heathered gray Boston University sweatpants. Now, don’t get your hopes up. Neither of my precious garments have been located. Trust me, the search has continued long after I published that blog post. However, this weekend, I saw my sweatpants.

A girl was walking down Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, toward Kenmore square. I saw her from afar. She was clearly a Boston University student, which I gathered from her very close proximity to the BU campus, her backpack, and… Boston University sweatpants. Seeing them, those glorious pants, sent a wave of emotion through me. I could barely prevent myself from collapsing on the steps of the Citibank in tears. The girl walked past me, paying me no mind. How could she know she was wearing the pants that I had searched for high and low, through treacherous closets and dangerous laundry chutes. There they were, my sweet, sweet sweatpants.

I knew that the sweatpants she wore were not my exact pair. They were a carbon-copy, sold in bulk at the Boston University bookstore across campus. I saw other colors too; students alike wearing red, white, and black versions of the same pants. It was my own personal Hell, a taunting that I could hardly bear. I was Eve, trapped in a sea of contemptuous temptation. They all had exactly what I wanted.

The Boston University Bookstore is a trek from where I first saw the pants. It’s about a mile down Commonwealth, a mile of treacherous terrain and dangers such as college students on rollerblades and the occasional piece of gum flattened on the sidewalk. I never made it. I was deterred by the intimidating students, their raised brow toward me guiding my mom around with visitor pamphlets. More importantly, the sushi place on the way was a little too tempting to pass up.

I have been seriously considering purchasing the sweatpants again. I visited the BU Bookstore website last night, but was unable to justify spending that much money on a pair of sweatpants. However, now that I have visited BU and realized that I really love it, maybe I will have to represent the school again. We will see…



Study Hall by Vivian Bowling

I’m a senior in high school with full intent to graduate this June and head off to college in August. In early May I will take my last three AP exams ever, thank goodness, and start my senior project. At this point, I am essentially checked out. The only people more checked out than me are my teachers. They are all enthusiastic to get rid of us just as much as we are to leave high school. Homework assignments are few and far between. Thankfully, my senioritis hasn’t taken over entirely and I manage to get almost all assignments done within about five minutes of receiving them. In the rare case the assignment is of greater length, I am able to complete it after school or work. I am literally so not stressed about school that I am inventing stress for myself. This blog is being written 3 weeks early because I am stressed about it. I actually don’t even think stressed is the correct word. I think boredom would be the better choice. I am so bored that even homework seems enticing. I spent my spring break hoping a teacher would post a random assignment I forgot to do. I have started handwriting and typing notes just to feel something.

Here’s the predicament. For no reason at all. I have a first block study hall. I don’t know who would have the rationale to give me, a senior in high school, a first period study block but alas, someone did. Every other school day I sit for an hour and a half twiddling my thumbs and trying to create activities to occupy my time. I go to the bathroom at least three times where I do absolutely nothing. I attempt to use my phone and remember I get no service in this school. I text my dad and friends random messages that won’t send until the end of the day. I read Wikipedia pages of people I don’t care about. I make to-do lists. I play Wordle and Globle, but then I get irrationally angry that I can’t figure it out and give up. It’s a long and tedious cycle that is eventually interrupted by the bell ringing. Don’t get me wrong, it is way better than doing any class that is even remotely hard and I do enjoy the free time. I remember that in a handful of months I will be an adult and will miss the simplicity of high school, but sometimes I am just so bored.

You might be thinking, “Viv, why not just skip study hall?” Of course I mean the program the school offers where you can request to be excused from your first or last block if you are a senior who maintains good grades. I would never skip a class without permission, I promise. I’ve thought about this but I have my reasons against this idea. The first is that theoretically if I have homework to do, it’s a great time to do it. When I need to study for the occasional test it is awesome. I feel so prepared. The next reason is that I would choose to sleep in on odd days and on even days (when I do have a normal class during the first block). It will be impossible to wake up at different times. And finally, the most important reasoning is parking. I am not sure if you have ever had to handle the high school oval, but it is seriously a competition. I would argue that 400 kids are trying to park every day, and there might be about 150 spots within reasonable walking distance. If I can’t get a parking spot, I will go home. I have done it before and I will do it again. I leave my home at 7:35 to park on the oval, 55 minutes before the start of school. If I had the luxury to start odd days with second block at 10:00, I would never be able to park again. I would have to parallel park, which for a 17 year old, might be the hardest thing to accomplish. Or, I would have to park a casual 15 minute walk away, so what’s even the point of having first block free anymore? I could make this into a complaint about how I wish the high school had a parking lot, but that sounds like a broken record. So for now, I am thankful for my first block study hall and will enjoy the rest of my senior year, albeit bored. 

Nora’s Most Recent Watch: Dawson’s Creek by Nora Konrad

So you may be wondering, Nora, why are you so obsessed with 90s TV shows? And, honestly I have no other reasonable explanation other than that I am obsessed. Look, I am going to film school. Binge watching is what I do best. So I have successfully  finished the entirety of six seasons of Dawson’s Creek. And it was a blast. Dawson’s Creek is set in the fictional town of Capeside, Massachusetts and is about the lives of its high school main characters. Essentially it’s a high-school, coming of age show. Yeah, so maybe it sounds a little cliche– but I promise that it’s more of a show than just the love lives of its characters. Also, why is the merit of a show dependent on what it’s about? Dawson’s Creek, a show about growing up, as cringey as it may be, is a well made show. Dawson’s Creek is a comfort show, so if you are currently overwhelmed by the pressures of growing up and going to college, go escape into Capeside. You’ll feel less stressed, I guarantee it. 

Now I need to warn you about one thing. And that is that the main character, Dawson, is THE MOST ANNOYING CHARACTER you will ever encounter in a TV show. He is whiny and the definition of Steven Spielberg obsessed, wannabe film bro. He is an idealist and thinks the world revolves around him. He acts like Joey belongs to him, and throws a fit when she falls for Pacey. Um hello, she is not your property Dawson. Take a chill pill.

Joey and Pacey are superior to Joey and Dawson. I said what I said. Moving on. 

Jennifer, the girl next door. The show did her dirty. She is probably the most unlikeable character on the show– which is so unfair because she has so much potential to be an amazing character! Throughout the early seasons her character is refined down to the pretty girl, but the one that doesn’t live up to the childhood best friend Joey. As easily as Dawson falls for Jennifer he easily falls for Joey. This whole dynamic frustrated me, because it always ends up with people hating on Jennifer. WHY did the writers do this to Jennifer?! However, I think as the show continues Jennifer becomes a more and more likable character. And her friendship with Jack (who joins in season 2) is absolute friendship goals, and I love them so much. 

By now, I hope you might consider watching Dawson’s Creek. Honestly, it’s an incredible escapist-show. And there are six seasons. So if you are a binge-watcher like me, that should last you at least a month. 

Dungeons & Disaster (a revisit) by El Szalay

Several months ago, I wrote a blog about how I started playing Dungeons and Dragons after I was in a play about D&D, my first ever character, and some of the things she’s done. Even though it has only been a few months, I’ve played several other characters, and, most significantly, started running a campaign of my own. So, I figured now would be a good time to revisit my D&D adventures–but this time, from a Dungeon Master’s perspective.

I started writing the story for a D&D campaign several months ago after one of my friends said she wanted to try playing. I offered to get a group together, and coincidentally, everyone who expressed interest was also in band. This was around the time the marching season was starting, so I found a perfect opportunity to write a campaign that takes place in a magic school, and all the players would be involved in band.

Fast forward a few months, and most of the prep work is done, other than a few things left on the players’ character sheets. We made arrangements to hang out at one of the player’s houses after we finished the ACT, since we had the day off of school anyway. We finished those last few things way quicker than I had thou

ght, and we all wanted to play. I would’ve loved to run the first session then and there, but I left some of the resources I needed at home. I knew what I had to do. I started thinking about ideas for a quick session we could do without needing any other resources and that also wouldn’t mess with the canon timeline I planned.

I happened to be wearing a blue and yellow shirt that day. That morning, I had no idea it would lead me to come up with the perfect idea.

I told the players about the scenario they were about to be put in. The party and their families had gone out shopping, but after one character’s little sister refused to leave the ball pit, they found themselves locked in an IKEA at three in the morning. Their objective was to 1) make it to the morning, or 2) find an exit.

As I expected, the whole session was chaotic from front to back. For once, however, I was not the one behind the chaos; I was just the moderator. The players got themselves into several odd situations, including:

  1. A very high-strength check to help a younger sibling get into a bunk bed, followed by a failed dexterity saving throw that caused said younger sibling to get thrown into the wall. He did end up making it to the bed, just with some injuries.
  2. The blind character being introduced to the party because he was staring very intensely at a digital map that he couldn’t see.
  3. Attempting to bribe the aforementioned little sister out of the ball pit by promising to get her Swedish meatballs. It worked.
  4. Breaking into the kitchen to get meatballs because the kitchen was closed.
  5. And lastly, finding a stray unlocked exit by heading east, because this character thought that “all IKEAs faced eastward towards the motherland Sweden.”

So, what have I learned? Well, it helped to see my player’s characters in action for the first time, since it helped me plan for the real first session, and I also realized that my improv skills are not too bad. But, above all, after a quick Google search, I learned that no, not all IKEAs face eastward towards the motherland Sweden.

Notes and Quotes (a sequel) by Jaimee Martin


I did some condensing and deleting in my notes app, but still, and I think accurately so, I have 445 notes.

I won’t repeat the same information as last time, but by now you know my sentimental nature and bond to the art of writing….So I bring you the second edition of my favorite quotes that I keep tucked close in my mind pockets.

I hope it warms you and makes you feel safe and seen like it does for me – happy reading.


“look let me just say it: he was hot. a nonhot boy stares at you and it is, at best awkward and, at worst, a form of assault. but a hot boy….well” hazel grace (green) tfios pg 9


“i know love is the lonliest place when you fall alone.” camila 0:13 feel it twice


“you see, for me, memories are difficult. very often, they hurt. a curious thing about grief is the way it takes your entire life, all those foundational years that made you who you are, and makes them so painful to look back upon because tof the absence there, that suddenly they’re inaccessible. you must invent an entirely new system.” henry (mcquiston) red, white and royal blue pg 299


“i wonder if some part of me knew that was waiting for me. that i would never be a gentle grower of things, or someone who burned like fire – but that i would be quiet and enduring and as faceted as the night.” feyre (maas) acomaf pg 357


“us against the world, just a couple sinners making fun of hell” dominic 0:42 elliot’s song


“what i said: ‘it’s weird being back at parties, huh?’ what they heard: ‘do your anxieties ever lead to internal screaming?'” henry alford (entry talking points segment in tny) mar 14 2k22 pg 27


“as he read, i fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly then all at once.” hazel grace (green) tfios pg 125


“she chad always been drawn to the untamed, wild things of the world” (maas) acofas


“cath wished she could disappear down a rabbit hole.” (meyer) heartless pg 112


“boy guys, don’t get old…brain cells – start losing em” cathy lawlor, 11 adv eng, a monday 2k22


“i believe that everything happened, exactly the way it had to, so i could find you” rhysand (maas) acomaf


“‘if you want my advice,’ he says slowly ‘love doesn’t grow well, fed on pain.'” madoc (black) the cruel prince pg 283


“they’ve always been fixed points in each other’s worlds, little magnetic poles. some laws of physics would be reassuring right now.” (mcquiston) red, white and royal blue pg 227


“if i keep you here i’ll only be doing it for myself” dominic 0:52 elliot’s song


“what i said: ‘did you read that there’s a party in new york called pheremone, for armpit fetishists who don’t wear deodorant?’ what they heard: ‘in what ways have you tried to hurt your mother recently?'” henry alford (entry talking points segment in tny) mar 14 2k22 pg 27


“oh no, i’ve signed ipads – everything.” david pogue the talk april 6 2k22

Longing for Summer by Sonali Khatri

I am so excited for the summer. For the first time in four years, I think this is the first summer I can pretty much do nothing. As I write this blog in April (while it’s snowing outside) I can’t help but daydream about the things that summer brings:

snow falling from the SWC window on April 18

I love the smell that wafts into my house when the windows are open. It smells fresh and sweet and really there’s no way to describe it exactly. It’s like a mixture of nature and laundry and it’s the same every year. I know the first time I get a hint of it good things are coming.

I can’t wait to use the lawnmowers and chirping birds as natural alarm clocks. In fact, I’m excited to get rid of the feeling of always having to be on time. Time is something that I feel I never have enough of. During the summertime though, the sun creeps down at 8:30 and by the time you wake up at noon, you still have a whole day ahead of you filled with sunshine.

Summer is time for a cultural reset, and new obsessions:

I wonder what show I’ll binge this year with my sisters. Last year it was Downton Abbey and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I wonder what my room will look like; It becomes my sanctuary for 3 months and usually looks completely different by the end of August each year. I wonder what my summer playlist will be. Right now I associate summer 2021 with Blondie, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, and the Cocteau Twins.

The spontaneity of plans and vacations. I love leaving for trips that were planned 1-2 days beforehand. Driving in the fast lane the whole way to the destination and blaring music. Rolling the windows down wearing sunglasses while my hair blows every which way.

The acquired skills. Will I finally become good at tennis? A faster reader? A good baker? I don’t know for sure but at least I have 90-ish days to find out.

Just being outside all day. Long walks with my sister that go on for hours. Sitting on my patio. Throwing water balloons at my cousins. Going to the pool. Laying in the fresh-cut grass or hammocks. Sitting by the fire pit at night and watching fireflies.

For now, though, I guess I’ll have to get through April. Let’s hope that April snowfalls bring May flowers.