In Honor of Sweater Weather

In honor of cold autumn weather we’ve had recently, I thought it appropriate to share an excerpt from a short story I wrote a while ago titled “The Peak of Autumn.” 

“The Peak of Autumn” tells the story of two young adults with a blossoming romance that began in a park one fall. Together, they explore their creativity, share some coffee, and embrace the little beautiful things in the world. 

It was the peak of autumn when I saw her for the first time. She was wearing a flowing dress in a soft orange, contrasting perfectly with her deep, glowing brown skin. A rose hue kissed her full cheeks and the sun’s embrace lit her with a gentle lambency as she glided down her route with the grace of a deity. We were in a park, in the middle of Houston, and it was exceptionally full that day. I remember picking her out of the crowd originally not only because of her distinct radiance, but also because of her scent. She must have been ten feet away, but the second I laid eyes on her, all I could smell was warmth- cinnamon and nutmeg, the crackle of a fireplace, the heat of the sun. I saw her, and I swear to God for a second, I could smell color. I could feel sound and hear sensations, and my whole world was flipped upside down the moment she made eye contact with me. It felt like that dewy blanket of air that cloaks your shoulders right before a good rain, when the world is tinted with a gentle yellow, and you realize that all this time you had been looking only at the world’s blue shades and missing all the greens. Like she somehow unveiled all of the beauty in the world that I had previously failed to notice. 

Barely conscious, I felt my feet move toward her. The closer I got, the stronger the pull. Before I knew it, the rest of the world disappeared, and it was just her, with her honey-gold eyes staring straight into mine.

“Hi,” I managed to blurt out. She smiled.


My messy hair, forming a greasy mop over my forehead. My face, bright red and drenched in sweat. My old faded anime tee with bright green Nike shorts that clashed horribly with my yellow sneakers. You would think any of this would deter her- would make her suddenly have an appointment to go to, someone to meet. Instead, we went to a cafe. I got an americano. She got an iced caramel latte- extra ice, with oat milk. She got the same thing the next time, too. And the next, and the next.

We found ourselves part of each other’s Sunday morning routine. Week after week, we continued. 




Caramel latte.

Extra ice.

Oat milk. 

We talked about many things during our time together. The weather. Our favorite books. The best museums to go to. The status of the neighborhood cat. But mostly we talked about colors. 

“You seem yellow today,” she told me once. That morning I received a call that I had gotten the promotion I had been after for months: chief editor of the Houston Press. They finally fired the previous one whom everyone loathed. I told her this, and she repeated herself.

“You seem very yellow today. Very yellow.” 

She seemed orange, as she always did. Today, it was soft orange with a brown undertone. Throughout our friendship, I went through every color of the rainbow, but she was always constant. Always soft, always warm. Always orange, with the occasional and slight shift in hue. I did not tell her this- only that I was glad to see her. To this day, I do not know why I felt the need to be so reserved. Perhaps it was because I didn’t understand her glow. Perhaps I sensed that she would be alright if I never told her. Perhaps I was afraid that by exposing that I noticed this, I would reveal all else that I knew about her. How she always had little wisps of hair sticking out from behind her ears. How the polish on her thumbnail always chipped off first. How when she smiled, it always started with a tilt of her head, and then the left corner of her lip raised, and then the right. I was comfortable with her ignorance of the fact that I noticed the dimples above her eyebrows, and that I knew that she was left handed but ate with her right. All these little details that I held close to me, afraid that they would somehow float away. I drank my coffee and listened to her speak, and we were happy.


5:30 a.m.

I woke up to the sound of my phone alarm chiming. I’d fallen asleep on the floor, makeup on, yesterday’s clothes clinging to my skin and hair matted into a nest around my face. Dirty tissues were strewn about my room, but I was too tired to care. I threw off the single sheet that kept me warm through the night, and I made my way hazily downstairs to start packing the cooler. 

I packed my little sister’s favorite ice cream (strawberry) along with my brother’s (chocolate), not straying from my task until they were both nestled perfectly within the ice. I sliced apples, thin and even, and packed them neatly into a container. I slid water into the cooler, as well, in the tiny pockets of space that fit the bottles just right, before folding up towels and blankets into perfect rectangles and placing everything gently into the trunk of my car. All this was done without a sound, until the clock reached 5:50, and I woke up my little siblings and led them quietly out the door and into the car. 

We drove along silently at first. I tried to lift the mood by putting on some upbeat music: the playlist my siblings liked the most. I used to play it for them all the time the summer before I left when I would drive them to the beach. My brother sat stone-faced, not singing along. My sister sat in the back, oblivious and playing with her toy bunny. When we got to our spot, at a hidden little segment of the beach that no one really went to, it was still dark. Juliette, my little sister, ran into the sand ecstatically while my brother and I trudged along, bodies and minds weighted down by grief and fatigue. We set up our towels, wrapped ourselves in blankets. I pasted on a smile and offered my siblings some ice cream, and then we watched as the menacing void of pre-dawn sky shifted into softly glowing pastels.  

I used to do this a lot – not go to the beach, but get up this early. I’d wake up at 4:30 am and just enjoy the silence, the peace. Especially when everything around me was sad. 

By the time the sun had completely risen and I had gotten my siblings, safe and warm, back into the car, the mood had shifted just a little. It was a small moment, but it had a big impact on us all. I wanted to show them that they weren’t alone, that their sister didn’t leave them. There was still somebody taking care of them. We got home, and my sister and I made hot chocolate from scratch. I told her all of my secret ingredients, and she smiled mischievously because I gave her top-secret information that other people didn’t know – she was in on the conspiracy. I laughed at her innocence, at her childish bliss. I wanted to be more like her. 

I think that the concept of “family” is incredibly complex. Sometimes, families actually suck. I have a big family: some not blood-related, some no longer with us, some living far away, some utterly broken. Although it’s not perfect, and we’ve been through so much, I do know that I’m not alone. At the end of the day, even when it doesn’t seem like it, there’s at least one person who’s got my back. Again, families are complicated, and flawed, and hurtful at times, but they’re important. And the good memories you make with them are important, too. If any of y’all have struggled with family tragedy, I’m deeply sorry. However, I also encourage you to find beauty in it. I’m convinced that beauty can be found anywhere, even in something as seemingly small and common as taking your little siblings out one morning to watch a sunrise. Cherish the memories you have with your loved ones, and do not let them go. If you hold on to the love they give you, and the love you give to them, that feeling of home will stay with you no matter where you are.  

Nature Haul

Because I generally blog about things having to do with nature, I figured I could take a little break from analogy and deep meaning. Instead, I offer you a photo dump of 5 of my favorite nature photos that I’ve taken, as well as the stories behind them.

1. Fire

I love this picture not only because I am fascinated by fire, but also because the reason it was taken amuses me a lot. I took this picture at a girl’s bonfire birthday party in seventh grade. There were a bunch of people there that I didn’t know very well, so I went and sat by the fire to avoid social interaction. It would be weird to sit there doing nothing, so I decided to snap some photos. This beautiful moment was captured for the sole purpose of concealing my social ineptitude. 

2. The Butterfly

Contrary to the previous photo, “The Butterfly” has significantly more meaning. The day before this was taken, my sister went on hospice care. We thought she wouldn’t make it through the week, so we vacated our house in Houston and went to the nearest beautiful beach we could get to, which happened to be in Galveston, Texas. When we got there, I went outside, enjoying the fresh air I hadn’t tasted for who knows how long (quarantining in a big city like Houston is suffocating in so many ways), and I caught sight of a butterfly partially buried in the sand. I tried for about three hours to keep it alive, dry off its wings, feed it sugar water or anything google said it could consume, but it finally ended up passing away, and I let it drift off into the ocean. 

3. The Beach in Galveston

This was taken the morning after “The Butterfly,” at around 6:00 am. My family and I are from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, but because my sister was getting medical care at Texas Children’s, we all lived in Houston for around a year and a half. One of the things we missed most was the sunrises and sunsets. We had to leave and go back to Houston that morning, so we were all desperate to grasp onto one more moment of beauty. We got up at about 5:30 and waited for the sun, hoping that it wouldn’t be stormy or cloudy so we could see the sky in all its morning glory. Luckily, we were not disappointed. 

4. Frozen

I feel like many of these were taken in Texas, but alas. This photo was from February 2021. My family was still living in Houston then, during the big “Houston Freeze.” All of our power went out, we were running out of food, we had no heaters… the inside of our house was about 20-30 degrees, and my sister couldn’t even make it to the hospital to receive her treatments. It was scary and painful, but then, I walked outside, and I saw some of the most beautiful scenery I had ever experience. Powdery snow cloaked the ground and the rooftops in white, and everything was covered in a layer of frost. Because the cold came on so quickly, the plants didn’t have the chance to die out yet — they were just concealed in coats of ice that looked like glass magnifying their colors in contrast with all of the bleakness that surrounded them. 

5. The Fallen Lantern

I think this last photo is my ultimate favorite. It wasn’t the best memory for me, but it is beautiful, and I desperately needed beauty on that day. The picture was taken at the lantern release after my sister’s funeral. The sunset was stunning, and seeing all the lanterns lighting up the sky in honor of her was one of the most touching experiences of my entire life. I think that this photo sums up how I felt about that day. Something beautiful had fallen out of the sky and landed in the water, its light being snuffed out way before it should have been — way before all of the other lanterns that still burned so brightly. However, the beauty of the scene and the silhouette of the girl going out into the freezing cold water to pick up the fallen lantern symbolized how our love for my sister has carried on even after she died, no matter how dark or cold that might feel for us. 

That wraps up today’s blog! Thanks for reading, and please let me know if you’re ever in need of pretty pictures!

The Squirrel on Cooper Hall



Keep running.

Don’t stop.

Don’t slip.

You will die.


It was balanced precariously, so high up I could barely see it. The only thing protecting it from the jaws of certain death was a sliver of brick that appeared so fragile up against the unconquerable mountain of a building it clung to the side of.

Run, I thought to it, wishing so desperately that it could hear me. Get to safety, hurry! Don’t stop! You might lose your balance!

Onlookers watched in awe. It looked so tiny all the way up there, grasping on for dear life to that tiny space, completely alone, facing mortal danger with the valiance of a warrior. Will he make it? Will he not? Our jaws dropped as it raced along the edge, wobbling and shaking, just millimeters away from toppling over the side where it would land, splattered and broken on the ground. It was so close to the roof – so, so close – it was almost there safely at last when it stepped on its foot, faltering at the last second. My eyes slammed shut. I prepared to hear its body hit the pavement with a horrifying thud. It would come any second now: the tragic, grotesque end of a life… but it didn’t. There was silence.

I peeked through the little cracks in my eyelids, preparing for the worst. However, there it stood, tall and proud and alive, staring down at us from the roof.

The squirrel had made it safely up and across the treacherous walls of Cooper Hall.

In my personal life, I’ve had to learn a thing or two about bravery (emphasis on “had to”). I’ve been in some horrible situations. I’ve had to deal with grief, and abuse, and mental health struggles, and horrible sickness around me… I’ve just been surrounded by fear for a very long time, so I’ve had to find a way to get through it. I’ve been proud of my bravery, but at the same time, I never really wanted to be brave. I always looked at adventurers (like the squirrel on Cooper Hall) facing danger and mystery for the sake of living, being brave and conquering their fears because they chose to, and I wondered if I’d ever be able to accomplish that.

One of the first times I had the choice to be brave was when I was deciding whether or not to apply to MSA. I was afraid. However, it was an adventure. It was intimidating, but I knew I could grow so much from it.

We will never know why that squirrel chose to climb that wall, despite how dangerous it was. But we can make up stories about it. I think that the squirrel had been in tree after tree, running from danger, sticking to routine… but one day, it realized that if it really wanted to, it could climb higher. It was scary. It was intimidating. However, it was also a choice.

I think we can all learn from that squirrel. Maybe our lives are too stagnant. Maybe there’s something more we can accomplish. Although safety is important, risk is, as well. I think that every once in a while, we should climb a little higher… not for survival, but for the sole purpose of just reaching a little closer to the sun. 

Lizard on the Wall


I searched for ten minutes the other day to find the lizard on the wall.

It was hiding secretly within the shadows in the corner.

I heard tales of its colorful scales and its mysterious demeanor. Word swirled ‘round like a cyclone from the top of the class and circled its way down to me. I, grey with storm, immediately sought desperately for a pop of color. I scoured the molding, the stairs, the brick, and finally found my way to it. It was perfect – as all creatures wish they could be. No scars, no blemishes, no dull shade – only brightness and smooth, perfectly cut shape. There was a line that sliced like a spine down its back, and its eyes were outlined in a beautiful baby blue. To me, it was of equal quintessence of beauty as a sunset. Both looked like paintings —  somewhat shifts from reality, not quite captured by anything but pigment and brush because real life doesn’t suit them quite well – real life is not perfect enough to portray their essence.

It was a bad day when I found the lizard. Somehow, however, it seemed to get better after my discovery. I snapped a picture, and after it was secured in my camera role (like medicine locked safely away in a cupboard), I continued about my day happily. It’s strange to me how a touch of vivid green can turn the dullest palette a little bit brighter.

Some of you asked if I would write about the lizard in my blog. What lesson could I turn this little reptile into? What analogy would I use this time? I was wondering this myself until a student came up behind me, just as I was reaching to pick the creature up.

“Ew! Don’t touch it! It’s gross!”

Needless to say, I was flabbergasted. Gross? Really? That stunning, perfectly formed reptile could be perceived as gross?? It was simply preposterous. I refused to believe it. It was impossible, and foolish, and inconceivable. But it got me thinking. How many times have I looked in the mirror and been absolutely disgusted with what I saw? How many times have I locked the door of my room, doing anything to prevent me being seen? How many times have I covered my face in makeup or a mask and hugged my arms tight to my chest so that no one would look at me or touch me?

Beauty is so subjective. That lizard, to me, was perfect. It was vivid, and immaculate, and gorgeous. But right in front of my eyes, I witnessed someone look at that same perfect lizard and exclaim in disgust. It seems ridiculous, right? The two starkly different reactions? The same applies to beauty standards in society. First of all, the cultural definition of “beauty” shifts and changes so fast that by the time you’ve worked to achieve one set of standards, they’re already irrelevant. Second, the definition of “beauty” might be completely different from one individual to another, regardless of the cultural norm at the time. Somebody is always going to think you’re mid, or ugly, or not all that. But at the same time, there’s always going to be someone who sees you in the way I saw the lizard: flawless and magnificent. How will you choose to see yourself?

(Credits to Amelia for finding the lizard first <3)

Embracing Peace through Tree Naps

Step 1: take off your shoes

Step 2: feel the grass, simultaneously sharp and soft, weave a blanket with the soil underneath your feet.

Step 3: lift your hand, let the moss shift soundly into your palm, and hold the branch tightly.

Step 4: grab with your second hand and lift your leg and hoist yourself up like pirate hanging valiantly from mast.

Step 5: Climb.


There is a tree in my great grandmother’s yard. It is a magnolia, elegant and powerful. It stands like a duchess, a queen, completely outshining the dull demeanors of the tiny houses, common people, run-down docks, and weak-willed weeds that surround it. At each family gathering, I greet my relatives with a smile, sit down for a bite, and then retreat outside to its glorious presence. This time of year, its flowers have taken to dropping their petals, leaving skeletons of blooms littered among the leaves, yet still, it is beautiful.

             I climbed it again last weekend. The familiar route straight towards the heavens filled me with nostalgia, and my heart was instantly full. It was quiet. It was safe. I climbed maybe four feet up, then five, then ten, then fifteen, before I finally found the perfect branches. I dangled my legs over the first branch, then shifted to my side. My legs were bare (I was wearing a green sundress that blended in beautifully with the leaves), so I could feel the bark pressing roughly onto my skin. It was course and it left marks on my flesh, yet still, it was beautiful.

            On the second branch, slightly higher than the first, I rested my back, my neck, my head, and let my right arm swing softly in the air while my left served as a soft pillow. I looked precarious – suspended high over ground, eyes closed in a dream-like state, not holding on to a single vine or twig – but I felt sturdier, stronger, more secure than I had ever been. I trusted the friction that my legs created to hold me steady, I trusted my body to be strong enough to be still, and most of all, I trusted the tree that cradled me in its powerful arms. I laid there. I rested. I found peace.

            Tree naps, in my humble opinion, are one of the most effective ways that one can recharge. We are consumed by schoolwork, stress, messy social lives, teenage angst, industrialized everything, capitalized media, technological overloads, unrealistic standards (the list goes on)… It can be so difficult to even consider the thought of including tranquility in our chaotic lives. However, burnout is real. If you are constantly spending, and spending, and spending your energy, then what’s left? Who do you become? In my experience, I become nothing but pure exhaustion, fatigue, and apathy. When this happens, there is a simple remedy that I highly recommend. Find a good tree. Follow the steps listed above. Rest. Feel the sun warming your skin, feel the coolness of the patches of shadow casted by the limbs above you, feel the peace of nature (as cheesy as it may sound), trust in your own strength and stability, and allow yourself to heal.  

Finding Beauty in Darkness

I have put a lot of thought into my blog for this week. I have written it, and re-written it, and re-written it again. However, for some reason, nothing seemed to make sense to me. I like to explore big perspectives in mundane things, but recently, my brain has felt cloudy and dark, and it has been difficult for me to observe things outside of what lies in the depths of my own head. This is why, this week, I decided to take a different approach. The idea began in the form of a poem:


twisted ivory casts crisp white shadows onto the palms of your eyes.

i hold them in your twisted vision, reading irises like bones, like lines, like future,

glimpsing into the present pool of your pupils, grasping, ghastly,

onto the reflection of any beautiful hue.

it doesn’t make sense, does it?


thighs like skyscrapers turn into mummies as i look;

i wrap them gently and take your femurs to my flesh,

and i cut out my liver and feed it to your dead teeth

so that you might not be hungry in the afterlife.

it doesn’t make sense, does it?


your neck cracks in symphonies, knuckles cracking heavy down,

cracking my brittle bones, cracking heart, cracking up

because this is all so ridiculous, isn’t it? cracking eggs to make

breakfast in the morning before I crack your skull –

it doesn’t make sense, does it?


if i let you take my neck to your tongue, to your teeth,

and you pulled the blood from my arteries, it would

make up for the time i spent cremating your

flammable soul—dust particles from dead skin.

it doesn’t make sense, does it?


if you let me take your organs out and bleach them white

and dye them the colors of the funeral flowers,

i would grow a garden and bake you cookies in return, and we could be

all sweet and colorful again because that’s how life works, isn’t it?

it doesn’t make sense, does it?


my brain is bargaining, recoiling from the void that

time sucks from my stomach, stretch marks turning scars back to open gashes –

i make a body from my trauma, a separate person out of the shards of my mirror –

i know i am seeing things, making everything up as i go, but

that doesn’t make sense to you, either,

does it?


This poem was a surreal and dramatic expression of things I have been struggling with lately: concept of time, issues with body image, resurfacing memories, and utter disconnection from reality… the list goes on. I usually process this by looking for metaphors in the things around me, but I’ve been stuck in this terrible haze that diminishes my capacity for philosophical thought. It confused me, and this uncertainty was terrifying. Therefore, instead of searching for meaning in analogies of objects/creatures around me to help me deal with a problem, I deduced that in this situation, the clarity lied in the problem itself.

My negative emotions have been obstructing my creativity and damaging my confidence and faith in myself. However, in the end, I wrote that poem, didn’t I? I’ve written this blog, haven’t I? I have gotten out of bed every morning, brushed my teeth, eaten, gone to class… so really, I have not failed at anything. In fact, I’ve turned this cloud of darkness into something that I think is beautiful: growth.

Every single person in the entire world will inevitably experience a darkness. You will, too, if you haven’t already. If you can’t seem to look at anything else – whether it be cricket, cat, beetle, or bench – then I advise you to stare straight into your darkness. Face it with all the audacity you can muster, and realize that you are not only separate from it, but you also have power over it. You can turn it into whatever you want to turn it into. It is not inescapable, and it will not destroy you – not if you don’t let it. So use your darkness as an opportunity to grow, and know that you have the capability to still be and create beauty.

The Bench Outside: A Lesson on Legacy

The morning was grey, and the clouds sat forlornly, dangling just barely above our heads, waiting to weep out all their sorrows and soak them deeply into our skin. The August fog clung stickily to my clothing, but still, I sat. I write about this bench far too often, but never have I described its individual beauty. It is black, and metal, and worn in the center where so many sat before me. It is situated perpendicularly to the nearest building, and not quite parallel to the street that it watches, day after day, somehow never growing dreary of the same ole cars cruising routinely in its view. There is a scuff mark on the right armrest – I remember it vividly – and if you place your elbow on it and angle your back just right, you will be able to find sleep-like comfort in the embrace of the antique seat. In no other place have I learned so many lessons as I have while sitting on this bench.  It is so integral to so many of my memories that it almost ought to have a name. I have thought about this frequently, but never have I applied the idea. But surely, surely this emblem of wisdom should have some sort of legacy!

That morning, the one that was grey and damp and sorrowful, I pondered how I could commemorate this bench and all the significance that it possesses, and this thought process posed a question: What is a legacy?

In The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus explores the idea of the repetition of life. He uses Sisyphus (a character from Greek mythology who was cursed to eternally push a boulder up a cliff and watch it fall again) to signify that life is just a cycle of the same mundane things happening over and over again. If this is true, and life is redundant and predictable and unsatisfying, then what is the point? What is the purpose of living the same events over, and over, and over again, knowing that at the end of the day, the boulder will come falling right back down the hill? Camus stated that if you choose to “imagine Sisyphus happy,” then you will find your answer.

Sitting on the bench once again, I was reminded of this philosophy. I repeatedly sit in the same spot, in the same position, looking at the same scenery. Even the time of day, the shadows, and often the weather stay consistent. Nevertheless, the whole routine feels so significant and important to me. I always come up with new stories, ponder new ideas, celebrate new revelations. Therefore, I become the happy Sisyphus. I think that this is legacy – not doing something heroic or out of the ordinary, but finding significance and value in simplicity, and sharing this wisdom with others. In a way, this blog is my legacy. My poetry is my legacy. Every person I share my thoughts with is part of my legacy. As for the bench? The bench’s legacy is in its scuff marks, its scratches, and the imprints it makes in the dirt on which it stands. It’s in every photograph that it’s featured in, every poet that wrote their stories while seated on it, every bird that has landed on its back, and every memory recorded in its presence. It seems small. It seems common. It seems insignificant. But this is legacy: the uniqueness one has the audacity to emit in spite of all of the mundaneness of life.


Finding Greatness Through the Bug on my Pen

It has been a reoccurring theme throughout my blog that I find creatures or things around me, using them in an analogical way to explore new perspectives and learn lessons about life. The character whose perspective I’ve most recently delved into happens to be, once again, a bug.

On Thursday, August 24, 2023, at around 10:18 am, Cooper Brumfield tapped on my shoulder. Annoyed, I turned my head to him, and he was gesturing excitedly at a little speck on the table. In my mind, I just assumed he was trying to continue our sibling-like dynamic by pestering me to no end, but right before I rolled my eyes, I saw the speck move. Upon closer inspection, I recognized it as a tiny, beetle-like creature, no bigger than a crumb. It was adorable and gross, and it fascinated me.

I snapped a few pictures and then leaned in close, long after Cooper had gone back to his writing assignment. I didn’t touch it, I didn’t catch it, I just watched. It made its way over to me, as did the cricket in my first blog, but this bug had a different end goal. Rather than seeking shade and seclusion, this bug sought a higher place. Its tiny little legs ventured their way over to the base of my pen, where it hesitated, calculating. I imagined that it was pondering the best way to reach the top, or whether it was worth it to start climbing at all. In the end, it reached up carefully, and it latched on to the back of the writing utensil.

Up it climbed, glorious and persevering. I brought my eyes down to its level and became immersed in the story. It was epic – the microscopic creature somehow trudging along, climbing valiantly. Up, and up, and up he went until finally: Yes! He reached the top! Every part of me ached to applaud it for its mighty feat – it inspired me how trusting it was of itself and its abilities, how brave it was to attempt such a treacherous climb, how proud it must have been to reach its destination and allow itself to pause for a rest at the climax. Alas, I was in the middle of a dead-silent classroom, and there was no hope of looking sane in cheering for a nearly invisible insect. Nevertheless, I applauded in my brain, hoping that it could sense that there was someone out there supporting it.

I realized something after this brief escapade into my imagination. I have an innate desire to pursue greatness, whatever that “greatness” may be. I try persistently to improve myself in one way or another, but when faced with huge goals or challenges, I often shy away.

I won’t be good enough.

I won’t do it right.

They will not approve of me.

It will be too difficult.

I am not worth it.

These are the types of thoughts that constantly plague me, no matter how vehemently I try to rid myself of them.  However, this bug climbed all the way up, and across, and back around, and then down from my pen, despite it being mountainously large in comparison to the bug itself. I am unsure as to how bugs think, or if they even think at all, but I am vastly sure that there was no other bug in sight to judge or support its efforts. Therefore, the goal that it accomplished was solely for itself. Observing this allowed me to clear my head and realize that this is a quality that I need to strive for: ambition for the purpose of self-fulfillment. There’s always going to be someone I am not good enough for. However, if I live by my own standards, there is still a capacity for personal greatness, no matter how small my achievements might seem to others.  

Lessons from Fire Hydrant Cat: what to do to combat isolation

I was sitting in my room recently, doing homework, chores, mundane daily tasks, just marinating in my loneliness for hours on end. I’m sure that any other MSA student can relate to the solitude that seems to take over everything once you lock your dorm room door. It can, at times (at least in my experience), feel like the whole world has disappeared, and it’s just you, a crappy old shower, and a few bunk beds against reality. If this ever happens to you, don’t fret. The last time I felt loneliness creeping into my bones, paralyzing me from grasping onto any rationality, I was lucky enough to be approached by Fire Hydrant Cat.

I had been up in my dorm all day, barely moving, stuck to either a phone screen or a sheet of paper. I attempted for a bit to hold onto my senses, but when I woke from my dissociative state and found myself on a bench outside, with no memory of how I got there, I realized they had left me long ago. This is a realization that should startle a person. However, I was not afraid. The second I resurfaced to the land of the conscious, I caught a glimpse of a small furry creature that found sanctuary under the shade of a fire hydrant. Yes, you guessed it: Fire Hydrant Cat.

It walked right in front of me with such audacity that I was immediately captivated. It was not a big cat at all – its skinny little legs and tiny face looked baby-ish and jovial, but I could tell by the way this feline strutted onto campus that it had already seen the world. This interested me. It was completely alone, and yet it did not seem scared, desperate for attention, or even remotely bothered. All that I picked up from this cat’s persona was confidence and peace.

The next evening, I came back to the bench. Fire Hydrant Cat returned just as I was halfway finished sketching the trunk of a tree. It was still alone, but still confident and unbothered. At first, I thought it was coming to beg for food, but when it sat in the same spot as the day before, in a patch of sun that warmed a perfectly soft blanket of grass, I realized it really was just coming to chill out. I appreciated this observation that I had made. It made me feel less obligated to give it something in return for its company.

When I am lonely now, rotting in the stench of my solitude, I always return to my little bench, and I wait until Fire Hydrant Cat inevitably comes to sit in its sun patch. Sometimes I draw it. Sometimes I just watch. Sometimes I acknowledge its presence, and it acknowledges mine, and then I proceed to doing different tasks — writing, reading, doing homework, etc. — until I feel relieved enough to go back to my room.

I learned some valuable lessons from Fire Hydrant Cat. First, I learned that I don’t need to feel guilty about being in someone’s company. I don’t have to pay them back for their time or feel indebted to them. Second, I learned to be alone with confidence. Alone time and isolation are two completely different things. Isolation is lonely and sad and crushing. I 100% do NOT recommend that. Neither does Fire Hydrant Cat, I’m sure. However, alone time can be beautiful. You can find a cool bench or a tree or a sun patch outside, and just bask in the glory of your own company. You can take a nap in your room and have epic, intricate dreams. You can journal and think and learn and grow. You don’t need anybody else in order to do those things. Just make sure that you don’t drown in the negativity that isolation can induce. If you ever start to do that, and if you’re ever feeling down, my advice is to walk around and find Fire Hydrant Cat. I’m sure it will have some wisdom to share with you.