After the Storm

by Connor Zimmerman on March 5, 2020

Creative Non-Fiction

A house destroyed by a storm.
Photo courtesy of

by Samantha Pellman ’20

I stood in front of the mess that lay before my eyes. I closed them hoping that when I opened them again, the nightmare would not be before me. But there was no use. This was my reality, and, even though it seems like forever ago, the stinging pain I felt in that moment still comes to me every once in a while. 

It was October 29, 2012. I peered out the window watching the winds absolutely rock the trees and wires near the street. My heart was beating at a fast pace for quite some time now, I could not get it to go down. In that moment, it seemed like it never would. The people around me reminded me to keep calm, but their words seemed blurred. Calm would be the last thing I felt these next twelve hours. Although it took everything in me to not fight the feeling, I knew it would only consume me. For now, I had to let nature take its course. The night would be over soon, but I knew it was just the beginning of my nightmare. 

Finally, I was able to go “home” and see with my own eyes. I remember being anxious, not knowing what to expect. We pulled up to the house, but the driveway was barely visible. I took a deep breath as I tried to climb over the debris to get to what was the front door. I stood in what was my living room facing the bay and wondering how it could look so peaceful now after how destructive it was the day before. There had been rows of windows along with a glass door that gave a beautiful view of the bay when you sat on the couch. But these windows and doors were completely shattered and broken, allowing the ocean to pour into what used to be our relaxing and cozy living room. The furniture that was in the room was no longer there, it floated out to sea. There were pieces of other people’s homes in ours, everything just flowed into each other, swapping places. My neighbor had our wooden pier in their living room, someone else had a neighbor’s jet ski in theirs. I tried to close my eyes and picture what used to be in the room, but with everything gone, it felt impossible. Even though I spent every passing day inside that room, I could not remember the little details and decorations that used to be there. 

I walked to the room next to the living room, the kitchen. The beautiful yellow cabinets were destroyed, but luckily only the bottom ones. The oven and fridge were a wreck and there were pots and pans all over the muddy floor. The fire place was also a muddy mess, the wood inside it had floated away. My eyes were starting to fill with tears. I rushed to the stairs in a panic trying to get to my room leaving mud stains as I ran. My room needed to be okay. I had never been so thankful to have a room on the second floor. Nothing was ruined. That calmed me down a little but I still felt a pit in my stomach. My room was okay, but it wouldn’t be livable. Not with everything ruined downstairs. I started to cry as I thought about how long I’d have to be away from my home before all the damage was fixed. In only twelve hours, my world felt like it had been turned upside down. 

There are days when little things trigger me and bring me back to that day. When I see a storm forming and the waves picking up, my body tenses automatically. A part of me will also be scared of the damage that can happen, and I will always be brought back to the day I cried in my room looking at the ocean. But I’m not afraid of what will happen, because I know that my family and I will be able to recover from it. The world is beautiful, and I will not let twelve hours change my perception of it. 

Love Limericks

by Connor Zimmerman on February 14, 2020


A little heart drawn on a poetry book
Photo courtesy of

Short and Sweet
by Sarah Heavren ’21

Master of the cleverest pun,
You make all the boring things fun.
I hope you know
And that I show
You’re loved by a certain someone.

by Samantha Pellman ’20

What do I get him for Valentine’s Day?
Plan something special, they all say
So I booked a vacation
At the very best location
A ticket to Greece and it’s a one-way!

by Jay Willett ’20

Frost gales frolic, shrouding all we could see.
Eyjafjallajökull explodes on the bended knee.
Not with fire, but with hope,
alone together on our slope.
One proposition, one question, and I’m finally free.

Money Can’t Buy Love
by Sarah McLaughlin ’23

There once was a broke college student
Who thought it would be rather prudent
To skip buying flowers
And instead work twelve hours
Which prompted his love life’s conclusion.

Dead Languages Don’t Get You Dates
by Sean Tobin ’20

I once tried to flirt in Italian.
By nature I’m no Latin stallion.
I learned Greek with ease,
Ancient Hebrew’s a breeze,
But for romance they get no medallion. 

A Real Galentine’s Day

by Connor Zimmerman on February 14, 2020


by Samantha Pellman ’20

It’s a Friday night at 6 p.m.
The sky is dark already
The air is cold.

To us it’s just a Friday night
But to others it’s the most romantic day of the year.
We don’t look at it that way.

A hand holing up a polaroid picture of friends together
Photos courtesy of

We stand in front of the mirror
Curling our hair
And putting on mascara.

Laughing together
And sipping wine
Tonight will be one for the books.

It’s a night to celebrate our freedom
We’re only young for so long
We’ll be wishing to be at this stage in life again.

We’re leaving our phones home tonight
We don’t need to get in contact with anyone
This night is for us.

I take candid pictures of my friends
So we can remember how happy we were
Just to have each other. 

Valentine’s Day is wonderful
But for now, it’s me and my girls
We’re all we need tonight and always.


Abroad Scaries

by The Cowl Editor on October 10, 2019

Creative Non-Fiction

people holding out their American passports
Photo courtesy of

by Samantha Pellman ’20

When people tell you that abroad wasn’t real life, they’re not lying. It really wasn’t and there are too many examples I can provide you with to prove it. I’ll choose one, maybe the best one. I had been out of the country for approximately three weeks. Everything was still so new. I was just beginning to pick up how to navigate Paris, but it was time to make my first trip outside of France. I booked a train to Switzerland, where I’d meet my roommate who was in Florence. I was already anxious because there was a transfer I needed to make in a random part of Switzerland to a connecting train. But on top of that, my friend and I had the brilliant idea to book a day for paragliding. The website was almost sketchy; I mean, all we typed in Google was “Paragliding in Interlaken.” All we had to do was put our names and email and then select a time. There was no down payment or even price. I received an email saying that someone would pick us up a half hour before from our hotel to go to the site. Seemed a little weird, but we didn’t question it. The morning came and it was ten minutes past when they were supposed to pick us up. So I called the number in the email. Turns out they forgot about us and were turning around to get us. Things were getting weirder, but we still didn’t question it. Finally, a white van came and we reluctantly got inside. It was a Swiss man, but he was wearing the paragliding company shirt on which made us feel a little better. He drove us ten minutes away to what looked like a little camping site. At this point it was clear we wouldn’t be paying until after we landed, and they knew we survived. They told us to pick out boots and put our bags in a wooden chest. We looked at each other. My friend had her Gucci bag. So we were supposed to just leave our bags with our ID, credit cards, money, and passport information in this random chest. No, that didn’t seem right. But did we do it? Yup. Next we put on helmets and got into a bigger van with other kids who were coming. The instructors were there, all very Swiss and German, rough looking people. People you’d expect to do paragliding as a career. They made us pick out of a hat, the name who we’d be ‘flying’ with. They told us once we get up the mountain, the only way to come back down would be via air. So up we went, up the Swiss mountains. The view was beautiful but we were anxious and experienced motion sickness going up the curvy mountain. Once we got up, there was a path we had to climb up because the van could not get that high up. They handed us a backpack and we trekked up the slippery mountain while it started to snow and hail. At this point, we were having many regrets. But it was too late. To top it off, the weather was not cooperating and the wind was not in the perfect form it had to be in. In fact, we were told it was extremely dangerous and we had to wait it out. Here we are on top of this mountain, setting up our paraglide behind us while slipping and trying not to fall off the mountain. I was too distracted with staying on the ground and preserving my life that all of a sudden I looked up and my friend is in the air. Now I was freaking out. All of a sudden my instructor was telling me to “RUN” and the rest I think I blacked out. Long story short, I survived the paragliding part and made it on to land, a random field in Interlaken actually. And if you thought anything about that story was normal, then that’s a problem. We were not raised to do things like that, but after all it was abroad, and abroad really is a free for all.

Family Secrets

by The Cowl Editor on November 30, 2018


Family sitting down for a thanksgiving dinner
Photo courtesy of

by Sam Pellman ’20

Here we go. I had to mentally prepare myself for the events that were going to happen. It was holiday season, and I was finally home for winter break. It was a rough semester, and those last two weeks really killed me. But I somehow survived and had not yet checked my grades, because why would I want to ruin my Christmas? The family was coming over for Christmas dinner. My family is hard to track down; there’s always someone in a different country or vacationing in Florida, but when we are all able to be together, well that’s when it gets wild. First we have the weird cousins; everyone has those, right? The ones with the messy lives. But also the ones that cause family drama and give us a reason to gossip. One of them is married, one is engaged and they’re only two years older than me but hey, it’s alright, we don’t judge family… Then we have the cousins that we like but don’t see enough. They’re mysterious and always doing their own thing, doing their best to stay out of the drama, but will always be eager to listen to it. Finally, there are the favorite cousins. The ones that are your best friends but in cousin form. But they live across the country so when you finally see them after months and months, there is a list of things to fill each other in on.

The worst is when the favorite cousins show up last and all you do is wait in misery until they finally arrive. Just as I was in the middle of a very uncomfortable conversation with the annoying cousin, a conversation I stopped listening to 15 minutes ago, Kat, my favorite cousin, walks in. Thank God, I thought. We immediately run to each other and start chatting. Now from an outside perspective, it may look like we’re not being inclusive, but that didn’t stop us. Secrets needed to be spilled. Like the fake marriage one. The juiciest one this holiday. Supposedly, the cousin who is so-called “engaged” is actually already married but not telling anyone and still having a ceremony. We can’t wait to see the look on my grandmother’s face when she hears that one.

We sit down at the table. I am of course sitting next to Kat with my grandmother on the other side of me. I already knew she’d ask but I didn’t think it would be so soon.

“Is there anyone special in your life?”

Oh God did she really just ask that in front of everyone. As if I don’t already know that I’m lonely on the holidays.

“Nope, not now…” I begin.

“Well why not?” she prompts.

What do you mean why not, I think to myself. I don’t need a stupid college boy to ruin my future plan in life. Although I don’t really say this. Instead I bite my tongue and say, “Just focusing on myself grandma.” She surprisingly takes the hint and backs off.

“We all can’t wait for the wedding this summer,” my aunt says to the engaged cousin, knowing damn well he’s already married. There are giggles across the table. It seems that everyone knows but my grandmother, and she looks confused. I wondered, is she really going to say it? Right now, right here. His face turns red. “It’s going to be lovely, I’m a lucky grandma!” my grandmother says. Everyone looks at each other, seeing how pure and happy she is.

“Cheers to that,” I say and for once everyone zips their lips. She is living proof that some secrets don’t need to be told.

Be Your Own Biggest Fan

by The Cowl Editor on November 19, 2018


by Sam Pellman ’20

Wish yourself luck before that big exam.
Pat yourself on the back when you get the score you wanted.
Give yourself that pep talk you know you need.
Buy yourself the coffee when you’ve had the day from hell.

Girl Looking At Herself In The Mirror And Checking Her Makeup
Photo courtesy of

Compliment yourself when you look in the mirror.
Think highly of yourself, but don’t compare yourself to others.
Push your limitations and test your abilities.
Root for yourself.

Be kind to your body, it is the only one you have.
Put your mental health first.
Notice your mistakes, learn from them.
Thank yourself every day.

Pick yourself up when you fall down.
Wipe your own tears.
Heal your own pain with the help of time.
Track your own growth and remember where you started from.

Be your own biggest fan…
Believe in yourself when no one else would
And never forget to love, love, love yourself,
Because at the end of the day, you are all you have.

Halloween Haikus

by The Cowl Editor on October 25, 2018


TickTok TickTok Tick
I feel it running after me
Its breath on my neck.
—Jessica Polanco ’20


I can’t feel myself.
No one hears me talk to them
Is this death for me?
—Connor Zimmerman ’20


I hear a shuffle
And a chill goes down my back
All I see are eyes
—Sam Pellman ’20


Spooky graveyard
Photo courtesy of

It lived in Mary’s room
Mom blamed imagination
But I felt its breath
—Julia Zygiel  ’19


Late October thoughts
Of pumpkin pies, sugar highs,
Warm nostalgic hearts.
—Erin Venuti ’20


Aura of horror:
Ghosts, witches, black cats are nigh.
The best time of year.
—Sam Ward ’21

Time Heals

by The Cowl Editor on May 3, 2018


A woman growing old
Photo courtesy of

by Sam Pellman ’20


Have you ever been in a moment and stopped to think about how much you’ll miss that exact moment?

That no matter where you are or when you are there, you will never be able to live that moment again?

So you tried to stop to soak it in, but nothing could replace that feeling.

Is it bittersweet? Or is it beautiful?

Do we dwell on the past or become hopeful for the future?


There’s beauty in every moment.

Knowing that the worst moments are never forever,

But some of the best have yet to come.


It’s not the time I’m afraid of, it’s the change that comes with it.

A year seems like a long time, but when you look back it’s really not long at all.

And who are you now? The same person you were a year ago, or someone completely different?

Have you changed? I hope so.


Who is still in your life and who has left?

Does that reality help you or does it make you sad?


I think time gets a bad reputation.

People are afraid of time, resistant to its close friend, change.

I think we hate change when it’s happening to us and when we think we are drowning.

But then we look back and we look at our growth


And we thank God for the change.

We thank God for the things that didn’t work out, the things we didn’t get and thought we deserved.


Because it’s made us who we are now.


Time has no expiration date; it’ll continue on even if we’re not ready.

It’s my job to embrace it, to let it bring in what I need and take out what is no longer giving my life meaning.

To take each day one day at a time, and trust that time has a secret agenda that involves my happiness in the end.

Time flies, and it deserves not to be wasted.

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

by The Cowl Editor on November 9, 2017


Photo courtesy of

by Sam Pellman ’20


Today was the day. The day she’d leave her home for three months and never look back. Well, not really. This also wasn’t just leaving for college; she was a junior after all. No, this was different. Instead of returning to her beloved campus she’d missed all summer long, she was getting on a plane and going to a different country. Better yet, a different continent, across the world. Thousands and thousands of miles away.

Were the nerves kicking in? Just a little bit. The summer started off fine, there were no anxieties, just stress-free, sunny beach days. Yet, the closer and closer it got to August, the more and more she began to doubt her decision. Should she really have committed to studying abroad? Was she really going to be able to survive three months across the globe? Without her family or friends? At this point, it looked as if death were inevitable. She wanted to withdraw from this program, get out and run. Go to back to campus, her home away from home, the familiar place she felt comfortable in. Yet, every time she tried to stop herself from going through with this choice, something stopped her. She didn’t know what it was, but something wouldn’t let her miss this opportunity. After all, this is an opportunity of a lifetime.

When else will she be able to roam around the streets of Paris with a crepe in one hand and a simple tea in the other? At what other point in her life will her study spot be that shady bench under the Eiffel Tower? When else will she be able to spend her Sundays getting brunch with baguettes and onion soup and then later getting lost in the Louvre? Or will she be able to run up and down the halls of the Palace of Versailles pretending she was royalty? All this rested in the back of her head. She pictured herself doing all these things and remembered that if she dropped out now, all these dreams would only be dreams. They’d be fantasies she’d never be able to explain to anyone else because they simply aren’t real.

It was finally the day to leave, but instead of being only nervous, she was excited. Excited to begin a new life, have a fresh start in a place where no one knew who she was. She could express herself, experience an entirely different culture, and maybe even find who she is. Maybe that’s the whole point of going so far. To immerse yourself into a different life with no one’s help but your own. To grow as a person and come back full of new and engaging intelligence of a place your heart has been for three months. To give up this opportunity is to give up a dream. She squeezed her parents one last time; after all, they promised they’d make an extended visit at some point. She grabbed her passport and turned to the gate. This was it, this was her new beginning. She turned around one last time and shouted, “Au Revoir!” to America for at least a little bit. From here on, she’s a French girl.