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Surviving the summer

Between the newspaper and classes, I have many responsibilities this summer. My days start early, end late and are filled with meetings, reading and other sundry activities. But my toughest job this summer has nothing to do with The Chronicle or academics. Without question, keeping my pet fish alive is the biggest challenge I’m currently facing.

The fish’s name is Bueller, and he is a lovely blue and red betta. I initially considered buying him two friends—Ferris and Cameron—to live in little bowls next to him, but I abandoned that plan when I realized that one fish is probably responsibility enough. (My last fish tragically slipped down the drain of my kitchen sink because I couldn’t figure out how to change his water, as was the fate of a fish that belonged to a former Chronicle staffer who once graced these editpages with an homage to his beloved pet. Apparently Chroniclers really struggle with their fish.)

To complicate matters, Bueller isn’t actually my fish. I offered to “pet sit” him for my friend while he is off gallivanting in New York and Spain over the next few months. So the need to keep the fish among the living is a bit more important than it would be if he was just an impulse purchase from PetCo.

Bueller isn’t a particularly exciting fish. He rarely moves, just sort of floats around with one little fin fluttering. He occasionally has spurts of movement that resemble small seizures and whizzes around his bowl, but he always resumes floating seconds later.

It would seem, then, that he shouldn’t be hard to care for. But in the three weeks I’ve had him, Bueller has faced death several times—albeit bravely.

As a traveling apparatus, I duct-taped a plastic colander over his bowl when I had to take him by car to my hometown (a two-hour drive). Unfortunately, I almost suffocated the poor fish because I tossed clothes in the car over his bowl, leaving the colander holes unexposed for the first hour of the trip.

Days later, as I was transporting him to my new apartment, I slammed on the breaks and sent his bowl somersaulting off my front seat. As water and tiny blue rocks spewed on the car floor, I shrieked, “Hold on little buddy!” and lunged to pull the bowl upright—nearly causing an accident on the corner of LaSalle and Erwin.

The first night I had people over for dinner, a friend of mine—probably having indulged in too much wine—stuck a knife in the little bowl to see if it would cause Bueller to actually swim. Luckily, I was in the room and reminded my friend with a shriek that knives have been known to cause untimely deaths.

Bueller’s most recent run-in with mortality came Sunday, when another friend offered to change his disgustingly cloudy water. My friend managed to pour all of the water out of the bowl but left Bueller gasping for air on his little bed of rocks. The inefficient water-changer was furiously shaking the bowl when I came in the bathroom, demanded to know what he was doing and snatched Bueller’s home away to save my dying fish. After much yelling and maneuvering, the fish—though undoubtedly traumatized—safely made it into a Solo cup while we finished filling his bowl with fresh tap water.

Now my adopted pet is residing quietly on my kitchen counter in a duct-tape scarred bowl with semi-milky water that is already starting to smell. I look at him every morning as I’m eating my cereal on the couch, wondering what crisis will confront him in my absence. And I always jot down “FEED BUELLER” in my planner to make sure I don’t forget about him. (Of course, I have already forgotten a few times, which necessitated mad dashes to my car and quick drives to my apartment so that I could scatter food flakes in his bowl.)

Needless to say, though I’m swamped with classwork and Chronicle business, taking care of this tiny creature is proving more difficult than anything else in my life. If Bueller can survive the next three months, I will be able to safely say I had a successful summer.

So please, keep Bueller in your prayers.

Seyward Darby is a Trinity junior and Editor of The Chronicle.

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