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It’s December and my roommates and I are deeply into Christmas. We’ve got a little 3ft tall Christmas tree with about fifty-thousand little multicolor LED lights on it (LEDs because we ARE saving the planet). We’re in the ‘study period’ right before finals and It’s a lowkey Saturday night.

Lisa and I were pajama’d and gelaxing in our suite’s common room. She was in a tan easy chair and I was slouched on our red corduroy couch, my slippered feet up on a white coffee table. We had a Christmas playlist playing throughout the suite, a ‘Christmas lights of Paris’ Youtube video streaming silently on our TV and cups of Keurig brewed hot-chocolate with little marshmallows.

Leong came out of her room and joined us, taking a seat on the far side of the couch with me. After a moment she stretched-out, putting her head in my lap. I love her jet-black, cornsilk hair and it wasn’t long before I found myself stroking it, a gesture primates have been making since the pleistocene period. When Lisa glanced over at us and smiled, I started making gestures like I was looking for fleas in her hair and eating them - in a silly, momentary comedy lost on Leong.

We got back from November recess a few days ago. After three years together, it was easy, almost automatic, for us to fall back in our rhythms as roommates. On arrival, I glanced through my drawers, ***** clothes and shelves, taking a casual inventory. Everything was as I remembered it but still, everything had the feel of trivial leftovers from some lost civilization.

I got a new M3-iMac, it’s really the best platform for putting docs side by side. The first thing I did was hit ‘restore my setup’ from the cloud. I love futzing with tech - I can remember when that kind of restoration would have taken all day - but fifteen minutes later I could tell from the files on my desktop that everything was restoring nicely.

As I sat back on my office chair watching the restoration, I felt myself relax. THIS was real life, this was how life should be done. No matter what else I’d done or where else I’d gone - this was how my life should be - at school, with friends, facing those challenges. It was a peek-moment.

It was an illusion that my little iMac welcomed me back, like an old friend, as it finished restoring - wasn’t it?
gelaxing = gelling & relaxing
Hey poetry lovers, do you like Christmas music? Are you IN the Holiday mood?
Here’s a website (Free) where you can stream over 33 of MY unique Christmas playlists (there’s a little ‘play’ button under the art for each list).
Enjoy, Merry Christmas!
We were at a small
bar, the place only served some
older regulars.

An elderly guy
in an old jean jacket was
talkative, friendly.

“What do girls learn at
Yale?” He asked. “We’re taught things, like
expressions, smiling,

pomposity, snark,
whatevering and stuff-stuff.”
I bragged shamelessly.

“Sure,” He chuckled, “sure
- but it’s worth the money I suppose,”
he gave me a toast.

Limiting yourself
can, in fact, set you free - try
writing a Senryu

Like a martial art,
a tea ceremony or
classical music

They are a tight dance -
controlled, disciplined, focused.
Other styles can drift.

A Senryu is like
a Haiku except it deals
with human feelings
A Haiku/Senryu should three lines of 5-7-5 syllables
A Haiku should be about nature
A Senryu about human feelings
I got a text from one of my professors yesterday saying, ‘Please stop by my office at 6 pm tomorrow.’ It didn’t say why. This was the first day after November recess, had I missed something? That night, I’d gone through the syllabus, checking every recent and upcoming assignment - I was grable. But there I was, the next evening, waiting nervously - my anxiety stripped of context.

I was one of three waiting in the hall. There was a guy and a girl there too. There were only two chairs, so I stood, and stood, set my bookbag down and stood. As the minutes rolled by. I resented them - each - individually.  It was 6:05, I had a class at 7pm but it was just down the hall.

Then the girl was called and the guy moved to the chair next to the door. I sagged into his vacated chair. It was wooden and stiff but it beat standing. I pulled my AirPods out of my bookbag and started a playlist called, “Me and the devil.” The music was hard-rock, bluesy and raunchy, but not distracting for reading.

I picked the textbook for my next class out of my bag but it was no go. I found myself re-reading everything. The girl came out of the office about five minutes later - she looked upset. The guy then knocked and was admitted.

I moved over next to the door and checked my watch. I’d been there twenty-five minutes, and it was 6:15. The guy was out in moments - he looked ok, his movements quick and business-like. I double-tapped my right Air Pod to pause the music and picked up my bookbag. The professor couldn’t see me, his window was frosted, at most I would have been a shadow.

The door was open so I peered inside, before I could knock, he looked up, as if he’d felt the pressure of my gaze. “Mz. Vionet,” he said, he didn’t smile but held his hand palm up, motioning to a chair in front of his desk.
“You’d emailed me about a reference (back in September),” he began. (In order to get into a Med school, you have to have X number of recommendations - this was something my mom had insisted I ask my professors for early.)

As he talked, something struck me. I’d heard him talking to the guy before me and he seemed to talk to me more quietly, as if I were fragile. “What are your graduate study goals?” He asked.

As I talked, I watched the way he listened to me. He looked down at his fingernails, turning them over like they were new and unknown. I was suddenly afraid this was an act of performative boredom. "****,” I thought, “he’s going to stall or turn me down.” I felt my face grow hot, but I continued, although I could feel myself deflate a bit.

By the time I was done explaining my med-school ambitions and how I’d been grinding away on M-CAT prep (the Med-school admissions test that I’ll take next summer), in my spare time, I felt spent.

He looked up and nodded. “Well,” he said, opening the top drawer of his desk and extracting a sealed envelope, “you’re certainly killing it here. I have no doubt you’ll do well on your M-CAT.”
He smiled broadly as he handed me the envelope. “Let me know if there’s anything else you need.”
I reached for the envelope, almost in a daze. It felt papery, thick, solid and almost electric.
“Thank YOU!” I’d said, bouncing out of my seat with relief. I somehow stopped myself from giving him a giddy Elvis impression, “Thank you, Thank you vera mush.”

I think I floated to my next class.
grable = all good.

The MCAT has four test sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems. The test takes 7.5 hours and is considered the toughest graduate school entrance exam in the US.
I dreamt about an alligator
- what could that possibly mean?

Am I hoping that a lizard man
will slowly romance me?

Are my desires so primitive, so ancient
that we could come to some arraignment?

Would a silent and cold-blooded lover
be as ​​considerate as any other?

Do I long for scaly fingers
to caress me up and down?

Or lust for reptile Dolce Gabbana pumps
and a matching iguana gown?

Do I long for another dazzling week
of lying lizard-like under a mediterranean sun?

If I saw an alligator prowling there,
I’m fairly sure that I would run.

What, on earth is going on,
in my secret subconscious mind?

After years of psychotherapy,
what do you think they’d find?
I’ve always loved music. As a little girl, I could spend hours going through peoples CD collections, sampling them with my little battery-operated CD player. If you showed me a stack, rack or box of CDs, I was in heaven.

When I was 8 (2011), I got my first iPod for Christmas, an iPod Touch with 32GB of memory! The sticker said it was from Santa, but ‘Step’ got a package in the mail from Apple three weeks earlier, so I knew who it was really from. Upon opening it, I rushed upstairs to my older brother’s computer, plugged it in, carefully copied the username and password for the family iTunes account (from a wrinkled post-it note), and the world was never the same.

It never occurred to me that my parents could see all of my playlists and that they were automatically downloaded to their devices - like my break-up playlist, inspired by Antoine, my French-boy fifth grade crush. It didn’t work out because he didn’t have an email account and our recess times didn’t line up, but my playlist helped me through it.

I could burn playlists to CDs and exchange them with friends - or gift them to middle school boys who I hoped to amaze with my awesome musical tastes. There’s an art to the playlist that involves controlling pace and mood - every playlist was both a gift and a seduction.

Today we have Spotify with its unlimited streaming of every song ever made - on demand. Exchanging playlists, these days, is as easy as pressing "Share" and typing the first few letters of a friend’s or lover's username.

Like most of my girlfriends, I consider myself a playlist queen and as I continue to work this career path I’ve chosen, regardless of what's weighing me down, I know I can turn to my playlists to push me through. The band ‘The Narcissist Cookbook ’ assures me that my shocking honesty is fun with ‘Broken People.’ ‘K. Flay’ allows me to dance-out my rage with ‘Blood in the cut’ and ‘New Move’ motivates me to keep-at-it with ‘When did we stop.’

I’ve countless Spotify playlists: one for waking up, one for writing papers, one for doing problem sets, others for walking to class, doing the laundry, for nostalgic reflection, and for embracing the astounding depth of human pain.

Of course, as time passes, I find new favorite songs and older playlists are replaced with updated ones; but thanks to the archival nature of Spotify playlist collections, all my old lists remain intact. I’ve never deleted one. Search my archives and you’d see playlists from my freshie year, when I was new here, feeling insecure and alone, or from my sophomore year when I first fell in love.

This piece is a playlist love story, about how music reflects our identities and allows us to share ourselves through the vibes, melodies and beats that move us. I think playlists have a lot in common with poetry, which uses words, phrases, metaphors and imagery for similar purposes.
Anais Vionet Nov 26
I traveled almost everywhere, growing up. It took years. The landscapes, flora and fauna, the art, music, cuisines and curse words all seem to blend together in my mind.

Mount Fuji, the Rhine, the Himalayas, the Chattahoochee, Shenzhen, Washington DC, the Alps, and Appalachians, Moscow, Beijing, Dublin, Portland, Paris, Atlanta, London, St. Petersburg, Tokyo, Rome, Wuhan, Berlin, the Yangtze, the Mississippi, Saint-Tropez and LA - are all jumbled up in my brain, like old, wrinkled maps in a glove compartment.

My mom has total recall - she can remember every day of her life since her mama handed her a faded yellow and blue rattle when she was 6 months old - God gave me the glove compartment.

Still, some things are unforgettable, like an electrical storm breaking around Mt Everest, the lights of New York City, at night, from a helicopter, glittering on the horizon like a queen’s crown. The Danube, from a riverboat under a too-bright moon and the elegant poverty of Italy.

In some ways, I grew up like an exile because we moved every couple of years and I’d have to start my social life all over again - usually in a different language. Every place we left seemed a lost paradise, and each new place seemed cold and harsh.

Speaking of home to harsh transitions, November recess is over and we’re back in New Haven - with two weeks before final exams. Welcome to exhaustion week (weeks).

This morning I started going through my syllabuses, and after a week of holidaying - they seemed like indecipherable relics from a different world, a world of papers, tests and stingy-fun. I’ve so many things to wrap-up, my brain can’t seem to contain them all, I’m a gadget that’s out of memory.

I used to take my books on vacation, to remain in the ‘game’ mentally and stay ahead of the grind. Not this time. Hey, growing up, I’ve had my moments of ‘developmentally appropriate’ rebellion - in this case - I wanted memories to hoard, like inoculations against the coming work and loneliness cycles.
My parents are both doctors who traveled the world to teach (heart surgery) and treat (for free) the poor who would have otherwise died.
Anais Vionet Nov 22
We children gathered around the table.
The aromas were rich and dense, we fidgeted.

But we had one last thing to do - before we began the feast.
We all, in our places, held hands, smiling, as my dad began to sing
- and, after a beat, we all joined in.

To the tune: “Rudolph the red nose reindeer”

“Leonard the big leg turkey
had two great big turkey legs
and if you ever saw them
you would actually say, “they’re big.”

All of the other turkeys
they would laugh and call him names
they never let poor Leonard
join in any turkey games

Then one foggy Thanksgiving eve
The pilgrims came to say,
“Leonard with your legs so big”
“How’d you like to join our Thanksgiving gig?”

Then how all the turkeys loved him
and they shouted out with glee
“Leonard the big legged turkey,”
“you’ll go down in history.”  (like the light bulb)
“you’ll go down in history.”
“you’ll go down well with graveyyyyyyyyyy.”

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
* To the tune: “Rudolph the red nose reindeer”
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