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3h · 7
physics
One of my year long sophomore subjects will be physics. At first, physics seems to be a menagerie of big, boring universal ideas and immutable laws rendered practically unimportant by their scale.

Peter, ok, let’s call him my boyfriend - just as a place-holder - is working on his “Doctorate in Applied Physics,” degree. “Will you help me with my physics homework?” I asked, hopefully.
“I’m sure we can work something out,” he assures me, wiggling his eyebrows suspiciously.

Peter got to visit the Hadron Collider, in Geneva, this summer. When I FaceTimed him he was as animated as a girl at drama camp. He was all, “proton collisions, Higgs bosons, top quarks and massive particles, bla, bla, bla..”
“That’s ok, I said, “If you’d rather not talk about it, I understand.”

Seriously though, I get it. Physics teaches critical thinking and problem solving. Fluid dynamics and pressure-volume-resistance relationships apply to the circulatory system. Pressure-volume curves can apply to lung function, heat transfer is applicable to frostbite, hypothermia and fevers - nuclear physics applies to nuclear medicine (SPECT, PET scans and radiation therapy and lasers) - yatta, yatta yatta.

But why ME, oh, lord?
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Menagerie: a varied mixture of exotic things
1d · 53
junkavore
Sophy’s mom sent her a giant case of “Fun dip” - a thousand packets of sour, fruit-flavored sugar. Is there anything more junkavore a parent can buy a child - well, ok, an 18 year old?

She LOVES them and so does Leong who’s from China where, apparently, you can’t get useless, non-nutritional snacks. The two of them are running around, all sugar hyped with their emo-grape-chemical-lips, sticking out phosphorescent-green-tongues and threatening to tickle everyone with cherry-red-fingers. It has me wondering, should I switch to dentistry?

Our college prep has moved to a new phase - with just 16 days until classes begin. We’re suddenly sleeping-in. It’s nothing we planned or even discussed, it just started happening. We go to sleep around 10pm and sleep until 10am - or later. I think we all subconsciously realized that soon we’ll be back to sleeplessness.

I’m peachy - in a great mindspace - these days. I’m well rested (see above), we’re killing our sophomore prep - even the physics, my period was a nothing, we spent over two hours in Ulta sampling perfumes, I have a new Macbook M2 (see below) and I painted my nails in tropical colors.

The FedEx man rolled up yesterday. “Anyone expecting something?” Anna asked the crowd of roommates attracted by the driver bringing packages to the door, two at a time. No one was expecting anything. Eventually he’d delivered 8, back to school, M2-Macbooks (2 in each color) for everyone - from my Grandmère.

If that sounds needlessly ostentatious, then you’re thinking she went to the mall and paid full price, but she probably just traded Tim Cook a half ton of lithium or something - one of her companies mines it - in Chili - I think. But still, my roommates were blagabloo.

I picked a starlight one. An odd thing about the new, flat Macbook Air design is that you can’t pick it up with one hand - unless you hook it underneath with a long fingernail - what are guys going to do?
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Ostentatious: something overly elaborate that attracts envy.

Slang:
junkavore = someone who eats completely unhealthily
peachy = happy and healthy
blagabloo = ecstatic
3d · 77
meatballs
I talked with my parents this morning (they’re in a time zone that’s 6 hours ahead). I’ll be off, back to school, before they get back. They sound very tired, certainly tireder than they did a month ago.

They’re working with “Doctors Without Borders” somewhere in Poland. We have a fiction between us, that they haven’t been in a war zone for the last couple of months, spending 16 (18?) hours a day, in ineffable, meatball surgery - sewing pieces of people back together.

Although our conversation topics are no more important than soap bubbles, they evoke a kaleidoscope of emotions (in me), our mutual deceptions as fragile as eggshells.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Ineffable: something indescribable or unspeakable.

Meatball surgery = quick, lifesaving, emergency-surgery so patients may initially survive.
4d · 53
noir night
The night was rainy, hot and humid. It was the kind of night that populates steamy, black and white, noir movies where someone is murdered. The stars seemed reduced to sloshing behind moldy gray clouds, as damp and listless as seaweed in the surf.

“Let’s go see a movie,” Sophy suggested, as she brought up the Fandango website on the 70” smart TV. This quickly drew a brouhaha of excited interest.

“Ooo!, Bullet Train,” Anna said. “Elvis!” Lisa gushed.
“Where the Crawdads sing!” Sunny gasped.
“Super pets!” Leong declared, pointing - producing groans all around - THAT was a no-go.
“Maverick!” I said. “I could do that,” Sunny agreed, “he’s crazy but I’m a Cruise fan.” she added.

In the end we decided to do a movie marathon with “Maverick” that night and “Elvis”, “Bullet Train” and “Where the Crawdads sing,” on Sunday.

As we ordered our treats at the theater concession stand, a tall, skinny, spotted, teenage boy attempted to flirt with Lisa. He smiled at her as confidently as a lizard, but sagged, like a shirt whose coat hanger was removed, when she pointedly ignored him.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Brouhaha: an uproar or commotion.
Jul 30 · 88
the ecb
Anais Vionet Jul 30
I’m FaceTiming with my Grandmère, we touch-base once a week. I love that face, wrinkled, like wind-weathered driftwood, and she’s a wag.
“Are you familiar with the ECB?” She asks.

I wince at this odd turn in conversation, “Not REALLY,” I say, searching my mental index of useless facts and cross-matching those with her interests, “the European Central Bank?” I reply. “Oui.” she says.

“Let’s see,” I begin in a bored voice, “Inflation – transitory or persistent?” I say, in my best TV news-reader voice. “No,” I chuckle, “Not really, I have REAL, boring-things I’m learning about.”

“You’ll need to - one day,” she says, like a tarot reading oracle.

“I can’t imagine why.” I said.

“I’m writing a few sentences about you!” I interject, to both change the subject and see what she says. She’s the only one in the family who knows I write.

“Oh,” she sighs, “Am I young, immoral and reckless?”

“Yes, you ARE,” I assure her, “you’re the worst.”

“Good," she confides, “I miss those days.”
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Wagish: a wag is a clever person prone to joking - wagish is behaving like a wag.
Jul 28 · 118
white rice
Anais Vionet Jul 28
White is for rice and brides - ready to commit.
White’s for ghosts and clouds or even carnations
but it should never, ever, be used for privilege
or worse yet, as poetic inspiration.

I’ve been waiting for the urge to write
while facing an ugly screen of white.
Waiting for the vowels to fall into place,
for words to congeal and finally displace
the awful, foreboding, blank white space.

Learning is our struggle, our crown of thorns.
The more we study and prepare for fall,
the more excited I get to reenter those halls.
34 days until classes start. For fall weather,
and the bee hum of crowded life in the dorms.

My roommates and I are like a single, nameless thing
- an emolument that happens to have 6 heads.
We’ve beaten the freshman “imposter syndrome,”
and we’re ready to bring sophomore year home -
together - no muss, no fuss - I love that for us.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Emolument: gifts, or perquisites someone receives due to their position.
Jul 25 · 119
Saturday night
Anais Vionet Jul 25
We’re 6 roommates, on summer vacation before our sophomore year and we take turns planning our nights. Last night was Sunny’s choice so we found ourselves at “Sister Louisa's Church,” one of the fun gay bars in this little college town. We’ve been to 5 LGBTQ bars in the Atlanta area this summer and they’ve all been skittles.

This being a Lesbian bar, we all felt empowered to dress down, dance a few times, and just have some harmless fun. “Hmm.., Sunny said, wrinkling her nose, “I think queer or girly are better terms than lesbian. Lesbian seems to have a mascular take - like we want to be boys - and that’s not it at all.”
“I bow to your superior, informed, cultural finickiness,” Lisa noted.

WE dance a few times but Sunny never stops. One moment Sunny’s there, for a swig of her drink and the next, she’s twiring off with some attractive (30ish?) woman - it keeps happening. “We need to put an apple tracker on her.” Bili said, but when the songs ended she always came back to us.
“That womyn had more than two hands.” Sunny said, gulping on her drink and fixing her hair.

It was time to go, past time actually. We’re on a schedule these days. We spend our mornings playing disc golf or water-skiing and our afternoons studying. We’re trying to re-engage with college work in a gradual, 3 hour a day, low anxiety way.

Sunny (A molecular, cellular, and developmental biology major), Lisa and I (Molecular biophysics and biochemistry majors) are all on the pre-med track. Next year we’ll tackle physics together and we’re already grinding away on examples of the problem-sets we’ll see next semester. So far the shared stress has helped the next-level classes seem easier and more engaging.

I was the watchdog last night, sentenced to preventive sobriety, and tasked with corralling everyone when the time came to leave. “Fair warning!,” I said loudly, between songs, “reality is going to *****-stab you ladies in the back tomorrow morning.”
“I think you mean *****-SLAP,” Leong said, ever the aphorism police.
“Whatever it is, it’s going to hurt.” I amended. I’d been working (whining), stubbornly for half-an-hour to convince them to leave and finally, I said, “I’m texting Charles.”

OH, THEN the girls started gathering their things. “Ok, Yeah.., I see how it is.” I added, holding my phone like a grenade with the pin out.

The following morning Anna’s situationship broke up - by text - as if to add to the pain of her hangover. In situationships, it’s inevitable that one stakeholder will hope for more - but you have to paint it as casual, as no big deal. She’s pretending she doesn't care but anyone can see she’s been crying.

On the other side of the emotional universe - I’m riding-a-high - because Peter, on a facetime call, said he missed me - but it’s not just that - he seems more energetic, interested and actually romantic. I like us together. We’re choral (there’s no definable lead). I’m practically snoopy-dancing around the house.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: ??Finicky: very particular in taste or standards.”

Slang
situationship = a casual, friend with benefits, quasi-romantic coupling
skittles = rainbows of fun
womyn = empowered woman
mascular = masculine + muscular

Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry = The study of living organisms.
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology = The study of genetics, cell biology, developmental biology, cancer biology, and neurobiology.
Jul 15 · 243
the way of it
Anais Vionet Jul 15
It’s thunderstorm country around here.
They roam the boiling, hot, southern skies
on legs of lightning, like dark, angry trolls.

My Chinese roommate is impressed with them
because as menacing and mountainous and electrical
as they seem, through the trees whip and the rain
lashes - like special effects - no real damage is done.

Love is like that, a circus briefly coming to town,
that scintillates, palpitates, irritates or validates
- a carney-call with the urgency of a sale.
“Run away and join the show,” it whispers.

Love is both less than it seems and more than it is.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: validate: to “recognize, establish, legitimacy
Jul 13 · 228
arguments
Anais Vionet Jul 13
Can a pure soul, haunted by desires, plot gross revolt for straight satisfaction?
Can giving in to the disobedient beasts of want, be an act of “reclaiming power?”

A thunderstorm rolled across early sunrise like a choppy, inverted surf, drowning my usual distractions. In still moments, my heart hurts - as if it were bruised. Peter has a hold on me, he pulls on my life. I need to talk to Charles.

Lisa comes into the sunroom where most of us are lounging. “Looks like the weather’s clearing.” she said, and all eyes turned to the sky. “And there’s a kid, cleaning leaves out of the pool, his arms look like socks full of coconuts.”
“What?” Anna said.
“Where?” Lisa asks, six girls step up close to the windows like mannequins in a shop display.
“Oh, my.” Sophy says, drawing it out like an accusation, “the pooool boy!”
“He’s fifteen,” I say, making an ID through the excited crowd, instantly dousing the fire.

“This place is like a hotel, it’s larger than life.” Anna said. “The other night, when we shared those shooters, the hall leading to my room seemed like an airport concourse.”
“I’d LOVE to have lived here.” Sunny said, dramatically as she slowly reached for a strawberry off her fruit plate. Then turning to me she inquires, “How’d you pull it off?”
“It’s one of the things we don’t talk about,” I answered, conspiratorially, “I’m sure *** was involved,” I add, wiggling my eyebrows.
“Mmm,” she practically hummed, biting into the juicy strawberry goodness, “it always is.”
“Do you miss it?” Anna asks.
“I’m trying to move on with my life.” I admit.

I spot Charles out by the pool, crouching down. He’s testing the water quality and I decide that now's the time. I’m going to tell him I’ve decided to override him and invite Peter here for August - peridot.

I made my way out and around to where he’s working, getting more nervous with every step.
“Do you think we’ve been peeing in the pool?” I said, hoping to bring on a jokey mood, but it doesn’t really hit.

“No,” he says, forever the serious one, “You know that chlorine smell pools get?” I nod, sorry I made the stupid joke. “Well, that smell isn’t chlorine - can you smell the pool?” I inhale and nod yes. “That chemical smell would be the chlorine reacting to *** - and there isn’t any.”

I sit on the edge of a lounge chair, near where he’s working - to lay it all out and tell him what I’ve decided - but as I watch him my confidence fades and my lips won’t move. How can I argue with my parents, have knock-down screaming matches and not be able to say word-one with Charles? I’m so frustrated my eyes fill with tears.

He knows me too well though, we’ve been together forever - since a girl at my school was murdered when I was nine. We’ve shared sagas. He knows and has faithfully kept all of my secrets.

I’d bet he’s been watching my wheels turn for days. “You always think you see a path forward that others don’t,” he says softly, “but you have a lot of runway left, Kid-O.”

I leave the pool and storm inside - not really angry, more embarrassed to be so vulnerable.
I get on the treadmill, and I run.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: saga: a long and complicated story or series of events.
Jul 10 · 217
pressure
Anais Vionet Jul 10
It’s May 18th, 2022. I’m poised, alone, heart pounding, in front of my laptop, waiting for courage, my finger hovering over the return key, like a child hoping the timing of my keystroke will bring me luck.

I took this summer off - which drove my mom absolutely CrAzY. “You CAN’T!” she’d said last month, only to be overruled by my Grandmère. Now I’m home for summer break and tonight she’s flush with exasperation.

“You should have applied for a dean’s fellowship,” she said, her voice rising as she rubs her hands together, as if scrubbing for an operating room procedure, “and a summer research position!” She’s practically twirling with suppressed emotion.

I get why she’s upset. She only goes “deep end” when she's worried about my future. She knows what’s needed to get a medical school slot in 2025 like other moms know their favorite recipe - after all, she’s done this twice before.

Leong’s upstairs, avoiding this family scene. When I described my family expectations as “hustle culture,” to my roommates, they all understood - we’re that much alike.

Step (my stepfather) is trying to de-escalate and calm us (her) down. “Look,” he says, holding up his hands like someone talking down a gunman, “NEXT summer she’ll buckle down, get in more volunteer hours and get a dean’s research fellowship” he says, sliding his eyes to me. I nod “ok” almost imperceptibly. “It’s ok to start grinding sophomore year - that’s what I did.”

OOOO! She turned to him and if looks could ****, he would have exploded like someone in a Tarantino movie.

By some psychic grace my Grandmère chose that moment to call. Step and I fled the den like it were on fire, going our separate ways to halve the chance of being followed.

In my dark room, lit only by the light of my MacBook, a quiver runs through me, and I finally press return. My grades for Spring semester - and Freshman year come up. My eyes water and I relax back against my chair when I see “Dean's List.”

I smile to myself, and slowly, fiercely I clench my fist with a “YESS!" As I postulate my victorious reprieve.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Postulate: “assume an idea.”
Jul 8 · 171
boating
Anais Vionet Jul 8
The sun seemed to rise slowly, almost hesitantly, this morning - a yellow syrup pouring into a deep, dark blue sky. The air is hot and thick, like a low viscosity liquid. We’re going out on the boat this morning and when you have 9 passengers and crew, everyone’s toting something.

Kim and Bili have towels and a shoulder bag of sunscreen lotions and repellents, Charles has a cooler with everything needed to make breakfast omelets on the grill (the eggs have been pre-beaten, the veggies pre-chopped, the cheese grated, the meat diced).

Anna and Lisa are toting a cooler of sodas buried in ice. Leong has the “dry box” with phones, Nintendo switches, kindle readers and iPads. Leong’s rolling a luggage rack of textbooks, Sunny has a large coffee thermos, and Sophy has a bag with dry clothes for everyone.

The girls are practically running over each other in their eagerness to be last onboard because the first two get to towel the night’s condensation off everything.

I carried the lunch cooler full of Chick-fil-a sandwiches, but my main job is to check the indicators and disconnect the dockside water, drainage and electrical feeds as Charles takes the helm and begins his “preflight” before he fires up the Mercury 500-hp engines. I know we’re a “go” when he turns on the underwater lights - that’s my signal to cast off.

The engines roar to life and then purr as we slowly pull away from the dock, we girls greasing ourselves up with sunblock. The air conditioning begins to help but picking up speed is what finally breaks the hold of the oppressive heat.

As we exit the marina Charles opens-up on the throttle and that’s always a thrill. We usually ski first, before the lake gets crowded, and lounge later.

Sunny, Leong and Anna like to sit in the bow, refreshed by occasional lake spray and the wind-whipped cool. Leong likes to sit in the cabin, like Charles’ copilot while the rest of us recline on lounges facing rearward to watch the skiers.

Our summer mornings have passed like this, launching around 6 am, skiing, then swimming, studying and getting off the lake before the noontime “heat advisories” and afternoon thunderstorms.

Later, I’m relaxing in the shade, having just gotten out of the lake, and I’m on my iPad.

“What are you writing?” Anna asks.

“Oh, I write poetry and stories - mostly stories these days but there is some occasional poetic recidivism.” I say.

“You write poetry?” She repeats, as if shocked, “I didn’t think there were any poets left.”

“Well,” I say, “Most poets died, in the early flames of science, trying to prove the pen was mightier than the sword, but there are still poets around - they live in cities where they’ll try and wash your windshield if you stop at a traffic light, and they’re frequently mistaken for the homeless - or they may actually be homeless.”

“Can I read some of your writing?” She asks, after waiting through my long joke.

“Absolutely NOT.” I answer.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Recidivism: a relapse to undesirable behavior.

slang:
moto = hot
Jul 7 · 273
no
Anais Vionet Jul 7
no
Most of the girls (Anna, Sophy, Sunny, Bili, Leong and Lisa) are in the kitchen eating breakfast. “Where’s Anais?” Sunny asks, spooning some eggs onto her plate and taking 4 strips of bacon.

“She’s out by the pool, feeling sorry for herself.” Leong whispers, distractedly, reading the “Fruity Pebbles” box and poking the multicolored flakes with her spoon. “These are good.”

“She was cantankerous.” Sophy adds.
“Aungery.” Anna adds.
“Stevening.” Lisa contributes, competitively.

The front door causes the alarm system to chirp as it opens and Kim calls out, “Morning!” from the foyer.

“What’s going on?” Sunny asks, frustratedly and looking around in concern.

“Charles told her she couldn’t invite Peter this summer.” Lisa said, half whispering. Bili and Anna look up from their plates, like interested bystanders, to check Sunny’s reaction.

Sunny looks shocked, “Really - he can do that? Why?” she asks, almost confused. “He’s usually such an invisible figure.” she notes, quizzically.

Kim comes into the kitchen and hangs her purse on a white coat rack - out of habit - like she’s done for years. “Charles tells her what to do,” she says, giving Bili a hug. “and the girl obeys.”

“Yep,” Bili confirms, bobbing her head offhandedly, like it’s a done deal.

Sunny nods thoughtfully and putting a napkin under her plate, heads out the double-French doors toward the pool to find me. I’m sitting by the pool, watching the water, one leg crossed over the other, which is in the water, slowly kicking, making deliberate waves that ripple across the light blue surface.

“Hey,” Sunny said as she approached, “mind company?”
“Nah,” I reply, “I’m over it.”
“I heard,” Sunny reported, taking a seat next to me, “sorry.”
“Just a disappointment - and a little social embarrassment.” I said, chuckling self-consciously.
“Did he say why?’ Sunny ventured.
“He just said, “It’s a bad idea,” I repeated, shrugging.
After a moment of silence I added, “He’s probably right - I’m glad I hadn’t asked Peter yet - THAT would have been lethiferous,” I cringe physically at the thought.

“Besides,” I disclose, “that might have been weird, me with someone and no one else??”
Sunny gives a “maybe” nod.

“Like when one of us brings someone into our dorm room for the night,” I continue, “and you have to walk through the common room - where everyone’s studying - and they know what you’re doing, and you know, they know, what you’re going to do. It’s SUPER awkward.” We both chuckle in agreement.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Cantankerous: angry and annoyed.

Slang:
aungery = annoyed and angry
stevening = a tantrum directed at the world conspiracy
lethiferous = lethal, fatal, deadly
Jul 3 · 295
cleared for takeoff
Anais Vionet Jul 3
“We’re cleared for takeoff,” the pilot announced, “settle in, our flight time to Atlanta will be 9 hours.”

The Gulfstream roared down the runway and in a moment the tops of trees flashed by. We climbed quickly, and banked. Paris dwindled, the Seine became a string of blue, the world a patchwork of colors before we punched through a layer of hair-like cirrus clouds.

My roommates and friends were all a-chatter as we lined up on the runway but as we ascended, they grew quiet.

Thoughts of Peter ran through me and gripped me like a serpent. The last time I saw him he was dressed in a summer outfit I bought him - a short-sleeve, pale-pastel-plaid seersucker shirt, kentucky-derby breaker shorts, pop color flip flops and a straw fedora. His sweet-face was all grin, he looked like a deck gillespie. Meow.

When I think about Peter, my skin tickles, my pulse accelerates, I’m confuddled. I think about the disturbance that moved through the air between us when we met. We were strangers, but a magnetic flux seemed to roll off him and break against me.

I didn’t let it show. I drew in, looked away and became quiet. What else could I do? Later, when I described it to Sunny, our meeting seemed like nothing. When I described it to Lisa, it sounded like too much.

Of course, my choices must be consistent with my ambitions, but I want Peter to come to Athens, so badly. He was a human placebo, for me, in otherwise stressful times. Now I want to be with him without school pressures - to see what that’s like - and get closer, a lot closer.

I don’t want commitment, but I’m saturated with desire. All I want is a fun July or August - with him. I seldom reveal the businesslike hardness I have buried inside. I want this and I’m ready for derp.

Peter worries - about money, about gender roles, social positions and what’s apposite. I don’t care about any of that. I want to give him a free month, like an amazing gift. He’s so male, so deceptively complicated, fragile and intoxicating.

I really need to think about this, and work it out - HA! - like I can think of anything else.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Apposite: “what's appropriate”

Slang
deck = cool
gillespie = hipster
meow = I want
confuddled = confused and befuddled
derp = anything and everything
Jun 30 · 269
Homeward
Anais Vionet Jun 30
We had breakfast on the Champs-Élysées this morning at Café Joyeux. Their croquet monsieur (a breakfast sandwich) was to die for - one bite can cure a hangover. They also serve a deep, rich Yirgacheffee coffee (€15 a cup) that I think God stirs with his little pinkie finger - it’s THAT good. We took up most of the little outdoor, oval tables on the right side (there are 10 of us) and our little sorority was noisy with chatter - earning us looks.

Our European vacation culminates today. We’re flying back to Georgia in a couple of hours. June seemed to drain away like water.  

The minion my Grandmère charged with coordinating our vacation, François, breakfasted with us. He’s one of the flock of Sorbonne Université MBAs she recruits each year to infuse new energy into her conglomerates.

He briefed us on our departure and flight. His imposition of definitive order and advance planning allowed us a casual and carefree sense of travel this summer. In an ideal world, he’d coordinate my entire life.

He’s been on-call all month but joined us, off and on - like when we arrived in Doublin, at customs, to smoothly guide us through and again, similarly, in Paris.

He’s 26, very handsome and model looking. He’s perfectly tailored, with an elegant yet minimalist style. He wears dark shirts of admiral and yale blue with long black jackets and gray slacks with no tie. His hair is a hipster straight, blonde fringe.

He’s so perfect that I wouldn’t put it past my Grandmère to have placed him in front of me, like bait, to see if something with us sparked-off.

He’s Frenchly brisk and yet dryly solicitous - as if I have the power to sanction his position, which, in a way I suppose I do.

“How’s François doing?” Grandmère would ask, each time we talked.

“He’s wonderful,” I said, “I think he’s a keeper.”

“Good, good for him.” she would reply - making the comment sound almost sly.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Culminate: "to reach the end or final result.”
Jun 29 · 222
darkness
Anais Vionet Jun 29
It’s midnight on June 24th. We’re returning from a “Hot Wax” concert - they were wretched. We’re heading back to Paris tomorrow, so we decided to just stop at the (Kube Hotel) lounge for nightcaps.

Everyone was stirred-up and tight as a violin string when we heard that the “Extreme Court” threw out “Roe vs Wade’s” constitutional guarantees - the latest signal of Americas ascendant entropy.

Following that, was a ruling that threw out New York’s gun restrictions. “Republicans wear compassion like a costume,” Anna pronounces, “what “right to life” IS there, if every nutcase can walk around with a machine-gun. Haven’t they been watching the news?”

Leong, who’s always willing to discuss the superiority of the communist system, susurrates, to no one in particular, “Abortions are legal in China and unless you have a hunting license - guns are illegal.”

“Maybe we should move there,” Lisa says, ingenuously, holding up her drink toastingly, her face tinted a gleaming, bourbon gold in reflected light.

Returning to our suite, 3 hours later, Sophy’s adopted a mode of travel involving swerves and leaning heavily on things. Which Leong, who was not doing much better, finds hilarious. “Use your signals!” Leong says after barely dodging one of Sophy’s flailing arms.

“Two loves I have - of comfort and despair.” Sunny quotes, in her richest, Shakespearian voice.

“There’ll be no uncomfortable beds tonight,” I say, searching my bag for my phone, which has the suite key in an attached card-holder. Charles’ room is directly across from ours and I see him shaking his head as both of our doors close.

We’ve adopted a motto, “live to exhaustion,” and I think, to myself, that we’re living up to it, as I flop onto my bed and the world goes dark.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Ingenuous: showing innocent or childlike simplicity and candidness.


slang
wretched = very good
Jun 24 · 674
sundown
Anais Vionet Jun 24
Its sundown, the day’s been reduced to a crack of lavender and fiery pinks along the Massif des Maures mountains. This evening we’re sipping cocktails at “Les Toits,” the Hôtel de Paris’ rooftop restaurant. The French would call this a lounge.

Les toits translates as ‘the roofs’ and its stunning view overlooks the provincial rooftops that ***** down the foothills to the gulf of Saint-Tropez and it’s world-famous beaches. The well lit boats are settling down and dropping anchor for the night as we complete our orders and get our second round of drinks.

This has been the best vacation. I think we’ve all reclaimed our calm after a tense freshman year. We’ve been at the beach for 10 days. Leong and Sunny are actually tan, Lisa and my hair are half a tone lighter and Bili’s black skin has taken on gorgeous, purple-ish highlights.

I’ve known Lisa now for ten months, but we share a deep connection that seems older. Lisa’s lovely, brazen, and naturally flashy, without trying. Unfortunately, though, Lisa draws men like a keig-light draws moths - whether she’s looking for them or not - I don’t envy her that. Young men, middle aged men, old men.

Lisa said it started when she was 13. She’d be in a store or restaurant with her mom or dad and a lady would introduce herself, “Hi, I’m with the Ford, or Elite, or IMG, or DNA modeling agency, has your daughter done any modeling?” And another business card would be wasted. Her mom nodded as she recalled this sordid past.

Attention just shifts to her, the party comes to her, she can’t seem to avoid it. About every 30 minutes some man comes over and introduces himself to us (to her). This man owns a local night club, would we (she) be his guest? (He’s looking at her like desert) This guy owns a yacht - “that one, there,” he points it out, in his Russian oligarch voice - he clicks a fob on his keychain and the lights blink. Oh, sure, join a strange foreign man on his yacht, what could go wrong?

There are 8 of us girls at the table with Charles, our escort and confidant. He’s a 50-ish, red headed ex-NYC-cop who just sits there quietly and sips his drink like James Bond. He seldom says anything. I lean in to him and say, “Maybe they think you're her ****?!” Leong coughs in her drink and Charles gives me the same, serious, “behave yourself” look I’ve gotten since I was 9.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: confidant: someone to whom secrets are entrusted.
Jun 22 · 115
mean girl
Anais Vionet Jun 22
The other day Lisa, Anna and I overheard a nonversation that took me back in time to high school. We were at Ascot for day three (ladies' day), to see the fashion, the silly hats, the horse races (called stakes & cups) and maybe even gawk at some famous people.

Anna, Lisa and I were sitting at our table in the Windsor Enclosure - a flat area right by the racetrack. The other five girls in our clique (Leong, Sunny, Kim, Bili, and Sophy) had stepped away to be ready for the royals arrival at 2pm sharp.  

Everyone was well dressed, men in waistcoat and tie, and we women in formal daywear. The table closest to us was populated with another squad of college age teens. We tend to be garrulous but that other mixed coterie (16 guys and girls) weren’t friendly at all. They were insular and sharp eyed - they projected an air of smirking pride - a bunch of edinas.

Suddenly this one girl at the next table just comes-at another girl verbally. There seemed nothing the target girl could do except hold her head up, put on her best debate-smile and weather it out.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been exposed to it, but the exclusionary voice of the rich, consists of acrid, inactively-terse asides delivered with casual, drive-by cruelty. The most insufferable rich think (know) that they’re better than you - like you know you’re better than a cabbage or a dog and they are merciless, their hearts are made of hard, black-card plastic.

When used on pretenders, interlopers or social mountain climbers - the cold and mesmerizing bluntness can have a deep psychological effect. The response is usually passive intimidation but it can also induce violence.

This attitude (I think of it as “the voice”), is learned by example, and mastered early. I heard an eight year old girl turn it on a sales clerk once. Her mom apologized and reined in the little princess - but where do you think she learned it from?  

Anna looked at me, her eyebrows drawn down in alarm, Lisa said “Wowzer.” I just shook my head and shrugged - it wasn’t our business, we certainly didn’t know those knobs or what kicked it off - but we noted who the mean girl was - Anna even took her pic. They were Cree-P.

Our little group was soon reunited. We briefly gossiped about our rude, socially-obsessed neighbors but the incident was soon forgotten. Our champagne and strawberries arrived moments before Princess Anne and her daughter, Zara Tindall, rode by (20 feet away) in the Lead Carriage.

Now THERE are some REAL, world-class snobs. I hate that whole-*** upper-class attitude. That’s one reason to choose Yale over Harvard - fewer snobs.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Garrulous: excessively talkative and friendly

Slang:
Nonversation = a worthless conversation
edina = Every Day I Need Attention / rich snobs
Cree-P = creepy

Song: Count your blessings by Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley
Jun 21 · 244
proof
Anais Vionet Jun 21
My emotions get the best of me - intermittently.
I preserve them in poems,
like fluffy dinosaur feathers in amber,
because emotions never last,
as our present becomes our past,
they flicker, like lightning bugs and disappear.
Jun 17 · 335
Dublin night
Anais Vionet Jun 17
It’s 1:30am and we were at a cute little dance club in Dublin called “The Sugar Club.” It’s a converted movie theater with tables in stadium seating rows. That night was Salsa themed, and the regulars were stylin’ - the men dressed in white Havana or Colima, Italian Linen and women in bright salsa dresses.

The DJ was mixing a gr8 groove - with music from Bassia, Brazilian Girls, Kate the Cat, with some ElectroSwing thrown in from Tape Five, Pink Martini and Doja Cat (Yes, I asked the DJ for his playlist). The tiny, darkly-disco-sparkling dance floor was crowded and refrigerator cold.

We had a good time. Irish guys are funny and unpredictable, they’ll say practically anything, “Shall I buy you a drink, or do you just want the money?” and those brogues make everything they say spankin’ hot.

We all danced a few times, but Sunny’s a gwyn who never seemed to tire. Guys kept asking her to dance and she seemed happy to oblige - I would have collapsed already.

There was a dead-fit guy, Rían, throwing a strong Chris Evans vibe, who seemed completely smitten with Sunny. He seemed a real dean but he didn’t 404 that Sunny’s femme-facing and that he might as well be offering lettuce to a shark.

We’d discussed the possibility that things might come up and decided to avoid delicate public acts of disclosure (Sunny’s gay, Leong’s a communist, etc..) - we’re trespassing different cultures on this trip, after all.

We explained to Rían that we were students, just in town for the Duran Duran concert, and consoled him with a couple of “Black & Golds” (Kahlua, whiskey and orange bitters) - he was a LOT of fun to talk to.

The bartender asked me if I was one of the colleens with “Margot Robbie” - he was referring to Lisa - which Anna found amusing - but I think Lisa’s way phater than Margot.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Oblige: favor someone’s request, or a favor.

gwyn =  a hot dancing queen
dead-fit = gorgeous
dean = a nice guy, a gentleman
404 = clued in to the fact
femme-facing = lesbian
phat = pretty, hot and tempting
Jun 10 · 170
pop-ups
Anais Vionet Jun 10
Another night of dreams,
one after another, flickering half images
echo real events but bare my heart.

I try on new realities,
like dazzling garments or popup stores
of evanescent wants I may not admit to myself.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: evanescent: something that vanishes quickly like a vapor
Jun 8 · 357
The twisted 2nd
Anais Vionet Jun 8
The idea that our founding fathers intended anyone over 18 to possess enough firepower to destroy the entire continental army of 1776 is absurd, arrogate and dangerous.

#repealthe2ndamendment
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Arrogate: to take or claim an illegal right.
Jun 7 · 191
missing you
Anais Vionet Jun 7
I miss you - your methodical intelligence, your clear and definite character, your scratchy-blue-beard, your voice - a high fidelity love song.

I’m less obsessive about you in the rush of college with its narrowed perspectives and endless, immediate goals. It’s harder on vacation. There’s too much free time.

I’m tortured by my own needs.

“I can live without him,” I say, out of the blue, to no one - we’re lounging by a spa pool - “I’m going to reel myself in,” I add, listlessly “or I could just invite him - he’d show up for his own reasons..”

“You’re talking to yourself.” Lisa says.

“I’m seeking expert advice.” I answer back, shaking my head as if to throw off doubts.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: fidelity: being faithful to someone or accuracy in details.
Jun 6 · 826
I love you
Anais Vionet Jun 6
“I love you.” he said, his voice raspy and emotional.

“You..?” I asked softly, and he nodded yes, slowly.

I kind of moved him away a bit - with a soft stiff-arm - to see him better in the limited light. He looked serious and a little flushed, as if feverish. I examined his face, looking for insincerity or jest but saw none. Perhaps this “love” could use some examination.

“Would you convert to Judaism for me?” I asked

He looked surprised and a little confused. “Are you Jewish?” He asked, hesitantly.

“No.” I answered. He still looked confused.”I’d be proud to be Jewish,” I clarified. “or to have a Jewish boyfriend.”

“Then.. why would I need to convert?” He asked, squinting with concentration.

“We were examining your sumptuous commitment to love.” I said, “forgetaboutit.”
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Sumptuous: extremely costly, rich, luxurious, or magnificent
Jun 3 · 671
Moonshadows
Anais Vionet Jun 3
I’m crushingly sentimental, you might not know, I don’t let it show, but it’s true. I’m walking in the moonshine and moonshine is how I feel - I’m intoxicated - by you.

Some nights when I can’t settle - I walk - and find myself outside your dorm. Your light’s on tonight, everything’s right, when you're a few feet away safe and warm.

I’ll wait a while, in the windy cold, the crunchy snow, deep in the sharp blue moonshadow. When people pass by, I look down at my phone - oh, don’t look at me, there’s nothing to see or do.

A walking girl, a stalking girl? Lingering, at 2am, drunk with desire, yearning somewhere inside for the ephemeral closeness of you.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Ephemeral: "lasting a very short time."
Jun 3 · 352
rough
Anais Vionet Jun 3
Love is a bit of comedy, so be rough with love.

He arranges her one way and then another,
in itchy dissatisfaction. She surrenders to the role
like a silent bystander, a plaything in the hands
of impatience - what does he want?

“Like this,” he says in a schoolteacher’s voice.

The imbalance of power, the almost impersonal
manipulations, the momentum toward surrender,
and then the shocking, primal desire - to meld -
like a gunshot in a canyon long thought empty.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Meld: "to combine, blend or mix together."
Jun 1 · 258
travel week
Anais Vionet Jun 1
It’s a “travel week” here in Georgia. I’m writing this on June 1st at the Atlanta airport. This morning Sunny’s flying in from Nebraska, Sophy from California, Lisa from New York and Anna from Oregon - all around noon. Charles put a hard-shell luggage carrier on the roof of the Navigator because he didn’t trust it to hold the luggage 4 girls could bring.

My parents left last Saturday for Warsaw to join “Doctors Without Borders.” Charles, Leong and I drove them to the airport and then we took Leong to “The Mad Italian” for the best steak & cheese sandwiches on this side of andromeda.

Sunday was a typical lake day. We tied off in our favorite cove and were quickly joined by everyone who could get on a boat. Imagine that Dunkirk movie - except this was a get together - with motorboats, sailboats, skiffs, pontoon boats and canoes all crowding the little bay.

Leong’s an avril lavigne - who knew? On Monday, I surprised her with something green - a trip to “Fun Galaxy” roller-skating rink. I made reservations for a “birthday party” and a group of 15 of us had the rink to ourselves all morning (and cake). I thought I was a skater but Leong’s legit. She says that in Macau you either skate on the street (rough terrain and dangerously between cars) or at one of several huge multisport pavilions where the rinks are cement and resemble our skateboard courses.

She’d never seen an air-conditioned, basketball-court-smooth-hardwood, disco-lit, rock concert sounding, American roller rink. It was love at first sight. She spins, does double lutzes, skates faster backwards than I can forwards, and the manager threatened to pull her off the floor for doing backflips (“There are liability issues,” he insisted.) She was also amazed because there was a built-in diner. At home, she said, you have to bring your own water and sometimes your own toilet paper (toilets are completely different in Asia - don’t get me started on THAT).

Yesterday, Leong, Kim and I were waiting for a Facetime call, to coordinate today’s arrivals.
Before that though, at my behest, Kim helped me ferret-out - Holmes & Watson like - the dire skinny on something, and we, as long time besties and co-conspirators, had a plan.
“Did you know Rob Chen was class valedictorian this year?” Kim asked the room.
“No!, congratulations Rob,” I said.
“Yea, Rob,” Leong echoed nonchalantly.
“We’re so proud of Rob.” Kim continues.
“But, you know,” I said seriously, “there are Rob haters out there. I understand it - he’s hateable,” I expand.
“ek,” Kim blurted, like a little bird, at Leong’s reaction as Leong gasps, “What.. Why?”
“Because he dresses ugly!” I explained.
Kim, unable to curb her excitement, squeaks out loud.
Leong looked at Kim, shocked, Kim was looking down and rocking with the effort of silence.
“That’s not enough REASON,” Leong blurts, “to hate someone!
Again, Leong looked to Kim for agreement and got none.
“I don’t hate YOU,” Leong says, turning on me.

There’s a moment of shocked silence.

“WOW.. wow,” I say, as Kim nervously snickered with glee.
“First of all,” I begin, between my own chuckles, a defense:
“I’m wearing a very **** black ensemble but not exactly dressed to go OUT, (Kim laugh-coughed) and SECOND,” I pause for drama-queen effect.
“YOU,” I say, turning my head significantly and accusingly, towards Leong, slightly askew for a better view, “seem to have quite a few hickies on your neck this morning.”
Kim can't stand it any more and squeals, full out, with delight.
“You, need,” Leong said, pausing just before she lunges at me playfully, to put her hand over my mouth, “to cut off THAT line,”
“I knew it.. I KNEW it!” I say, bobbing and turning my head away as Leong pins me with her body while still trying to mug me and we’re all howling with laughter now.
“Those are Rob Chen hickies! - I. KNEW. IT.”

The facetime ring interrupts us and Leong reluctantly lets me go to answer it.
We all sober as she moves to press “Accept.”
“Let me just loop-back to say,” I looked at Kim with elementary-dear-Watson satisfaction, and said to Leong, “you didn’t deny it,”
Leong blushes crimson as the call begins.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: behest: an authoritative and urgent prompting.

Slang
Green = something new
avril lavigne = a girl that skates (roller, ice or skateboards) a Sk8ter-girl
dire skinny = critical information.
Legit = real, authentic
May 28 · 261
the kill-crazed
Anais Vionet May 28
I believe most Americans are appalled at the wanton gun violence in America today.

Surely the ****** of young children is revolting to almost everyone and begs for some action.

But what can we DO about it? I mean REALLY.. really.

Republicans want to arm themselves more, while democrats use these events to ******* to gun control fantasies that either cannot pass as law or will be struck down by the courts.

I’d like to propose a real, actionable solution.

We would announce this plan in every high school in America, propagate the offer in every morning announcement until further notice:

Any young man (or woman, let's not be sexist here) who, in their heart of hearts feels sufficiently motivated (****-crazed) would immediately be sent to Ukraine where they could **** real Russians to their heart’s content.

They would only be trained if they wanted it, only be part of an organized unit if they desired it, they would be armed on arrival or they could bring their own initial arsenal if they had it at hand.

Once they achieved 200 certified Russian kills (this number is negotiable) they would be declared heroes and could either continue their good work or receive some sort of scholarship or cash.

This is just one, practical idea - you, my reader, are free to propose others.

This is not a joke, not sarcasm, irony or parody - let’s actually DO something, shall we?
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Propagate: "to make an idea known to many people”
May 27 · 110
thunderstorm
Anais Vionet May 27
It’s 8am on an overcast Wednesday morning, Leong and I are about halfway through a round of frisbee golf. Half of the holes on this course wind through dense, hilly woods, but as we climbed a hill toward the 9th hole we left the woods, with its green forest canopy, for the open fairway.

That’s when the first, fat, high-velocity raindrops hit us. They made a tiny popping sound and left small, dark, bullet-hole water-stains on our quick-drying activewear. I wasn’t thinking about the weather, at that point, we’d been under a forest roof, protected from the wind and elements.

I’m so competitive, up until this point my eyes, my entire mind had been focused on the course, the game, the next shot, the angles and the par.

As the oldest sibling in her family, Leong can be a little bossy - but in a nice way. She “older sisters” me sometimes (she’s ten months older). When we’re at school, I abandon myself to her happily because she studies a LOT - something we have in common - and I know she’s always got one eye on the clock.

Leong has an uncanny knack of knowing precisely what to do, where to go, and when. I’m used to going second with her, following, sure that she has everything ordered, in her head, in such a way that the world around us never disintegrates into disorder.

As we topped the hill, overlooking a broad landscape of golf-course-sculptured green, dotted with trees arranged as obstacles, I realized that Leong kept turning around - was something happening?

I started looking around too and focusing more carefully. The trees along the fairways were flailing in the wind, making a collective rustling and shushing sound, as if to get our attention. The forest canopy we just left was an ocean of violently rolling green.

The sky immediately behind us was lower, weighted down with purple-edged black clouds that covered the sky like restless, moving bruises. In front of us, the sky was open, the sunlight still dazzling, but that brightness was quickly receding, as if fleeing the suffocating storm that was pressing in.

Thunder erupted as if freed by our attention and there were sparks of lightning in that menacing, fairy-tale darkness. I looked at Leong, her expression was new to me. Her eyes were narrowed, her knees slightly bent, like a surfer seeking balance and she was licking her lips as she twisted nervously around.

Suddenly, wordlessly, she took my hand and gave me an irresistible tug. I found myself running, unwillingly at first, towards the parking lot - about a quarter mile away. She was squeezing my hand hard. Is it possible that she’s afraid, I wondered?

The clouds were just behind us now, and a thick wall of rain, that looked like a cartoon curtain, obscured the fairway in back of us. The wave of water seemed to be following us, pursuing us - gaining on us. A fierce flash of light and a bomb-like boom seemed to shake the ground under out feet. “Oh, ****!” I half-screamed, half-laughed, panting.

I pressed my door fob as we approached the car and we clamored in just as the lashing rain overtook us. We looked at each other, out of breath, and laughed in relief.
“Who says frisbee golf isn’t exciting?” I asked.
BLT word of the day challenge. Uncanny: "of unusual or almost supernatural character"
May 25 · 159
monkeypox
Anais Vionet May 25
I went to Walmart this morning - yes, it was very brave.
My dander was up - I was on high alert - for active shooters and the unmasked.

Then I saw him! A man on the cookie aisle - he looked like he had the monkeypox!
So I kicked him in the nuts and ran - you can’t be too careful out there.

It turns out that he was just an 80-year-old retiree wearing a polka-dot shirt.
I apologized - from a safe distance - as the paramedics carted him away.

It felt like a close call.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Dander: refers to anger or temper
May 23 · 171
doctor mom
Anais Vionet May 23
It’s Sunday morning, 7am. My phone jiggles and a Doja-cat ringtone jars me awake. It’s Kim asking if we want to set out for some frisbee golf - you have to tee-off early on the weekend to avoid the rush. “No, I moan, not today” I say, licking my emery-paper dry lips and trying to focus my eyes on the giant LED numbers of my alarm clock, “Leong and I got shot,” I add for maximum dramatic effect.

Later, about 11am. I’m lead-ball tired and so is Leong. My arm hurts so bad I can hardly lift it. Leong says hers does too. We’re kind of binging “Riverdale” but, in reality, we’re curled up, blanketed, and surrounded by pillows on the living-room sectional couch, napping off and on.

It’s slightly odd, being at home again with my mom, who used to manage everything about me. She knew when I should go to bed and get up, what vegetables and fruit I ate. She knew my teachers, who my friends were, when I had homework due, or needed a dental cleaning, when I had a doctor's appointment (although she really was my doctor), how I was feeling, if I had my period, when I took a bath, when my sheets needed changing - everything.

Now my mom has her brakes on - I can see her sometimes, flexing to comment on something, like our plan to go to the pool party the other night at 11pm, but stopping herself.

I guess I’m a different (university sophomore) me and she’s a different (more hands off) her.

Leong’s very Chinese-respectful around my parents. She calls my mom “mamma” and Step (my stepfather) “baba“ and practically comes to attention whenever they address her.
They’re just parents,” I say, denigratingly, “relax.” She nods, she’s trying.

Early yesterday (Saturday) morning, Leong and I were in the kitchen, at a round table, deep in our kitchen bay-window area, where we’re surrounded by plants and hanging ferns. My mom was making us a pancake and bacon breakfast (yum!), which was lovely, in theory, but Leong and I were badly maimed (hung over) - which I’m willing to bet she guessed. The night before we went to a high school graduation throwdown.

“Do you girls have plans for tomorrow?” My mom asked, as she transferred several pancakes from a frying pan onto a baking sheet in the oven.
“Nothing in particular, why?” I replied, as I looked up to eye-drop my seemingly sandy eyes.
“You’re going overseas in less than two weeks and I’d like to have you two covid boosted before then. You might feel tired or sore the next day,” she said, as she flipped her latest set of four pancakes in the frying pan, “so getting them today would be ideal.”
I look to Leong, to check her reaction and she shrugs with her coffee cup to her lips.
“Ok,” I say, “sure.”
“Leong,” my mom begins, “do you need to check with your parents?”
“Mom!” I almost shout, reacting harshly. I’m hung-over, mercurial, and embarrassed that she’s treating Leong like a child.
“No, Mamma” Leong says, looking at me, frowning - stepping over my outrage, solicitously - both answering the question and calming me down at once.

My mom transfers the latest batch of pancakes to the oven, where there’s now a flat baking pan piled with them. She closes the oven, flicks off the gas burner, picks up a silver tray that was lying on a side table, covered with a kitchen towel, and comes over to us.

She lifts the towel and we see two covid booster syringes and alcohol wipes.
“Now?” I say, slightly alarmed (I’m not a big fan of shots).
She raises one syringe to the light for a brief inspection and taps it twice. She cleanses my right arm with an alcohol wipe, gently pinches an area and injects me with one quick, smooth motion - I hardly feel it. She steps around to Leong, who’s also sleeveless, and repeats the process with the other syringe.

And just like that, we’re all boosted, in less than a minute. She hands us both our updated covid cards and says, "Alexa, announce breakfast is ready.”
Doctor moms can be handy.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Mercurial: "rapid, unpredictable changes in mood”
May 21 · 516
seniors
Anais Vionet May 21
Leong and I are at a party, a graduating-high-school-senior throw-down. Their school year is over, and they are ready to darty. We’re at a lake house, well away from parents and neighbors.

These are the kids I high-schooled with - I just got promoted a year early. I get a lot of nods, waves and winks from some guys but none of them approach, like a mysterious inversion of attitudes has occurred - as if Yale were a nunnery and I’m a known novitiate. It’s just as well, I’m not looking for a hookup.

It’s Friday night, about 11:30 pm, the party started long ago and it’s britney-spears-2007. There are drunk girls in the pool in their underwear (Ok, that’s just exhibitionism, who comes to a lake party without a bathing suit?).

We’ve been here for about a half an hour, long enough to dance a couple of times. It’s hot and we’re sweaty but we can’t swim - Leong and I are moon sisters tonight - it’s our trauma bond. Our ad hoc solution, rubbing our arms and necks with ice, is congroovesive.

Leong is loving the bash, she keeps saying, “crazy,” like when large football players jump from the second story roof into the pool. It’s a huge pool, a huge party (with maybe 150 kids), a sound system that Led Zeppelin would envy and the house is a beach.

Everett, the host for tonight’s decadence, comes over and takes a seat by Leong and my lounge chairs. He’s a handsome guy, but there’s a cocky, entitled edge there that’s off-putting. He can be nice when he’s not trying to impress anyone.

There’s a break in the music. “You’re traveling this summer, I hear - me too - what games will you be playing?” He asks,
“I have my switch with me,” I say, “it travels well - not the whole console mind you - that seemed too extra - just the switch. So I’ll be playing Animal Crossing and Zelda - what about you?”
“Oh, I’m gonna play Grand Theft Auto - It was my favorite as a kid,” he says.
“You played GTA as a KID??” I gasp, “Why has THIS never come up?”
“I don’t know.” He admits
“How did your parents let you have that?” I ask, astonished.
“My dad’s the one who turned me onto it,” he confides, “he wanted a partner.”
“No wonder you love ******* music!” I say, making new connections.
“I DO.” He laughed. “You do,” I confirm, knowingly.

He holds a bottle of deep red something near my glass and raises his eyebrows.
“You can gas me up,” I laughed, “I’m not driving, I’m ok with it.”
Leong holds up her glass as well and he pours generously into our Sprites.

“What song can I play for you?” He asks, as a reward.
“I’m going to go basic,” I announce, after thinking about party music, “Beat it, by Fall out boy”
“You got it,” he nods, taking a moment to text the request to the DJ, before moving on to the next table.

After a moment, “Beat it” begins, there are a few cheers, but conversation becomes impossible.

Congratulations seniors everywhere!
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Ad hoc: "something used for immediate needs."

Slang:
throw down = large party
darty = drunken party.
britney-spears-2007 = crazy
DJ = digital jockey
moon sisters = girls who have synchronized periods
congroovesive = something that helps to get your groove back
a beach = somewhere you’d like to live forever.
May 19 · 366
outdoor tables
Anais Vionet May 19
We’re in a “new” trendy neighborhood called Cascade Heights, in Atlanta. It’s lush - hydrangea, musk rose, hoya and blue false indigo are in bloom and there are greens of every possible variation. The sky is clear and southern-sun bright - shadows are crisp.

It’s going to be 91°(f) today and although it’s only noon, the heat is rising.

Leong pointed out the black tubes that discreetly provide air-conditioning, carefully hidden in the shrubbery surrounding the shaded, outdoor dining area. She thought that was very clever and American. “They’re for survival,” I assure her, “it gets hotter and hotter over the summer.”

Leong and I are finishing lunch, savoring a decadent chocolate chai-tiramisu dessert.
“Oh, my God,” Leong said, sliding the chocolaty spoon over her tongue, “oomm.”
“So good,” I said, moaning with pleasure and closing my eyes.

The waiter comes over with an iPad, I wave my watch, like a magician’s wand and we’re free to go.

We were going to relax a minute and finish the last of our cold chai-tea, but as the waiter left with our cleared dishes, a rando, wino-looking, elderly man came up to the bushes by our table and said to me, “You look sad.”

First of all, I think: NO - and who ARE you? Thinking secondly, ***, go away.

I didn’t know what to say - but he put the kibosh to lingering. I started having an “eye-contact-only” conversation with Leong. Are we about done here - do you have your phone and purse - shall we go?

Leong and I stand, in unison, pushing our chairs back with our legs, gathering our shopping bags and belongings in fluid motions long-perfected at mall food-courts.

“We have to go,” I say, with a half-smile and goodbye nod to the man, “have a nice day.”

He watches us go for a moment and we surreptitiously watch him watch us go. Charles, our escort, who was at another table, fell in, a short distance behind us.

Maybe the guy was just being friendly but you can’t underestimate CrAzY in 2022
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Kibosh: something that serves as a check or stop
May 17 · 425
summer’s begun
Anais Vionet May 17
It’s a cool, Georgia, Wednesday afternoon - not quite 80°f. The sky is clear, and the sun is dazzling against the cadet blue sky. Its reflection is multiplied a thousand small times, creating glittering, broken mirror glares that ripple, relentlessly, across the water’s blue surface.

On the lake, if you’re not wearing polarized sunglasses, then you’re going to suffer - no worries though, we have drawers full of them. We’re on my parents' Tiara-43 ski boat, at anchor in the sheltered-cove of an uninhabited island. It’s windy, Leong and I, bikinied and fresh from the water, race shivering for our giant, Turkish-linen beach-towels.

Charles, a large, redheaded, retired, NYC cop, (who’s been my full-time driver and escort since I was 9), is our boat-captain (I am not allowed to dock the boat). Charles, a chef of steaks nonpareil, is working the grill and unconsciously swaying to the music. The aroma is mouthwatering, and my tummy is growling with anticipation.

Ashe’s “Another man’s jeans” is bumpin’ from the stereo, and I can’t help but feel this somehow beats going to class. As we wrap up and settle in our lounges, a green and white ski boat careens into view, about a quarter mile from the cove entrance.

The sight of it makes me smile. It’s going so fast that it seems to hover over the surface of the lake, only jerking slightly as the boat lightly touches-off the water. It zeros in on us like a missile, its approach flat out - perhaps 60mph (52 knots).

I knew who it was instantly - Kimmy - of course. I look at my watch - 3:30pm - she got out of school at 2:15 and must have made a hot bee-line for us using “find my friends” GPS telemetry to uncover our hidden cove location.

As the boat edges the cove lip, Kim cuts power - the boat heaves as it settles into the water and quickly decelerates. Charles, anticipating the approaching wake, secures things (spices and utensils) in the galley area. When the boat’s closer, I can see that Bili’s onboard too.

Kim and Bili are my two homie BFFs. They’ll graduate high school in 2 weeks. Kim is a small, pretty Asian American bound for Brown University, to study public policy in the fall. Bili is a tall, gorgeous, chocolate-brown Nubian princess who’ll attend the University of California, at Berkeley to study “financial engineering” - whatever that is.

When Kim’s boat is about 80 feet from us, Kim and Bili jump on deck, water-ready in bathing suits. Each girl, used to the boating-life, tosses an anchor - one to port, one starboard, and not bothering to look back, dive off the bow and begin swimming toward us.

Kim’s boat, which briefly seemed intent on catching them, jerks to a stop, like a wild thing suddenly restrained, as anchor lines catch.

When Kim and Bili draw along aside, they reach up with clasped hands which Charles uses, like a handle, to smoothly hoist them one-handed, as if they were weightless, in turn, from the water with long mastered ease - presenting them to me for squealing embrace.

As I excitedly introduce them to Leong - summer has officially begun.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Nonpareil: "having no equal."
May 8 · 428
finish lines
Anais Vionet May 8
Yale’s friday “spring fling” was a soggy success - both as a concert and super spreader event. My groove-spirit was dampened by weather and a final I had the next morning.

I pose here tonight, in the chill residential courtyard, on my green sport-brella beach chair, like Canova’s Pauline Borghese, relaxed, canned *****-martini in hand, still untouched by the covid menace - as if I’d taken sagacious care in avoiding it.

The waxing crescent moon is strutting its familiar runway, like a vague, ambient night-light, but what should we expect for free? Maybe it’s saving itself for warm, clear summer skies.

I can relax tonight and binge on the moon because the school year is over (for me).

I’d been in a coffee-fueled study-trench for over a week, finishing my last assignment paper with my last gasp of academic energy. It illustrated what could be crafted in a vacuum void of originality. I filled it with ideas, gathered like runoff-water, from deeper sources and tailored the paragraphs with care, weaving by sleight, the 3D illusions of depth, breadth and substance. It was very well received. taking a bow

I love the feeling of being done with finals but still living on campus. It’s casual, adult and relaxed - close to life as I dreamed it as a kid.

My room is disassembled and I’m living out of my suitcase. Movers will come and cart off our stuff Monday. Leong and I will head south - like wrong way birds. I hate goodbyes but knowing these are temporary helps. Most of my summer will be like one continuous sleepover.

Happy Mother's Day!
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: sagacious: making good decisions in difficult situations


Slang:
friday = something that was fun and was looked forward to
May 7 · 444
Sunny
Anais Vionet May 7
My suitemate Sunny is from Nebraska. She’s 5’9,” and has cinnamon brown hair that’s half messy-bob, just long enough that she can twist it up with a pearl-studded comb, and half mohawk. She has the long, slanky elegance of someone who’s spent most of her 18 years outdoors.

She’s a cowgirl. There’s a well-worn sage-nova cowgirl hat hanging on her dorm wall and she has her own horse - a red-roan quarter-horse named Valentine - at home, of course. Her best friend growing up was a Sioux girl named Wachiwi who shared her love of barrel racing and lived on a nearby reservation.

Wachiwi was the first person Sunny came out to, at 10. Sunny was 13 when she came out to her family. “I like girls,” Sunny declared defiantly, out of the blue, one night after dinner, “not boys.” Her younger brother had snickered, her older brother rolled his head and said, “Oh, lord.” Her two little sisters seemed unconcerned. Her dad, after a moment’s thought, responded by asking her if she had taken the kitchen scraps out to the chickens yet.

Sunny grew up on a ranch and there was a rigid structure to her days. She would get up early and do ranch chores (muck out horse stalls, feed the chickens, gather eggs and set out hay) then study - but her first love was World of Warcraft.

Sunny was homeschooled and her stories of how that was accomplished are epic. For instance, they had three satellite internet services which she would have to switch between, throughout the day, like a gambler hoping to get lucky and every other Saturday they drove three hours to exchange books at the library. Whatever they did though, it worked. She’s unholy smart - like someone made a deal with the devil smart.

Sunny describes Nebraska as “basic, cliche and poor.”
“Wow,” Leong says, “you really paint a picture.”
“We all inhabited different worlds,” Sunny says, shruggingly, “Lisa’s from skyscraper clouds, Anais a palace, Leong a dystopian communist hellscape..”
“I wouldn’t say a palace,” I demur. “WHAT,” Leong screeches, throwing popcorn at Sunny.
“Stop!” Sunny says, raising both hands to ward-off further snack assaults.
“I just mean, if you were to go live in Nebraska - you’d have to go in on those terms - expecting something basic, unimaginative and poor, periodt.
“I couldn’t wait to excape.” she says, definitively, “I was thirsty.”

Everything about Sunny is deliberate, she looks you in the eye. Like a madwoman let out of the attic, she takes perverse joy in being fiercely blunt, raw and outspoken. She has a drive that can’t be mollified - she’s making her life over and you better not get in her way. The girl cracks me up - I could stand to be more like her.

Sunny’s joining my world this June for most of summer vacation. “Maybe you could show me Nebraska one day.” I say. “Maybe.. someday..” she says trailing off with a far off look, “but I wouldn’t do that to you, you’d go CrAzY in three days.”

“I’ll own that,” I say, wiping away fake tears.
.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Mollify: "to reduce in intensity."

Slang:
Slanky = both slinky and lanky
Periodt = an absolute period - the last word - end of discussion.
Excape = future tense of escape
Thirsty = desperate for something
Cliche = unimaginative
May 6 · 494
Invitations
Anais Vionet May 6
The desk was half submerged in a lake of papers.
She felt so adult, being invited for coffee.
But get outta here. With your remarkable eyes and..  WEDDING RING
The question hung invisibly in the air.
What does that mean, coffee?  Have you ever felt like you were missing some obvious sign-signal? Why does he want to have coffee with ME?” Lisa asked herself.
He isn’t the first guy to hit on her but he’s a professor.
WAS he hitting on her?
Her ***-dar said he was hitting on her.
“Sorry, I, I can’t.” she said as her mind searched for context.
She thinks: What if I make him mad - and he decides he doesn’t like me anymore?
Wait, does he like me NOW - or am I just another of a million students he’s taught?
Am I making a thing out of nothing? Am I being fractious?
Maybe coffee means coffee?
She has a hundred thoughts in a millisecond.
“Why not?” he asks, not looking up and marking some student’s paper with a red pin.
“I’m busy with humdrum deadlines,” she said, wondering if that even made sense.
He looks up and chuckles, “No problem.” He says with a smile, then he returns to grading.
After a second she turns and goes.
“I need to find Anais,” she thinks, reaching for her phone.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Fractious means "troublesome."
May 4 · 197
young republican
Anais Vionet May 4
You’re so HOT when you lie to me
young republican
I love your insurRECTION
I prefer my men dumb and dishonest
so come Lie with me
give me your BIG one
about how Trump won and
how the big steal couldn’t be stopped
ooo, slower, yes,
Tell me what a strong-man Putin is
with truth in abeyance
Yeah, uh huh, like that
Oooo.. uh..
restrict me, control me.
take my choice, my privacy
Ummm.. yeah..
right there..
impede my vote.. yes, yesss
Keep, keep, umm..
nothing’s wrong
don’t stop, oh,
don’t stop now..
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: abeyance: a state of temporary inactivity.
May 3 · 260
funerals and births
Anais Vionet May 3
It’s both a bitter funeral for freedom
and the birth of new crime.
turn away from freedom and reap the whirlwind
May 2 · 376
flinging
Anais Vionet May 2
It’s Spring Fling today - an all-day campus concert with some up-and-coming music acts. We’ll be out there, in the rain if we have to, we're determined and somewhat waterproof. We went out earlier, doing a scan for friends to find seats and place stuff to hold our spot.

What, up until now, have been notes of preparation for summer move-out, will become a symphony tomorrow - after my last final - I’ll be a sophomore then, I suppose.

Peter has to check an experiment he’s working on. He hugs me and heads out.
“He’s so hot,” Anna observes, “he makes me think about ***, and you know what - YES!”
“You can have him," I say, he’s too tall - and besides - he’s friending-down, with me.” I admit.
“I like him,” Lisa says, “he doesn’t complain or disapprove of things.”
“He’s the modern man,” Anna says, dreamily.
“And he’s REALLY good at kissing games.” I confide, grinning like a creepy boy, to make them jealous. They all made various noises that piggybacked and incorporated into one coherent gagging sound.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: piggyback: "to function in conjunction or carry on the back of another."
Apr 30 · 442
summer plans
Anais Vionet Apr 30
It’s hard to imagine almost three months of unencumbered fun. My Grandmère says it’s my first summer as an “adult.” Is it funny that I don’t yet see myself as an adult?

Her “frosh-end” gift to me is a summer of anything I want (chaperoned, of course, to counterbalance the nefarious strategic significance of our femaleness) with her secretarial minions coordinating tickets, booking travel, airfare and hotels. ***, we have SO much planned.

There’ll be travel, plisse bikini-covers, gas-station sunglasses, marathon-beach-walks, bright-dense-tangerine sunsets, Yamazaki flavored snow-cones, moonlight swangin, ***-positivity and righteous gratitude to my Grandmère for all this.

And there won’t be any deterministic nonlinear systems analysis or multicellular biology quizzes.

Leong isn’t going back to Macau (China) over summer break so I’m stealing her. She’s spending her entire summer with me. In June, my parents are off, for the rest of the summer, to Poland with “Doctors without borders,” so we become untethered. Of course, all of our plans are covid or WWIII dependent and thus subject to cancellation without prior notice.

In May, I’m going to show Leong life in America, well, Georgia anyway. I’ll introduce her to my old high school crew, show her life on the lake, and teach her how to play frisbee golf and of course, how to waterski. We’re going to Braves games, to see Bonnie Raitt, Barenaked Ladies, and Indigo Girls concerts - and that’s just May.

In June, when my folks leave for Poland, Lisa, Anna, and Sunny will join us for the rest of the summer. First, we’re off to Dublin, Ireland for a few days where we’ll see Duran Duran in concert. Then we’ll go to London and shop for day three of the Royal Ascot.

Day three, at Ascot, is “Ladies Day,” when they parade those hats “My Fair Lady” made famous. We’ll table in the Windsor Enclosure (the “cheap seats”) where you don’t have to wear a silly hat (Americans don’t DO that, do we?) and the dress code is slightly more relaxed. Don’t fret though, the royal family will carriage right by us (an unobstructed 30 feet away) at 2PM sharp and we’ll enjoy champagne, strawberries and 5-star cuisine as horses run for their lives.

In January, all we could talk about were Florida beaches - but that’s not the situation now - the Florida atmosphere just seems too straight-white toxic. So we’re staying euro-side and will drop to Saint-Tropez until we go see Olivia Rodrigo, in Paris, on June 22nd.

As you can see, it’s a lot - and I can’t wait!
I hope you have big plans - make big plans - life's too short!
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge:
Minion: someone obeying the orders of a powerful boss
Nefarious: "evil" or "flagrantly wicked"

Slang:
Frosh = freshman
Swangin = dancing
Apr 29 · 448
crimes and misdemeanors
Anais Vionet Apr 29
My roommates and I congregated in our suite's great room and we’ll head out for dinner soon.

“Have you ever eaten dog food?” Leong asked Anna.
“No,” Anna answered, “it smells like chicken - it’s got chicken in it”
“OOO!” Leong pounces, “Busted!!”
“What?!” Anna reacts.  
“How would you know that then?” Leong asks, doubtfully.
“My mom told me!” Anna cries, in self defense. “She’s a vegetarian too.”
“Your mom told you.” Leong said, like a prosecutor raising an eyebrow for the jury.

“I just took my last English class,” I report, pony-tailing my hair, “my teacher told me - privately - that my writing destroys.”
“Nice,” Lisa says.
“Yeah,” I say, smiling and grooming with pride, “I thought that was a ballin’ complement and I’ve been riding that high.”
“No doubt,” Anna says and nods.
“My English professor..” Leong says, exasperated, “is driving me crazy, I’ve written three final papers so far and she’s rejected them ALL.”
“Huh?” I gasp, “Show me one!” I demand, wiggling gimmie-fingers at her laptop.

“Here’s a question,” Lisa asks the room, “What would you change about your childhood?”
“I would have never grown up.” Sophy said.
“When I was in third grade, in the UK, a girl in my elementary school, was murdered,” I reveal.
“What?!” Anna says.
“Oh, my GOD!” Lisa gasps.
“Spill” Leong demands.
“Her name was Kennedy,” I begin, “She was in another class, I didn’t know her but I started to imagine that I’d known her. I’d think of her playing on the swings in a yellow dress, in daydreams and in nightmares.”
“I can see that,” Leong said.
“I was flummoxed, at the time, how a family could lose a little girl and a president.” I added.
Anna looked confused.
“I was in third grade,” I replied, ”what did I know?”
“Go ON,” Lisa prompts.
“We heard that she was walking home and got snatched,” I continued.
“Jesus,” Lisa said, shaking her head.
“Although I never walked home, I was careful not to be snatched for a while,” I summarized.
“I bet,” Anna agreed.
“That’s what I’d change,” I said, “Poor Kennedy.”
“People ****,” Lisa pronounced, and there was general agreement to that.
BLT word of the day challenge: Flummox: "to confuse."
Apr 28 · 186
the Batman movie
Anais Vionet Apr 28
The Batman Movie (a review). The clues part was cool, but the end of it got boring. I liked that Batman kept a journal - I like the idea of men keeping journals, because, do men have many thoughts they share? Men’s thinking seems so ephemeral.

In this Batman resurrection, Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne & Batman are Kurt-Cobain-like emo and that seemed to work. Didn’t you just want to take your hand and get his hair out of his eyes? I think guys should have hair - I like hair on guys, not buzz cuts. I liked the muscle-car Batmobile.

I liked Zoey Kravitz, she was girl power, but not in a hot girl way, she had her own motivations, she wasn’t just in danger and served up to fuel Batman.

The movie is too long though. They need to bring back movie intermissions - I’d vote for that. As usual, I drank my giant slurpee and ate ½ my popcorn before the twenty minutes of previews were finished.

It’s a three hour movie. I had to *** so bad by the time the movie was ¾ over that I was grinding on my popcorn bucket to keep it in. I finally had to make a dash for the bathroom - I was afraid I’d miss the KISS scene. Argh!

Let’s talk about Robert Pattinson, the actor, and his arch from Twilight to Batman. Of course, doesn’t every vampire turn into a bat? (joke) but it’s always Pattinson being moody, being hot, figuring himself out and the introspective man - the broody man.

Are broody men ****? I don’t like broody men in real life - I feel that only one of us gets to be moody in a relationship - and it’s going to be me. Pattinson seems almost zany and cheeky in RL so the brood is his method act. I Like that Pattinson didn’t buff-up for the role - I think the buffed-up muscle-man as superhero perfection somehow relates to capitalism. Pattinson’s American accent was good.

What was missing from the movie was horniness. Batman didn’t seem HOT for Cat-girl - he just stood there for her to kiss. What’s boy-girl attraction if it’s not horniness? Where has the horniness gone in movies? Sexiness is missing from ALL the superhero movies - I guess the age demo is too young.

I give it three out of five stars
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Resurrection: means "revival, resurgence rebirth”
Apr 27 · 915
seasons of sex
Anais Vionet Apr 27
We (Lisa, Leong and I) attended a cross-campus Health *** seminar the other day. I have to admit to some self-consciousness. I was worried that some professor would see us and judge - I still have some self-work to do. I’m fighting to be freer, to be well.

In an effort to destigmatize ***, they gave out vibrators - over a hundred in ten minutes - they ran out - there was a demand. That was pretty sic. I guess no one wants their dad to see a ******* charged on the family Amazon account (again).

Which got me thinking about how sexuality is different throughout the year - by season. Of course, this is the pandemic era. The last two freshmen classes have been the most isolated in history.

Which brings me to mask-crushes. Early on in the year, you may have had a crush on someone whose face you hadn’t actually seen. That girl mask-crushing on you might not think you’re as cute maskless but then maybe she’s not as hot either.

By the seasons. Admittedly, this is a cerebral look at a hot subject but I’ve asked this around and within my peer-group these are the agreed upon numbers.

Fall is when college began, summer tan lines were fading but the cafeteria was still full of summer stories. You were meeting new people or perhaps missing someone. You might have gotten a little flirty after you settled in. Still, temperatures were dropping and it was time to start covering up. ******* was recommended as the safe pandemic alternative but in some cases, new freedoms were too much to resist. ******* - 9, hookups - 1

In Winter things really slowed down, we got out even less and classes got grimly serious. There was a seasonal effect to the darkness. Of course, we needed to stay warm and maybe we cuddled up more. We’d met people by then and hookups happened but usually within our own social groups. ******* - 7, hookups - 3

Spring came in with a sneeze as the world brightened and those thoughtless plants pollinated. It was almost shocking to see how many people there were on campus. You tend to forget how many are around because everyone was sheltering or using the tunnel system. There were chances, on nice days, to get out and have fun again - just as those clothing layers started coming off. ******* - 5, hookups - 5

Then there’s summer - in my experience, summer sexuality is different - everyone’s freer, less stressed, the clothes are thinner, smaller and more revealing. The world is greener, brighter and hotter. Everyone’s making their critical summer decisions now. Some people I’ve talked to can’t wait to go home and get laid - not me - but some pretty explicit plans have been laid out around here. ******* - 3, hookups - 7

What are your ratings?
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Cerebral: intellectual in nature.
Apr 26 · 181
ready to go
Anais Vionet Apr 26
Winter tested my endurance with its sharp and burning cold and now the warm lavender evening, with its smells and sounds of spring seems like a gift. The breeze is warm, and even the broad zones of shadow contain an inviting warmth.

The campus lamps should ignite soon but groups of students are milling, talking and laughing as if no one wants to let go of the day.

As Lisa enters the courtyard the campus lights flicker to life. As she approaches, she lets her book bag slide off her shoulder. Catching it by its strap a millisecond before it hits the ground as she reaches me - without looking - like a practiced trick.

Taking my hand in hers, she asks, head tilted slightly to see my eyes, “How’d the test go?”

I’m the first one in our squad to take a final - most are next week. “Cinchy,” I say with a grin and a flick of my free wrist, “not comprehensive - it just covered the last section.”

“Yea,” she says, “look at you go!” A warm breeze wells to obscure her face with her flaxen, cornsilk hair. She lets her bag fall the last inch, and ponytails it, two-handed, with smooth, practiced ease.

Finals existed, like ancient, cultural crucibles, long before our time, but these are ours, as if they’ve always been waiting - just for us.

Yale is still new to us, but we talk, juxtaposing experiences, challenging and comforting each other, even though we’re on slightly different paths. It seems that everyone is pumped up though, a little stressed maybe, but more than ready to hit it.
BLT Merriam Webster word of the day challenge: Juxtapose: compare different things side by side.
Apr 25 · 364
testing
Anais Vionet Apr 25
Lisa was carefully pulling a strand of cotton candy off a paper-coned “barbe à papa” - winding it around her finger while absentmindedly gazing at a carousel. She seemed hypnotized by its white horses, trimmed in gold, with their brassy red and blond manes, as they hopped, like slow-motion rabbits, in circles beneath wreaths and garlands of colored lights.

My watch jiggled me awake, mid-dream. I was bemused. It took me a moment to orient myself. I groggily pushed the sheets off and performed a big stretch. It's Monday morning, I think. “Alexa, what’s today?” I ask, to be sure. “It’s Monday, April 25th,” she says.

A beautiful, if cloudy spring morning was going to bloom on the other side of my jacobian glass windows - any minute now. At least according to my weather app. “Alexa, good morning,” I say, to start my rattling, sputtering, steampunk sounding coffee maker.

College time is warped, measured more in deadlines than minutes. There’s no plan other than your class or test schedule and let me refresh you on the rules – there are no rules, I’m free to do whatever I want. I actually chuckle at that thought.

College is transformative but there’s a hoary sameness to it. Read, discuss, review and test - wash, rinse and repeat. This morning is reserved for test review. I have a final this morning - well, sort of.

Some classes have a quintet of tests instead of a big midterm and nerve-racking final. It smooths out the stress, but you still have an almost forensic exploration of ideas, and you want the answers queued-up, ready for easy access.

I quickly washed and donned my workout-wear. A glance at my watch told me I was right on time. I’d loaded my shoulder bag last night, with my book, highlighters, my phone, Air-Pods and a water bottle. I grab it as I head out. I’ll do my review on the treadmill.

Anna opens her door just as I do mine - perfect. We’re off to the gym.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Hoary: "so familiar as to be dull"
Apr 24 · 245
saucy
Anais Vionet Apr 24
Introducing my roommate Leong to my Saturday morning cartoon binge habit proved to be one of my BEST ideas EVER. She’s a very animated watcher, frequently laughing, gasping in horror and, in the end, delighted by these silly shows.

It’s almost a case for convergent evolution, how two creatures, from opposite ends of culture and the world can be so similar.

I find myself watching her, for her reaction, as much as the shows themselves - I’ve seen them before but I rediscover them vicariously and emotionally through her. We can spend hours dissecting character arcs and plot twists - we’ve found a small, stress-free heaven.

It’s 10:40am Sunday morning and Leong is dipping celery in barbecue sauce for breakfast again. “THAT’s just gross,” I deem, holding my hand up to block my view of this travesty.

“You should TALK,” she says, “Flexatarian!”

I gasped, like a slapped Chris Rock in the face of this naked aggression. “Why am I a Flexatarian! I demand, my mind reeling for context, “because I ordered the potato burrito at taco bell?” I look around for some sort of rescue or validation, but we’re alone.

“That’s so FAUX,” I say, in an injured voice, shaking my head sadly. “I’m by the book carnivore,” I say, holding my fingers in a three-fingered girl scout pledge.

“And you have to live with that trauma,” Leong says, scooping an extra large dollop of sauce with her celery as I make gagging and heaving sounds.
BLT’s Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Deem : “to judge or have an opinion.”

slang
Flexatarian - someone who’s only a vegetarian when it’s convenient or showy.
faux - untrue

*Convergent evolution: how life evolves in certain predictable ways because they work the best. For example: how flying has evolved independently at least four times on earth: in birds, bats, insects, and pterosaurs. Ultimately, this theory predicts that we will meet other “humans” if we ever get out and explore the universe - those Star Trek green, human aliens may actually be real somewhere.

*I have a no “show off” rule which this may violate
Apr 22 · 216
microsteps
Anais Vionet Apr 22
Some people are cynical about college -  it’s rigid, they say - why is it even needed?

Don’t be confused about college - it’s not a place for creativity. You can’t use an essay to wander restlessly through your imagination - you’ll fail - and fail quickly. Universities are places for conscientious minds.

Conscientiousness - the desire to do the needed well and thoroughly - is the best predictor of success in college, in graduate school, in law, in management and anyplace that has structure and rules.

In science, most progress is incremental. Oh sure, there’s the occasional Einstein who changes everything, but that’s rare. The reason science is so powerful is that it allows regular, educated people to advance knowledge one microstep at a time. Imagine a hundred thousand people microstepping and exchanging knowledge and wow, now we’re zooming.

You don’t want a surgeon in their well lit operating theater to have an inspiration and try something new on you. You want them to apply the state-of-the-art procedure diligently and carefully.

Entrepreneurs and artists don’t always do well in college. Those careers require constant “out of the box” thinking. When a person starts a company, there are no rules, it’s necessary for the entrepreneur to make things work on the fly. Artists are almost required to break or create new rules. Conscientiousness certainly plays a part in those fields but it’s not the main predictor of success.

Creativity is necessary - every company needs a small group of people generating new ideas but it’s a high risk, high reward game. Few new ideas pan out - the odds that your idea will be unique, practical, affordable and reach the marketplace at exactly the right time to be successful are astronomically low.

Someone who wants to - who feels they have to be creative - is almost cursed. Yes, it’s ironic that I’m publishing this on a poetry site - but in most cases creative people fail - it’s much better for the average someone to be practical. Practical people are generally more successful in life although the rare creative can be extremely successful (Musk, Jobs, Gates).

Colleges teach how our world works - a simulacrum of what is currently known - in hopes that the student will be able, one day, to ask the next question - the one that will push their particular science ahead that one microstep and move us all into the bright future.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: simulacrum: a representation of something.
Apr 21 · 156
embarrassing mornings
Anais Vionet Apr 21
My freshman year is ending and I’m as busy as a one-armed juggler. Of course covid is back. It reoccurs at the worst times, like a movie slasher long thought dead.

When we have something scheduled very early in the morning, we call it an “early-burn.”  This one early-burn morning I had a 7am meeting. Peter and I had met for breakfast because he’s back in my life and he’s ALWAYS up and out early.

It was snowing and we were hurrying, because somehow, I always cut things close. I think I tripped over my shoe-string on a patch of ice. I went down hard and I heard this loud ripping sound. I’d ripped my pants badly and my book bag spilled too. I’m scrambling around on the ground in an attempt to grab some loose papers the wind was scattering.

Peter says, “Wow, your ******* are really thin.”

I jump up “I feel you don’t know where our boundaries are,” I laugh, “you’re so nasty - don’t just stand there grinning - HELP me!” I indicate two papers for him to chase. I looked to see how bad the rip was (BAD). Of course, my coat was short that day, so I untucked my blouse. “How does this look?” I asked Peter.
“That works,” he said, giving my fix his imprimatur.

The two of us managed to corral the papers. “Let’s pretend that didn’t happen,” Peter said. I realized I’d ripped my pants leg and scraped my knee badly - it was bleeding profusely.
“******* It!” I went off.

This lady comes up - seemingly out of nowhere - this old white Christian lady who we’d never seen before. She was so out of place and random and she says, “I really don’t think you should be talking like that in public.” She wasn’t harsh.

At that moment, a gust of wind came up that made me lower my head, as though I couldn’t look the old woman in the eyes but I was just ignoring her anyway - having my own set of issues to deal with.

She had a point though. I’m cursing too much these days. I feel like If I admit it, maybe it’s ok but I am trying not to cuss anymore - well less maybe - at least in a negative way.  
“I think you look fu-kin’ GREAT,” would still be acceptable.
BLT Merriam Webster word of the day challenge:: imprimatur: an official approval
Apr 20 · 372
grades ruin everything
Anais Vionet Apr 20
Peter knocked and Lisa opened the door. She didn’t greet him, like she usually did, she just nodded and looked away, making a face that reminded Peter of when he was ten - and in trouble. I was on the large, red couch, coiled up tightly at one end, a textbook in my lap and a highlighter in hand, like a knife. The song “Bad Sneakers” was playing throughout the suite.

Anna was in the kitchen, washing glasses in the sink and she didn’t look up, watching the suds like she thought something important was happening beneath those bubbles. Peter knew something was wrong - it was a little obvious - he just didn’t know WHAT.  

“What’s going on?” Peter asked, maybe a bit too brightly, as he settled on the edge of a stiff-backed chair. After a moment of silence, he said, question-like, “You seem like you’re in a bad mood.”

“I won’t ALWAYS be in a good mood,” I said defensively, “and you won’t be warned ahead of time - good luck to you.” I’d looked up but I quickly looked away and took a deep breath.
After a moment Peter asked, “What would you like to do?”
“I don’t know,” I said, looking around, then I added restlessly, “take a walk.”

The common room windows were full of a night sky and harmless rain clouds, which spread out like a soggy layer of wet bread. A misty rain was falling, only to be thrown about by the wind. “Ok,” Peter says, standing and turning back towards the door, “Let’s do it.” I slipped on shoes and grabbed a small umbrella on our way out.

Occasionally, rain drops made a popping sound on the taunt skin of our umbrellas as we walked in a silence that lasted about five minutes. “Your girlfriend yelled at me in the cafeteria today.” I said, watching my feet.
“Wha..” he started, and after pausing for a moment, said. “I’m sorry she did that.”

After a little more walking he started, “ Shriley’s an EX girlfriend. We were together for about a year,” he paused again. “She cheated, I found out, but somehow she’s angry at ME because I won’t let her “explain” it.” He said with a shrug. “We’re DONE.” he said softly, “It’s an established fact.” He looked at me as we walked.

The feeling I’d had of a great weight on my chest seemed to lighten a bit. The clouds were clearing and the crescent moon was reflected, small and waxing, over and over in little puddles formed by the uneven pavement, as if the moon was following us around, watching us.

“That was a minute ago - before we met and that situation, it’s locked-down. I’ve got twenty people who can testify to that.”

“Still,” I said, “She seems 730. Maybe we should take a pause and take a breath.” After another minute of silence I added, “The game seems saturated - and with midterms..” my voice trailed off.

He looked disappointed. “Sure, I get it,” he said, “craziness and midterms don’t mix.”

Shriley knew confronting me would elicit turmoil - but what could I do? They’re graduate students and I’m a lowly pre-med freshman. I was sad and discouraged when we said good night. We’d never even kissed.

After the door closed, I leaned against it and mumbled “Grades ruin everything.” Leong hung up my umbrella and gave me a hug.
BLT Merriam Webster word of the day challenge: Elicit: "to get a response from someone."

slang: 730 = crazy
Apr 16 · 236
freshmen conversation
Anais Vionet Apr 16
My pose is gathered this Saturday morning because I made a pancake and bacon breakfast. We're listening to a Britney Spears song, off one of Leong’s playlists. “I remember when I was about 8,” I say, “I was drawing and singing a Brittney song and I got to the line - “I make no apologies, I’m into phonography,”” and my mom sharply says, “Don’t say that!” And I’m left trying to figure out what I said.”

“People are harsh with her, but Britney is timeless,” Leong says.

“Everyone at Yale fancies themselves a music critic,” Lisa says. There are numerous vocal agreements. “I’m like, “Ok, Pop-off then queen, go complicated,” but in my opinion, you need to have fun with music - that’s the main purpose - just to have fun.”

“That’s like the difference between Cardi B and Niki (Minaj). You can just stroll a Cardi B song, you don’t have to interpret,” Anna adds, “but with Nicki I feel I have to listen to see the point.”

Lisa, surfing on her iPad asks, “Did you guys see that Jojo Seawall wasn’t invited to the kid’s choice awards - because she came out as lesbian?”

Sophy says, “Nickelodeon’s been trying to seem MORE accepting, working in more black artists.”

“Yeah, but they’re fake.” Anna pronounces. Everyone nods agreement.

“He hasn’t called all WEEK,” Sophy moans, holding her iPhone up to her ear like she expected to hear ticking, “I made a ghost of him,” she says, flopping the phone on the couch.

“Should I call the Po-po?” Anna asks, distracted as she searches the kitchen cupboard to be sure the pancakes were gluten free.

“I had a dream,” Lisa begins, “I was a child in a family I don’t know. We were criminals. We stole a car and robbed a store. My dream mom ran the operation. And wouldn’t let me watch TV until I emptied the loot out of the car. Then the police arrived, we saw the flashing red and blue lights through closed venetian blinds, then there was a banging on the door, in the dream, that woke me up.”

“That’s way off track but It’s fine, so fine, I see how it is.” Sophy said, “I’m bleak and no one CARES.”

“Is love something you find, or something you believe?” I ask no one in particular.

“That’s a coffee-cup inscription.” Anna pronounces.

“Aaggh,” Leong says, “An email from my professor - it’s TLTR.” We think it's a policy that professors at Yale have to send incredibly long emails - almost too long to read (TLTR).

There’re only three weeks left of our freshman year, so emails are flying and everyone’s trying to nail things down for a smooth ending.
BLT word of the day challenge: Timeless: Classic, eternal or ageless.

Slang:
Stroll = groove
Po-po = the police
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