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1d · 45
cat astrophes
The pre-dawn rang
as cat choirs sang
in waring gangs
sharp and rank
before they sprang
with claw and fang.

Isn’t it an overweening piety
to think that diverse cat societies
would address conflicts more politely
observe more cultural propriety
and politic more peacefully and quietly
than our own species, which behaves violently

Are we not, in part, their masters?
Don’t we war for goals we’re after?
Aren’t some of our leaders practically gangsters?

Does any species author more disasters?
Humans are - frankly - alpha-predator *******.

If the language of cats, we could unscramble,
and into their feral dialogs we could wrangle,
perhaps we’d see that they’re just following our example.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Overweening: arrogant and unduly proud
You can only spend so many hours in labs, study groups and classrooms - under relentless, fluorescent lighting - before you start feeling life withdrawal.

When I hit that stresshold, I need to rebalance myself.

I could go to the New Haven harbor - I find the ocean endlessly relaxing - or for a quick fix, I can always rely on the warmth of multicolored product packaging.

For the last one, a grocery store will do. I’ll walk the bright, prismatic cereal aisle, and run my finger gently along the gratuitous, rainbowed variety of selections.

It’s a soothing gesture that I repeat several times. A reminder that there are still beautiful, shiny things out there, on demand, in the uncomplicated, non-academic world.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Gratuitous: unnecessary and over the top
Saint Tropez is a summer town.
Smaller than it ought to be, really.
Like when you realize the French quarter,
in New Orleans, is just three blocks wide and long.

In the fall, there’s a feeling of disuse in Saint Tropez.
A turquoise bike leans haggard against a stone pine,
and summer leaves gather in gutters like trash.

Your appearance in a bar is treated like a surprise.
The wait staff gathers, like they might take your picture
and not your order - one brings napkins another the menu.

Summer memories are indistinct now, from disuse.
You aren’t sedated by sunlight and warm ocean airs.

Was summer some French, romantic, cinematic fantasy,
like "La Belle et la Bête" or "And God Created Woman"?
Or was it deliciously bright, seductive and real.

You find yourself saying, “In the summer, when the thyme,
lavender, rosemary, citrus and jasmine bloom, the aromas
are strong, actually physical, like going into an Ulta store,
where a thousand delicate perfumes vie for attention.”

But it’s like describing ghosts or deserts under glass.
You search for the words, like a poet or an actress, unable
to remember her lines - lines that would make it real,
invoke it, precious and immediate - like a spell.

The Saint Tropez of summer.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Haggard: tired, disheveled and abandoned
Feb 21 · 222
the 3rd floor
Anais Vionet Feb 21
This was last Saturday night. We were at a rooftop party in downtown New Haven thrown by ‘DocHouse.’ Doc-House is kind of a frat-house, owned by Dr. Melon, where he and seven doctoral students live. My BF Peter lived there once - before he graduated and took a job in Geneva - that’s how I met Dr. Melon. I think Peter asked Melon to ‘keep an eye’ on me - because he texts me an invitation every week and people with multiple doctorates and doctoral students don’t usually hang with lowly undergraduates.

The invitation said ‘rooftop’ but we’re mostly on the third floor - not on the actual roof - because it’s about 39°f and windy out there tonight. The floor space was about seventy by a hundred feet, there were pillars but no walls. The space was lit by a million strings of white Christmas lights.

The party was packed and loud - so loud I was wearing ear plugs. Beach chairs and card tables were the furniture. There were foosball, pool and two ping-pong tables (one of those being used for "Beer Pong"). A karaoke machine patched into two Marshall amps and speakers acted as a DJ.

Of course, there was a bar. Everyone was supposed to bring something. We brought two bags of ice, two magnums of Gordon's gin, two fifths of Cinzano vermouth, a jar of large green olives and a box of toothpicks, because there’s always room for the proper anesthetic. Martinis aren’t a shiny, new hobby with me - they’re a lifelong passion that I only indulge in on weekends and in psychologically safe environments.

There were 7 in our party - Sunny, Lisa, Leong (three of my suitemates), Lisa’s BF David (a Wall Street M&A man), Andy (a carrot-topped chain-smoking divinity-school undergraduate friend of Sunny’s), Charles (our escort, and driver) and me.

We’d been there about 30 minutes when Jordie, a guy I’ve been sort of crushing on for several months, showed up - alone. Lisa turned to me and yelled, “Uuu, lookie lookie,” when she saw him - I barely heard her - but I read her lips. I’d never really talked to Jordie, but when I looked at him, through the warm, martini mist, my tummy felt like Jello-excitement.

As the night wore on, Jordie and I started hanging out. We lost at foosball, 8-ball and ping-pong before we went up on the roof to get some air. The silvery ½-moon crescent was obscured, off and on by clouds, like a shell game where the moon was a jewel on blue velvet. You could almost hear the operator’s smooth, practiced patter, “now you see it, now you don’t, place your bets.”

It was quiet up there, so we actually talked. Somehow, the vast night seemed intimate. As we talked, the conversation was delicate and careful, like the words were made of crystal.

A while later, Jordie and I were back downstairs dancing. The entire floor was coated with that gray-speckled covering - so you could dance anywhere - but a rectangle of police tape in that flooring defined the official ‘dance floor’.

Two hours later, we were watching Sunny sing karaoke while holding a fuchsia martini (just add raspberry liqueur) in one hand. When Sunny goes, she totes commits and belting out an angry, screamo version of ‘Ain’t it fun’ by Paramore, she tried for a Beyonce-like head-spin (don’t try this at home), and slung half of her drink on the crowd - but it didn’t slow her, or them, down. After finishing, to huge applause, she took several bows and coming back to our table, she asked Andy, “How was I?”
Andy held out his hand and lampooned her by waffling it, in a so-so gesture.
As Lisa handed Sunny a replacement cocktail, she told Andy “You don’t get it - it’s supposed to be awful.”
“Then it’s the best version of the song I’ve ever heard.” he replied, holding up his hands like she had a gun.

Jodie and I danced some more and after a while, someone played a slow song. As we moved close together, his subtle, boy musk was torturous and intoxicating. How come guys smell better when they’re all sweaty and I smell like a horse? Eight weeks of lonely boredom and three martinis (4?) were almost enough to churn the sweat of desire into the intoxicating liquor of consent. In my secret heart I wanted him. Badly. I wanted to take him home and smash against him for hours. Alas, I have a (missing) boyfriend and I don’t believe in oopsies.

At that very moment I saw Charles, standing silhouetted in one of the dance floor lights - he had our coats in hand. I swear, that man can read my mind. I glanced at my watch, 2:30am. I stopped close dancing with Jordie and stepped back. “I gotta go,” I told him.
“It was fun,” he said, shrugging and smiling.
“It WAS fun,” I agreed, taking my coat from Charles who’d come over. “(I’ll) See you next week,” I added, as everyone in our little caravan started to move.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Lampoon: to ridicule with harsh satire.

totes = totally
Feb 19 · 93
counseling
Anais Vionet Feb 19
I’ve been to counseling.
Uni-life can be stressful, it's a 'judgy' environment.
We're under constant evaluation.
So there’s free counseling.

Have you ever been to counseling, dear reader?
What I love about counseling is that someone has to sit and listen to MY issues..

Wait, doesn’t that sound a lot like poetry!?
Feb 17 · 85
reelection
Anais Vionet Feb 17
I’m so excited about this election
about America and our direction

We’ll trust old men
to make big decisions
elderly men
of compassion and vision

Men who were there
when the work was done
when we went to the moon
and warred in Vietnam

A glorious age is at hand
we’ll be safe in those trembling hands

One who launched an insidious insurrection
Another who can’t follow simple directions

They will grasp what needs to be done,
our land will be free and efficiently run

We’ll trust old men
who think with precision
to keep us safe
with complex decisions

Men who were there
when the work was done
promoting corporate advantage
and environmental damage

A glorious age is at hand
we’ll be safe in those trembling hands

I’m so excited about this election
about America and our direction
Feb 15 · 242
fakery
Anais Vionet Feb 15
I can be a wretched fake, in private, intimate performance.

I’m an actress capable of imitating spontaneous pleasure -
by tricks of hesitation, convulsive vocal play and postures.

A mimicry undetectable to an immediate spectator.

Aww, thank you, I’ll sigh, as if leaving a good party.

“I’ve got a lot of homework to do,” I’ll add, a minute later.

To clear the stage.
Feb 12 · 210
fragile things
Anais Vionet Feb 12
Attraction is a small and fragile thing.
We started with stolen glances,
in crowded halls, across a coffee shop.
I was glancing (I hoped he was glancing).

It was hard, we lived in a rushed way.
We were on schedules, we had routines.
I had doubts about having a boyfriend
but they fell away, like leaves fall off trees.

I’d been warned, "don’t saddle trouble."

But finally, feeling that we were
deserving of love’s rich value,
we came together,
as marble-hearted sinners
with the serpent's contempt
for God’s stable order.
Feb 11 · 120
superbowl
Anais Vionet Feb 11
It’s a chill and rainy Saturday night in New Haven - it’s Superbowl eve! My roommates Leong, Anna and Lisa and I were playing a game of Upwards - it’s a scrabble-like word game and we’re all strangely super competitive.

My phone went “dunk!” A happy ‘Water jug’ sound messages make when they're from one of my favorites. The message was from Charles. He was at the front gate with a package that came to the house where Charles and Mrs. Charles live (about 600 yards from the dorm). He passed me the package through the bars at the main gate, “Thanks,” I said, “ga-night,” and he was gone.

Back in my room, I ripped the box open like Christmas morning. The word game could wait - this package was from Paris. The light beige, Jacquemus, ‘Les Ballerines mary-jane pumps’ I’d ordered (forever ago) had arrived and they fit like soft leather gloves.
“Ooo! Glampse!” Lisa pronounced.
“Aren’t they?” I agreed, swiveling my hooves to show them off in the full length mirror.

When I rejoined the Upwards game, talk had shifted to tomorrow's Superbowl.
“I read yesterday that Taylor’s on her way (to the Superbowl)!” Leong declared.
“I like that she likes the NFL now,” I said.
“A lot of people hate her for it,” Anna countered.
“She was on camera twice, for 11 seconds total, in a 3-1/2 hour long game. If that upsets you, you’re bringing a lot of your own baggage to the plot.” I updogged.

Leong wants to order vegan “wings” for the SuperBowl.
“What, exactly, are those?” I asked, apprehensively.
“You’re the girl who talked me into trying buffalo-frog-legs in Paris - ney?” Leong enquired, sarcastically.
“Yeah,” I admitted, guiltily, “but they were delicious,” I said in self defense.

I’m picking the Chiefs 30-20 over the niners.
glampse = glamorous
Feb 9 · 181
close
Anais Vionet Feb 9
We’re (my roommates and I) at a specific time of youth - a time I’ll call “close.” We aren’t fully adults but we’re close, we’re not completely out and independent, but we’re close. And once again, we’ve got choices to make.

I read this paragraph to the room.
Lisa gasped and exclaimed “Not choices?!”
“More choices?” Anna groaned.
“I’ll have a bacon-cheeseburger with large-fries,” Sophy said, adding, “and a blueberry-triple-malt shake.”
“Freedom is choices,” Leong, our favorite communist, ungrammatically observed.

We’re in the second half of our junior year - which is still hard to believe. We’ll be seniors soon, and seniors have one foot out the door - they’re ‘over the ****’ academically - nothing will be thrown at them that they can’t casually handle, so they sleep-in or trek off to job interviews half the time or in my case, go med-school hunting.

I’ve written about our lives - the stresses, healthy doses of narrative-suffused teen drama, the ascetic beauties and the enchantments of freedom - trying to capture a few real-life moments at irregular intervals, in small ellipses, to tack them, like butterflies on cork.

What’s been hard to capture are the subtler shifts in taste and mood as we’ve aged. I’ve had to purposefully slow down, doppler shift from frantic student to observant writer, to even try and grasp the constantly evolving, small variations. Like Anna’s cainogenetic expressiveness, Leong's imponderable politics, Sophy’s evolving, coquettish bar-side poses and the growing assertiveness of Lisa’s gaze.

As we mentally prepare for our real lives, there are diffuse metamorphic changes afoot. What will we leave behind and what will we keep in order to “grow up?” I don’t mean changes in haircuts, clothes and make-up - although I’m sure I’ll MCU-those-out - I mean the psychological changes.

Throughout our college careers, the objects we’ve surrounded ourselves with, the settings we’ve chosen to inhabit, the faces we’ve shown the world, and even our intimate notions of ourselves have changed.

And It’s still only junior year, I can’t wait to see what comes next.
slang…
*cainogenetic: adaptations in development that aren’t found in evolutionary ancestors
MCU-out = the nauseating oversaturation of something, like the Marvel-movie-verse.

Adults don’t always grasp (remember?) the thousands of small but concrete choices governing the life of, say, a middle-school adolescent. The zig-zags that appear puzzling or random from afar, stem from questions like, ‘What does my belt say about my sexuality or my relationship to oppressed people in poverty?”
Feb 7 · 249
the patron saints
Anais Vionet Feb 7
I think the patron saints have all been left for dead.
The lies have all been said,
and payments been arranged.

The depositions all went down behind the scenes.
The clergy spilled the beans,
but somehow the guilty never found

Have you heard of Jesus?
He was very wise,
now he lives up in the sky.

sing along, sing in spite of all the pain
sing in spite of all of the pain

Children start out in the world so full of dreams.
Then come the philistines,
who run those dreams into the ground.

Yes, it’s been confirmed, the patron saints are dead.
The church is in the red,
and we are all concerned.

I can imagine Jesus,
with a mighty spell,
sending all those guys to hell.

sing along, sing in spite of all the pain,
sing in spite of all of the pain.

The sordid stories that were hidden from us all,
except those on bathroom stalls,
which turned out to be the facts.

Children start out in the world so full of trust,
their faith was easily crushed,
and now we’re filled with a righteous rage.

Now we’re living in a new enlightened age -
sure that we can be the change.
Can we live like Jesus?
Can we avoid lies - can we be compassionate and wise?

sing along, sing in spite of all the pain
sing in spite of all of the pain
Feb 5 · 413
the indigo night
Anais Vionet Feb 5
(Inspired by 'Indigo Night' by Thomas W Case)

A thousand thousand stars pierce the indigo night,
but no moon mars the canvas, or lightens velvet strokes.

Half-hearted waves slap at shoreline rocks, like tepid applause.
If the sky is darkest blue, the ocean is a still-darker green.

The harbor suggests a freedom, outside the breakwater
as if the choppy ocean were a highway to the sky.

Tomorrow's deadlines fade, in the face of infinities.
The harbor is quiet, like a restless animal that's sleeping.

No skiffs tack for the harbor's mouth, no fishermen juggle lines.
The sea is a jagged, broken and twinkling mirror for the stars.

A thousand thousand dreams will be launched, this deep indigo tonight,
some will store, in memory's hold, others will be lost, like shipwrecks.

No line divides where sky and water fold, where endless deeps meet.
Time's arrow seems stilled by the cold and the gentle darkness.

But dawn will come, soon enough, and with that blush, cares ignite,
duties' call, and the stars will hide their light in greater glares.

For now, we'll walk the shore-line, our small voices like seagull calls,
enjoying celestial light, and the indigo night, out beyond all earthly cares.
Inspired by 'Indigo Night' by Thomas W Case
Feb 4 · 129
Why?
Anais Vionet Feb 4
(Senryu-ous story)

I can’t figure out
why everything doesn’t
happen like I want.

I brush my teeth and
floss regularly, I wash
my roommates dishes,

I am generous,
I don’t run in the hallways,
I do my homework.

I support pizza
places, Amazon - I spur
the economy

semi-sleepless night
no worries, but tossing with
no sleep - what’s with that?

My health app says I
slept three hours, four minutes.
I’m low on toothpaste.

five-thirty AM
Lisa and I ran four miles
on the gym treadmills

Banana/ peanut
butter/ cacao/ oat milk/ chia
seed breakfast smoothie.

I've been in love with
styling dresses, layered
over flared jean pants.

My first look was a
tulle dress over sequined jeans
and tan kitten heels.

The winter hook-up
scene is in full swing - not for
me, I’m like second base

I just lay around,
in sad, unfettered, boredom
- a crying shoulder

for others, I’m not
a skanky *****, like [censored]
- try penicillin - ßℹℸçⒽ

Since, as you can see,
I am, for all intents and
purposes - perfect.

I can’t figure out
why everything doesn’t
happen like I want.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Unfettered: not controlled or restricted

ßℹℸçⒽ is NOT a word, it’s a set of Greek symbols - if you read something in them, well, that’s just coincidental, isn’t it?
Feb 1 · 175
Popping-off
Anais Vionet Feb 1
This was last Christmas - 39 days ago - doesn’t that seem like ancient history?
We were in Lisa’s (parent’s) 50th floor flat, in Manhattan. It was mid-morning, we’d done the present thing, and it was coffee time. At 42°, the city was surprisingly warm, drizzly, and the weather service had issued a dense fog alert.

I had wanted a white Christmas and there it was, about 20 stories below us, a vast, dense, whipped cream sea of white stretching off into the holiday. The fog's surface wrinkled gently in places, revealing glimpses of the Hudson River, like an artist's fleeting brushstrokes. The pea soup brume undulated, like lava or a living thing and reflected the murderous morning sun like a mirror, making it klieg-light bright. Glare gives me headaches, so I had to avoid looking at it.

Lisa (one of my college roommates), her little (14-year-old) sister Leeza and I were spread out, under beige, vicuña throws, on one angle of their huge, white sectional couch and Lisa’s grandparents were nestled on the other.

A ‘Style Council’ playlist was playing on the room's sound system. Leeza had picked it and it was a great groove.
When “The Story of Someone’s Shoe’ ended, Lisa said. “That song’s so beautiful, honestly, it’s really lovely.”
“On God,” I agreed, (I’d introduced Leeza to ‘the Style Council’ last fall).
When Leeza said, “I forced you guys to like it, and now you do,” I just rolled my eyes.
“Well, your taste is usually so awful,” Lisa pointed out.
“My taste doesn’t need targeting here,” Leeza said defensively.

We all had our tech out - we young-ins were on our laptops; the grandparents were deep into their phones.
“I need to pick an elective,” I said, scrolling through the class catalog, “any ideas?”
“I took psyc 275 last term,” Lisa offered.
“Learn anything interesting?” I asked.
“Well, apparently Freud’s mom was hot,” Lisa said, distractedly focused on her laptop.

A moment later Lisa reported, “Texas Republicans are banning books about *******, because who does THAT anymore?”
“Women are getting ******-on by Republicans,” Leeza pronounced, and her grandma flinched as if slapped.
“Revelations,” I agreed. “We’re definitely getting ******-on by republicans,” Lisa undogged, while stretching.
“I think Republicans are the American Taliban,” Leeza pronounced, as if she spoke for all of Gen-Z.
“It’s a continuous topic on campus,” Lisa acknowledged.
“I’m not ON campus,” Leeza reminded us.

For a hot minute, no one said anything.. then.

“This is just my year, of, like, realizing stuff,” Leeza said.
“Oh, she’s realizing stuff,” Lisa moaned in fake sympathy.
“Her tenets are forming,” I commented dryly, like a news reporter.
“A year of realizing.”  Leeza reiterated urgently, like that was forEVER.
Then, refocusing on her laptop, she said, “I’m picking a song!” and ‘Water’ by ‘Tyla’ began playing.

Our solitude is always set to music.
(*BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Tenets: principles, doctrines and beliefs*)
Jan 30 · 128
cows and ants
Anais Vionet Jan 30
When a class is boring, the air can feel close and rebreathed - not a comfortable feeling for a COVID child. When the class is finally over, it’s like you’ve escaped something.

Did you know an hour has 60 minutes because ancient Babylonians used a seximal system? (base six).

The class I was in was small, just eight of us around a table in a small room (four students were missing that day) and somehow the class had wandered into the unstable, waring, state of the world.

The professor ended his unscheduled thought, on the result of nuclear war, by saying, “After the nuclear exchanges, when cockroaches take over..”

“No,” I interrupted - it was a flashbulb moment - an impulse. I don’t usually interrupt professors, “Ants. Ants would take over - they’re mobile super-organisms, cockroaches are just meat to them.”

His smile and nod of approval felt warm and cozy, as if my emotions had a texture and temperature - but I knew it was something assigned to me briefly, like a motel room.

Nuclear survival isn’t exactly my bailiwick, I’m not sure where I picked that thought up or why I had the confidence to offer it. Confidence is a thin lever to work with when talking to a professor. I’ve seen professors crush brash students.

The bell rang, I had survived, and Leong was waiting for me in the hall. The crowd in the hall was moving on toward their classes, like water splashing in every direction. Leong barked a laugh. “What?” I asked.

“Neh,” she said, waving her hand (meaning forget it).
“What?” I asked again.
“When I was little, I would visit my grandparents' farm, in Shandong (province, China). They would call their cows in with a bell,” she said, motioning, with both hands to include the crowded hall.
“We’re the most privileged cows in the universe,” she suggested smilingly.
“I suppose we are,” I agreed, as we passed out into a wind as cold and harsh as witches' breath.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Bailiwick: “a sphere in which someone has expertise.”
Jan 28 · 152
the-u-life
Anais Vionet Jan 28
With silly smile, playing laptop keyboard
keys, I relay tales of brief, college bliss,
where days, like dry martinis, swiftly pass
lips that pucker for life’s capricious kiss.

My roommates bring joy and warm delight, like
late night Cheeto-fights to break-up study
drudgery - some chaos can counter stress,
though it makes a powdery-orange mess.

While we whirl and preen, when on party scenes,
we've embarked on the classic scholar’s quest.
We're earnest lasses, who pass-up passes -
well, some capitulate - we are human.

But I'm tempered by shame, and remembered
love's flame - and nightly I whisper his name.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Capitulate: “surrender to an enemy."

(*playing with sonnet*)
Jan 26 · 213
the crows know me
Anais Vionet Jan 26
(inspired by "Gifts of the Most High" by G Alan Johnson.)

The crows know me, and I, in their untamed glares,
and wild, accepting, onyx eyes find a solace.

No need for ID, for they’ve been watching me,
my face, yet unetched by time and life's own artistry,
is a passport for their uncivilized and predatory attention.

The corvid and I are kindred in many ways.
We've all scavenged for fortune's scraps,
shared the sting of bitter winter snaps,
and feasted on the meager leavings of the day.

In this dark pact, of watcher and watched,
a silent truth is proclaimed, that all that’s done
beneath the sun, is seen by dark, intuitive,
discerning, if not caring or humanly wise eyes.

The carrion crows know me,
and those feathered sentinels of air, mark
my coming with raucous, heralding cries.

They gather, black against the sun-kissed sky,
in councils held upon the wind's swift motions,
like children, they argue - observing still - as they play.

They causa no fear, but someday I’ll disappear,
unraveled, bit by bit, not by malice from on high,
but by beaks and claws, to caws they mantric-like cry.

Perhaps death really does have an ebonite beauty
and, like angels, his servants have wings, and pick us apart
when our time is through - and those sharp bills come due.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Kindred: “similar in nature or character."
Jan 24 · 346
the bent bar
Anais Vionet Jan 24
In dreams, I’m where the music plays.
I’m listening to the laughter, like it’s in another room.
My drink is dark, bitter and oaky tasting
and the peanuts taste like soap.
There aren’t any napkins.
Others are lines of light and shadow.
I feel an anxiety that I gnaw on,
like a dog works a bone.
My dream’s conflating memories.
Suddenly Lisa’s there,
she comes up from behind,
“Aww, your tag is sticking out,” she says
but before she can fix it,
I hear tower bells ringing.
It’s my alarm.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Conflate: “to blend or bring together.”
Jan 22 · 571
making men
Anais Vionet Jan 22
Sometimes after Lisa and I do our early-morning 4 mile run (we treadmill in the basement fitness center if it’s under 43 degrees), I come back and lie on my bed, for just for a moment. This morning it was just as the sun broke over the horizon and a pink light crawled across my ceiling, highlighting every imperfection, like craters and mountains on some distant, barren planet. My Apple watch went chikle-inkle-lnkle. Ok, Time to start the day.

Later…

Leong got a new ‘Girls Life’ magazine, those always seem packed with the latest scientific info.
“Studies suggest that you and your deepest friends may share the same blood types!” Leong read aloud.
“I’m O-negative,” she announced, “What blood type are you?” She asked me.
“Red,” I revealed (I am, after all, pre-med).
“DElicious reddd,” Lisa updogged in a Bela Lugosi vampire voice.

“Americans are never serious,” Leong whinged, her voice rising and falling on the last syllables.
“That’s what makes us what we are today,” Lisa asserted, “a slowly, steadily, declining superpower.”
“We could join the military after Yale,” I suggested helpfully, “I bet they’d make us officers.”
“Oh sure, I heard the army’s making men out women these days,” Lisa agreed.
“Sounds messy,” I said, wincing.”
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Whinge: “to complain fretfully."
Jan 21 · 104
fuck you
Anais Vionet Jan 21
Why isn’t “*******” a complement?
I mean, when “Thank you” isn’t enough?

You get a great meal and fantastic service at a restaurant.
You leave a nice tip and as you leave, you add, a waving,
cheerful “*******!” Which says it all.

You have your car repaired, it cost ½ the estimate -
you’re thrilled - and as you view the bill, you grin
and say, “*******!” The mechanic smiles
proudly and says, “You’re welcome!”

You’re at work and your boss says that you’re getting a raise.
You say, “*******!” And you mean it.
He/she laughs and says, “Right back at ya!”

Isn’t getting ****** - at the right place, with the right
someone, one of life’s elysian pleasures? I mean honestly.
It should be up there with ‘God bless you.”

‘*******’ should be a standard courtesy expression,
there should be Hallmark ‘*******' cards,
with happy faces on them.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Elysian: blissful or delightful in an almost otherworldly way.
Jan 18 · 432
illegal aliens
Anais Vionet Jan 18
One evening, in a sleepy Connecticut town, the locals saw a peculiar sight,
a UAP had landed in an empty field, and man, it lit up the night.

They were, axiomatically, from a distant galaxy, here to explore our shared cosmic space,
their metallic-*******-rocket was multicolor pastel bright, like a carnival showcase.

There were cows that mooed approvingly and dogs that barked up at the sky,
like they needed to show where the thing came from - no one really knew why.

Soon little green people-like beings emerged, they had big, wide eyes that looked eerie,
but then again, this is how they’d always looked in movies and on TV.

"Take us to your leader," they said, but it was hard to take them seriously,
because this is America and most of us disagree on who that leader should be.

Someone brought out lawn chairs and the alien-astronauts settled in,
tables appeared shortly thereafter with a spread of pies, casseroles and fried chicken.

They spoke of their interstellar journeys, of planets far and wide,
of space cafes and wormhole highways and how gravity worked like tides.

One of the kids played some music and the explorers started to move,
soon we were having a dance-off - which they won - with some wacky, cosmic moves.

As morning light edged the horizon, our little green friends waved goodbye,
after saying that in some ways they envied us and our simple terrestrial lives.

Though they never promised to revisit, when the sky turns certain shade of blue,
townsfolk will set up a pasture party - just in case they do.
(*BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Axiomatic: something understood as obviously true*)
Jan 16 · 329
modes
Anais Vionet Jan 16
I find myself in full fantasy mode lately. I have a BF (who I saw a couple of weeks ago) and I’m not interrogating my romantic choices - but he’s not here.

Do I have an impulse to throw myself at that boundary? No, but I can steal a look, now and then, like a hotel souvenir - can’t I?

Yesterday morning, Lisa and I stopped at Steep, a coffee shop on science hill, to pick up something breakfasty. At one point the small shop filled with the aroma of apple pie and in my mind, I had a flash memory of this guy, Jordie, last fall, coming into this shop in his little Yale blue and white soccer shorts.

He’d looked fit. In memory, he seemed to move slowly, like individual video frames. There was an interesting, uncomplicated strength, something polished and fresh about him, like a shiny new phone.

“Here,” Lisa said, passing a coffee to me. Then she gave me a sly smile and a tilty-headed look, asking,
“Where’d you go? You looked like you were lost in some bliss.”

A guilt washed through me, as thin and unpleasant as cigarette smoke. The thought of telling her struck me like a slapping hand. Submitting this fantasy to a roommate focus-group seemed wrong.

The whole fantasy was bunkum anyway, an unimportant memory, mapped to a fragrance, as if his taut, tanned, muscular legs had significance.
“I was daydreaming,” I said, with an ‘I don’t know’ shrug and grimace.

(BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Bunkum: a foolish or insincere idea)
Jan 13 · 272
tightropes
Anais Vionet Jan 13
I’m a tightrope walker, strung between
the hedonistic abyss of winter break and
the unforgiving canyon of organic chemistry.

The stack of spring syllabuses are a prophecy whispered
in Latin. The story they tell haunts my dreams - wherein
each biochemical is a monster lurking in the shadows.

“I’m not in a tailspin, that would be unfair,” I tell Lisa, “I’m in a lull.”
“It’s like that awkward time, between a hangover and drinking again.” she laughs.

Sure, I envisage late, week night study grinds, and sleepless
hours, but the price of serious things isn’t trivial - success and hard
work are, unfortunately, yoked together, like Shakespeare’s double shadow.

A tough spring curriculum won’t stop me from
taking 3 or 4 minutes to dance with roomates
when a head-banger like ‘Spiral City’ plays or
enjoying sudden, late night jelly bean melees.

And then there are the spring things that spark joy.
Walking to class on a brilliant spring morning,
with birdsong, a warm sun and fragrant breezes.

Laughs stolen in the back of classes,
gossip and secrets exchanged over
guilty coffee and croissant indulgences.

Skipping through crowded halls, drawing looks
‘cause we’re clapping aggressively to each other, singin’
“You got the swag sauce, she dripping swagu, ooh!”

“Ok,” I think to myself, putting my hair in a ponytail,
“I’m ready for spring semester - bring it on.”
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Envisage: picture something it in your mind

“You got the swag sauce, she dripping swagu, ooh”
Are lyrics from the song “Party” by André 3000 and Beyoncé
Jan 11 · 161
move-in
Anais Vionet Jan 11
We moved back into the residence yesterday - we were jubilant - and had a slumb-over last night, to celebrate our reunification. We woke up joyous, on the right side of the same bed (slumb-over), and we’ve been bouncing off the walls ever since.

We’re in the ‘settling in’ phase, restocking our Keurigs, getting our same-’ol furniture in the same-’ol places, picking up our books. In this liminal space, between sugarplums and sutures, our shrinking free-time will sag with increasing weight. Even last night’s normally fabulous martinis began to taste metallically laced with formaldehyde.

Once we’re settled in, our leisure will begin to have the tight, mangled fit of a borrowed jacket. “We’ve got to gear up.” Lisa said, just this morning and even as I type this, my eyes are flitting between my dog-eared copy of Gray's Anatomy and the mcat prep hub.

Classes start in 5 days. Free days burn bright, but disappear in a blink. Time is a precious coin.

slumb-over = slumber party.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: mangled: somehow tattered and damaged.
Anais Vionet Jan 9
(Written for a contest “Write a poem based on a poem.’
Inspired by: “My Cat Is High, and So Am I” by Thomas W. Case
)

Honey, I was ******, so ******.
I hardly knew what was going on.
That’s when I saw it was gone.

The moon, I mean - hold on -
Takes a swig of ****, but sugary lemonade
I watch the moon - when it’s there - you know?

I’ve always loved the moon - its reflective glamor,
the way it seems to bend light around it,
like a beautiful woman walking into a bar.

The moons like my cat, she has beauty, without vanity
- and without much gravity - like, you know - the moon.

But as I was saying, it was gone - suddenly?
It felt sudden - and visceral - like I’d misplaced something.
I know what you’re thinking, and no, it wasn't behind clouds.

So anyway, man, I looked around and there it was, as if by magic,
it couldn’t have been any clearer and it's never looked nearer,
than it was, right there, in my rear-view mirror.

I had to laugh. You see, I was ****** - so ******.
****** - but I’m never alone, when I can commune with the distant,
inconstant, love of my life, the ever-argent moon.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Visceral: a triggering, instinctive emotional response.
Jan 6 · 314
snowy
Anais Vionet Jan 6
It’s going to snow tonight. It seems the brick shoulders of Elm Street will ooze, like watery eggnog, with a light snow tonight and we’re twitching with delight.

The vibes of it are too much and sure, it will just turn to slush, but you know how romance twists reality - snow seems laced with pageantry.

After two snowless winters the light dribbling, like a flirty look or a stolen kiss, will be exciting.

When I chose Yale, I was promised - ok threatened with - cruel winter weather.

I’m going to dance however I want, and if I commit to cruelty, I’ll accept it with all of its honest challenges. That cruel weather never materialized.

We returned to New Haven yesterday to be here - for the snow. Earlier, the wind was blowing in from the sea - but hurray! That’s changed.
Jan 4 · 585
girlogue (genz)
Anais Vionet Jan 4
square-up marys,
It’s junior year, in the ivie,
we’re gambling for big-chips.
so gambate, do-it-big!
It's time, buck-up or labron.
if you bunny rouble
homeskillets will hook-it-up
lovems juju
.
.
slang…
girlogue = conversation between girls that guys can’t understand
square-up = get ready
marys = bookish and lovable girls of wit and looks
ivie = ivy league
big-chips = high stakes, high risk
gambate = Japanese word: 'Try your best!!'
do-it-big = take things to the next level
buck-up = rise to a challenge, to do something others are unable to
labron = fail miserably at the last second
bunny rouble = have trouble
homeskillets = friends
hook-it-up = help you out
lovems = sending you love
juju = good luck

.
.
(Get ready, you bookish and lovable girls of wit and looks,
it’s junior year, in the ivy league,
and we’re gambling for high stakes.
So try your best, take things to the next level!
It's time, to rise to a challenge and do something others are unable to
or fail miserably at the last second.
If you have trouble
your friends will help you out
I'm sending you love, good luck.
)
a poem in genz slang
Jan 2 · 342
weather
Anais Vionet Jan 2
I tried to draw the attention
of the disinterested God
who builds the weather.

“Send us snow - just a few feet -
make our Christmas fantasy complete”
I pleaded, but she never interceded.

Angels, that will-less posse of hers
only seem to watch earth’s slaughter
as the wind carries a warm disregard.
Peter (my BF) flew out last night. #harshrealm

(*BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: posse = a friend or working group*)
Anais Vionet Dec 2023
2024 is coming,
that futurity is guaranteed.
Can you feel it coming?
There’s magic in the air.
I’m excited, as if someone put euphorics in my breakfast cereal.

“Tonight,” Lisa said, twirling before her oblong moon-mirror, “we’re going to show them we can dance!” “We are,” I agreed.
“I wish I were going,” 14-year-old Leeza sighed.
“2028,” Lisa promised, now modeling an alternate dress, “You, me, crazytown.”
Liza groaned. I remember being 14, patience is an infinitely dull tool.

“How does this look?” Lisa asked, stopping to stand tiptoed and simulate wearing heels.
“You’ll look like wrapped candy,” I assured her.
Glamor is alive and well this New Year’s eve.

🎉🥳🥂🎈 Happy New Year Everyone! 🎈🥂🥳🎉  
I hope you all have fun.
(*BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Futurity: the “time to come.”*)
Dec 2023 · 196
taps
Anais Vionet Dec 2023
I received a re-invitation email this morning. A ‘come on, why don’t you want to?’ note that struck me as odd. See, I’ve been ‘tapped’ for a couple of final clubs at Yale. It can happen if you earn top grades and interact easily with male friends by day (the crew club scene is ol’ school patriarchal).

Three of my roommates have been tapped - for one thing or another. The upper-crust, traditional networks and secret societies are a huge part of why young men and women choose Ivy League schools.

I’m not talking about frats - I enjoy flippant misogyny as much as the next breasted-American and really, does “Yo bruh,” sloppy binge drinking, and ****** assault ever really get old? Yeah, it kind-of does.

And I’m not talking about the more open and popular ‘eating clubs’ - no - I’m on-about the elite social orders that enjoy a subversive and exclusive appeal.

Some students desperately want to be ‘IN’ and believe those memberships prove they’ve somehow ‘made it’. Let’s face it, someday - if you can’t actually earn it - that skull & bones handshake might open some doors.

I’ve attended a few meetings, meals, and parties in “tombs” (in upstairs libraries and houses) around New Haven, but I guess I’m just not a ‘joiner.’ Groucho Marx once said that he wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have someone like him as a member, maybe that’s it for me too.

Anyway, this harangue is sponsored by the glower that that silly email put on my face.
“What’s the matter?” Leeza asked, seeing my expression.
It reminded me of watching people ****-up and ‘social mountain climb’ to get into my grandmère’s (boring) circle. If your club is so exclusive (email sender), why on God’s confused earth would you want me?

Hey, I like parties, dances and hanging out with eskimos - but I'm a pre-med student and the time/value equation just doesn't stack up for me - I’ve got the M-CAT tests next summer and prepping for those has taken over my life.

It’s ironic though, how by day students at Yale go-on about ‘elitism’ - in stylized outrage - and then by night they strain to join these crew clubs.

slang...
final clubs = elite clubs and secret societies
eskimos - really cool people
crew = elite (crewing is seen as a sport for the elite)
(*BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Glower: a look of sullen annoyance or anger*)
Dec 2023 · 143
the symphony
Anais Vionet Dec 2023
New York City is like a cobblestone symphony,
where jackhammers and footsteps form the rhythmic timpani,
sirens and honking taxis, are the cymbals, that provide sudden bursts of energy,
traffic’s hum could be the violins and pigeon squawks a chorus of industry.
The sounds of life never seem to stop because they echo around continually.

Fifth Ave is fashions seat and in every store we saw teenagers tweeting,
perfecting an offhanded pout to pair with their newest, elite treats.

Envisage a High-(snob)-society playground, a cathedral of style in concrete,
where high fashion brands compete, with glittering displays meant to tease and entreat.
Bergdorf's windows are a whimsical winter wonderland, without a single touch of green,
and Tiffany's underwater dreamscape, contends with Cartier’s minimalist sheen.

At night, the buzzy bars ignite, and laughter spills like sparkling champagne,
flanged martini glasses clink in chorus, to silly school year stories, and tipsy holiday refrains.

We all know that times like a ballet dancer, who pirouettes in increasing haste,
holidays don’t last forever, Yale’s not known for leisure and new terms must be faced.
But for now, we’ll steal kisses in Central Park, because we don’t have a second to waste.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Envisage: to picture it in your mind
Dec 2023 · 311
pandas for Christmas
Anais Vionet Dec 2023
Santa Claus is coming.
This isn’t a luck situation.
He knows things, like if you’re sleeping.
Which is kind of creepy if you think about it.
I suppose I’m an open book.
It’s an implacable reality.

oops, better rhyme something.. let’s see..

“Santa, that elf commanda
will bring you all a panda
fresh from the jungles of Uganda
straight to your verandah”

Whew.. art is hard work.

Leeza has a small aluminum-tinsel Christmas tree in her room with a new-age LED-star topper. It slowly prisms through the color spectrum, breaking down light, like modern jazz. Small things can still enchant, if you’re open.

I was sipping dark-chocolate coffee while Lisa rearranged the ornaments on the tree - again (as head-elf, the tree is her purview). She was humming to herself unconsciously as she worked, like a finch in a beautifully lit, evergreen garden. There was no real melody to it, it was just happiness.

Peter (my bf) is here, he arrived last night - we’re workshopping instant gratification.

Even if things have been tough - I hope you have a joyous holiday - that you chose it, like an option in an app. Nothing’s sweeter than the bruised joy of someone who’s known sorrow.

Merry Christmas Everyone!
(*BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Purview: an area of authority*)

CORRECTION: Pandas live in a few mountain provinces of south central China.
Dec 2023 · 488
answers
Anais Vionet Dec 2023
Every once in a while, especially on holidays, I find myself wandering through my memory museum - rattling doors and fishing through those virtual hallways. That’s where I found ‘Father Lucas,’ last night, back from when I was eight or so, at (private catholic) school.

Each week, before we received that week's ‘catechism lesson,’ (religious education) from the nuns, we’d get to hear what Father Lucas had to say about the Kafkaesque mysteries of the universe. He looked very old, wise and wrinkled, like a skinny Santa Claus.

Outside of those brief lessons he was always shrouded in a cloud of cigarette smoke. Even at our age, we knew cigarettes were bad for you - but what did ‘Father Lucas’ have to fear from death? On him, the surrounding smoke seemed right and fitting, as if he were the human personification of the burning bush.

My father had just died (we were in a car crash). Before that, the biggest drama in my young life was putting one foot in front of the other, and suddenly, I had a lot - lot, lot of questions that I absolutely, positively and under no circumstances what-so-ever wanted to discuss with anyone.

Imagine, if you will, the gravitas that Rod Serling brought to the introduction of each Twilight Zone episode, and you have Father Lucas’ introducing the lesson. I felt an anticipation of answers independent of my individual situation.

Father Lucas provided context and meaning to the unknown, he dabbled in surrealism, spun out paradox and it seemed that he stood on the very edge of that dark room at the end of the maze. He was transmitting at my frequency, and I could have listened forever. Bless the man.

Ultimately, of course, there were no ‘answers’ - but that’s ok - no answers are an answer.
(*BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Kafkaesque: nightmarishly complex, bizarre, or illogical*)
Dec 2023 · 429
ah, wassailing!
Anais Vionet Dec 2023
We’re in NYC - at last - on Christmas vacation, and it feels like a pardon.

It’s amazing what can happen in just a few wild and change-filled hours. One minute, seemingly, you’re in a picture postcard rural-scape (I think campus fits that), where crickets choir in rhythm, and the next you're in a Manhattan high-rise 50th floor kitchen, eating Fruity Pebbles for breakfast and looking down on man's lesser creations.

It’s 9am, 37° and clear this morning. Central Park looks bright and multicolored, like the lonely rectangle of nature was determined to spend its last fall day in spectacle. The sun’s glowing too, warming the earth with the glory of heaven. Its beams are so bright and crisp, that even the deeper shadows seem fair.

“I think I just saw a UFO,” I said to no one in particular, a second after something whizzed by the kitchen window.
“A UAP,” Leeza (Lisa’s 14 yo sister) corrected me, “and it was a helicopter,” she updogged.
“Then it wasn’t a UAP?” I asked, as if confused.
Leeza carefully selected a blue pebble-flake and flicked it at me - I ducked - because she can be deadly accurate with those things.
Leeza gets prettier every time I see her, she has deep-dark, wavy red hair brushed with copper highlights, green eyes and the coltish beauty of adolescence. She’s taller than me now, which seems somehow unfair.

Lisa’s front door chimed, and two voices called “Morning!” It was Will & Karen, two friends who live with the poor people down on the 46th floor. “Morning!” They repeated again, as they came into the kitchen. Will’s 20 and Karen’s a salty 12. Since Lisa’s mom is named Karen too, I’m going to shorten 12-yo Karen’s name to Kay.
“What’s for breakfast?” Will asked, looking around. Kay, a slim, waif-like pixie with jet-black hair, went over to Leeza, opening her mouth like a little bird and Leeza fed her a spoonful of Fruity Pebbles and milk as if practiced.

The morning I met Kay, two years ago (when she was 10), she offhandedly told me Will ‘liked’ me. While nothing ever came of that - we’re just friends - I always feel kind of ‘attractive’ around him - you know what I mean? Like I hold the jewel of his esteem. I mention that, because Lisa and I made an early start, abandoning morning vanities for a 7am hop-over Long Island Sound. I probably look like something evolution hasn’t bothered with - but let’s bowdlerize that.

Lisa’s in the living room rearranging the presents - it’s her job as the official head-elf. When Lisa and I came in, Leeza grabbed me by the hand, dragging me towards the guest bedroom, “Look at all the packages,” She marveled.
“Maybe I got carried away,” I admitted, looking at them for the first time.
“You’re obsessive,” she pronounced. “Ya think,” I snarked, “have we met?” I asked jokingly, while offering her my hand as if in introduction.

We’re going shopping in a bit - as soon as Charles gets back from settling in at the Ritz Carlton (about a block away). We want the fevered and manic NYC-Christmas shopping experience - the chill air, the gabble and fuss of the crowds and the joy of the season passing person to person, like bacteria trading plasmids.
.
.
Like Christmas tunes?
Stream one or two of MY (free) unique Christmas playlists.
Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

http://daweb.us/xmas/
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Bowdlerize: editing or abridging content.
Dec 2023 · 470
mistletoe
Anais Vionet Dec 2023
My toughest tests are over,
and now that things have slowed,
I find myself quickly sliding,
into Christmas vacation mode.

It’s a shame you’re not with us,
everywhere we go,
because we could pretend,
that there was mistletoe.

A chorus, in the food court
asked, “Mary did you know?”
And the mozzarella, on my pizza,
seemed a symbolic snow.

The traffic to the mall was CrA-crazy,
the Uber moving glacially slow,
what we could have done, with that wasted time,
would have been sublime - under some mistletoe.

With my agenda slack, I’m almost packed,
I’ve got a thistle of something stowed.
And one of the things it will be swell to delve,
are the licentious uses of mistletoe.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Delve = examine a something in detail
Dec 2023 · 515
twitchy
Anais Vionet Dec 2023
Fear not, doubt's dark whispers,
embrace the testing ground.

We face the same old existential dreads -
the unexpected twist, the vague essay prompt.

Genial birdsong mocked our anxious morning
and squirrels still scampered unconcerned.

“You’re a beautiful bundle of stress,”
I assured Lisa this morning
as I handed her her water bottle.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: genial = cheerful and pleasant
Dec 2023 · 394
pictures
Anais Vionet Dec 2023
It’s Friday afternoon. Anna, Lisa, Leong and I are sitting around our common room - sagging actually - after a long day.
“I need a break,” I said, “now’s the time - today, this day -  it's been a long week.”  “Document,” Leong affirmed.
“Sometimes you gotta..” Anna faded out letting an arm flop like a dead soldier.
“Let’s go OUT to dinner somewhere,” I said, “my treat.”
“We can eat for free here,” Leong said.
“We might have to economize someday,” I said, a little annoyed, “but it won’t be today.”
“Can you believe we just came back less than a week ago?” Lisa asked.
“I can’t,” Leong said.
“It’s shocking,” Anna sighed, winding a ring of her auburn hair around her index finger.
“I’ve lived many lives since then,” I admitted.
“On Wednesday,” Leong began, “I was like, I feel like I’ve been here for weeks.”

“It’s coming up on time to leave!” Anna exclaimed.
“And leave for a WHILE,” Lisa undogged.
“I’m VERY excited to leave for a while,” Leong laughed.
“It’s going to happen,” I said, like a prayer.
“Then we can come back and be like, I’m glad to be here” Lisa said
“After you’ve been gone for a while, you DO miss it.” Anna admitted, shrugging.

A hot moment later, I asked Lisa, “Should I use this for a poetry pic?” Turning my iPad in her direction, “Yeah,” she says laughing. “My hair looks like I’m coming out of a cocoon.” I added.
“You know when you don’t have enough pictures for an Instagram post?” Lisa asked, looking critically through the pics we took last night. “Look,” she says, sharing them up to our 55” TV.

After a few, I said, “Lisa and I were talking about this yesterday,” turning to Anna and Leong, a little exasperated, “Lisa, has all of these pics of me with my underwear and it’s like..”
“Wait!,” Lisa gasped, NOT on purpose! That makes it sound.. don’t SAY THAT like THAT,” she laughs.
“And it’s just like.. you don’t need to share those,” I laugh, waving my arms.
“You’re making me sound like a *******..” Lisa snickered.
“I’m not a baby!” I hooted.

“They're not at ALL ******,” Anna noted.
“I’m not saying THAT,” I winced.
“When we're drunk, at home, snapping pix and we’re wearing these little dresses..” Lisa begins, “it’s not like I’m taking pictures of your underwear” she stammers laughingly.
“There are angles and there are angles where you see!” I point at the example on the screen.  
“We were drunk!“ Lisa said, “I wasn’t trying.. YOU were drunk too!” She said, counteroffensively.
“But you were CrAzY,” I laughed.
“Crazy,” Lisa laughed, “Yeah, anyways - why’d you have to say that? You took similar pics.” Lisa added, smiling knowingly.

“No one gets to see them,” Leong said, she’s new to Instagram and Lisa is usually her mentor.
“They do if they’re public,” I noted, pointing to the little icon.
“Shut up!” Lisa snapped, “I EDIT them before I post them - blur things or whatever!”
“Ok, I said, “We don’t need to do this now.. you brought pix up.” I held up my hands in surrender.
“Jesus Christ, merzy, murble flurble,” Lisa muttered, her voice fading out into incoherence.

“But If you wait, save the good picture for a dump - then, it’s too far away to post.” Leong said.
“Well, that’s not true, I don’t believe that.” Anna chirped in, “a cool pic is always welcome.”
“I don’t like dumps,” I said, “I don’t want to scroll through a ton of someone’s pix, it’s tiring.”
“If you’ve A cool pic or even one kind of cool pic, then everyone knows what’s up, Anna offered.
“Ethos 2024,” I pronounced.
“Post whatever,” Lisa updogged, as I dabbed my lips with lip gloss.
“Can I borrow your lip gloss?” Lisa asked me, rubbing her chapped lips.
“Sure,” I said, handing it over. Yeah, we argue like sisters but friendship involves nuance and shared understandings.

“Your parents are back in Ukraine - ya? Leong asked me, “Are you going to Lisa’s? (for Christmas)”
“It’s been agreed,” I confirmed, smiling.
“We gonna tear it UP!” Lisa laughed and we high-fived, smiling in anticipation.

Slang..
Document = true, fact
(*BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Mentor: someone who teaches a less experienced person.*)
Dec 2023 · 255
the rodeo
Anais Vionet Dec 2023
In crowded halls, ivy clad, walk the sleepless zombies - the walking dead.
They’ve come to grapple, the chosen few, in trials by pen and pencil too.

Long ago we quietly agreed to trade studies and stress for a lives of ease.
The fire of competition burns within, a pyre fueled by challenge and adrenaline.

We’ve been grinding from morning’s light to dark midnight, fueled largely by tasty caffeine's bite.
Sleep’s a distant memory, that’s been swapped for all-nighters, notecards and highlighters.

Professors who’ve taught us now plant briar-like, trickster-questions, to fraught us.
Have we synthesized it all - the labs, lectures and quotes, the chapters, quizzes and notes?

The hours we’ve spent, dissecting texts, parsing equations, crafting essays - pay off now.
Or don’t - the clutter of fact, theory, and tensors will separate the scholars from the pretenders.

But fear not, dear reader, for we’re tough, seasoned cowgirls and this is just another rodeo.
True, we chew erasers not tobacco and ride desks or lab stations, not bucking broncos
But some are thrown, bruised and scarred - finding their future careers discarded.

We’re required to hand-write our test essays out, a trap that negates AI with age-old foolscap.
We know the challenge, we’ve studied and crammed, to tackle the hurdle of ‘top-tier’ exams.

Beyond the stress beacons the sweet release - of holiday parties and presents that please.
But perhaps the sweetest possible tease, is the promise of slumber and weeks study free.
(*BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Foolscap = a piece of writing paper*)
Dec 2023 · 339
wrap, wrap, rap
Anais Vionet Dec 2023
Lisa and I wrap and rap for Christmas.
Can you imagine the two of us doing that?

We’ve got Christmas playlists going
Christmas scented candles glowing,
a tinctured but milky hot-chocolate flowing.

“Stir the marshmallows with the candy canes,”
Lisa says, like that’s something she had to explain.

We’re humming, singing and laughing,
and dancing because we’re happy.

We’re dashing to finish our wrapping,
we can’t have our suitemates catching
us executing the plans we’re hatching
to surprise them with gifts, enchanting.

The paper’s exotic, delicate and glittery
bought at Boyars Gifts, in New York City.
Why do the scissors keep getting lost?
Getting low on scotch-tape - we’ve used a lot.

We’ll be putting them, sneakily, under the tree
where they’ll add glamor and tease to our festivities.

I love the lights of the season - I love giving gifts.
For me, playing Santa is as good as it gets.
.
.
(BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: tinctured: mixed with alcohol)
Like Christmas tunes?
Stream my (free) unique Christmas playlists.
Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!
http://daweb.us/xmas/
Dec 2023 · 472
study period
Anais Vionet Dec 2023
It’s December and my roommates and I are deeply into Christmas. We’ve got a little 3ft tall Christmas tree with about fifty-thousand little multicolor LED lights on it (LEDs because we ARE saving the planet). We’re in the ‘study period’ right before finals and It’s a lowkey Saturday night.

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

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

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

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

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

It was an illusion that my little iMac welcomed me back, like an old friend, as it finished restoring - wasn’t it?
gelaxing = gelling & relaxing
Hey poetry lovers, do you like Christmas music? Are you IN the Holiday mood?
Here’s a website (Free) where you can stream over 33 of MY unique Christmas playlists (there’s a little ‘play’ button under the art for each list).
Enjoy, Merry Christmas! http://daweb.us/xmas/
Dec 2023 · 359
senryus
Anais Vionet Dec 2023
We were at a small
bar, the place only served some
older regulars.

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

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

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

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

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

Like a martial art,
a tea ceremony or
classical music

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

A Senryu is like
a Haiku except it deals
with human feelings
A Haiku/Senryu should three lines of 5-7-5 syllables
A Haiku should be about nature
A Senryu about human feelings
Dec 2023 · 155
a letter
Anais Vionet Dec 2023
I got a text from one of my professors yesterday saying, ‘Please stop by my office at 6 pm tomorrow.’ It didn’t say why. This was the first day after November recess, had I missed something? That night, I’d gone through the syllabus, checking every recent and upcoming assignment - I was grable. But there I was, the next evening, waiting nervously - my anxiety stripped of context.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The MCAT has four test sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems. Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills. Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems. The test takes 7.5 hours and is considered the toughest graduate school entrance exam in the US.
Nov 2023 · 240
alligator
Anais Vionet Nov 2023
I dreamt about an alligator
- what could that possibly mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After years of psychotherapy,
what do you think they’d find?
Nov 2023 · 1.0k
playlists
Anais Vionet Nov 2023
I’ve always loved music. As a little girl, I could spend hours going through peoples CD collections, sampling them with my little battery-operated CD player. If you showed me a stack, rack or box of CDs, I was in heaven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This piece is a playlist love story, about how music reflects our identities and allows us to share ourselves through the vibes, melodies and beats that move us. I think playlists have a lot in common with poetry, which uses words, phrases, metaphors and imagery for similar purposes.
Nov 2023 · 451
traveled
Anais Vionet Nov 2023
I traveled almost everywhere, growing up. It took years. The landscapes, flora and fauna, the art, music, cuisines and curse words all seem to blend together in my mind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I used to take my books on vacation, to remain in the ‘game’ mentally and stay ahead of the grind. Not this time. Hey, growing up, I’ve had my moments of ‘developmentally appropriate’ rebellion - in this case - I wanted memories to hoard, like inoculations against the coming work and loneliness cycles.
My parents are both doctors who traveled the world to teach (heart surgery) and treat (for free) the poor who would have otherwise died.
Nov 2023 · 213
Leonard the big leg turkey
Anais Vionet Nov 2023
We children gathered around the table.
The aromas were rich and dense, we fidgeted.

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

To the tune: “Rudolph the red nose reindeer”

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

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
* To the tune: “Rudolph the red nose reindeer”
Nov 2023 · 434
a twilight rising
Anais Vionet Nov 2023
I love it when Lisa and I take our show out and, on the road,
like this twilight helicopter flight, from New Haven to LaGuardia.
I’m so excited about tonight, it’s possible that I might implode.

The rotor blades started twirling, our luggage had been stowed,
the pilot asked Lisa. “Ready for takeoff?” Lisa grinned saying, “Let's go!”
He gave her a quick and crisp salute and the engine noise started to grow.

As we went wheels-up, the whirly-birds warning lights began to strobe.
Yep, It’s the start of November recess and we’re changing our zip code.

We rise like a balloon, at first, until the harbor comes into view.
The engines were screaming like jets, when the whole world turned askew,
I’ve done numerous take-offs like this, but it still feels like I might spew.

Above the rear cockpit window, there’s an air-speed indicator that looks like a clock.
With a quick turn over Yale’s campus, we’re going 90 as we steak over the docks.

As we ascend into the night, the twinkling lights of New Haven seem to shrink.
We’re swiftly gaining altitude, this quivering contraption, moves faster than you’d think.

As the red numbers settle at 260, the vibrations have all but ceased,
The engine noise is gone as well, as we race up, in the darkness and out over the sea.

I try not to think of the inky black water, how far we would fall and how quickly we’d sink.

Long Island Sound glittered, like fractured glass, under the waxing crescent moon.
The forever-blue sky was hosting a large, fake-star, because Venus was glowing there too.
That dark almost-orbit was prettier than the infinity-of-lights we’ll see on Park Avenue.
We’ll be meeting Peter’s flight from Geneva - a surprise - he doesn’t have a clue.

As the lights of New York become pronounced, so does my excitement that he’ll be around.
I’m sure we’ll get a moment of quiet intimacy at the LaGuardia international arrivals lounge.
Nov 2023 · 405
josephine’s place
Anais Vionet Nov 2023
It was the summer of 2014, I was just about to turn 13, spending June of summer vacation with my Grandmère, in Paris. Tonight we’re at a fundraising benefit for African relief (it’s always something). It was a coveted ticket, I was told, because Keira Knightley and Rita Ora were there - somewhere. It was being held at an empire-styled museum-estate in Paris, once owned by Josephine Bonaparte.

The rooms were ornate in the extreme, with dark, woodland, panoramic wall murals, large, finicky-looking furniture, heavy, with gold encrusted - everything. It made the small, dark rooms and tight passageways seem foreboding and claustrophobic.

A boy named Théo was my ‘date’ for the evening (NOT my idea). When my Grandmère was a girl, back when hoop skirts were the fashion and F. Scott Fitzgerald was just sharpening his pencils, a girl didn’t attend a function without a date. Théo was in my grade at school, but he was a couple of inches shorter than me, and his voice seemed different every time he talked. He was a surprise; I don’t even know how she found him.

As we snaked through the main house to the solarium, in a parade of otherwise middle aged, formally dressed guests, the dim hallway squeezed us down to a single-file line. Théo kept trying to take my hand, in the darkness, like he’s scared or something. “Stop that!” I warned him.

Then I saw a mirror - ‘Oh!’ I thought in surprise, stopping dead in the hallway to check my hair, straighten my dress, and pose for my imagination. I became aware Théo was talking, again - he always was - saying, “You're wa wa wa,” or something. Call me a casual and indifferent listener.

“Were you talking to me” I asked, “or just making words up?” He looked exasperated - why?
“You're blocking the way,” he said, anxiously, in a squeaky voice, the way he said it made me think he’d said it before.
He gently took my arm to move me along and I wobbled in my high-heels, I wasn’t very good with heels yet. “Easy,” I cautioned him, my arms briefly flailing.

“You know,” I said defensively,“ someone PUT that mirror there.. probably Napoleon or Josephine - they WANTED people to stop there.” Men are so illogical, it’s a wonder they survive.

As we finally entered the solarium, there was a jazz trio playing ‘C’est si bon’ (Arm in arm), what else? I said, “I’m starving.” A long table along a blue-glass wall featured desserts and champagne. My stomach growled.
I looked around, there was nothing for it - action must be taken - and Théo was useless.
“Want to go get something to eat? I asked him.
He lit up as if awakened, “McDonalds?” he asked. Our conversations were in French, naturally. His joy probably meant his parents didn’t like him eating there (American cuisine! = junk food).
“Bien sûr,” (of course) I said, grinning.

I found my Grandmère in a cluster of elegantly dressed patrons - and there was Keira Knightley - gorgeous, in a dress like she wore in that ‘pirate’ movie - she movie-star glittered, otherworldly.
“I’m starving,” I informed Grandmère, “we’re going to get something to eat,” I turned to show her Théo’s delighted face - he was her idea, after all.
“I was hoping to introduce you…” she started.
“Please!” I asked, bouncing up and down on my toes with some urgency, taking her hand.
“Very well,” she said, sighing, after a moment.

I turned away, wrestling my too-large iPhone-6-plus from my sparkly party clutch.
“Hey Siri, Call Charles,” I commanded. A moment later Charles picked up.
“McDonalds, Champs-Élysées,” I said, as Théo grinned, rubbing his hands in glee. “We’re in the solarium,” I added.
“Eyes on,” Charles said, indicating that he had me in sight.
Nov 2023 · 1.1k
the long game
Anais Vionet Nov 2023
We’re playing the long game.
We share things, we’re lovers,
we slip in and out of each other’s lives
like jackets hanging on the back of a door.

Relationships are like instruments,
they must be played, kept in tune,
the carnal and the corny balanced,
carefully, like sections of an orchestra.

Sometimes, I feel that I have to bring the energy,
BE the entertainment - and I can do that - in spades
but not forever - I’m not a tireless-giver - in fact,
I'm atavistically Parisien (we admit loving nothing).

I’m learning that when a relationship’s conducted,
at great remove, the basics - like punctuality,
dependability and preparation - become a big deal.

When I’m in an optimistic headspace, I think we can do it,
maybe, that we know what we want and who we are.

That we’re playing the long game
My BF started a job in Genieva, Switzerland - it’s an ouch.
Nov 2023 · 766
murder-der-der
Anais Vionet Nov 2023
It’s Harvard VS Yale this weekend, the vibes are just starting now. Everyone - and I mean everyone - has been asking about my game tickets, because guest tickets are $25 a pop. I’m more interested in the parties than the game, so I donated mine (Students get 1 free ticket and they can buy 2 for $15 each) to Lisa (one of my suitemates) for her family.

Lisa, Leong, Anna and I are getting ready to go down to the dining hall. Lisa asks the room, “Harry Styles’ new buzzcut - Yes, or No?”
“No,” Leong said, not looking up from her teen fashion magazine.
“Oh, no - God no,” I answered, “The worst decision of 2023.”
Anna blows a raspberry, “I think he’s trying to ditch his ‘pretty boy’ image and go hard rock.”
Lisa followed up, “And?..” “And NO, disaster NO, jump the shark NO,” Anna answered.
“I’m a NO also” Lisa admitted, and she’s a h-core Styles fan.

Later, Lisa was reclining on my bed, using every pillow I own to turn it into a chaise lounge that wouldn’t wrinkle her outfit. Her heels were on the floor and her bare feet were dangling in the air. Her toenails were a French tipped twinkly-pink.

She was slurping on a Coke-Zero - again - for a much-needed kick of caffeine before the night's events - which made me feel guilty, because she picked that up when I took her to Paris last summer. I’ve told her (a million times) how bad it is for her metabolism and endocrine system.
“How could you do this to me?” I asked, as if exasperated - which is currently our in-joke for everything.
“Now-now-now now-now,” she says, in self-defense, “what SHOULD I be drinking then?”
“H2-oh,” I say. “H20, as in water,” she sort of inquired, she then asked, “What’s the ‘2’ stand for?”
“Twenty,” I think, snarking back.
“Oh, you fancy, huh?” she laughed.
“I’m in college.” I shruggingly bragged.

I was shuffling through my closet, trying to pick out an outfit that would, at least, look ‘ok’ next to Lisa’s ‘in your face’ fun mix of pinks and purples sprinkled with neon greens.
Barbie herself could never.
I doubted I could keep with the theme.

My secret to dressing for these endless ‘theme’ parties, is to just tune out the noise and focus on your feels. If you give too much weight to how others will judge you, it’ll ruin the moment. I ended up wearing a vintage, deep blue, Betsey Johnson dress with matching tights and black ballet flats. Glittery, smokey-eye makeup and messy curls completed the 'très bien ensemble'.

I looked in the mirror, hoping for glam, and shrugged, “the scene’s going to be moody-lit anyway,” I said, as an excuse to the universe.

“You’re going to ******-der-der,” Lisa pronounced, as we gathered our bags to leave. “******-der-der?” I chuckled.
“******-der-der,” she confirmed, as if it were obvious.

h-core = *******
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