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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"

Frosh = freshman
Swangin = dancing
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.
Anais Vionet Apr 14
Two nights ago, Sophy and I were studying for our chemistry class in a library 24/7 room. Those feature large open areas with couches, tables with computers and some other, small desks behind cubicle walls. We were seated in the cubicle area. It was after 11pm, a time when the library rooms are usually deserted.

Suddenly, these five brolics come noisily into the open area. As soon as we heard them, Sophy and I exchanged a look where we asked each other, “Should we leave?” But we decided to wait and see if they’d settle down or stay.

There’s a native kind of white, frat **** I’ve encountered once or twice in my year at Yale. These men, usually upperclassmen, are big, rude, entitled and combative ***** who are positive they rule the universe. We derisively call them “scions”.

One time Leong and I were in line to buy snacks. Leong had just stepped up to the register and this scion walked up - cutting the line - to buy a drink. He reached out with his card almost hitting Leong in the face - like she wasn’t there, like the line wasn’t there. I'm sure the checkout lady just quickly processed his card to avoid a scene.

Now there were 5 of those jerks in one room - their inherent chaos introducing them. They were loud and bunxious (hello, can you say library QUIET?). One, in particular, had a very deep, grinding and irritating voice. He started truthing to his audience, crowing about a recent, violent, ******* encounter he’d had. Sophy and I looked at each other in shock, like “***??”

At the end of his explicit narration, he kept repeating “Bang’n it.. Bangin’ it.. Bangin’ it.. Bangin’ it..” slowly, rhythmically, grindingly over and over - he must have said it 80 times with various nasty inflections. While he was playing that out, the others were laughing and yelling encouragement and raunchy feedback over his “Bang’n it” mantra.

I’m sure they didn’t know we were there. But I turned a little and drew my feet up onto my chair, my knees becoming a small wall, in case the barbarians rounded the corner. I’ll admit that ******-guys like that scare me a little and there’s something in the tone of their voices that makes my skin crawl.

This seemed more than those “guy’s locker room talks” we’ve all heard about. The scene seemed oddly private and primitive, like a band of excited apes celebrating a ****. Perhaps something one was more likely to overhear in a dark fraternity basement than in a college library.

I guess I experienced a moment of gendered fear. Sophy and I both scrunched down in our seats a bit, exchanging “chagrinned, what now” looks. There just didn’t seem an opportune moment to reveal ourselves by leaving. Sophy showed me her phone - the app that summons a security escort if a student needs one was up - but I shook my head “no,” to mean “not yet,” and we decided to wait.

After about 15 minutes one of them said, “Let's get a drink” and they left. Thank God. I wonder what would have happened if we stood up and left. Hopefully nothing, but even now I shudder at the memory of that guy's voice. Those guys were way, way more than creepy.
BLT word of the day challenge: Opportune: "suitable or appropriate time."

brolic = tough, hostile, steroid-aggressive, and possibly crazed
truthing = telling his story
bunxious = obnoxious, loud, rambunctious, disorderly
Anais Vionet Mar 4
It’s a Monday. Capitalism and school have given Mondays a bad rap and we need to take it back. That would require a movement of some sort, too much, I suppose, with a WAR on.

I have the jitters. This morning was, well, Monday and I had a midterm - sort of. So it would’ve been irresponsible for me to take the time to straighten my room - I’m nothing if not responsible. But Peter’s here. It’s his first glimpse of my room and it’s a mess.
“There’s an underlying order” I assure him.
“There always is,” says mr. physics.

Anna had taken a (photo) burst of us - the modern equivalent of those childhood, cartoon flicker-books - to celebrate his first visit to our immaculate suite. Now she’s screen-sharing them on the huge common room TV. “You’re cute,” He says.
“Hurray for me, hooray for that,” I reply, “But I was thinking YOU’RE cute,” I say as I snuggle closer to him on the couch.
“We all love the sound of compliments slapping together,” Leong says, sarcastically.
“Find a communist,” I suggested to Leong, “they all study philosophy, I think.”
“You come into MY house..,” Leong begins.
“You come into MY house..,” I responded.
“You come into MY house..,” Anna says from the kitchen.
“You come into MY house..,” Sophy yells from her room. This could go on all night.

“The four reactions,” Peter says.
“He’s starting to talk physics again!” Anna says, narrowing her eyes on him, like a cat catching sight of a squirrel. Leong, yawns excessively, “Ugh! Make him stop,”
“All the forces that we experience every day..,” Peter begins. At first, I moaned as if I’d been told I was about to be waterboarded. Then I take action, rolling over and climbing on top of him, messing his hair and beginning to tickle him, “There must have be an off switch somewhere!” I exclaim.

Now everyone’s screaming and laughing, “Ok, Ok, I give up.” he says, then he pins my arms to my sides at my elbows - but before he can swing me off of him, I lean in and plant a sloppy wet lick on the side of his face. “H-Hey!” he says, wincing like someone avoiding a wild puppy. He was all askew by the time he swung me off onto the couch and fixed me with a concentration that suggested that nothing else mattered. Time seemed to stop and that moment was the first time I thought about kissing him.

Over his left shoulder Anna vibe checks me by making a moony love-face  - throwing in several puckery kisses. I’ve never seen myself in action, but a sharp, stinging sense of recognition told me that her impersonation was more accurate than not - and I snapped out of it. “What are we doing for dinner?” I asked, and the tension broke.
BLT word of the day challenge: askew: "out of line" or "not straight."
Anais Vionet Mar 1
Peter is joining us for lunch in the cafeteria. I met him on a crowded Saturday morning at a coffee shop. He’s from the flammable, paper-dry, sagebrush hills of Malibu and grew up overlooking the hazy blue pacific ocean. He says Mel Gibson’s drunken **** rant, when a cop pulled him over for a DUI, put them on the map.

Poor Peter is fashion challenged. He’s 25, too tall, and too thin. Reading glasses hang around his neck. His too loose-fitting clothes are all variations of brown, like tawny, penny and wenge. He’s wearing a battered tweed coat, brown corduroy slacks and tortilla colored mock turtleneck. He’s adorably shabby-fancy. If he fell in the dormant, straw-yellow grass, we probably couldn’t find him.

Peter has a serious aura of experience about him. His cheek bones are sharp, his hair is an explosion of uncombed black, his skin is pale - bleached - by over exposure to library lighting.

He lives in a different world - the prosaic, laissez-faire universe of research - where students are left to their own devices and expected to self-manage.

Right now, he’s being vetted by one of my roommates, Leong. His student lanyard marks him but she wants specifics if he’s going to hang around. “What’s your major?” she asks, her eyes squinting like the Chinese lie detectors they are. “I’m a doctoral student in applied physics,” he says.

I pat his knee, “It’s nothing to be ashamed of.” I say, reassuringly.
BLT word of the day challenge: Prosaic : dull, unimaginative, everyday, or ordinary.
Filomena Feb 27
There's an addict in the attic,
and a trans girl in the tub;
There's an immigrant, Hispanic,
and a criminal in love.

There's a shaman burning incense,
and a gamer taking shots;
There's our upperclass equivalent,
and a noisy group of thots.

And the lady takes our livelihood
and somehow still stays poor,
so please make sure the lights are out,
and always lock the door.
Sat. Feb. 26, 2022
One word has been censored.
Anais Vionet Feb 21
We’re in the common room, Lisa and I. It’s Friday afternoon, about 2 - It’s partly-sunny and 45°f. outside. We’ve claimed the two squares of temporary rectangular sunlight like the Spanish conquistadors of old once claimed everything.

I’m just drowsing, I had a test this morning, I got up at 3:30am to study for it and although I’m confident I did ok, I find myself rehashing it when I close my eyes. So I’m determinedly not closing my eyes - much. Lisa has a book open and she’s working on a chemistry problem set (called a pset) assigned as homework.

Looking out and up, there’s only one, lonely, cumulonimbus cloud in the sky. It's there, as if placed - a piece of art - the rest of the sky remaining defiantly blank. At first glance, it resembled a man, hanging by his neck, blowing in the wind under a giant mushroom gallows - but he soon detached and floated away like a tattered kite.

Lisa starts asking a question, without looking up from her book. “Ok, so when hydrogen acts as a metal instead of a nonmetal..”

“Please don’t make me think,” I whisper in a tired monotone, “I’m unprepared.”

“Ugh.” Lisa, grunted. She absorbed her disappointment quietly, without taking offense.

We’re like two disparate species coexisting in the same landscape: the chemistry-tested and the soon-to-be-tested - neither diminished the other but we’re separate.

Leong and Anna come in together, breaking off to their rooms to shed bookbags and coats but soon they’re filling the room with restless energy. “Has anyone heard from Sophy?” Leong asks.

Sophy failed a rapid test yesterday morning and was hewn from the population like a cancer on the student body - and swooped off to isolation housing. “Yeah, I took her some stuff this morning,” I report, “She seems ok.”

People are dropping to covid like flies. None of us are invincible, we roommates watch each other - as if any one of us could go full-on-zombie at any moment - not unlike I imagine dinner at the Trumps these days - everyone looking around, nonchalantly, wondering who’ll flip first - but here, if you cough, you’ll start a panic.
BLT word of the day challenge: Invincible means "incapable of being conquered, overcome, or subdued."
BLT word of the day challenge: nonchalant: "having an air of easy unconcern or indifference."
Anais Vionet Feb 10
Yale student radio (wybcx) is playing throughout the suite. I’m working on chemistry problems but when a song I don’t know is good enough to catch my attention, I add it to one of my gazillion Spotify playlists - God, I love the Internet.

One of our roommates, Sophy, is from California. She’s brilliant and friendly but almost never leaves her room, which she keeps hot and airless. If I’m in there for more than two minutes I have to start peeling off layers of clothing, one by one. She didn’t seem this odd last semester. We take turns, mediating between Sophy and the living, picking up her meals and packages, like vampire assistants.

Then there’s a nice but nerdy guy named Andy, who Anna’s adopted. He’s sitting on our deep, red, four cushion corduroy couch, crafting an essay on his laptop. He’s a divinity student who I rely on to answer my deeper religious questions.

“Do you think Jesus went around telling people his mother is a ******?,” I’d asked.
“Jesus had brothers,” he answered, “Have you ever read the bible?” He asks.
“My bible is Seventeen magazine.” I say, hand to heart.

“Listen to this!” Andy says - a peremptory order to the room - as he begins reading from his paper. “Disruptivist writers who no longer strive for agency, circumventing narrative in order to resemble the fiction construct, risk losing what Robbe-Grillet called the “intelligibility of the world” and themselves illustrate the exhaustion of forms.” Andy paused. “What do you think?” He asked the room.

No-one says anything. No-one ever understands what Andy’s talking about.

Anna and Sunny are studying and sunbathing in the common room like they’re on some kind of permanent holiday. They occupy two generous rectangles of sunlight streaming in through the closed picture windows.

They’re laying on yoga mats, almost shoulder to shoulder, wearing bikinis and Wayfarer Ray-Bans. It’s 12° degrees outside but there’s an oil heater with a fan blowing across it that provides them with a sun-like warmth.

Welcome to higher learning 2022
BLT word of the day challenge: Peremptory: expressive of urgency or command.
Anais Vionet Jan 30
A roommate shows me this hookup app - the consensus favorite.

“Call me crazy,” I say, “but if we’re reducing *** to something
cheap and cynical, wouldn’t **** be safer and easier?”

She frowns, as if I’ve espoused an unpopular political position
so I make a show of putting “join the app” on my to-do list
- which is like sending it into outer space.

Sleeping with someone you don’t like - or even know, seems impolite, even seedy but there’s a power to it as well - knowing I could if I wanted to - I quash that thought as it rises, like heat.

Besides, factoid: I have an imaginary boyfriend, And although my thoughts are free to roam far and wide, I’m nothing if not faithful.
BLT word of the day challenge: factoid is a brief and usually trivial fact
Anais Vionet Jan 13
We were calculating theoretical yields on chemcollective
and somehow we ended up dancing to ”go left.”

We were finding oxidation numbers on labster
but somehow we started laughing.

We were balancing chemical equations on PhET
but now we’re singing “World we created” with hair-bush microphones.

Believe your competence - be impressed with your progress.
Attack every challenge with self-contained ease.
Armor yourself with confidence.
You’ll like the way you enjoy it.
**We started studying for school - weeks before spring term. Those names (Chemcollective, PhET, Labster) are tools for working out the chemistry equations from each chapter of our textbooks - like calculating theoretical yields from compounds. So we practice, practice, practice until we can do them blindfolded - or in pressurized situations like tests.*
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