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Anais Vionet Oct 22
In New Haven, Lisa misses the sad, dark, city aesthetics of her hometown. Its crime podcast vibe, actinic crime-lighting and sirens in the distance, that lull her to sleep like lullabies. She has a disturbingly romantic attraction to hustle, bright neon lights, skyscrapers, subways, crowded diversity and swirling dance clubs.

Yep, we were in NYC for fall break - a week-long escape from school. We head back to Yale tomorrow. We’ve been seeing the sights, Broadway shows at night, the views from great heights, restaurant delights and sisterly fights.

Lisa's sister (Leeza, 14) can’t sit still, she’s all theater kid energy. She started playing electric bass and desperately wants to be in a band. She’s taking bass lessons, has calluses on her little fingers, and plays it (silently) even as we watch TV. Calling it an obsession would minimize it.

We saw the Eras Tour movie, last night, in iMax and it’s hypnotizing. Better than RL? Maybe.
We’ve seen two Broadway shows too: “Six’, a modern retelling of the lives of the six wives of Henry VIII (don’t bother) and ‘Merrily We Roll Along’, (two thumbs up) Stephen Sondheim’s weakest play saved by the cast of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), and King George (Jonathan Groff).

Lisa, Leeza and I were talking, earlier in the week, about Autumn comfort foods. I described the joys of cassoulet, fondues and tartiflette (potatoes, cream, cheese, bacon, and onions delight) - three French favorites and Leeza said, snootily, “This is New York City,” like, ‘you can find anything here.’ It was a freakin’ challenge!

So, we’ve hit French restaurants all week in search of these treats. We each order one of the three and compare them. So far, La Sirene (south village) had the best cassoulet - although it had a crusty top - which is just - No. Mominette (Brooklyn) had the best Tartiflette but they all treat it like a side dish?? And The Lavaux wins best fondue. So book those flights now!

Lisa, Leeza and I were sharing the couch in their dad’s all-glass, 50th floor, corner study, that overlooks the city. The view makes me feel like an angel watching over mankind from the firmaments - if the firmaments feature the winking, blinking lights of jets landing at Newark Liberty, Teterboro and LaGuardia.

“So, how’s Fall semester been for you?” Lisa asked me. Of course, we’re roommates so she’s seen the more obvious events in my life, but we all have complicated, internal lives.
The subtext to her question, of course, is Peter and how I’m dealing with his absence, so far, this year. But I’m not ready to go there, and I frown.
“I’ve been seeing so many Tumbler compilations, she added, to save me from answering, “saying how the start of Fall Semester is a time of agony, pain and reflection.”
“And I think that’s real,” I interjected.
“How so?” Leeza asked - she LOVES the uni 411
“School can be harsh,” Lisa continued, “the sudden, hella work, and, of course, it’s breakup season on campus.”
“Oh, Yeah,” I agreed, “Being away from home and those certain ‘someone's’ for months can be rough on freshmen.” We all nodded in agreement.

“Has anyone been vibing to anything regularly?” I asked (musically).
“I’ve been bumpin’ to Pink Pantheress,” Leeza revealed, “I think people see her as a TikTok, one hit wonder, but I think she still slaps!”
“Yes!” Lisa exclaims, “I’ve had “Picture in my mind” on a loop.

The city looked like an exquisite, miniature, clockwork toy. How could someone not love it when seeing it the way God does? It’ll be even prettier at Thanksgiving - I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for snow.
Ashwin Kumar Aug 11
Dear Nithya
Wish you a very very happy birthday!!
I am sure this birthday will be that much more special
Given the momentous event that is going to happen
An event that will change your life for the better
Well, I've known you since I was a kid
Though we haven't met frequently
Nor have we spoken a lot
But I've always been fond of you
You are a very nice person
Very warm, friendly and jovial by nature
You bring a lot of cheer
To everyone around you
Not a single moment with you
Can ever be called "boring"
You are so witty
That the Sorting Hat will scream "Ravenclaw!!"
The moment it touches your head
Also, you are very sensitive
And care deeply about your family, cousins and friends
We've had some great times
Whether it be India, US or Ireland
Coming to Ireland, you were an excellent tour guide
The incredible views of the Pacific Ocean from the Cliffs of Moher
Continue to give me goosebumps to this day
And Glendalough Upper Lake was nothing less than Paradise on Earth!!
Finally, I shall never forget the moment
When we had the finest Irish beer, at Temple Bar
Then, as far as US was concerned
The cruise on Lake Michigan was absolutely unforgettable
As were the views from Hancock Tower
Not to mention, the picnic we had at the Chicago Bean!!
Anyway, coming back to you
I hope you have a day to remember
Wish you loads of love, happiness and merriment
And may the Lord bless you!!
Poem dedicated to my cousin Nithya on her birthday
Anais Vionet Jul 24
(Leeza, my roommate Lisa’s little sister, was off-tha-hook earlier this summer)

peach flesh
fabuk buster
nu-metal priss
sexless *******
bitten fingernails
***** babyskin feet
mirror mesmerized
straight-eyed honesty
without analysis
corollary sister
wide eyed
hot mess
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Corollary: something that naturally follows another  (like sisters)

off tha hook = out of control
fabuk = rotten banana
buster = acts like a punk-b*tch
nu-metal = new generation heavy metal, hated by purists
priss = baby
grouchapottamus = someone perpetually grouchy and edgy
hot mess = a handful, a piece of work, a colorful character.
pacer = very smart, hard to keep up with, sets the pace
bella = someone to handle with care
doe = girl
Krispy = super exclusive

*Leeza tested into some krispy mathcamp and that apparently calmed her down.
Ashwin Kumar Jun 27
You are not exactly a sibling of mine
However, you are my sister
And that's all that matters, according to me
What would I do without you?
I rant and rant
Knowing that you are an amazing listener
And a shoulder to cry on
However, it is providing sound advice
Where you are really in your element
Not to mention, you don't beat around the bush
Nor do you sugarcoat things
Both of which, are qualities that resonate with me particularly well
Moreover, you always offer a fresh perspective
Whether it be work or personal stuff
Best of all, though, you are ice cool
I seriously don't know how you manage to do it
Because, in these two months, I've been behind you
And there hasn't been a single week
When you haven't been subjected to a barrage of messages
Would I have taken such liberties with you
If I weren't sure how you would react?
The answer is a resounding no
Moreover, not only are you cool with it
You also come up with solutions
For each and every problem
As I write this, things are looking up
And in no small part due to you
I'm extremely grateful to God
For giving me a sister like you
As I said earlier, what would I do without you?
Poem dedicated to my cousin sister Priyanka.
Anais Vionet May 12
Chick-fil-a = the best place ever
jade = *****
brooke = gorgeous
mishin = the boss, as in “You aren’t the boss of me.”

We’re on vaycay. School is OVER, COVID is over. We’re in New York City and we’re doin’ the town this time. Lisa told me, “You showed me Paris last summer, now I’m going to show you New York City.” Her mom, Karen, smiled and gave a little sideways, “Yes, yes we ARE’ nod.

Leong and Sunny, two of my Yale roommates, and my BF Peter are staying in Lisa’s (parent’s) 50th floor Manhattan apartment for the week. The apartment is singularly stunning, with its all-glass views of Central Park and the city, but it only has five bedrooms - so we’re doubled up a bit.

One of the things that makes Manhattan chick-fil-a, is that the Broadway theaters are 15 minutes from Lisa’s door. You step out, whirl around Columbus Circle and you’re on Broadway! Minutes later, you’re in your seat, Oh, and don’t forget to get the cinnamon crusted almonds.

We saw ‘Bad Cinderella’ the night before last - that was only a ‘West End’ show (I’m learning to be a Broadway snob). Tonight, we’re going to see Hamilton. Last night, we saw ‘Hadestown.’ I didn’t know anything about ‘Hadestown,’ but Leeza (Lisa’s 13 year old sister) has seen it three times now.

We’d just finished lunch and Lisa started off a debate. “Is Orpheus (one of Hadestown’s leading characters, played by Reeve Carney) superhot - the hottest man alive - or is he the littlest jade ever?
“He’s brooke,” Leeza swooned dreamily, fanning her face as if it’s hot, “I’d definitely hit that.”
Lisa gasped, “shutUP, you aren’t “hitting” anyone.
Leeza’s been driving Lisa up-the-wall all morning. We had Pancakes and bacon for breakfast and Leeza’s been all rude and maple sugar buzzed ever since.
“You aren’t mushin,” Leeza snorted, and as Lisa gave her a threat-laden look, Leeza finished with, “that man can get it.”
I’ve seen this before - and these sisters are heading for it.

Leong adds “Orpheus sees a submissive woman in distress. What he thinks he sees, is a typically beautiful woman, by societal standards, who he knows nothing about - and he’s like, ‘I want to marry you.”
Sunny leaned into the conversation fiercely, saying, “He doesn’t KNOW her! Wouldn’t you just punch that guy in the face?”
“Probably,” I answered, laughing, “if he weren’t in a frigging MUSICAL!”

“Excuse me,” Lisa interrupts, “you’re telling me that this scene doesn’t perpetuate the idea that only looks matter?” As one of the most beautiful women in the WORLD, Lisa is sensitive to objectification.

Sunny adds, “One reason to cancel him - I assume we’re trying to cancel him now - is that he sees a woman in distress and says ‘that’s the one, the love of my life,’ - a beautiful woman who can’t survive on her own.”

“She didn’t need him,” I suggested, “he was a burden on her.”    
Peter, who’s been working away on his laptop, looked up and said, “I can’t tell if you’re joking.”

Leeza, snarked, “Then go back to your little coding.”
I think I gasped and Peter looked a little shocked.

When Lisa, who’d gotten up to get some ice, heard that comment from Leeza, she said, “THAT’S IT,” in a steely voice.

Leeza, who was sitting with her back to the kitchen on the huge white sectional, had a millisecond to look over before Lisa pounced on her. She came in from her backside rolling over onto Leeza, trying to cover her mouth.

Leong, and Sunny, who’d never seen these to wildcats at it before, squealed and flinched out of the way. Peter, an only child, found this delightful and hilarious. He burst out laughing with glee, as he too, cleared some space.

“You’re trying to silence me!” Leeza yelled, giggling and grabbing Lisa’s arms as they got into a full, sister wrestling, flailing ball of hair and arms. Rolling off the couch and onto the floor. “SHUT UP,” Lisa demanded at the top of her voice.
“She’s trying to silence me!” Leeza howled again, “I will not be silenced!” This match continued for a hot minute until Lisa got Leeza’s arms pinned with her knees.
“Apologize!” Lisa said, out of breath, as she began to ponytail her hair.

“Excuse me,” Leeza yelled, herself gasping for breath but trying to blow strands of her red hair out of her face and wiggle free. “I’d like my lawyer - get OFF me - you ******* Karen!”

When that doesn’t work Leeza starts yelling, “HELP, MOM, ****!!” at the top of her lungs.

Karen, on a laptop in a glass walled alcove just off the living room, had seen the whole everything. Folding down her laptop lid, she stuck her head out and said, “Girls.”

Then Michel, their dad, is in the doorway, “What are you two doing?” He asked softly.

The fight immediately broke up, Lisa and Leeza sheepishly disengaging. “Nothing,” they said, together in near perfect union. Lisa gave Leeza a wide-eyed, tilted head look and Leeza said, “I’m sorry Peter, I was only foolin’ around.”
“I know,” Peter replied, chuckling, “but it was worth it.”

Sunday - drum roll please - this Sunday (Mother’s day), we’re going to see Taylor Swift in concert.
On Monday, Peter and I jet off to Paris (and Saint-Tropez) for 10 days. He’ll get to meet my Grandmère and Uncle Remy - I’m SO hyped.

I’m squeezing a lot into the first three weeks of summer. My fellowship starts June 1st, and that’ll take all of June and July. I can’t wrap my head around being a junior next year. Where’s the time GONE?
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Laden: something heavily loaded with something, literally or figuratively.
keep the photographs
the city is overexposed again

take more walks in the nearby woods
the world we knew as children

watch out for frogs and detonators
mind the wires

new aerial boundaries at dawn
no one steps inside by choice

adapt to the proper order
and no sleeping under tables

the reflection tower is a good place to start
tourist trap, a certain approximate

bring the thing under the couch
in case of an unexpected visitor

more nightmares cut out of the newspaper
what is an Astra 600?

three different hat sizes
Hannie says yes to ménage à trois

the joy in discovery
the joy in forgetting

like God without a compass
not a lot, just forever
The Oversteegen sisters and friend Hannie Schaft worked to sabotage the **** military presence in the Netherlands. They used dynamite to disable bridges and railroad tracks. Additionally, they aided Jewish children by smuggling them out of the country or helping them escape concentration camps.

The Oversteegens and Schaft also lured German soldiers to the woods under the pretense of a romantic overture and then killed them. Freddie would approach the soldiers in taverns and bars and ask them to "go for a stroll" in the forest.
Anais Vionet Nov 2022
We’re on-high - in Lisa’s (parent’s) 50th floor penthouse in Manhattan. The sky outside is a cloudless, blinding powder-blue, infinite and reflective as liquid. A TV news helicopter flew by under her window a few minutes ago.

If you don’t feel God-like looking down on the world from her living room, then you’re probably an atheist. Peter was with us and as we stood, looking out on Central Park and NYC from her balcony, he was suitably impressed by it all - from the chopper ride in from New Haven to the opulent digs.

Peter’s a poor (he exists on a meager stipend) doctoral student from Malibu, California. He grew up simply, in a rustic, one floor, three-bedroom cabin that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. He never had a smart-phone or cable TV growing up and only got glacially slow Internet in high school. He says he really lived in the ocean. His most prized possession is his 70s “Bing Bonzer” surfboard that stands, like a priceless, Egyptian relic in his dorm room.

We got a vibe switch when we came inside and 2Pac’s “Hit ‘Em up” was absolutely airhorning from the stereo system. “Westside, Westside, Westside,” Lisa and I joined in the chorus and clumsy-danced by reflex. Leeza, Lisa’s younger sister, saw us and ran over for a group hug with Lisa and me.

Lisa’s little sister’s 13 now and boy, is she a new-teenager. Her long, deep-red hair, which now has fluorescent blue ends, is tied-up in a ponytail revealing a buzz-undercut. Leeza had just gotten home from school and had already changed from her school uniform to ripped jean shorts, white socks and a black, 2Pac sweatshirt - which her mom reported she wears every single day. When her mom manages to launder that, Leeza rotates to a Jets hoodie - although she’s never watched a football game in her life.

“I’ve got a worried mind,” I confessed to Peter, later, as we were scrunched together, me half on his lap in an easy chair. He gave me a consoling hug.
Our grades came out earlier today and I got an A- in Physics 3. I crumbed in the face of classical mechanics. Is an A- who I am? Yeah, I guess so, and I’ll have to give myself an “F” for dealing with it. I suppose I’m acknowledgeably challenged.
“Can you appeal it?” Peter asked, he was trying to be supportive, but he knows that’s a ridiculous notion.
“It’s a male professor,” I said, “maybe I could send him a voice message and cry,” I updog.
“That would be HOT,” Peter said, in a dream-like whisper.
“Uhgh,” I groaned, “It’s emotional manipulation, it’s NOT ******,” I explained, creeped out.
I haven’t talked to my parents yet. They’re in Poland and don’t know my life is over.

“You deserve to embrace your awesomeness, stand up for who you are and reject the status quo.” Peter offered, “I dare you,” he finished, unable to keep a straight face. “But seriously, you’ll fix it after the break,” he offers in hope.
“Yeah,” I say, somewhat unconvinced, “I know.”
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Crucible: a situation that forces someone to change.

updog = when you supply your part of an ongoing joke
Ashwin Kumar Sep 2022
I know it's just been a week
But I'm already beginning to miss you
And I'm not the only one
You do make an impact
On anyone who has been lucky enough
To get to know you
Whether it be family or friends
Or maybe even total strangers!
Anyway, we've had some great times together
I shall never forget our trip to the UK
And the fun we had there
Especially the Wimbledon camping experience
Would you have believed me then
If I had told you
That you would end up returning there to study
In a matter of three years?
Mysterious indeed, are the ways
In which Fate works
Our trip to USA was equally memorable
Who will ever forget that iconic moment
When you identified a McDonald's cafe from the plane?
Nothing, absolutely nothing ever
Escapes those beady eyes of yours
This is one of the many things I love about you
We may not spend a lot of time talking to each other
But you understand me very well
Perhaps more than I understand myself
And I know that I can always count on you
Anyway, I am getting too sentimental
Have a good time out there
I'm sure you'll find new friends
In fact, as I write this
You seem to be making progress on that front already
Try to balance studies and housework as much as you can
And most importantly
Take care of yourself
Whatever problems you might face
Know that you're not alone
We have your back always, no matter what
It is your happiness
Rather than what course you do
Or what job you may find
That matters to us the most
So, on that note
Let me wish you all the very best
Take care and stay in touch
Miss you loads
Poem dedicated to my sister who left India for UK a week ago.
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