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It’s December, it’s foggy and rainy, but that fits. Of course, a rainy Saturday means gathering in the common room with my roommates and watching either “The Hunger Games” or “Twilight.” Leong’s never seen Twilight, believe it or not, what are they DOing in China? We were explaining that It’s ok to talk through Twilight because it’s completely senseless. Yeah, good times.

We got back from Thanksgiving break, and we had to hit it - grinding to squeeze half a semester into 18 days. It’s a cornucopia of pressure. Yes, we’ve hit the books, but we’re still us.

Here’s a question: What’s the first season in December? “Spotify wrapped” season! EVERYONE has Spotify and once a year you get a summary of your listening habits. The reports came out this week and it’s all people are talking about. Comparing their lists, artists, tastes. Those lists say a lot about someone and it’s ok to not have taste, we should normalize it.

My top artist was Taylor Swift (duh) my top song was Taylor Swift’s “Renegade,” Spotify says I listened to it 285 times but that’s biased because more than once, when writing a paper, I put that song on a loop for 6 hours. My second most listened to song was “Champagne Problems” By Taylor. That song is so Rory, Gilmore Girls coded - like Rory saying, “you're on your own.” My other top artists are TV Girl, the backseat lovers and hypo campus. Yeah, I roll big.

Taylor’s also been in the conversation because Sophie has an ex-fem-friend (a freshman) who started seeing a 45-year-old guy. Let me ask you, what does a 45-year-old man have in common with an 18-year-old girl? We have Yale friends in their early 20s who consider themselves still teenagers and children and THEY are horrified. It’s naked fracking *******. (Sorry, that one foamed over.)

The whole situation is ripped from Taylor’s 2010 masterpiece “Dear John,” which is about her dating John Mayer when she was 19 and he was 30-something. Her friends warned her, but she wouldn’t hear. Taylor Swift can be corny, and I love the corn, but she can be topical too and even though I was 7 when she released “Dear John” (2010), it’s a timeless lesson.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Cornucopia: “an inexhaustible, overflowing abundance”
Anais Vionet Nov 24
Peter was able to see some of the ant-like Macy's Thanksgiving parade by leaning suicidally over the 50th floor balcony. I go into fight-or-flight panic if I get anywhere near the railing. The parade passes in front of the building with floats passing 40 minutes before they’re on TV.

Finally, hours later, at lunchtime, Michael (Lisa’s dad), announced, in a low, deep and melodic voice, like God might have used to conjure the universe, “come and get it!”

Which started a pell-mell stampede, luckily, no one was hurt.

Would I be unoriginal if I said, “turkey and dressing are the ultimate comfort food?” The aromas, flavors and textures, like the bubbles in our sparkling, apple-cider faux-champagne, invoke minted, holiday memories and emotions.

I have so much to be thankful for. I’m surrounded by friends, I’m doing well (if not perfectly) in school, I’m in a nice relationship - one that makes me confident and America’s in a moment of peace.

Right as we were seated, 13-year-old Leeza’s phone, hidden in her back pants pocket, chirped and her pale, freckled face turned crimson.
“Oh,” Michael said softly, “that’s going to be a problem.”
Leeza held up her phone so everyone could see it shutting down, “Sorry!” she said meekly.
“Thank you.” Her dad responded.

If things aren’t perfect now - when are they? Our holidays may be stripped back and simplified, or we may be separated from those we love, but I hope you’re all well and happy this Thanksgiving and that you don’t run out of gravy.

Because when the gravy’s gone (that may take days) - I’m callin’ it - this thing is OVER.

Happy Thanksgiving!
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Pell-mell: “mingled and hurried disorder.”
Anais Vionet Nov 20
Last night, Lisa, Peter, Leeza and I were in her father’s 50th floor study watching New York City. It’s a corner room with glass walls from floor to ceiling. He likes to watch the city himself and has a small, 5 seat sectional couch facing the view.

The left wall window looks across Hell’s Kitchen to exactly where Sully Sullenberger crash landed flight 1549 in the Hudson river (it was 3:31 pm and no one was home). The right window overlooks Central Park and Upper Manhattan. Lincoln Center, almost dead center of the corner, looks like part of a toy train-set.

The view is a wheeling, ever changing and mesmerizing panorama. Well lit ships, barges and boats move glacially against the ink black Hudson. Jets in expressway-like holding patterns (Newark Liberty, and Teterboro airports left window - LaGuardia, right window) blink, like waving angels, helicopters buzz below like insects and the traffic, far, far below, forms a living chain of red and white lights which can erupt with nugatory hues of police blue at any moment.

While we watch, we’re playing a game of “Would you rather.” It’s a game of situational trade-offs, like “Would you rather listen to the same 10 songs forever or have to watch the same 5 movies forever? Of course, most people say the movies - because they last longer and there would be fewer repeats.

We take turns asking these critical questions - pausing, occasionally, to point out things below.  
“Would you rather be in a crowded elevator with a bunch of noisy high school students or pinned in with a bunch of judgemental, middle aged men? The girls chose the students, even though high schoolers can be mean. Peter chose to be with the men.
“Would you rather find your true love or a suitcase with 5 million dollars?” We all chose love.
“Would you rather hike or camp?” Both were unpopular if they involved going to the bathroom outside - which creeps the girls out.
“Would you rather give up your computers or your pets (forever)?” THAT was a stressful one.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Nugatory: “of little or no consequence”

My movies: Clueless, Rushmore, Moonstruck, Shakespeare in love, Dr. Zhivago
Anais Vionet Nov 4
It’s starting to cool down here in Connecticut. Leaves are falling, like giant, burnt snowflakes (science says that trees send chemical signals to their branches to clip leaves away).

Peter borrowed a friend's toy-like, pea green, Fiat-500 convertible and we drove into the country to see the turning leaves. We hiked a bit too and stopped, in Mystic, for seafood.

I never realized just how theatrical trees could be, with their few, simple, chlorophyll tricks and how reflective still lakes could be. Wowzer, just - wowzer.

There are some things that should never be shared. Like a toothbrush, an iPad, lipstick, strawberry stroopwafels, a slice of pizza or a secret lover (that last one just sounded good). But life is good, I can share that. We’re young, dramatic sophomores with good hair products and we’re at it, working and playing hard.

Ahh.. ok, upon consultation, I have to add that some of us are in their mid-twenties with only a few good years left.

Did I mention that we climbed up a twisty lighthouse staircase too? Peter always thinks people should take the stairs, and not the elevators, “You want to have muscles and bones that work when you’re eighty,” He says. Since he’s closer to eighty than I am, when we’re not carrying furniture, I let him have his way. Of course, he’s never been to up Lisa’s 50th floor townhouse either.

My mom told me that they’re off to Poland again, over the holidays, for another tour with “Doctors without Borders” (**** war). Lisa’s parents have (kindly) invited me to share their high-rise utopia again this year. Who knows, maybe Peter will have his chance to try those stairs.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Utopia: “a place of ideal perfection”
Anais Vionet Oct 6
I think we all love kisses, like flowers love the sun.
They can be meaningful, deep and scandalous or fun.

You might briefly, sneakily, steal a kiss,
you can blow a kiss or condone a kiss,
emblazon every girl or boy you know with a kiss,
postpone a kiss, or bemoan a kiss as hormones,
but you can’t keep a kiss or own a kiss,
because they’re never more than half your own kiss -
sadly, as we’ve all learned, you just can’t kiss alone.

Every kiss is a puzzle, an experiment requiring a team
you may not even understand a kiss, or exactly what it means.
As far as kisses go, I’ve only had a few. I blame that dam
pandemic, they certainly weren’t something I eschewed.

I wish I had specific tips for girls with quick, impulsive lips
which somehow never can resist a flirty, kissing apocalypse.
Your roommates will support you, with only a few quips
but you really can’t keep doing this, you’ve got to get a grip.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: emblazon: decorate a surface with something.
Anais Vionet Sep 29
It was Friday afternoon and we’re discussing weekend plans. “You know,” Anna said, introspectively, “we were different people last year. We (Sunny and Anna) went out both nights, Friday and Saturday - for weeks. We got a taste for it, we were absolutely feral.
“True,“ Sunny admitted, “but we were high school nerds, we had to go a little crazy.”
“I can’t imagine going to the frats this year.” Anna said, with a quiver of revulsion. “Not that we’re living the nun-life, exactly.”
“Not exactly,” Sunny confirmed with a chuckle.

In fact, it’s been very quiet in our dorm suite recently. We’ve been ASMR-ing 24x7 and I have to say I like it - there really is something pinequal about it. We’ll be on campus somewhere together talking very softly with our heads pressed together - we get looks - but we’re not the only ones - it’s a trend.

Another trending is “That’s why I’m the way I am” where you have to tell an off-beat story about your pre-college self - ending with “That’s why I’m the way I am.” All in whispers, of course.
We’re all sitting on floor pillows around a large, low rectangular coffee table where we usually study.

Leong, whispers, barely audibly, as we all lean-in and strain to hear. “One time, when I was playing softball in high school (this was in Macau, China), I got benched and I started planking on the bench in protest and somehow, the other girls thought it was hilarious and it started a trend at my school, of planking if you got benched or something and the school administration thought that attitude seditious and threatened to stop the playing of softball altogether if players didn’t behave. That’s why I’m the way I am”

I take up the game with “I had this evil French teacher in high school, Mrs. Chew. She hated me because she knew I didn’t have to try very hard in her class to get an “A”.
One morning, Mrs. Chew was being a real *****, and she asked whether I was dyslexic.”
“Well,” I answered, innocently, “I got into Yale.” (With an implied air of - “f*ck off”)
“That’ll be a lunch detention,” she said, one-upping me, it was unfortunate and tragic. That’s why I’m the way I am”

“I started this whole kerfuffle yesterday,” Sophy said, out of the blue, “by saying “THE” Ukraine.” “GOI,” I snapped, “THE United States!!” And I think I crushed THEM.
“Have you been spending time at the med school?” Lisa asked, “Did they give you something?”
“If so, share,” Anna laughed.

Leong gasped, “Did you guys hear that car last night, cruising back and forth by the dorm dubbing? The fricking stereo was bassquake - I was ready to **** by the time they drove away.” “Yeah,” we all groaned.
“Let's hope THAT doesn’t trend,” Leong added.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Kerfuffle :a fuss caused by a dispute
ASMR - (autonomous sensory meridian response) involves barely audible, whispered conversations, and other placid sounds like hair brushing, breathing or other soft sounds.
pinequal = oddly satisfying
GOI = get over it
dubbing = playing DUBs: B-sides of reggae songs, where they add effects or go instrumental.
bassquake = bass sound, from a car, so loud that it shakes the ground
Anais Vionet Sep 21
When the sun sets, flecking clouds with diaphanous light and birds whistle daytime’s last summer psalms, we call it night.

We’re moonbathing and Sunny’s features are inlaid with glamorous silver-blue patines. We’ll reawaken soon, our time is measured in assignments, not in hours, days or even seasons.

Responsibility is a villain of our own devices. You can run from it, bolt your door against it, only to find it’s right there - in back of you - smiling like a tiger or a parent.

Unfortunately, the university isn’t a hotel. It’s more of a competition, like those survivor shows.

We’ll enjoy the moonlight, for a few, laconic moments, for it seems to possess a sweet power to cool and calm, but soon our purposes will call, irresistibly, and we’ll return to the performance.
BLT Merriam Webster word of the day challenge: laconic: brief to the point of seeming rude.
Anais Vionet Sep 16
We sat beneath a night sky of graduated charcoals, blacks and interstellar blues. Fall’s begun its indispensable work, banishing the harsh sun, the creepy lanternflies and hot summer nights.

The stars seemed hesitant tonight, like they feared the sun might change its mind, reverse its course and run them back off - except one, which Peter says is Jupiter (and therefore not a star at all).

We were (Peter, Sunny, Anna and I), studying, in our fold-up lounge chairs and reading by little kindle lights clipped on our books. Leong’s there too - supposedly studying - but in reality, she was waiting for her date.

Leong and Sile have been flirting since last year and tonight’s their first, official date. Leong’s never been on a western date before or ever been alone with a boy in a car. She’s only seen romance in movies or from afar, like an astronomer viewing a distant moon through a telescope.

Her outfit, though casual, was coalesced from six wardrobes and no king or questing knight has ever been dressed more carefully or with greater ceremony. She even positioned her chair at a carefully chosen angle, to show her, initially, in her best light - “Zhù ni hao yùn!” She insisted (It’s good luck).

She’s a gorgeous, brilliant, amazing woman with a razor-thin veneer of amorous confidence. I know my nerves playup when I’m uncertain about things, but Leong’s playing it off, acting casual.. ish.

Finally, with an almost physical jolt, she saw him enter the quad. As he approached, his every aspect was scrutinized by vigilant, overprotective roommates. The air was filled with the whispered buzz of shared analysis.

Soon they were walking off together and chuckling at something we couldn’t hear. It’s funny, I’ve never felt so much like a parent.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Coalesce: to come together or join forces
Anais Vionet Aug 25
It’s elko noice to be back in the sprawling, claustrophobic infinity of college.

I love the energy, the hubbub, the moving-ins, the lines for everything and the freshmen’s hovering parents. We loiter, my roommates and I, sipping expensive, store-bought coffee, around the dorms, the bookstores, and shops, soaking up the frenzy.

A mom sweetly says to her overwhelmed son, “Relax,” passing-off his stress, “enjoy this, engage those five senses and take it all in.” I smiled to myself - there are at least 21 senses, like equilibrioception (balance), thermoception (for heat/cold) and nociception (pain) - just to name three. I thought, “Welcome to college kid.”

The first weeks of freshie life can be lonely - if you’re single. You search for someone to like - it can be very arbitrary and looks based. Last year, around campus, all you could see was the tops of people's faces. When everyone’s masked, eyebrows say a lot, so if you had beautiful eyebrows that went a long way - of course, hair was important too.

There’s an eyebrow studio, down below the green, where students could, as the epitome of style, get their eyebrows threaded hoping they’d look more interesting, and more bonkable. That place was booming.

Masking’s still a thing for fall ‘22 - in classrooms, instructional spaces, and high-density events - at least at first, until they see the spread - but there’s way less isolation. This semester there are exciting, new questions for potential ‘love’ interests to answer, like - “Have you ever dated any simians (monkeys)?
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Epitome: ideal example or embodiment.

weebee = we’re back
elko = surprisingly
noice = a jokey, Australian lean on “nice.”
passing-off = blowing-off, dismissing
Anais Vionet Aug 19
We plan, organize, gather and pack,
we fly - what liberty is this - to fly
like a weapon on the edge of heaven.

Having no power to do it ourselves
we trust security, the silver whirligig,
and the immutable laws of lift and ******.

Looking down at clouds, near the speed of sound
“Yes, I’ll have the pretzels, please, and a sprite.”
aviating thru the night, a few silent, blinking lights
wedged up in the stars to those stuck in slow cars.

We land with a bump, and reverse engine ******,
remaining in our seats until signs are revealed
we then become the many-headed impatience
to exit, to rush - for the baggage we trust
made the journey with us.

Oh, quick, grab a cab, catch a bus
the grumpy, disheveled, six of us
we weary travelers thus
were returned from vacation,
to a near dawn New Haven.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Immutable: not susceptible to change.
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