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Anais Vionet Apr 4
It’s monsoon season here in New Haven,
gone, are the banked, fluorescent colors of sunset.

This feeling hit me, like a rogue wave.
“We have to go out tonight,” I announced, to no one in particular.

I think I’d hit my capacity for monotony.
Lisa looked up from her book.

“The moment has to happen,” I continued,
with an animal-like awareness of the immediate,

“For the ****** ****** imaginary
and as something to cherish in backward gaze.”

“I’m for that.” Lisa shrugged, almost indifferently - she was used to my purple prose.
“I’m buying,” I announced, to no one in particular.

“Then let’s DO this thing!” Sunny called-out from her room.
“Where are we going?” Leong asked, poking her head out of her room.


I took an m-cat practice test earlier today.

In the dorm, before breakfast and the test, I was staring in the mirror.
“Hey you, where ya been—how ya been?” I asked myself.
I followed up with, “Are you ready for this—are you up for this?”
Lisa stuck her head in the bathroom, “Psyching yourself up?” she asked.
She’d be taking the test later too.


The tests took about 6 hours. I’ve taken the downloadable ‘practice tests’ but not strictly on-the-clock. There’s just something about sitting at that official, green terminal - on an uncomfortable plastic chair, being timed by officiously grim and callously indifferent bureaucrats. (#chefskiss)

I felt like the young, haunted governess in ‘The Turn of the *****’ by Henry James. Except my ghosts were my entire, immediate family - who’ve taken this test before me and done really well.
My mom’s apparition hovered over my shoulders - making a snarky noise when I picked certain answers.
My spectral brother sat by a window, feet-up on the desk in front of him, boredly checking his watch.
My intangible sister sat at an empty terminal, as if she too, were taking the tests, and finally Step (my stepfather’s doppelgänger) ghosted in, like a Spielberg effect, through the closed classroom door, periodically, to voice his support.
The place seemed positively crowded.

I got a 507 (out of a possible 528), in the 76th percentile (they said). Not good enough (yet).
I’ll take the real test in July (sigh).
In order to get into a med-school you have to take the mcat (medical college admissions test).

*our cast*  (a reader asked, ‘who are these people?’)
Lisa, (roommate) 20, grew up in a posh 50th floor walk-up on Central Park South, Manhattan. A Molecular biophysics and biochemistry major.

Leong, (roommate) 20, is from Macau, China - the daughter of a wealthy industrialist and a proud communist (don’t knock it til you’ve tried it). A molecular, cellular, and developmental biology major.

Sunny, (suitemate) 20, a cowgirl from Nebraska and also a molecular, cellular, and developmental biology major.
Anais Vionet Sep 2023
I’m toey this morning, we’re getting a test back. I was all right or all wrong. I’m early, the first one here. I’m hoping the TA will early-bird and return my test before anyone else gets here. That way, when I run and jump out the 3rd story window, no one else will be traumatized.

I’m trying to have-sac but I’m keyed-up and quivering like a ******. My chair seems all hard angles. I didn’t sleep much. My mind is replaying the test in a loop, resisting the unreliable seduction of hope. I've decided my score depends on one variable in question 3.

This semester I feel like one of those Cirque du sloeil acrobats that spin ten plates on a pole while riding a motorcycle. I realize I’m biting my fingernails and the parental voices that live in my mind spring to life. I shut them down with a shake of my head, they’ll have their say later.

Oh, great, another student’s here, Clint, I think. He’s a stengo from someplace tropical. I’ve never talked to him 1-on-1 but we were in a lab group once, where we had to synthesize a coordination complex and characterize it. He’s smart, polite, and forever chipper. He settles into his seat and slouches like he hasn’t a care in the world. I don’t like him this morning.

If he’s wrong, he’s going to have to throw himself down the stairs, I’ve got dibs on the window.
toey = nervous, edgy
early-bird = arrive early
have-sac = be brave and grow a pair
stengo    = a good looking, exotic guy
Anais Vionet Sep 2023
Good neighbors, sweet friends, can you forgive me?

In long, still and creeping hours of study,
I can be stern and inaccessible.

My studies tax me to basest function,
resting, weight-like, on my wretched shoulders.
I, too-weary, ebb and at times, tend to
spare few feelings and gall, as if licensed.

Sometimes I go, unwillingly to class,
a melancholy lass. Please, if we talk,
speak gently. I labor under command,
and you may not be answered with reason.

Hereby hangs the tale, ladies just and fair.
Sleep, that dark medicine, has restored me,
my sanity and my better judgment.
Patiently receive my apology
and recall our many fun adventures.
An apology in sonnet
I was rude to some roommates, late one night because they were having fun, and I was completely stressed out - that’s all, we made up - but it made for a sonnet =]
Ken Pepiton Mar 2023
If every penny that I find, ain't
bright and shiny,

I don't mind, I smile at the motto,
and know, that's not much questioned.
And nowadays, nothing costs a penny.

I could begin right now to elucidate,
but wait,
you know, knowing,

nobody cares if the motto on the penny
is true, any more than
if anyone adjusts worth
by bright and shiny degrees,

dull pennies, purchase nothing nowadays,
and, I find the motto holds any worth one
may imagine,
after finding a we, who agree, bright
and shiny,

does not change the worth, until you know,
the worth is in the holding having something,

so shiny, as to be guaranteed uncirculated,
meaning it never bought a thing,
and now you -- see the worth
or so the ads imply,
any one may buy
an old shining penny, for five bucks.
- a good day to learn something right that I had mistaken as known, while growing old enough to know the differnce in power mottos command.
Anais Vionet Oct 2022
It was one of those gray but somehow bright-skied New England Wednesday mornings that made you sad for anyone who wasn’t there. Fall freshness demanded my attention, like a hungry pet, from every open lattice-window in our stuffy common room.

As I watched, for a marvelous moment, the world was a cartoon whirly-gig. Trees, writhed, animal-like, to be free of their multicolor leaves, shedding them - like bad blind-dates. The four-color debris was immediately drafted away on gust-streams, those invisible elves, and politely scattered in corners.

I’m waiting for test results today and time seems to be passing with vegetable slowness. In uncertain hours like these, some students armor themselves with alcohol while others indulge in religious solace. Not Leong and I. Leong’s a communist - it seems that communists grumpily tough things out.

I was raised a Catholic, so I rightly deserve whatever bad thing’s going to happen. In Catholicism, failure and guilt are accepted everywhere, like the best credit cards. Any success is automatically categorized as unexpected, undeserved, if not fraudulent, and above all, temporary. In fact, life itself is little more than an inconvenient test on the way to wherever.

“We’re living in the age of crisis.” I announced, agitatedly, to the otherwise quiet common room (where the usual crowd was attempting to study).
“Figured that out all by yourself”? Sunny asked, “You ought to go to Yale,” she added.
“Hear me out,” I say, as if anyone cares enough to stop me. “Our parents had their war on terror” I say, with air-quotes, “but we got a pandemic, a crazy President complete with insurrection, a faltering supply chain, a cost-of-living crisis, renewed nuclear war threats and the climate meltdown. It’s hard to study with all that going on.” I self-declared.

“It’s hard to study because I’m out of watermelon.” Sophie said, digging through the fridge.
“You aren’t anyone these days unless you’re battling a crisis.” Sophie noted.
“Your parents are ALIVE,” Leong said dryly, “I MET them and they’re going through all that too.”
“And are we (mankind) going to take any real, adult steps to address these issues?" I asked, looking around to see if my outrage was mirrored, “apparently not.” I sermonized rhetorically.

“YOU” Lisa said, shaking her head, “are a hopeless optimist - you left out a few crises.”
“WhatEVER,” I declared, “It’s still hard to study,” I reiterated, while distractedly chewing on a #2 pencil that Lisa had loaned me.

Later, we’re outside, taking in the semi-sun and reclining on our fold-up “better beach” lounge chairs. We’re off-and-on playing “That’s why I am like I am.”
“When I was in 10th grade, I had 22 detentions.” Sunny revealed.
“22! What for?” Anna asked, looking over at Sunny while shading her eyes from the sun that briefly pierced the clouds and decided to stab her fiercely in the face.
“Talking in class.” Sunny admitted. “Wow, THAT’S a shocker.” Lisa laughed.
“Shut up!” Sunny laughed, adding a ******* for emphasis. “I got those detentions on purpose. I had the love-jones for my English teacher, and she supervised lunch detentions.
I would bring in these lesbian paperbacks, like “Keeping YOU a secret,” to hold up and pretend read - while eying her, seductively."
Anna gasped, “Did she ever respond?”
“No,” Sunny said with a sigh, “My love was unrequited.”
“That was a lot of trouble to go through.” Lisa commented.
“Being gay isn’t that deep,” Sunny observed, adding the tag, “That’s why I am like I am.”
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Writhe: “to twist” usually in pleasure or pain.
Anais Vionet Apr 2022
Lisa was carefully pulling a strand of cotton candy off a paper-coned “barbe à papa” - winding it around her finger while absentmindedly gazing at a carousel. She seemed hypnotized by its white horses, trimmed in gold, with their brassy red and blond manes, as they hopped, like slow-motion rabbits, in circles beneath wreaths and garlands of colored lights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anna opens her door just as I do mine - perfect. We’re off to the gym.
BLT Marriam Webster word of the day challenge: Hoary: "so familiar as to be dull"
Anais Vionet Feb 2022
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 Oct 2021
Dear boy who finished the three hour Chemistry test in 9 minutes,

I hope you FAILED.
Sincerely, Girl still on question 2.
how discouraging
GQ James Feb 2021
I was prepared for it all,
Thru it all I stood tall,
Ever since I was a teenager,
I took the easy way out,
This time I decided to stand on my own,
It was rough,
It taught me the biggest lesson,
The biggest test of my life,
Brought me closer to God,
Learn the importance of faith and prayer,
Without those would've made it,
I'm wiser,
I see the world and people lot different.

Those who thought I'd fall apart,
Haha jokes is on you,
Never bet against but bet on me,
I was born to win not lose,
I took a few loses but I've got the big win,
This is only the beginning,
There's so many more blessings ahead.

Believe in me,
Not lose faith in me,
Yes I've made many mistakes,
But I've learned from them,
The biggest mistakes of my life,
Were the most valuable teaches,
Without failure you can't succeed,
I'm thankful for the slight failures,
It gave much insight about bigger success.
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