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Anais Vionet Apr 21
My freshman year is ending and I’m as busy as a one-armed juggler. Of course covid is back. It reoccurs at the worst times, like a movie slasher long thought dead.

When we have something scheduled very early in the morning, we call it an “early-burn.”  This one early-burn morning I had a 7am meeting. Peter and I had met for breakfast because he’s back in my life and he’s ALWAYS up and out early.

It was snowing and we were hurrying, because somehow, I always cut things close. I think I tripped over my shoe-string on a patch of ice. I went down hard and I heard this loud ripping sound. I’d ripped my pants badly and my book bag spilled too. I’m scrambling around on the ground in an attempt to grab some loose papers the wind was scattering.

Peter says, “Wow, your ******* are really thin.”

I jump up “I feel you don’t know where our boundaries are,” I laugh, “you’re so nasty - don’t just stand there grinning - HELP me!” I indicate two papers for him to chase. I looked to see how bad the rip was (BAD). Of course, my coat was short that day, so I untucked my blouse. “How does this look?” I asked Peter.
“That works,” he said, giving my fix his imprimatur.

The two of us managed to corral the papers. “Let’s pretend that didn’t happen,” Peter said. I realized I’d ripped my pants leg and scraped my knee badly - it was bleeding profusely.
“******* It!” I went off.

This lady comes up - seemingly out of nowhere - this old white Christian lady who we’d never seen before. She was so out of place and random and she says, “I really don’t think you should be talking like that in public.” She wasn’t harsh.

At that moment, a gust of wind came up that made me lower my head, as though I couldn’t look the old woman in the eyes but I was just ignoring her anyway - having my own set of issues to deal with.

She had a point though. I’m cursing too much these days. I feel like If I admit it, maybe it’s ok but I am trying not to cuss anymore - well less maybe - at least in a negative way.  
“I think you look fu-kin’ GREAT,” would still be acceptable.
BLT Merriam Webster word of the day challenge:: imprimatur: an official approval
Anais Vionet Apr 16
My pose is gathered this Saturday morning because I made a pancake and bacon breakfast. We're listening to a Britney Spears song, off one of Leong’s playlists. “I remember when I was about 8,” I say, “I was drawing and singing a Brittney song and I got to the line - “I make no apologies, I’m into phonography,”” and my mom sharply says, “Don’t say that!” And I’m left trying to figure out what I said.”

“People are harsh with her, but Britney is timeless,” Leong says.

“Everyone at Yale fancies themselves a music critic,” Lisa says. There are numerous vocal agreements. “I’m like, “Ok, Pop-off then queen, go complicated,” but in my opinion, you need to have fun with music - that’s the main purpose - just to have fun.”

“That’s like the difference between Cardi B and Niki (Minaj). You can just stroll a Cardi B song, you don’t have to interpret,” Anna adds, “but with Nicki I feel I have to listen to see the point.”

Lisa, surfing on her iPad asks, “Did you guys see that Jojo Seawall wasn’t invited to the kid’s choice awards - because she came out as lesbian?”

Sophy says, “Nickelodeon’s been trying to seem MORE accepting, working in more black artists.”

“Yeah, but they’re fake.” Anna pronounces. Everyone nods agreement.

“He hasn’t called all WEEK,” Sophy moans, holding her iPhone up to her ear like she expected to hear ticking, “I made a ghost of him,” she says, flopping the phone on the couch.

“Should I call the Po-po?” Anna asks, distracted as she searches the kitchen cupboard to be sure the pancakes were gluten free.

“I had a dream,” Lisa begins, “I was a child in a family I don’t know. We were criminals. We stole a car and robbed a store. My dream mom ran the operation. And wouldn’t let me watch TV until I emptied the loot out of the car. Then the police arrived, we saw the flashing red and blue lights through closed venetian blinds, then there was a banging on the door, in the dream, that woke me up.”

“That’s way off track but It’s fine, so fine, I see how it is.” Sophy said, “I’m bleak and no one CARES.”

“Is love something you find, or something you believe?” I ask no one in particular.

“That’s a coffee-cup inscription.” Anna pronounces.

“Aaggh,” Leong says, “An email from my professor - it’s TLTR.” We think it's a policy that professors at Yale have to send incredibly long emails - almost too long to read (TLTR).

There’re only three weeks left of our freshman year, so emails are flying and everyone’s trying to nail things down for a smooth ending.
BLT word of the day challenge: Timeless: Classic, eternal or ageless.

Slang:
Stroll = groove
Po-po = the police
Anais Vionet Apr 8
We were (Leong, Peter, Anna and I) eating at a popular Italian eatery (outdoors) and the check arrived - I swooped across the table and grabbed the check from the waiter. Peter whispers, “You can’t pay for everything the entire weekend.” “Why not?” I say, “It makes me happy.” “There’s no reason to,” he says. “I need a REASON??” I snort, which always makes Leong laugh. “Have you MET me?” I say, shaking my head dubiously. “I’ve met you,” he pronounces, “and you’re a NUT.“ “Thank you,” he says, indicating the check exasperatedly.

Peter’s transfinancial: a rich man trapped in a poor man’s body. He has taste but he exists on a grant and a meager stipend. We’re just friends but I’m holding a bag and he’s not. Besides, he needs a new laptop - badly - and shouldn’t be squandering his grips on me.

Greek-life is on the rise. Maybe it's because those groups offer planned social events or because, with COVID winding down (covid smovid) there’s more going on. There’s a pressure here - to be your most authentic self - to be top academically, socially - to have your calendar filled out. There’s a frantic nature to it. I’m being lowkey rushed for a fraternity (for next year) but I love my roommate situation and I think I’d druther stick with this set I love.

Which begs the question about social time. Should it be methodical, relentless, super planned out? Super planned interactions can seem transactional and not easy going and natural. College social life is so different from high school. College life is so much more charged in every way. The range of people you meet, the broader perspectives, the available options for activities.

I find myself in a search for balance. Private time vs social time. Before covid, you’d go to school and then you’d come home to your room, where you could just hang out. It was a self care place.

At university, a dorm room is less of a “home” where you can be alone and spend that healing time. You never know who's going to be in your living room and what they’re up to. I get claustrophobic when my door is closed so I rely a lot on noise-canceling technology.

A dorm room can seem like those covid lockdown days - there’s little or no separation between academic and private space. I’m just unpacking some thoughts. *shrug
BLT word of the day “Druther”: an alteration of "would rather”.
Slang:
set = click/group
grips: duckets/money
holding a bag = flush/monied
Anais Vionet Apr 2
Lisa comes into my room and flops on the bed. The day had been uncompromisingly gray, windy and cold. The night sky was a snowy, blowing darkness, an absolute void that absorbed the campus lights and reflected nothing back. “I’m missing Spring Break,” Lisa she says.

“It doesn’t even seem like Spring Break happened,” I say. “Most Yalies went to Puerto Rico this year, I think, from my sampling.”

“RIGHT?” Lisa said, “EVERYONE says that - we’re in sync. But I enjoyed Paris,” Lisa continued, “I liked your family - no - I LOVED your family,” she amends.

“THAT’s a strong take,” I say, chuckling.

“I watched basketball with your uncle (Rémi) and cousins and helped your grandma cook,” she explains, “I felt like a part of your family.”

“Aww,” I say, “You ARE part of my family now - you’re TRAPPED,” and we laughed.

They invented spring break because after several months, the student mind starts to notice a harsh reality - how much their dorm room resembles a cinder-block jail cell - and starts to wonder how a lifetime of study and stress over grades has gotten them no further in life than the average felon.

We’re at lunch. Lisa says, “Ok, what’s new with you?” Keep in mind we see each other ten times a day.

“Well,” I say, I’ve decided that “The Beatles are for spring.” Lisa laughs. “Stop!” I demand, “I’m going deep. Today’s song is Julia,” I say, “It’s John Lennon’s song to his mom who was run over by a car when he was a child.”  “I love that song,” Lisa says.

“Ok, what about you?” I ask.
“My song right now is “Move like a Boss,” Lisa says, “When I’m walking across campus, with my air pods on - I’m intense, don’t get in my way - I’m dangerous, I’ll Will Smith you - I scare me.”

“Good to Know,” I say, wishing I’d gotten a lemon brownie.

Then I add, “I’ve got this presentation on Monday that I haven’t even had time to look at yet. If I don’t get on it by this weekend it’ll be a nuclear-level disaster. I started on it yesterday and the Internet went down for 20 minutes. It was stressful - of course, you don’t know how long the outage is going to be when you’re IN it - and I had THINGS to do - is that convoluted? ”

“No,” Lisa says, nodding in agreement, “losing the Interweb’s traumatic.”
BLT word of the day challenge: Convoluted: "very complicated and difficult to understand."
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.
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 Feb 7
Leong squirms up to me at breakfast, in the cafeteria.

“May I ask..,” she said, looking around like a secret agent getting ready to make a dead-drop, “what contraceptives do you use?”

I thought this an odd question from someone who just broke up with her long-time boyfriend but, hey, I’m an open book.

“Isolation and despair,” I replied, which got me an eye roll.

“You’re never serious!” She admonishes me.
BLT word of the day challenge: admonish: a gentle disapproval
Anais Vionet Jan 31
Anna and I were sitting on an outdoor bench. To get some fresh air, our classes are virtual this week and we were feeling claustrophobic. I was working on a poem idea on my iPad and Anna was uploading an assignment with her computer.

The bench is by a walkway and there were a few people passing by. I asked Anna, “What’s an alternative word for paralysis?” And three rando students walking by answer my question, in less time than Anna can even look up from her Mac.

“Tetraplegia,” says a ******* the far side of the walk - who passed us right to left - her friends laughed at her for answering my question. “Palsy,” says a guy who was passing the other way, on our side - he didn’t even look up from his phone. And last, a guy behind the girls says, “standstill.”

I just look up and smile - I love this place. Everyone’s friendly and collaborative. There’s an almost homogeneous curiosity about the world.

“Maybe I should create a sidewalk, crossword-puzzling channel on Twitch?” I ask Anna, who just shakes her head, “No.”
BLT word of the day challenge: homogeneous: "of the same or a similar kind or nature."
Anais Vionet Dec 2021
I get a little look from the guy sitting beside me.
I find I’m tapping my pencil to the cadence of the rain
I give a little “sorry” head nod and he goes back to work.

Hhmm.. I’ve chewed up my pencil again.
It looks wood chopped or shark mauled.
Maybe I should quit university and invent flavored #2 pencils.

— The End —