Sunday, July 17, 2011

Of Kale and Karma

October 17, 2006

Back in Texas, before the e-coli thing, I ate a lot of spinach. Not the pre-bagged kind, not the loose baby leaves kind, not the frozen kind, but real bunches of sandy, dirty, fresh spinach. It's a pain to wash -- you have to rinse, then soak, then rinse it again before it's edible -- but I didn't mind. In D.C., grocery stores in my neighborhood do not sell this kind of spinach, so I have come to love kale. The prep process is similar, but kale is darker, denser and tougher than spinach, in a satisfying way -- like this city, maybe.

My second night back in Texas, I was hanging out with my friends and realized how young they all look. Young and well rested. Vivacious. Dynamic. Happy. Not that they are happy all the time, or even most of the time, but they seem... just more joyous than people here. The night I returned to D.C., I was standing over the sink, washing kale, listening to NPR, and it hit me: quality of life. This is what brings you joy. The little things -- wearing flip flops, washing kale and listening to the radio. Sometimes, I get so busy here I forget to do those little things, or to enjoy them when I do do them.

Instead, I try to squeeze little nuggets of joy into my hectic days. I pick up things people drop on the street, returning a wad of cash to a woman walking in front of my in Dupont Circle, a government ID to a man passing me in Foggy Bottom. They were both so happy when I reunited them with their lost possessions. Good karma for me! Joy! I cross paths with the same neighbors as I walk to the bus stop each day, and we nod and wish each other a good morning. Joy! I laugh with other late night bus riders at funny things, like when a chatty homeless man directed the bus driver to "Take it easy, my brother," and, upon realizing the driver was a woman, hastily corrected himself, "Uh, I mean, Miss!" before he hopped off the bus. Joy!

I am trying to keep all this in perspective here and increase my life's joy quotient as I plow through law school. Today we had our mid-term -- the only grade I will receive in any of my classes before finals. Most of my classmates went out drinking tonight, but I had some cocktails with them right after the test and came home only to sack out on the couch and watch 2 hours of Project Runway. In two nights, I have seen about half the season, I think. Tomorrow is the finale, and I hope Uli wins. Her dresses are loud, colorful, silky things, impractical for anything but a debaucherous beach party in the tropics, and I love them for that. They are like half the blouses in my closet, unfit for our brisk fall weather. I just lay in bed and look at them sometimes. They compliment my pink brocade curtains, multicolor shag rug, and whimsical animal planters, filled with cacti and plants from home. I take it all in and feel a surge of joy.

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