Saturday, January 29, 2005

Behold the Power of Cheese

This month is killing me. Really killing me.

I'm taking more credits than I ought to be allowed to take, which means bare attendance is about all I've been able to muster so far (though even this is actually admirable for a third-year law student). I'm running two active on-campus organizations and I'm significantly involved in about four or five others. Add to that the pressure of impending graduation and -- horror -- beginning to study for the California Bar, and you've got yourself one stressed-out person. Plus, last night I found out that my apartment building is being converted into privately-owned conominiums, which gives me a few months to find a new place to live (if I can find a place where I can live for the whole two summer months that I'll actually be in Chicago).

So I decided to give myself a break last night. My mind-reading friend jca IM'd me asking if I'd had dinner yet. I hadn't, of course, so we opted for a fancy downtown wine restaurant, Bin 36. If you're in the Chicago area, I *highly* recommend it.

We'd had a rough week, so we spoiled ourselves. Wine flights, cheese flights, fondue, pastries with truffle oil, pumpkin ravioli. Even though after everything I ate last night I know I'll never be hungry again, I'm salivating just remembering it.

The thing about really, really good food and wine is that it kind of puts everything in perspective. It's been a long year for me and hasn't gone exactly the way I'd planned. But sitting there with my friend, glass of Syrah in hand, decadant gruyere fondue in front of us, for a few short moments the universe felt peaceful and manageable. All the stress and anxiety melted away, and it didn't even occur to me to worry about the reading I must catch up on, or the paper I need to write this weekend. I think I forgot about it somewhere between the rabbit-truffle strudel and the orange-espresso chocolate cremeux.

I think it's moments like this that keep us going through the hard times. Americans -- and, I think, especially graduate students -- face so much internal and external pressure to achieve the most, work the hardest, do the best, that we often forget to allow ourselves, failures and all, to enjoy the smaller things in life. We'd probably all be a lot happier and more relaxed if we occasionally treated ourselves to some bleu cheese and cabernet. No wonder the French act so damn superior.


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