Everyday Delights

Dashiva Francois, Economics, Senior, Port-au-Prince, Haiti


  1.     Fleeting Delights

My delights were written during April 2021. The delights were inspired by Ross Gay’s, The Book of Delights, which he compiled within a year. Throughout the month, well roughly, a couple of weeks in April, I walked around with a notebook and my phone for Google docs to catch the ever-fleeting delights that I witnessed. Most of my delights happened on my campus, Texas Christian University (TCU), walking, driving, and at home. I found delights to be delights themselves. My third eye, if you would fancy that, opened and with it the world. I started noticing and delighting in the everyday occurrences around me.  It became a sort of meditation and a source of joy for me, especially as I was nearing the end of my semester and stress was at an all-time high. Enjoy.


  1.     Make My Bed (Apr 12)

This delight goes back to my military days (I’m really not that old, but I always wanted a reason to say “my military days”). The first thing they teach at boot camp is how to make your bed (right, soldiers and sailors learning the simplest task of making their bed, but bear with me). It didn’t mean much to me initially, just another thing I had to do before my day started. The instructions for a military bed are as follows: the top sheet is placed over the bottom sheet, wide seam at the head, even with the top of the mattress, and tucked under at the base. Fold the top sheet approximately four inches. Fold over again, leaving 18 inches to form fold head of the mattress. The fold is 8 inches wide, 4 inches from the pillow to the fold. Fold corners. Grasp the sheet and tuck it entirely under the bed. Place pillow centered between fold and top of the mattress (confused? You should be. It takes a little practice).

Over time, I found myself every morning trying to perfect it a little more, tucking in the corners a little tighter, inching my pillow ever so slightly to be squarely in the middle. Doing the mundane every day and finding ways to improve it without missing a beat (more or less) is a simple delight. It’s been assigned as a “small win” by motivational speakers, and it’s been proven to increase productivity.

It’s simple, as soon as I wake up. I snuggle with Coco, my brown, scruffy Terrier, check my phone for the time and calculate how long I can stay in my warm bed (usually 30 seconds) until I don’t have to speed through traffic to get to class. I start by fluffing my two pillows, placing them against the headboard, and start beating the bed with the other blanket I sleep with (Why? Well, why not)? After a proper beat down, I pull on all the corners to get the bed as wrinkle-free as possible. I fold my oversized navy-blue throw blanket and place it long ways at the foot of the bed. I stand back, remembering my days of bed inspections in the military and getting yelled at because my pillow was three inches instead of four inches (delight). This morning I made my bed, free of judgment, but still to achieve a “small win” and accomplish something before brushing my teeth. The smallest discipline that helps where I most need it such as, writing these small delights every day. Delight in the mundane.


  1.     Negreeting (Tribute to Book of Delights) (Apr 15)

Ross Gay, in The Book of Delights, sums up the unspoken greeting that occurs between blacks as negreeting. I don’t think, better yet, I don’t know if negreeting happens between all members of the black community, and I’m not the one to do that research. Negreeting is simple. Two blacks—African Americans, if you want to be politically correct—see each other and give each other a silent nod. A painless way to say, “Hey, fellow brethren, I see you.” A simple gesture of community that gives one a sense of belonging. There are different levels of negreeting, though, depending on the location and situation.

I was walking through the halls of my predominantly white university, PWU, and down the hall about 100 feet from me, I saw another ebony guy wearing matching gray and purple TCU tracksuit—my internal bias placed him as strictly African on campus as an international student here to run track or something in that nature. When we get five feet from each other, I look straight into his glossy, slightly slanted, and red eyes and give him a slight, upward head nod. No response. We pass each other. An unacknowledged nod is similar to not reciprocating a high five, ‘leaving someone hanging.’ Well, maybe he didn’t know the unwritten rules; I will add the American rule of negreeting.

The next day, a black shopper at my neighborhood Sprouts (I was shopping for white, caramel-covered clusters if you’re wondering), taller than me, slim, and oddly attractive with white graying hair in his beard, was walking towards me. He had a modest bounce to his step like he had been an athlete his whole life. We made eye contact, and I gave him a negreeting but with a downward nod. We connected. He followed with a white smile and a downward nod. I smiled and continued my shopping.

Today for the third day in a row, I walked into the library on campus on my way to the second floor to find my study spot. As I climb the stairs, staring at the steps in front of me, a pair of neon-green shoes greet me at the top of the stairs. I look up, and I receive an upward head nod. No secret that it belonged to a brother. “What kind of shoes are those?” I asked, a little winded. “Just some VaporMaxx, haha,” he trailed off with a laugh and went back to his phone. The best part is that I didn’t have to initiate the nod. Like Mr. Gay said in his book, “It’s a lot of pressure to nod at every black person.” I delighted in that liberation of not having to negreet everyone I meet.

There are two ways of negreeting that I know so far. The upward head nod is reserved for younger or similar age groups of blacks. The downward head nod is reserved for older blacks as a sign of respect. I didn’t make the rules, and no one says the rules, but it’s almost like intuition. The presumed African guy was probably right in not acknowledging me. Suppose he is from Africa, he is surrounded by blacks of all shades, where being black is not a race but just is. Maybe he didn’t see me as black but as a fellow student just trying to get to class. Maybe he felt self-conscious since I stared at him for 100 feet. Maybe he didn’t see the necessity in acknowledging me since I could be any one of the million blacks in the world, who he walks by every day bereft of any greetings. Just maybe.

Being negreeted in a white environment is both liberating and inviting. Knowing that I am not alone in this sea of white, even though I know internally, but the external acknowledgment is welcoming.


  1.     Coca-Cola (Apr 17)

Today I was sitting at the Barnes and Nobles (B&N) cafe by my house in Arlington, TX, (wishing I was in the quiet solitude of an independent bookstore; instead, I am in the mall B&N overhearing shoppers having conversations about sales, the barista yelling orders in her customer-friendly voice, and the vibrational hum of the café’s refrigerator) when I was interrupted by the briefest, most delightful conversation. The conversationist was an older white man with stringy white hair, wearing a red Coca-Cola shirt faded by countless washes, blue jeans, black Phila shoes, all black sunglasses, and an ashy black leather jacket.

“Someone sitting here?” He asked me in a trembling voice; the table next to me was littered with books.

“I’ve been here for a minute, and no one has sat there,” I replied with a smile.

“Great,” he grabbed all the books off the table and walked them to the helpdesk.

“People leave books in case others want to read, I guess,” I said with a chuckle.

“Right, I like your outfit,” he was looking at me up and down. I was wearing a striped navy blue, yellow, oversized green sweater, black sweatpants, black Reeboks, and multicolored socks showed slightly with my right leg crossed over my left, with my favorite tan ‘dad’ hat.

“Thanks, yours too. I love your jacket,” I complimented, still smiling and looking up at him.

“I like motorcycles,” he said, beaming with delight.

“You have one?” I inquired.

“No, I just like them. Trucks, cars, you know, how they flow. I haven’t ridden one in a long time,” he said, reminiscing.

“Yeah, that’s a good point. What do you have to drink?” His coffee cup had ‘Chris’ scribbled near the lid in black sharpie.


“You get that often?”

“Oh yeah, when I can. The milk and the coffee balance is perfect.”

He walked over to the magazine section and grabbed two magazines on cars and motorcycles. And with that, we smiled at each other and got lost in our respective worlds of automobiles and wizards.


  1.     Summer Academic Heritage Room (Apr 20)

There is that moment when I am studying for hours, and it all just clicks, an ah-ha moment if you will, and I feel intelligent. That is what happened to me Tuesday morning as I poured over my corporate finance textbook, trying hard to understand the connection between yield to maturity (YTM) of a bond and the cost of debt of a firm’s capital structure (right, I know. That’s what I get for studying economics). A little bit past noon, after days of doing calculations after calculations and feeling miserable for not understanding on the first try, it hit me like a brick. I looked up at the twenty-foot-high ceiling and savored my triumph.

I was sitting in my favorite spot at the TCU library. The room I was in was an auxiliary room that feels detached from the library itself, even though it housed a nice collection of leather-bound yearbooks of past TCU classes, a random assortment of academic books about religion, philosophy, and finance. It was furnished with three brown leather couches, eight leather reading chairs, and a center cowhide (I think) rug that seemed to cover eighty percent of the wooden floor. I sat in one of the reading chairs adjacent to the entrance. The room felt like a law office rather than a study room. The walls were so high that any movement in the quiet room echoed. They were adorned with Chancellor’s Award winners, and on the left wall was a rather large oil painting of the Chancellor himself, wearing a royal purple Regalia, seated on a wooden leather chair. I was in awe at the simplicity of the room, and everything about it said ‘intelligence’ or ‘academic.’ The small placard at the entrance of the room read ‘Summer Academic Heritage Room,’ explaining the room’s purpose was to celebrate education.

Behind me, a wooden rod with a brass head lay behind a glass wall. The placard under it summarized ‘The Mace’ as a symbol of the strength of the university and its leaders. I felt it ironic that I got my epiphany of YTM in the room dedicated to education. Some might call me superstitious, but I want to credit the room’s energy to guide me to my understanding. It could have been the quiet of the room, the choice of paintings or chairs, the ten-foot windows providing an endless stream of sunlight that influenced my breakthrough, who’s to really say. I felt in awe at how persistence can yield good results. I was a small pea in a world of knowledge, and I was eager to learn and felt a deep sense of gratitude for the value of education.


  1.     “Perks of Being Black” (Apr 21)

It seems like putting on lotion is the first lesson my family taught me when I was old enough to push down on a lotion bottle. “Make sure you get your knees,” my mom, my aunt, anyone I was around who sported the black or brown shade always reminded me. I love putting on lotion. My morning routine doesn’t feel complete unless I can feel the nice coat of Vaseline on my legs, thighs, butt, chest, specifically the elbows, the pesky Achilles region, and the knees that seem to absorb three tons of lotion; it’s my second outfit. Without it, I feel naked, vulnerable to the world. This vulnerability stems from the stigma of being ashy—A sign of poverty, lack of hygiene, and as many stereotypes imaginable. In reality, Lotioning is a simple way to stay moisturized and look young. I always felt like for black people, it’s more like armor, a form of shield to keep the judgmental eyes of the world.

I used to work in a small office a few years ago, and every time I would use the restroom and wash my hands, the office secretary, a black woman, would give me a pump of lotion to moisturize. One of my co-workers, a white man, asked me why I put on lotion so much after seeing me do this ritual numerous times. I simply replied, “one of the many perks of being black.” It must be liberating not to have to apply lotion after each bathroom visit. But I do find delight in my morning ritual, an unconscious delight of the community I am a part of, and of the beauty that comes from my shiny black skin.


  1.     Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Apr 24)

Reading to me goes way beyond the text in the book. The binding (glued or Smyth sewn), the right shade of black of the print, feel of the cover (hardcover vs. softcover), and weight, even the smell (grassy, woody, or earthy), play an important role in my reading experience. I would even call myself a book enthusiast. Most of the books on my yellow Ikea bookshelves, two of them, are stuffed with books, most of them gifted, of all ages and sizes. One of the most prized is my Harry Potter collection that I’ve read too many times to be normal. I just stopped reading it so I could write this delight because it brought me, well, delight.

This morning I was lying on my bed, the morning sun trying to sneak its way around my blacked-out curtains. I turned to page 198 in my Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince novel (the part where Dumbledore shows Harry the Gauts family in the Pensieve) to find that the page was breaking apart at the seam. I was slightly annoyed. I know I’ve read it a million times, but it still hits differently when my books fall apart because as much as I like collecting books, I enjoy reading the same ones religiously. I flipped to the front cover and read the copyright date ‘2005.’ The book is sixteen years old, and I remember I received it in 2010 as a gift. It’s a hardcover book, the pages are white even after so many years, and I get nostalgic just by holding it. Like the time I was crossing the Pacific Ocean on a deployment in 2016. I was sitting on the bow (the very front of a ship), reading the same novel, listening to the waves crash against the hull (body of the skin) and the sun directly ahead of me, ready to disappear on the horizon. I always wondered if an eBook could bring such memories. The book weighs the same as when I received it eleven years ago, and the story is still enchanting, even hundreds of miles from land—a bookly delight.


  1.     Ficus Lyrata (Apr 25)

Delights are what make me happy, but sometimes they are just habits that I’ve developed over time. Every weekend if you would come into my house at around nine in the morning (right when the sun is making its way past the Live Oak tree in the yard and the sun is visible), you would find me hunched over a three-gallon pot of soil inhabited by a Ficus Lyrata (better known as the fiddle-leaf fig). Yes, the plant all over Pinterest, named for its violin-shaped leaves that looks like a fiddle (I did not realize that a fiddle was similar to a violin), is my biggest plant (I fell prey to its aesthetic appeal).

There is a three-feet one, with three distinct skinny branches forming a ‘W,’ prominently displayed in the right corner of my dining room turned reading nook, next to four bow windows that provide four to five hours of morning sunlight. I carefully inspect the oversized leaves (they always remind me of the anomaly of a bumblebee, ‘big body little wings’; their anatomies are not natural). I wipe each vibrant green leaf with a microfiber cloth, and with a small green spray bottle, I shower each leaf to a glistening green, excess water cascading down to the next leaf until it hits the soil. I then make sure no parasites are creating a new ecosystem, trim down dying leaves, have a few conversations to make sure everyone is enjoying their stay.

When I first got the plant at Oasis Plant Shop in Dallas, I thought it would be difficult and time-consuming to care for it. The plant was more like a pet that I didn’t have to walk. After one year of cultivating the plant and shaking it to simulate wind to strengthen its roots (learned that on TikTok), it was exceptionally delightful and easy. The plant depends on me as much as I rely on her. Sometimes, I need her more than she needs me. Genuinely, she has never needed me! She is self-sustaining; it rains, the sun shines, and birds decompose (for nutrients). Unfortunately, she has been plucked out of her natural habitat, but she harnessed her new world in my reading room, content with her new place in the universe—a true role model and inspiration. Fiddy became my silent companion that holds all my secrets.


  1.     Oil on Canvas (Apr 26)

Walking itself is a delight. Once, I read somewhere that the world starts revealing itself when you walk (don’t quote me), maybe because everything is slowed down, unlike flying in a car sixty miles per hour. I usually take a few laps on campus every day between classes, walking from one end of campus to the other. Going inside random buildings, climbing steps, peeking inside classrooms and empty rooms, hoping to run into something, anything. This week, I made my way to a building called ‘The BLUU,’ and on the third floor, I stumbled upon a painting, oil on canvas, of our mascot, the Horned Frog (the horned frog is a 5-inch lizard named for the horn projections at the back of the skull).

Not going to lie, this delight is difficult to explain because I have no training in paintings, none at all. The canvas is at least [insert size here], for now, large. When I walked into the room, which they call salon, to fulfill my curiosity, I saw the painting. A horned frog’s head painted with multi colors of purples, greens, blues, yellows smeared into what I want to say is in infrared depiction of the painting. The painter captured the wide mouth of the frog in a constant sad face, its horns adorned the head like a crown. The horned frog, in its natural habitat, is dull brown, gray scalic to blend with the Texas landscape. The artist challenged that image by placing a multitude of colors with a sky-blue backdrop rendering the beast more amicable than hostile. I wondered why it was inside a room and not in the hallways where everyone could see it, perhaps in the library. The placard to the left of it simply has a name, ‘Garon Wennik,’ and the title of the painting, ‘Horned Frog-Semi Abstract.’ Maybe it’s there for me to enjoy on my walks on a random Tuesday in April.