uchi Kapoor is a clerk with the Denver Juvenile Court and she hopes to transition to appellate practice. She has written short essays, mostly for herself in journals, about events in her life for as long as she can remember. Her love of writing played a role in her career choice. “I can’t remember when I didn’t love to write,” Kapoor said. “I think that was partly what drove me to law school (no, really) because it was a profession where I would get paid to write things that are useful. Unlike essays about unicorns.”
Read a Q&A with Humor Writing Winner, Ruchi Kapoor
Sports Lessons for the Uncoordinated
by Ruchi Kapoor
grew up with parents who placed an inordinate amount of stress on the importance of education. And when I say inordinate amount, I mean that I still publicly fail at successfully having enough hand-eye coordination to get food from the table into my mouth. I tell you this because for most people this information automatically delegitimizes any comment I may have to make on sports-related topics. That, and the fact that my ethnic roots lie in a country of 1.1 billion people who have collectively won 26 Olympic medals since 1900 (two of which don’t even count, because they were technically won by the British). On most days, I would probably agree with this assessment.
I grew up in Clinton-era suburbia and was consistently the brownest kid around by a long shot. Jocks were “it,” as many terrible teen movies (or anything starring Freddie Prinze, Jr.) would lead you to believe. My generation was indoctrinated with the idea that anyone could succeed at academic pursuits if they just worked hard enough, but to succeed in sports? Sports called for a special kind of innate talent that had to be nurtured and carefully developed. And that was what made athletes so simultaneously reviled and admired—a cognitive disconnect that sustained even the most idiotic of movie plots.
In other ways, though, the quintessential “jockness” required to participate in athletic competition leaked its way into other pieces of my life as part of the cultural identity that I was developing as the child of American immigrants—a familiar story. When I was in college, for example, I attended a competition called “Bhangra Blowout” at George Washington University. Although I could wax poetic about the roots of Bhangra in Punjabi culture in India, Bhangra Blowout added that familiar American ingredient: athletic competition. Every participating university sent a team with a 10 to 12-minute dance routine, and as time went on the competition evolved. The year that I went, the University of Michigan had the best team and incorporated all sorts of tumbling and gymnastics into their routine, ending it with the 15 members forming a large “M” onstage. There was also a fight in the audience between fans of the Columbia Bhangra team and the Michigan State team. I am not very good with allegiances, so I pretended I was on both sides when asked. “Yeah, dude. It was totally hardcore.”
Later, after the competition was over and we were at one of the after parties, I was introduced to a member of the Michigan team. I don’t remember his name, or what he looked like really, all I remember is that feeling of being awed and hating him at the same time. In that moment and in that context, he was a jock—the cream of the cream. And I remember thinking at the time that he probably got all the girls. And he did. Because, as far as sticking to dating only nerdy pre-med students, dating a nerdy pre-med student who had a semblance of bodily coordination and athleticism in the form of being able to dance in a coordinated group of men was the equivalent of sleeping with George Clooney: you do it if you have the chance.
Reveling in the magic that is communal participation in athletic competition, we all went back home, and back to being college students. I wish I could say that the experience gave me a new view on sports and competition in general, but spending one night pretending to be a fan of a sport that was technically dancing with a lot of gymnastics added in didn’t really give me insight into how sports or athletics work. Instead, I came to understand something important about myself: I needed to find something to do that didn’t require hand-eye coordination.
And that is why I applied to law school.
Q&A with Humor Writing Winner Ruchi Kapoor
Tell us more about your work. What was the inspiration? What techniques did you draw on? What do you like about this work?
I have written short essays for as long as I can remember, mostly for myself in my journal. Although my second grade ramblings are rather dated and un-publishable (not to mention, they were mostly about how much I loved whales and wanted to be a mermaid), for the most part they have always just been the same stream-of-consciousness, unnecessarily related life events. I have always love the English language and spelling, and I like that being an essayist is a “genre” now, because it means that I am finally going to be famous.
How did you become interested in writing? What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
Like I said earlier, I can’t remember when I didn’t love to write. I think that was partly what drove me to law school (no, really) because it was a profession where I would get paid to write things that are useful. Unlike essays about unicorns.
Why did you become a lawyer? What do you enjoy most about the profession?
I wish I had some cliché answer for you here—something about Atticus Finch or “My Cousin Vinny.” But, really, I became a lawyer because I wanted to do something that challenged my brain and prevented me from being a starving artist. Like I always say, set your expectations low.
Art and lawyering seem to draw on very different skills and different parts of the brain. How do you think being a lawyer helps your art, or vice versa?
Actually, I think that the area of law that I love the most—appellate advocacy—draws on a lot of those same parts of my brain as writing. Being creative within a given set of confines is a fun task, and appellate writing and briefing takes as much skill with words and creativity as writing an essay about not being coordinated does. Although, one does need an appropriate outlet for an excess of snark, so I suppose that is the role that writing plays in my life. Snark Siphon.
Tell us briefly about your background as an artist and as an attorney.
I am currently in the process of setting up a blog with my essays (and had one for a long time during undergrad and law school), but I have never actually been formally published before. I graduated from the University of Colorado Law School in 2010 and am currently clerking for the Denver Juvenile Court and working on my legal writing skills, so I can hopefully transition into a full-time appellate practice.