Monday, January 23, 2006


I've been sick. Sicksicksick.

It came on gradually. Through the latter part of the week I just lost altitude and speed, like a hot air balloon slowly coming in for a landing.

It was like sleeping sickness, combined with some Tom-Hanks-Joe-Versus-the-Volcano brain cloud. It felt like my brain had been infected with a virus that caused it to produce some kind of poisonous secretion I could feel draining down my brain stem, along the back of my neck, and into my shoulders and down my spine. All my muscles seized up and I slept almost all day on Saturday. There was beaucoup de nausea, but only minimal hurling. Hurling would've been a relief, if I could've expelled the noxious brain poison. But no.

Did someone poison-dart me?

I'm only now starting to wake up. Luckily, the horrifying headache is gone.

On the up side, I'm still in my reading frenzy. It's almost a novel a day now. It's pretty cool, actually. Grad school slowed my reading pace down to an elderly shuffle, but now that I'm reading for pleasure, it suddenly kicked back into turbo. I've finished J.G. Farrell's The Siege of Krishnapur, Monica Ali's Brick Lane, Ian McEwan's Enduring Love, and I've started on Anita Desai's Clear Light of Day. Next, Vikram Seth's Two Lives. I can't wait!

Yesterday evening I managed to get up and go to work at Beef & Boards. I love it there. I started there in like 1993, and was full-time and part-time and they saw me through some of the worst and best times of my life. It's like home. It's just a cheesy dinner theatre, but it's like home. I've made some of the best friends of my life in that place.

I love flirting with all the old dudes who've been coming for like a million years, and chatting with the groups of ladies out without their hubbies for an evening. I love that I can duck into the theatre whenever I want and catch the show. I love the staff, and the fact that they chuckle at me when I use big words, and do the crossword puzzle in less time than it takes to smoke a cigarette, and walk around reading (because I know where I'm going so well I don't have to even look where I'm going) and that they humor my dramatic gestures and slinky walk. I've always wanted someone who found my idiosyncracies charming, and collectively, for the most part, they seem to. It's like a family, but one whose dysfunctions you can walk away from. And most of all, I love knowing what I'm doing so well that I could do it with my eyes closed, or, as was the case last night, half-sick.

Here's the thing. Some people would probably find this boring. But I really REALLY love being a big fish in a small pond. There. I've said it. I have only modest ambition, I guess. It applies in so many areas of my life. I like to be the best at something, and this is only certain for me in small ponds. Some people (my parents, most likely) may find me sort of lame in this regard, but I've decided I don't care. I've figured out what makes me happy. My mom is fond of quoting that preschool teacher who said in days of yore that I could do anything I wanted to. Which meant, out in the wide world of fame and fortune, apparently, to my mother. But what I like best to do is kick ass and be recognized for it, while still feeling that there is that safe place to fall that you really only get in a family. Or, in this specific case, a dinner theatre.

I love teaching part-time. Modest ambition. I love being a mom. Modest ambition (in certain circles-though I think this is the greatest ambition of all).

Now, what are you doing reading the internets, when you could be reading a book! Hee!!


Blogger Tracy Lynn said...

Sorry you are sick- it's been going around.
Plus, Miss Clever Trousers, we can read books and read you. Both are good, mostly clean, fun.

And I get you about being the big fish in the small pond. But I think, too, that you underestimate the effect you have on the people around you and the ripples that your presence causes.
Maybe we could say you are a big fish in a medium to large size pond?

7:46 AM  
Blogger yucaree said...

sorry to hear that you were sick. i've been feeling more under the weather than usual too. i hardly ever get sick but i've already been sickly twice this season. and i get these atrocious sinus headaches that are so annoying.

but if it gives you time to read and sleep, that doesn't sound too bad. often when i'm sick i'll read too, even when i have a migraine, and JR always tells me to sleep. but duh, why would i sleep if i can do my three favorite things (read, lounge around ALONE in my bed, and get out of doing housework)?!

i can't believe how quickly you inhale those books! and, at the risk of sounding totally un-well read, i haven't heard of most of them (although i did see "brick lane" at the library). where do you find what books you want to read? (i did notice a pattern about those books: a lot of them are about indians.)

it must be nice to be able to work at a place you enjoy. that can make such a difference in your life. and what's wrong with being a big fish in a little pond? if you feel accomplished then that's all that matters. besides, what seems like a small pond to you is probably much bigger than you think. your presence, work, and effort have a great impact.

i love getting affirmation for whatever i do, big or small. and how is that a *modest* ambition -- to be good at your job and be well-liked? that's more than most people accomplish, so you have every reason to be proud!

p.s. i'm reading a book, too. *another* kid book called "magyk" -- so far it's not too bad, although i'm finding it harder to find a truly original fantasy/wizard story.

4:30 PM  
Blogger grudge girl said...

You guys are too nice to me.

Yu-The Indian thing is my passion, and I did a lot of reading around for my master's thesis, so I sort of know what names to watch for from all that research. But, and this is sort of lame to admit, I also go to Amazon, and look at books I know I like already, and see what the "Other Readers Who Bought This Book Also Bought" statistic. I surf around to those selections and read the descriptions and reviews, and so far it's worked! I've liked everything I've discovered that way. Weird, but true.

My other secret is that I like anything that has won the Booker Prize. It's just guaranteed. So I check those lists, year by year.

I read about The Connections, which gave me a coniption of love, on Suburban Bliss.

Occasionally, I go into the bookstore and just look for good covers. The old standby. Anything Victorian or Indian or Historical-Fiction-y will grab my attention, and then I look at the level of the reviewers who are quoted on the cover, and inside. If they pass muster, I'll give it a shot. That's how I found The Crimson Petal and the White. (Which I'd love for you to finish, just so we can commiserate on the ending. It really does pick up in the middle, when you get more about Agnes.)

Whew. Can you tell I like to talk about this? Just a little? No one's ever asked me my process before. I don't even think Andy knows. WOW! Now you know something he doesn't. Until he reads this comment section.

I've seen The Kite Runner linked to a couple of my selections on Amazon, so I'm going to have to check that out pretty soon.

5:46 PM  
Blogger philbug said...

Okay, the whole big fish little pond thing struck a chord with me. I think Bflat major to be precise. Are you sure you can't grow boy parts and(not legally yet) marry me forever?

7:55 PM  
Blogger yucaree said...

i remember you saying that you had quite the affinity for all things indian. influenced by that, i checked out a book from the library that takes place in india: "the death of vishnu" by manil suri. i have no idea if it's good, but i'll let you know.

after that i will try "the crimson petal and the white" again so we can chat about it.

i pretty much have the same method as you for finding books. i wander around bookstores looking at covers (especially with kids books i really look at the illustrations), i ask around, read the book review in the newspaper, and surf amazon.

i totally look at "Other Readers Who Bought This Book Also Bought" on amazon too. it's a great way to expand my knowledge base on books.

as for the man booker prize, the only one i've read is "life of pi," which i did enjoy. sometimes i'm wary of award winners (not that i've read many of them). i think part of it is because i'm not a very good reader; meaning, i don't always "get" what the author is trying to convey. maybe if you had been my english teacher i would be better at interpreting books. in that respect, i got quite a bit from "deconstructing penguins."

i'm always happy to talk about books. i may not know about a certain book, but i'm always interested in hearing about good books.

8:43 PM  
Blogger grudge girl said...

Oooo! The Death of Vishnu is a good one!

My favorites are The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, and Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. Seriously? The God of Small Things is just amazing. It's poetic and lyrical and heartbreaking and quiet and blew me away. A Suitable Boy is probably one of my favorite books. I wanted to do my thesis on it, and the Victorian qualities of Indian lit-a legacy of English rule that still affects the literature--this book is very Dickensian). It is, however, like 4000 pages long (too long to deal with as a thesis topic, because no advisor would touch it!), but I promise you don't even notice! (Except for the back pain from carrying it around.) But hey, if you're not afraid of Crimson Petal, you wouldn't balk at this. It's very engaging and readable, with vivid characterizations and an enormous scope. I highly recommend it.

7:26 AM  
Anonymous k said...

Hey, good point. I'm off to snuggle with a book.

12:35 AM  

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