Saturday, June 30, 2007

Night Blooming Lilly

I had a small shock this week. I was thumbing through The Phoenix, a weekly free mag. for the young and hip that my husband had brought home and they had a column on new books and there was my college roommate's name. Which is doubly funny because I had just been speaking about her. We got along OK--not great. It even had her picture which I hadn't even realized when I first looked at the article (when I get to a scanner on Monday I'll scan it with a picture of her from college--she hasn't changed much). The book is called What You Call Winter, and it's a collection of short stories about a Catholic town in India. Her name is Nalini Jones (which made us the room of unpronounceable first names and really simple last names). Nalini means Night Blooming Lilly.

Beyond the surprise I wasn't actually as upset as I feared I might be. For one thing, I knew that she'd had short stories published and that she had gotten a book publisher. She did all the "right" things--masters in creative writing, professorship. But I am surprised that I'm taking it so well, when I've had to stop reading the back of the alumni magazine because of the deep funk it would cause. I don't like her writing. I will say that, and I have read one of the recent short stories, but it is in a genre I'm not that fond of. I don't like a lot of "popular" short stories.

I was punched in the stomach last week when I heard about the accomplishments of the other recipients of a scholarship I had. They were all doctor's and lawyers except for one artist. I think to myself, "I never, ever wanted to be a doctor or layer so why should it upset me that others have done what they planned?" Is it because I feel guilty? Guilty that I SHOULD have done something "worthwhile" with my life as opposed to pursuing the arts? If so, then my mother's voice still controls my thinking, and I wish that were not so. She used to introduce me thus, "L could be a doctor or a lawyer with her brain, but she wants to go into the arts. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but she could do more."

Am I more okay with this because I have this "real job" now? I really don't know. I do know that I was playing a video game this morning and thought, "You know, I bet Nalini wrote in her free time instead of playing video games. You might want to consider that."

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