Judy Almighty

April 1, 2009
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“There is no substitute for a good night’s sleep,” says Judy on this morning, while wagging a finger at my coffee cup and scoping the circles under my eyes. “Nor is there one for a good Baldacci.” At this I think, Isn’t that the truth, for I’m not one to ever turn down a hardbound thriller, or an inviting bed in a quiet room. But can she blame me for skimping on sleep when there lay an unfinished Wide Sargasso Sea by my bedside the night before? Judy is a woman with silvery hair and fingernails resembling talons, polished in graffiti-like airbrushed designs—“The better to turn pages with, my dear,” she cackled upon my noticing them. I found her at the reference desk of a neighboring city’s library last winter, and my literary life has since been revamped.

At the time I sought to make richer my study of the piano and violin with biographies of classical composers, so we started from Nonfiction. She led me to sections of Handel and Mendelssohn and, after she had spouted, for solid minutes, facts and opinions on those men’s musical contributions, I inferred that she had read these books before. “Of course,” Judy shrugged, “because what else is there to do but read for an old lady like myself?” As it turns out, I will be perpetually inspired by this particular old lady. As I began frequenting her end of the reference desk for guidance in the following months, my suspicion was confirmed that Judy could tell me the ending to any book in the library worth reading.

Since the day in 1994 when I read my first little book sitting on Dad’s lap, I have not been able to keep my nose out of the things. Now I can read fast and long, and with decent retention; what is more, I have outgrown my love for Are You My Mother? and There’s a Wocket in my Pocket, and have gathered the courage to dip my toes into the oceans that are new genres and topics. I have found that there aren’t many experiences more gratifying than having one more story under your belt, or a little more knowledge of a certain history, or the addition of a couple words to one’s vocabulary by the end of a couple hundred pages. I have also realized that my zeal for literature isn’t common enough, and I feel lucky to have stumbled upon a dear soul like Judy’s.

That wizened little lady pulls me toward the Mystery rows now, and selects a copy of Absolute Power. “We didn’t have authors like Baldacci when I was your age,” she says in her acquired small, sparkly librarian whisper; I can’t help thinking: if there were writers like David Baldacci, and Dan Brown, and these other recent ones which Judy adores so ardently, if she had always read as much as she does nowadays, that her head might have exploded by now from the magnitude of her knowledge. And I am thankful. I’m thankful that she is here for me at this time in my life, at an age when it is so critical for a person’s fervor for reading and writing to be fueled with the most stimulating works of literature. I am thankful to have met the woman I’ve been striving to become much later on…not because of her dazzling acrylic fingertips or her silver hair, or even because of her wit so sharp that it seems misplaced within such a slow-moving, creaking body. It is Judy’s own fulfillment of my lifelong goal that makes her my hero: that is, my goal to have learned as much as possible by the end of my days about whatever made it into a book—whatever people before me have deemed valuable enough to write down and publish. I want to know everything, just like Judy knows everything. I will always remember her wisdom.

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krazykoolkatie13 said...
Nov. 7, 2009 at 12:36 pm
Aww, this was a good one. I loved the description of Judy, and from the first line I was interested. I also like the line about the misplaced wit. =P
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