Thursday, September 11, 2014

REMEMBERING

It has taken years to write this simple poem.  I actually think I had to learn how to write it.  I offer it today as a humble tribute in honor and in memory of . . . all of us.

Learned on 911
By Judith Cullen
(c) 2014

Early morning phone call
the unbelievable
forcing myself not to
lock into the TV for hours
Hoping
Praying
like the death of Diana
that it wasn’t true.

Pressing on determined
beneath skies
now menacingly empty
forcing myself not to feel
Guilty
Overcome
others depending on me
to be calm, and present.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

PREVIEW! Wednesday, September 10th at 7pm

I'll be presenting selections from this new collection live in Second Life (c) and streaming online Wednesday evening.

Check back for more details on the streamed session, or check out the Judy's Stories Live tab to make sure your media player is set up for streaming audio.

"Some journeys are measured in city blocks, and some can only be measured by how they change your life."

In The Unexpected Path, little seven year old Ann thinks she knows best and takes an alternate route to travel the block and a half to school in the middle of a harsh mid-western winter. It all goes well, until she gets stuck in the snow.

In The Empire Builder, a young woman leaves her home and family to journey to a University thousands of miles away.  Taking the train from Seattle to Chicago, and then on to central Indiana, she has three days on her own to contemplate this decision to cross half a continent.

In Lawrence Street, a street that was once traveled every single day is revisited 40 years later - "Things are the same on Lawrence Street, but they are different too.  The bones of familiarity are there, clear and comforting, but sometimes dressed in garments that do not seem as familiar.

Coming soon to Amazon for Kindle, and in Paperback.

Friday, September 5, 2014

MORE FROM THE INTERSTATE - Could this be the start of a series?

Several times a week, I work as a contract employee for the State of Washington.  This involves a 30+ mile commute to the State Capitol in Olympia.  I find the interstate is a great source of literary inspiration: both on things I am working on, and on the commuting experience itself.

In August of 2013 I wrote Beauty on the Interstate OR Cool Is as Cool Does. I thought it was a singular essay, but this week I had another inspirational experience on the highway that made me think that maybe this might become and on-going series.  Here's the next installment:

Beauty on the Interstate OR The Red Car
By Judith Cullen
© 2014

The Highway is a great rolling stage for drama.  Some are grand and expansive, complete with flashing lights, bells, and confrontations of life and death. Others of these rolling epochs are simple moments of delight and justice, for where would tragedy be without comedy? – The opening of the first Beauty on the Interstate tale

Photo by Magnus Manske via Wikimedia Commons
It really started with a dump truck – one of those double carriers.  I was behind it in lane 2, the second from the left.  I always seem to be in lane 2 when these things happen.  Already nursing a crack in my windshield, I did not really want to wait and speculate as to whether the truck was hauling bark, or gravel, or tiny bits of whatever the hardest substance in the universe is these days.  I decided to get around it.  Traffic was moderate, so I moved into lane 1 and accelerated. 

As my speedometer skimmed 70, a car came up behind me.  It was the same model as my own, but a decade younger. As I passed the dump truck and was looking for clearance to move in front of it, the car behind me shot into lane two, walking away from me like I was standing still.  That meant it was doing about 80 in a 60 mph zone. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

IT'S BACK TO SCHOOL TIME!

This year's "Back to School" season is filled with mixed emotions for me.  My eighteen year old nephew is off to college.  He's the only child of his generation in our branch of the family, so we are all feeling this moment of transition keenly.

Also, in the last year I have returned to the neighborhood of my childhood, and experienced freshly life in a community infused with college students.  So today I include reflections from both.

A Drabble (100 Word Story) - Written for Laurence Simon's Weekly Challenge to the prompt "Load"

Load
By Judith Cullen
(c) 2014

Tomorrow he starts college.  No more using all his Mom’s blankets, cushions and chairs to build forts.  No more “Mr Baloony” stories, with three prompts from the young master himself. 

He bequeathed me his Disneyland Play Set – figures, slides, trains, things that spin.  A tiny drawer contains the surviving figures.  Not all of them made it through the many years of joy. Princesses lost their heads, as they often do.  The flying elephant ride is missing one car. As my wee boy departs for halls of higher learning I am emotionally and functionally one Dumbo shy of a full load.

An Essay

LIFE 101 – Living Off Campus
By Judith Cullen
(c) 2014

I wasn’t always this age.  I was young once. I even used to be a college student.  I remember the first home I had that was not under my parent’s, or anyone else’s, supervision.  I have fond recollections of mismatched glassware, decorating with batik cotton and Christmas tree lights.  I remember the freedom of playing whatever music I wanted, eating exotic meals of my own creation, and having friends over at all hours.  Up until recently I still enjoyed the delights of 2 am bubble baths and watching movies when I couldn’t sleep. I still have a cut glass jelly jar that is my guilty pleasures wine glass, which I have had for years. So I understand the heady independence of being out on your own for the first time and crafting your very own first nest.  It is TOTALLY great!

Friday, August 22, 2014

NEW ESSAY: Time to Begin the Beginning

Albert Bierstadt - "Indian Summer on the Hudson River"
Leaning to Amber
By Judith Cullen
© 2014

It started two nights ago. The vibrant, pulsing world of summer is beginning to tilt slightly.  Its dominant hue is shifting from bright green of the triumphal sun shining through the leaves that spring worked so diligently to bring to life. Now, everything is beginning to take a slight amber tinge, and in about four to six weeks the world will be glowing in the bronzes and coppers of autumn.

The first signs come with the sunset. After celebrant weeks of being so pleased with itself in high summer that it joyously cannot help but heat the night as well as the day, the sun decides to finally give it a rest. The waning light brings breezes and cool air. I change my cotton blanket for my favorite fleece again.  Daytime temperatures will still be climbing to sweat-worthy highs, but the nights sink into the 50s and, for many, sleep deepens with the promise of satisfying hibernations to come.  Soon enough, it will be outright cold all the time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

NEW ESSAY: More Is Not Necessarily Better Anymore

Go Slow
By Judith Cullen
(c) 2014

My body is often wiser than my intellect. My synapses get into a groove, clicking away like little fiends.  Time and tide become invisible. “Oh, I can get this one more thing done.  This won’t take but a couple of minutes.” One little thing piles on another little thing, on and on. The next "thing" you know, hours have passed. They have been incredibly productive hours, no doubt. Working at the computer for a great portion of what I now do, I have experienced this dangerous lapse into the twilight zone of productivity all too frequently. There has been more than one occasion when I sat down with a cup of tea at 9 am and did not come up for air until after 6 pm. The ability to focus is a virtue. This sort of thing, however, is the dark side of focus, leading to untold frigid cups of coffee and tea. Where is Rod Serling when you need him?

Luckily, the body is as patient as it is wise. A couple of times a year, after piles of use-abuse have reached heights unachieved even by my laundry, the body says “enough.” It doesn’t care how it stops me, it just does. It is totally unconcerned about all those things I could be getting done. It decides it is time to slow down for about 48 hours – Starting Now! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

COMING IN SEPTEMBER!

"Some journeys are measured in city blocks, and some can only be measured by how they change your life."

In this new collection in the Trio Tales Series, the stories are focused on journeys, large and small, which take unexpected turns or which lead to unanticipated places.

In The Unexpected Path, little seven year old Ann thinks she knows best and takes an alternate route to travel the block and a half to school in the middle of a harsh mid-western winter. It all goes well, until she gets stuck in the snow.

In The Empire Builder, a young woman leaves her home and family to journey to a University thousands of miles away.  Taking the train from Seattle to Chicago, and then on to central Indiana, she has three days on her own to contemplate this decision to cross half a continent.

In Lawrence Street, a street that was once traveled every single day is revisited 40 years later - "Things are the same on Lawrence Street, but they are different too.  The bones of familiarity are there, clear and comforting, but sometimes dressed in garments that do not seem as familiar.

. . . and more!  Coming soon to Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback.