Saturday, January 27, 2018

THIS WEEK: A Moment of Danger and Grace *New Story*

A new story for a chilly winter, this week . . .

One More Night
by Judith Cullen
© 2018

It was freezing cold, and the windows rattled as the wind ricocheted down the street, bouncing off every house and shaking every tree.  Freezing was not an exaggeration.  This was the American Mid-west at winter's height, and Dee only had to get within a few feet of any window to feel the deep chill.  In her little apartment, a few feet from any window didn't leave much of a warm zone.  Still, it was warmer in here than outside.  She rummaged through the small cupboard and the old fridge for soup makings, listening to the rock and roll of the wind.

When she'd come here for graduate school, she had chosen not to live on campus.  Dee was ready to be independent.  She'd come over 2000 miles to make an everyday adult life of her own, while she studied.  It hadn't worked out like she'd hoped.  Her "convenience" apartment was only slightly larger than her dorm room had been in undergraduate school. The convenience, Dee mused, was that you weren't more than a few steps from anything.  You had to go outside to change your mind, she liked to joke.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

THIS WEEK: A Poem Inspired by Virtuality

I have been active in virtual worlds for nearly a decade now.  They are great palettes for creativity, a great way to extend your reach, meet new and different people, play, laugh.  And they have saved my sanity more than once in what has been a pretty challenging ten years.

But like any online experience, there are pitfalls: not everyone is what they seem to be, and not everyone has the same ethical standards. You tend to color the outline of who someone is from your own crayon box, which isn't always relevant to who they really are. Some people are outright frauds - people who are actually role playing without warning you that it is a game to them.

In many ways it is everyday life, distilled and intensified, with a convenient (but not terminal) log out button in the upper right hand corner.  Because while the following poem was inspired by my virtual experiences of the last decade, I have also met people in everyday life who are not what they seem, who play a part, whose ethical standards are not the same ones I hold.  It's just harder to maintain the illusion in the cool, clear air of reality.

The Rules of Roleplay
by Judith Cullen
© 2018

There are always rules,
for any given role play:
specific points for specific play.
These clothes, but not those;
Roles can do this, but not that;
I know her, but never him.

There are always rules
to the way you role play:
Public is always "in play";
back line is for personal,
the private place for real,
for stepping aside.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A NEW YEAR: New Stories

A promise to myself whose fulfilling has begun: write. I begin this still fresh and shiny new year with a brief musing on the nature of gifts.

The Bag
by Judith Cullen
© 2018

It was not really what I had in mind when I asked for a small purse.  For years it has been my habit to carry something clutch-sized, smaller when I could, and have a larger bag in which I carried all the stereotypical what-nots that the "prepared" woman is reputed to have at her fingertips: sewing kit, flashlight, Band-Aids, aspirin, tiny hand tools, battery-operated devices to fold space and time.  You know the litany.  I would carry these supposed accoutrements of womanhood in a larger bag - the small purse inside it -  and when I went into stores and such I would take the purse out and only carry that.  Likewise, if I ventured out and was only going to a single store destination, say the grocery, I would leave the bag at home and only take the purse.  This was my pattern: agile and flexible.  I had worn out decades full of large bags, and small purses, with this modus operandi

I needed a new purse.  The current one had been make-do for longer than I intended, and its strap (for wearing bandolier style, my preference) had long since broken.  I never really even liked the color, an unimaginatively dull navy that pretended like it wanted to be a light black.  My larger bag was also showing signs of wear, but it would last a while longer. So, I dared to add the request for a small leather-like purse with a shoulder strap to my Christmas wish list.