The Trail Back Out is 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Finalist for Fiction: Short Story Collection

I am honored, awed, and humbled that my short story anthology just received its third distinction. I was notified that The Trail Back Out was selected as a Finalist for the 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award (Short Story Collection) by the Independent Author Network. Go to this link for the finalists and winners:

2021 IAN Book of the Year Awards

The Trail Back Out was also named a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist in Fiction: Anthologies for the American Book Fest. In addition, the title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

I’ve been going for long walks on the trails in the woods and orchards here, trying to absorb the news. The Trail Back Out is available for purchase and download.

NOTES: ©Jadi Campbell 2021. My other books are Grounded, Broken In: A Novel in Stories and Tsunami Cowboys.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts. And Broken In just received a second distinction, which will get its own post!

Click here for my author page to learn more and purchase my books.

Here is what readers can expect: From tales of Eddie, high on LSD and trapped by “What Died in the Fridge”, and a compulsive gambler hiding during a Category Five storm in “Better Weather”, to the luminous title story of two strangers meeting by chance in the backwoods during a pandemic, the stories describe the pain and humor of being alive. Included in this collection are “Rules to Live By”, a funny and deeply thoughtful story about what we choose to teach our children. The author examines our responsibility to others when a hunter is shot and left for dead in “The Green Under the Snow”. In “Do Dreams Float?” a wife considers a hit-man’s offer of revenge. And the eternal search for happiness is carried out by a gloomy little girl nicknamed “Princess Rain Clouds”. In ten stories, Campbell paints vivid descriptions of everyday life in strange times. Whether during the upheaval of the last century or the present COVID-19 crisis, The Trail Back Out guides the reader through a labyrinth of questions about how to live and love.

Today’s Birthday: The Oracle (aka Margaret Eleanor Atwood)

Margaret Atwood was born on November 18, 1939 in Ottowa, Canada. I read everything by her that I can get my hands on, and this post is in her honor.

I’m a life-time bookworm. If there was a support group for people addicted to books, I’d be the woman huddled in the chair who’s the first to raise a hand and announce, “Hi, my name is Jadi, and I’m a habitual reader.”

“Hi, Jadi!” the group would chant back.

Naturally, the long corona virus lockdown only encouraged my addiction. Get stuck in a situation where I can lay around and read all day?! Sweet!

I thought I’d try something new. A lot of my books are old (“Hi, my name is Jadi, and I can’t throw out or give away old books….”), so I’m reading them a last time and then – (sometimes) – make the painful decision to pass them along. There’s a terrific little free book exchange by the tram stop here in our town. It’s a repurposed British telephone booth, perfect for the job.

Of course, I’ve read and reread some of my books so many times that they are now old and battered and literally falling apart….

Yeah, time to order a new copy. I think this one might hold up for one last reread

Like The Handmaid’s Tale. I was devastated by Margaret Atwood’s book and devastating is the word I hear from everyone I know who’s read it. I  read the book when it was first released in 1985 and I’ve reread it over and over since then. She is prescient; she is one of our most important voices. Just read the news from around the world, starting with Texas.

Turns out that The Handmaid’s Tale is not a fantasy.

Writers like Atwood and their books, all books, deserve to be read and reread. I may find a support group, but I can’t give up my reading habit.

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2021. To see Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out. Books make great gifts!

The Trail Back Out was honored as 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist for the Independent Author Network. In addition, The Trail Back Out was an American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts. Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

For My Friends Who Have Lost Loved Ones to COVID: Calling the Soul

Friends across the globe from all the stages of my life have lost parents, spouses, family members and loved ones to COVID. I have been thinking alot about the ways we are all tied to one another in joy, in grief, in loss, in trying to live together and ease one another’s pain. Here is a story about how a very different culture keeps people they care about literally connected to one another, in a ceremony that creates unity and restores harmony to both the individual and the community. For some reason this post has gotten a lot of views recently. I wrote the essay after several trips to Laos. May it offer some comfort and peace. — Jadi

 

Note the white cotton threads

When we visit the temples in Laos, we often see monks tying special white cotton strings to the wrist of a person’s right hand. Sometimes the monk ties connecting strings to whole groups of people. What are the strings, and what is their significance? The answer, it turns out, varies in the different regions of Laos (as well as the Sipsong Panna autonomous prefecture of the Tai Lü in the extreme south of Yunnan, China, and Northern and Isan Thai cultures). And the meaning depends on time and place….

Full moon Vientiane, Laos

The strings are tied in the Baci ceremony, and their significance depends on the occasion. Take weddings, for instance. According to an old Laotian legend, the cotton threads are tied to ensure a happy marriage. We each have a tree in the heavenly garden, and that tree has branches intertwined with your predestined partner. When our trees come to this earthly existence, the cotton threads binding them are cut and we’re born separated and alone. If you can find your soul mate again after searching for him or her, at your marriage you are rejoined by retying the thread.

In Laos threads are also tied on newborn babies and their mothers [1] or on people going home or departing from home, which explained the many men, women, and children wearing these bracelets we saw at airports. The ceremony is performed for specific life events: success, health (both for the cured and the sick), and annual festivals like the sacred Wax Castle Procession in Vientiane. We witnessed a high number of Baci ceremonies during that time. [2]

The ceremony is done after a death, too, to bring back any wandering  missing spirits and reinforce the harmony of the surviving family members.

The entire ceremony is rich is symbolism. The white color means purity, and the strings are believed to bind the 32 kwan, organs or parts to the soul, to prevent them from wandering away. The Baci ceremony is also known by the term su kwan, “calling of the soul”. [3] When kwan wander away from your body, this creates an imbalance in the soul that may lead to illness and bad luck.

Foundation stones are honored

The ceremonies take place in Buddhist temples, but kwan and the Baci ceremony predate Buddhism. [4] I’ve had strings tied to my right wrist in Buddhist and Hindu temples from Laos to India, but have never taken part in a Baci ceremony. Regardless, the white bracelet should be worn for at least three days. Then the threads can be unknotted or allowed to fall off on their own, but should never be cut.

Dedicated to my friends who have lost loved ones to the pandemic

NOTES: [1] A Baci ceremony for new mothers and their babies is performed to welcome the baby, and to recall any kwan that may have wandered away from the mother during the birth. [2] The Wax Castle Procession falls on an especially auspicious lunar calendar date: the full moon of the seventh lunar month. [3] Concept of Kwan: Kwan are components of the soul but have a more abstract meaning than this. The kwan have been variously described by Westerners as: “vital forces, giving harmony and balance to the body, or part of it”, “the private reality of the body, inherent in the life of men and animals from the moment of their birth,” and simply as “vital breath”. – Pom Outama Khampradith, Bounheng Inversin, and Tiao Nithakhong Somsanith, writing for Lao Heritage Foundation. P.S: Baci in Italian means kisses, and it’s also an awesome chocolate candy that contains a whole hazelnut at the center.

©Jadi Campbell 2018. Previously published as Laos White String Bracelets: The Baci Ceremony. All photos ©Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s photos and pics from our trips go to  viewpics.de.

To learn more about kwan and the Baci ceremony: Laos-guide-999, Baci, UNESCO

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out. Books make great gifts!

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist for Fiction Anthologies for the American Book Fest. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the 2020 International Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts. 

Hiroshima at 8:15 A.M.

To mark the 76th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, I am reprinting my post 8:15 A.M. This tragedy must never be repeated. – Jadi

At 8:15 a.m. some 65 years later,

Birds perch on the Dome.

It’s startlingly calm. A becalming place

Green, tranquil, filled with standing statues

tourists with cameras and

prayers for peace and

pray-ers for peace and

Classes of school children

running

water everywhere.

They bring chains of 1,000 cranes

folded in loving memory of Sadako Sasaki

Her cranes became tinier

leukemia advancing until

Sadako folded symbols of longevity and healing

with the aid of a pin.

At 8:15 a.m. some 76 years later,

Five cranes hold sentinel on

ruined

blackened

girders

The skeleton now, simply,

called the A-Bomb Dome.

Statues are the world’s countries’ monuments

to Hiroshima reborn, arisen

declaring her residents will,

forever, live

in a place called The City of Peace.

Classes of children, schooled in knowledge of what

unthinkable tragedy

took

place

here

stand for photos before the fountain with the flame

in the center burning

until the last nuclear weapon is dismantled;

Before the cenotaph shielding

names of the dead, reopened, names

added on August 6th.

The Peace Park, the terrible

hypocenter.

And the tourists with cameras?

We bear witness. We come to

ask, Why?

How many

angels danced on the head of a pin?

We come to see The Truth or

as much truth as we can bear.

Seeing demands the clearest sight

possible when your eyes are filled

with the pin pricks of tears

Water,

like the water the burned begged for as they died

The peace fountains spouting outside the museum

the river that flows

calmly, becalmingly

near the A-Bomb Dome,

where the cranes have taken up residence.

(17 October 2010 21:27 p.m. Updated 6 August 2021.)

NOTES: Text © Jadi Campbell 2010.  Previously published as 8:15 A.M.  Photos © Uwe Hartmann. I wrote the first version of this poem while we visited Japan in 2010. The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima at 8:15 a.m.on August 6, 1945. Sadako Sasaki lived 2 kilometers from the epicenter. She was 2 years old at the time, and died of the radiation exposure 10 years later. Sadako is famous for folding origami cranes. According to the Japanese legend, anyone who folds 1,000 cranes will be granted a wish: Sadako hoped to be healed. Today classrooms of children all around the world send strings of paper cranes to be displayed at Sadako Sasaki’s memorial in the Peace Park. Her statue and story are a powerful reminder of the innocent lives lost.

The cenotaph is opened each August 6th and the newest names of the dead are added. Its arched form provides a shelter to the souls of the victims.

The Peace Park contains statues dedicated by countries around the world; a museum; and monuments. We visited at night and the Dome (the only building left standing after the blast) was occupied by cranes. The image of this World Heritage Monument and the symbolic birds took a powerful hold on my imagination. When we returned at daylight to visit the park it overflowed with classes of laughing children, stunned tourists, and an atmosphere that is impossible to describe. It is a place of shared tragedy, and humanity.

The cranes were still there, perching in the Dome.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, Grounded, and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist for Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was named a semifinalist for the 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Prize.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

My Imaginary Friends: #6 Rocky

When I was a kid, we spent every summer in the woods. On the day school let out, either early in the afternoon before lunch time, or ten to fifteen minutes before the end of the school day, a scratchy announcement came over the school’s intercom. “Will Jadi, Pam and Barbara Campbell please collect their things and come down to the Principal’s Office?”

All the other kids watched us with round-eyed excitement. “You and your sisters got called the Principal’s Office, what’d you do, you guys must be in biiig trouble!” they chanted.

My parents would be standing at the front doors to the elementary school, chatting with the principal or his secretary. Out in the street the VW bus waited, packed to the gills. If that microbus was a fish, it would have been a stuffed bass.

Tiger the cat lay on the front dashboard. We got a dog a few years later and the family dog and cat accompanied us everywhere.

Once the kids had been collected, my parents drove to the camp we called home from that last day of school until the week before school started again.

**

My father was a research entomologist. He and his Forest Service crew set traps in the woods to see what might be eating gypsy moths. Each year those traps yielded a flying squirrel (one glorious year, two of them). Dad brought them back to the cabin where we’d set up a cage for the creature we inevitably named Rocky.

The campsite we returned to every June had a screened-in porch that filled the side of the building looking at the lake. We put Rocky’s big cage there, built him a nest up by the warmth of the bricks of the back of the fireplace, and let him out each night when he woke up.

Watching Rocky fly through the air of that porch was better than any t.v. show.

 Years later, I wrote about a little girl visiting her cousins. They always have critters, and she meets a flying squirrel for the first time. His name, of course, is Rocky. – Jadi

Flying Squirrel Images | Free Vectors, Stock Photos & PSD
Image courtesy of Free Vectors, Stock Photos & PSD

Hannah and her brother clustered with their cousins in the cabin’s screened-in porch. “What’d you catch this summer?” she asked.

Dom was carefully lifting a cardboard box out of a wide mesh wire cage. “A flying squirrel! We named him Rocky. Right now, he’s sleeping. Flying squirrels are nocturnal. That means they wake and get active at night.” Dom pointed at the wall. “Rocky likes to fly around the porch. We helped Dad build a home for him!”

Hannah saw that Uncle Aaron, with the help of the children, had erected platforms around the backside of the fireplace.

“And he really flies?”

“No, Princess,” Dawn answered. “Rocky has webs of skin between his legs and torso. They spread when he leaps to give him flight conductivity.” Like all the Schroyers, Dawn’s speech became pedantic when she got the chance to explain something. But Hannah wasn’t listening. Exclaiming, she crowded close as Dom gently lifted a tiny furry body out of the box and handed the creature to Ryan. Large black eyes looked at her.

“He kind of looks like a chipmunk. Can I hold him next?” Hannah put out a hand.

Ryan shook his head. “Mom says, never disturb him during the daytime. But we wanted to show you him. Tonight when he’s active we’ll let him out of the cage for a while. When Rocky gets used to you, he’ll eat out of your hands!”

“What else have you got?”

“Alive or dead?”

Hannah looked at Dom in horror.

“She means animals that are living, as in, breathing,” Jake prompted.

“You remember the ranger camp on the north end of the lake?” Dom asked. “Dad knows the head ranger. He brought us Rocky. Remember how last year they brought us a flicker with a broken wing?”

“So, this year we have Rocky, one diamond back turtle, and three frogs,” Dawn listed proudly. “We had a garter snake, but Mom made me let it go already. We put all the others in the fish cage out by the dock for the summer; we’ll let them go later. We have to keep Bello away from the frogs, though! That dumb dog thinks he can eat them!”

Hannah listened, tasting a familiar sour jealousy. Her father was allergic to cats. And dogs. And anything with feathers. They had talked Fred into a tank of guppies one Christmas, and before Easter the fish had floated belly up, covered in lurid, fuzzy moss. That was her family’s single venture into pet ownership.  – from my short story Princess Rain Clouds in The Trail Back Out

NOTES: Jadi Campbell 2021. All photos and images © and property of Jadi Campbell. The Trail Back Out was a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist for Fiction Anthologies. The title story was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

To see Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de. Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

 

 

Hard Times in Sugar Town

POSTED ON  by URBANSPY777

 

HARD TIMES IN SUGAR TOWN by Jadi Campbell

“History does not repeat itself – at best it sometimes rhymes.” –  Mark Twain

HARD TIMES IN SUGAR TOWN by Jadi Campbell

July 5 at 20:00 hrs in MERLIN

HARD TIMES IN SUGAR TOWN is an evening of songs from the Depression Era and an original story by Jadi Campbell featuring Derrick Jenkins, Tiffany Estrada, Frank Eisele. This show is the FIRST LIVE installment of the DARK MONDAY @ series in 2021!

…………………………….

The Dirty Thirties were a time of failed crops and banks, repossessed farms, and massive unemployment. The decade generated a great creative response to the country’s suffering, with the brilliant banter of screen stars, and poignant and pointed music lyrics.

Today’s soaring unemployment, small business failures, and uncertainty about the future are reminiscent of a bygone era: the Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 until 1939 and was the worst economic downturn in modern history. The historical parallel to the Pandemic Present is remarkable and the results quite similar: insolvent businesses, shuttered store fronts, financially concerned families fearful to make large purchases, and long lines forming at food banks.

When the U.S. stock market crashed in October 1929, it brought HARD TIMES to the nation. The Great Crash soon became the Great Depression – for millions of businesses and individuals, fear and failure became as commonplace as the optimism and prosperity had been before the economic collapse during the high spirited Roaring Twenties. In the downward spiral which lasted for a decade, society was devastated. During the bleakest point of the Great Depression, about a quarter of the U.S. workforce was unemployed. Those that were lucky enough to have steady employment often saw their wages cut or their hours reduced to part-time. Sound familiar?

Mark Twain states – “History does not repeat itself – at best it sometimes rhymes.”

During the 1920s, business owners pretty much did whatever they wanted and the rich got obscenely richer. Like today’s corona virus-driven economic crash, the Great Depression devastated a nation where things were already awful for a lot of people. Like the opportunists of today, business titans of the 1930’s, such as the 18 year old millionaire Howard Hughes, actually grew their fortunes thanks to shrewd investments, fortuitous timing and entrepreneurial vision.

The downtrodden population was in dire need of distraction and uplifting entertainment to take their minds off the troubling times at hand. Even as many Americans struggled to survive, they still found ways to have affordable fun. Miniature Golf became fashionable and a plethora of Board Games such as Scrabble and Monopoly were introduced.

The opportunity to earn money while having “fun” drew many desperate couples to participate in Dance Marathons. These became more than just a form of recreation and could last for days or weeks. As long as the dancers kept dancing, they had food (usually 12 meals a day), shelter and the chance to win a cash prize. Each hour they were allowed a break for 15 minutes, during which they might lay down on a cot and have a nurse attend to them. Because they had to stay moving for the other 45 minutes per hour, dancers learned to sleep while their partner held them up and dragged them across the dance floor.

Radio was at the height of its popularity and a pleasantly inexpensive form of entertainment for 83 percent of the population that owned a wireless set. New program formats were created – Daily Soap Operas, Game Shows, Radio Westerns, Crime Shows, Mystery Programs. Listeners tuned in to hear about current events, the latest baseball scores or juicy Hollywood gossip. In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt revolutionized the way presidents communicated with Americans by talking directly to them through the radio. During his“fireside chats,” as they became known, he spoke of issues that affected everyone; like the banking crisisthe New Deal and the Dust Bowl.

This was also the Golden Age of the Hollywood Film Industry. Tickets prices were under a quarter for the whole of the 1930s – down from 35 cents in 1929, so spending time in the cinema was an affordable form of escapism for many. The technical transition from Silent Movies to Talkies was fully achieved and many revolutionary new genres were created such as Screw Ball Comedies, feature length Cartoons by Walt Disney, lavish film musicals featuring the dizzying choreography of Busby Berkley, as well as the popular series of dance themed movies starring America’s Sweethearts – Fred Astaire & Ginger Rodgers. What better way to forget your troubles for a few hours?

Many composers of what is today considered the Great American Songbook, wrote songs specifically for the movie industry; among them George & Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern. These were melodies with words to console, lift spirits and have the audience leaving the lavishly designed and decorated cinemas whistling and singing… ready to face yet another dreary day.

As lyricist Dorothy Fields wrote in one of her popular songs in 1936 – Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again!

Photos by Uka Meissner deRuiz

NOTES: Original post by Charles Urban and New English American Theater (NEAT). The show will be posted on YouTube and available for viewing from July 6th-onwards!

Our film version will be broadcast in wonderfully nostalgic and appropriate Black & White beginning Tuesday, July 6 on the MERLIN YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/c/MERLINSTUTTGART0711/videos

My imaginary Friends: #5 Fred Podolski, the Guy on the Crackers and Cookies Run  

I create back stories for every single one of my characters, even the most minor figures.

Fred Podolski was a thumbnail sketch of a character in my novel Tsunami Cowboys. All we know is that someone dreams about him driving a truck in pea soup fog in the early morning hours. Fred causes an eleven car pile up.

Fred Podolski. What did Ronnie know about him, anyway? He was related to Gus, the owner of her favorite downtown café. When she went in at lunch for a bowl of soup, sometimes Fred sat at the front counter chatting with his brother or sister-in-law.

Fred had a solid build and a ruined back. He always had on driving gloves, his sensitive long fingers poking through the soft leather. That was the extent of their connection, or so she’d thought. The dream informed her otherwise, letting her know that karmic threads attached them. Those threads had twitched mightily in the gray hour just before dawn. …. She went back one last time over the dream’s images. Ronnie re-viewed a freeze frame of giraffes and lions, the crates of animals dumb and placid, upside down in cardboard boxes. Fred would be on a ‘crackers and cookies’ run. He’d bash into a blue Subaru head on. – from the chapter Precognitious

Six years later I wrote a book of short stories titled The Trail Back Out. I returned to Fred and his life in Princess Rain Clouds. What happens if you’re a man whose job entails that you’re on the road most of the time? What if you have kids, and a wife with a family who doesn’t like you very much and doesn’t hide that fact? – Jadi

Late that afternoon, before the sun sank, the fathers and kids erected tents. Jake and his father tamped tent stakes into the root beds of thick grass while Hannah watched. Fred’s handsome face was red and the skin around his eyes was tight. He flexed his fingers. He disliked using his hands for anything but driving, and even then he always wore driving gloves.

Fred wrestled with the tent in frustration.

“Need some help there, Fred?”

“Christ, Aaron, don’t you ever mow this place?”

“Nope. It’s lakefront property to a cabin in the woods, Fred, not a lawn in the suburbs,” Aaron answered mildly. He was preoccupied with the Weber grill, prepping it for the meats to come. And he pushed rocks into place for the fire pit, making their circle bigger. “Somewhere you’d rather be?”

“Honestly? I swear to God, Aaron, if I wanted to erect a tent, I would have moved to Maine and bought stock in goddamn L.L. Bean.”

“Hey!” exclaimed Jake. “Dad! Did you get a new tattoo?”

“I want to see it too!” Hannah moved closer and her father rolled up his shirtsleeve to show them the red Celtic knot on his right forearm.

Uncle Don scrutinized it. “Nice,” he commented. “But, a Celtic design? Sure and begorrah, it’s the Clan Podolski out of Ireland’s Glenballyemon.”

Hannah giggled. “You talk funny, Uncle Don!” – from the short story Princess Rain Clouds in The Trail Back Out

Poor Fred.

Notes: © Jadi Campbell 2021. All photos and images © and property of Jadi Campbell. Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. The Trail Back Out was a 2020 Best Book Award Finalist for Fiction Anthologies. The title story was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Clck here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.

My Imaginary Friends: #4 Jeremy and His Tattoos

I’ve been a massage therapist for well over 30 years. The pandemic put a temporary end to that part of my activities. I may be a massage therapist again in the future; we’ll see.

I massaged some really interestingly tattooed bodies through the years.

Around 1988, one of the first tattoos I ever massaged has remained maybe the most intense and in some ways most frightening tattoo I’ve ever seen up close. A young woman had a skull, snakes crawling in and out of the empty eye sockets, inked on the breast above her heart. When I think about her now, I know that tattoo was a claiming of some dark and needed power. I have never forgotten the intensity of the energy she radiated.

I massaged a soldier of fortune with a Thai demon on his shoulder. “He has my back,” the guy told me.

One of my closest friends worked for decades as a trial lawyer. She always dressed up to go into court. She has an eternity knot tattooed on the top of her foot, and the image is elegant and discrete.

My nephew owns two bars/bistros in Hong Kong. Niko recently got himself inked with Native Americans on each arm to honor Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. His left shoulder depicts Mount Hood and a Haida eagle. On his right forearm is a pineapple: it’s the traditional symbol of hospitality, he told me. I didn’t know this, and appreciated the fine work even more.

 

When it came time to write  my first book Broken In: A Novel in Stories, I gave my character Jeremy tattoos. His tattoo images were inspired by the massage clients I have been honored to touch over the years. His chapter is titled, Punctured.

The ink on his body is his fate. – Jadi

The first time they slept together and she saw the tattoos she said, “It’s like being at the movies. Or inside the pages of a very Technicolor comic book. Oh! There’s the snake in the grass!” Jeremy was amused, knowing she was being flippant to mask her nervousness and the erotic appeal of his colors on her skin.

Abigail traced the outline of the demon turned towards her on Jeremy’s shoulder. She marveled again at the detail in the scales. It was such a small tattoo compared to the crouching tiger. She moved her small hand and placed it on his thigh where the tiger waited. “A tiger in my tank,” she murmured in wonder, just loudly enough for him to hear. It drove him wild.

-from my chapter Punctured in Broken In: A Novel in Stories

NOTES: Text and photos © Jadi Campbell 2021.  Thanks Niko for allowing me to use the photographs of your tattoos!

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase Broken In: A Novel in Stories and my other books. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the international Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts. 

My Imaginary Friends: #3 JJ

When we were kids, my youngest sister Barb would sidle up next to me and say my name. It didn’t always come out as “Jadi”. Instead, Barb sometimes got a wicked, mischievous gleam in her eyes, leaned in close, and quietly whispered, JJ.

The way she said it made my name sound French. JJ sounded slippery and oozing sexiness, funny and very embarassing, all at the same time.

We might be walking down a road, and when I heard this slithery “Hey, JJ”, I knew my sister was calling me. (More than once I crossed the street because I was so mortified someone would hear her.)

Each and every time I think about it now, I grin. This story is (as I realize many years later), one of those between-siblings episodes that are funny and much, much more embarassing when you are young.

To honor Barb and her evil sense of humor, when I wrote my first novel I  was determined to get that name in there somewhere….

JJ’s Bistro is where the events take place in Broken In: A Novel in Stories. The food, of course, is delicious – and French-inspired! – Jadi

NOTES: © Jadi Campbell 2021.

In JJ’s, the bartender and a teenaged patron plan exotic trips. JJ’s chef meets several men who’d kill for her. Valuables and peace of mind literally get stolen. Couples celebrate, or split up. In a rainy night accidents happen and people vanish. These are the stories of people whose paths cross – or crash. The tales begin in a bistro and move on to Bangkok, a carnival midway, and the bottom of a lake, among other places. Broken In: whether totally random or according to plan, after tonight life will never be the same.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was a semifinalist for the Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts. Click here for my author page to learn more and buy my books.

Return to Sender

Today – the middle of the month of April – not one but two Christmas cards I mailed off (both on the 17th of December) came back to me.

They carry yellow stickers. Return to Sender. Not Deliverable as Addressed. Unable to Forward.

One is a card for a friend I worked with in San Francisco in the early 1980s. We were secretaries in the Marketing Department of what at that time was a national-wide not-for-profit insurance company. Those were heady days, of alcoholic lunches when the bosses took you out at noon and you returned to the office several hours and many rounds later. After work, life meant meeting friends for drinks or beers at the neighborhood bars, and more restaurants and cultural events than you could count. I was in my twenties and living in ‘the big city’ for the first time.

San Francisco was a candy store, and I was a wide-eyed child with a big appetite.

The second returned Christmas card is addressed to the retired librarian from the University of Washington Health Services. I worked at UW in the late 1980s. I was going to massage school in my spare time, and my friend was keenly interested in what I was doing, as she was in anything to do with the world of healing. Traditional or alternative medicine: she always wanted to know more. She suggested we do a trade. I gave her massages right there in her office at lunch time. [1] She did document searches for me, tracking down peer-reviewed medical journal articles about massage in the days when massage was still a dicey career choice. (I was asked more times than I care to count what the name of the massage parlor was where I planned to ‘work’.) (Hah. Hah. Hah.)

My friend the librarian ran a working farm. We also traded those massage sessions in her office for packages amounting to half a lamb each spring. Once she snuck in a package of goat meat. “But how do I cook goat meat?” I protested.

“Really? Congratulations, Jadi. This is what people eat in a lot of places in the world. Figure it out!” I passed THAT package along to friends when I went to visit them. The husband is one of the best cooks I know, and Jim would have a solution. [2]

So here I am, firmly settled in Germany with my Swabian husband. I send out yearly Christmas cards along with a letter and a current photo taken by Uwe [3]. It’s my annual production, each letter hand stamped with glittery snowflakes. Because my mom made the most wonderful Christmas cards in the world. She had a husband and three very active little girls, and her cards were magic.

Mom would recruit us to help her color in the cards. I don’t know if this hand-painted card smeared then or later

I won’t even bother mentioning the decade that this card was made in. If you have to ask, you weren’t there…. Of course, it goes without saying that Mom sewed the dresses we’re wearing

My own, less clever Christmas cards are a way to remain connected to my mom’s tradition. And the cards are my way to remain connected, if I can, even if just one day out of the year, with the people who were in my life in various places at various times. Each of them helped me with their friendships more than they’ll ever know. Each year a few cards come back, and another friend has dropped from my life.

I still miss and love them all. [4]

NOTES: [1] I clearly evolved from those boozy San Francisco lunches. But man, I miss them! [2] Jim braised the goat meat and made stew. It was yummy. [3] Every single year, shortly before December, you will hear me mutter this: “God damn it, Uwe! I ask you on every vacation to ‘Take a photo that will be perfect for my Christmas letter!’ Just once I’d like to have a photograph from one of our trips picked out and ready to go for Christmas! Just once!” [4] Now I know what to tell people in next year’s cards. © Jadi Campbell 2021. All photos and images © property of Jadi Campbell. To see Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys, and Grounded. Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was named a semifinalist for the 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award. My short story collection The Trail Back Out was named 2020 Best Book Award Finalist for Fiction Anthologies. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.