40 cents…












I am on my way back from a trip to Richmond, VA where I had a book reading. All having gone well beyond my expectations…until I hit some more of the toll plazas: I am out of cash. I don’t mean only out of small change: There is no cash left on me! While in Richmond, turnpikes/toll area were offering “Full Service” or there would be a live person inside the booth. Not at all the case around here. (In my own defense for my ill-preparedness: I have been living happily ever after in the lovely small town where I settled about 12 years ago, and haven’t exactly experimented with many turnpike or toll plaza zones since…)

There are only two lanes this time. No multiple “Cash Only”s or “EZPASS Only”s. The image above – minus what appears to be a real person’s hand reaching outside the booth – is quite accurate to describe my reality (in my case, what seemed to be once a booth gave back a rather eerie look at me, from behind pitch-dark windows – there was no movement). My evil-eye small change purse had handed over its last emergency account of 40 cents where that last toll plaza had surprised me (jointly with my dysfunctional TomTom and equally dysfunctional iPhone App). As for all other cents and dollars, they were emptied prior…This one expects 70 cents. I have 30 cents left in another small change purse (who knows why I keep around in my car), though all in pennies but at least, it is close to half the amount needed. I’m off to hunt for my remaining 40 cents.

My car – however small it may be – is now comfortably squeezed somewhere adjacent to the missing booth vicinity, fully blocking the way for other drivers. A motorcyclist zooms by the EZPASS section. ‘Wow,’ I conclude in amazement, ‘how fast can these passes be scanned these days?’ (Have I stressed one detail yet? This area is rather deserted…)

At this point in time, only one car bumper makes a pass at that of mine but soon after another vehicle is heard, one that decides to become intimate friends with the car right behind me. Too close for comfort for everyone…I dare to peek from my rear-view mirror: there is only one person sitting in the car right behind mine, and that’s the driver. I conclude in hope: he will know what I am going through right now. A fellow traveler but also one who goes solo. I get out of my car, approach his driver-side door (at least he rolls down the window, although looking at me as if I were a giraffe or four elephants leaving that tiny car in front of him): not even a question, such as, maybe just maybe, do I need anything, am I hurt (since I look the part, thanks to my family-size eye infection). Not yet discouraged, I explain my situation to him as quickly as I can (if not, he may just drive over my little red and won’t care about leaving any tire prints, I fear…). Still no reaction whatsoever. His eyes on mine, he makes a head gesture which I am left to translate as “see, if I care!” Only one thing is there for me to do and I gather up the courage to follow it through: “Sir, in that case could you please back up your car so that I can get mine out of everyone’s way?” Nothing. No response (he spoke a very clear English with me before – well, it was a mumbling sound but in perfect English regardless…)

I then walk over toward the car behind him (I spot at least two heads – it’s evening hours and the sun is setting modestly, instead of shining directly into my already compromised eye sight…thanks to my infected eye…). The window slowly comes down. No question. No visible reaction. So, I have to speak first again: “I need 70 cents but have only 30 left and there is no full service here, as you can see. No one is in the booth. Would it be possible…” – The man on the passenger side is quick to respond to me but only by telling me how fast he has to … go to a bathroom (though he uses less imaginative words). I apologize for keeping them there and think about offering them a copy of my $22.95 worth book from the trunk of my car in place of their 40 cents. I don’t dare. What if they think I am a nutcase? The driver feels urged to add his few cents worth: “70 cents. It’s only 70 cents!” He is in disbelief that I don’t have that amount of money on me…

I can tell they are both getting upset at the fact that I am so clueless as to not keep a load of change with me – in case another toll plaza decides to appear with no full service no booth-person before the unsuspecting driver that I am that day. I am ready to turn around to go back to my car but have to ask them to please back up their car, so that the one behind me can back up his…etc. They keep waiting for me to finish one sentence after another. Perhaps, until the passenger is capable of announcing to my face with a growing smirk a piece of wisdom anyone should forever be thankful for: “We all gotta go somewhere.” Hmm. Really?

While I act the stupid that I am at the moment, still hoping to hear a word, any word of sympathy or question of concern (perhaps, my eye infection scared them so…it could, after all, turn into a fatal weapon), both drivers finally back up their cars. And I park mine on the far right side – away from any approaching cars, in case my luck changes. To my surprise, the second car’s driver makes a (far far far far far less than half-hearted) swerve toward me, his passenger takes out his hand and shouts at me with an owner-to-unwanted dog-attitude: “Do you want a quarter?”

Thankfully, I can manipulate my face from over-friendly to somewhat of a “don’t mess with me” expression whenever I have to…

And I wait. Making no record of how much time passes. Nor showing any interest whatsoever in keeping such a record. An SUV approaches the booth-person-less booth area. I don’t even need to signal to this driver, the car slows down on its own. Encouraged, I leave my car and approach it. Two people are in it, one man one woman about my age. The man is driving. Before I can even finish my sentence to explain my dilemma, they both reach into a box (or something) and take cash out to give it to me. I thank them – probably, way too many times, so the man gives me a smile with a kind reassurance: “It is 40 cents.”

Fresh in my mind how three other adults treated me in the same situation, I thank both of them several times again. Actually, what they don’t know is how much I want to hug this couple. I restrain myself from doing so for fear that such show of affection could be misunderstood at my age…But the truth is, they found me at a vulnerable mindset, after all,  just when I was feeling abandoned right there and then by humanity at large. As for my ‘please adopt me’ face, that must have seemed to them as something they would prefer not to use at this stage of their lives…

When I asked how I could ever return their favor, giving me embracing eye-smiles, they sent me off to have ‘safe travels’ because that outcome would be my thanks to them.



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Second year of blogging…



Good Sunday, dear friends of the reading and writing arts!

WordPress.com congratulates me for “flying” with them. I want to resound their note in a modified way, and thank you from the heart for having been here all this time and for still being here. Your visits and comments are what encouraged and inspired me to write on a regular basis, an interaction with you that I have enjoyed so much, and continue to take great pleasure in. Please feel free to let me know, as to what, in particular, you had liked in the past among my writings. I would appreciate your input with enthusiasm.

As always, I look very much forward to your next visit. May you have a wonderful Sunday and an equally remarkable new week!





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Supporting the Written Art and Schlow Centre Region Library in State College, PA

[CAUTION: An unedited text lies ahead of you...]


I find the back entrance, park my car where the gate opening gadget used to be, leave the flashers on and unload what I had packed from the night before. Confident that I have thought of everything. I raise my head from my carry-on luggage piece and … am tempted to go right back into my cute red: under the huge tent, every table looks decorated as if touched by a long-time stager, with eye-catching presentation materials everywhere. I pass by the line of tables in slow motion, looking right, looking left, not sure where I am supposed to be heading. Someone who hasn’t skipped a beat to notice who knows what my face looked like, asks me whether I am ____ ( a name other than mine), before I get a chance to answer, a friendly voice rises from the area that I now left behind me: “You are with me!” Her demeanor matches the friendliness of her vocal cords…I make a legal U-turn and am at my table section. She and I will be sharing a table. She has already set up her side, as have anyone whom I can spot from where I am standing. Every time I use the phrase “set up”, please replace it with “donning grandiose details and special effects.” Yes, we have all received the same timely and kind tip as to what to display on our tables. It is obvious: I am the only one who disregarded those well-meant suggestions….Shaking my initial surprised look, I put all that I brought with me on my side of the four-legged multi-purpose platform. “All that” doesn’t amount to much…I see…and can’t deny anymore: I’m ill-prepared. I have only copies of my book and business cards. If it hadn’t been for my dear publisher’s recommendation – my book’s cover as a blown-up poster, stoppers-by or intentional visitors would have easily dismissed me along with those beautiful print products I have my name on. I am petite as it is…

After my initial culture shock wears off (it is my first entry to this part of our world), my two neighboring authors and I start chatting before the crowd comes in: they are both delightful and comforting! It is taking me a while but I begin to stop worrying about what I don’t have with or on me for the potential visitors to my side (such as those attention-getting giveaways, colorful decorations, and prizes all around me). These two beautiful women take me away from my short-lived worries thanks to their calm and calming personalities and their voluntary talks on the genres they specialize in. I learn new things from them also about their experiences in the writing arena. We agree it is a long-time fasting lion-to-unarmed bare-footed-weeks-long-trekking-newborn-place out there. We commiserate – about the state of the various literary genres in our century and how we are subjected to a distinct level of degeneration in the overall interest of the readers (it just wouldn’t do, if we didn’t!) But then we laugh, hard; comment about our expectations for our books’ sales of today – a beautiful day (no storms, not even a mist of rain), critique and analyze ourselves, our passions for writing, and laugh again – best of all, we celebrate. The opportunities we have in our hands; our understanding of and support for one another. Other authors approach our tables and we all communicate, as if we had known one another for our entire lives. At least from my end, this experience is a true pleasure and gives itself in full submission to us as a most memorable time. What display items? What more do I need, I ask myself while no one is looking…

A short while later, my friends arrive and surround me with their “pride” talks directed at “my” event, taking pictures I could not have taken on my own to mark this special occasion in my life (nor would have asked someone else to do). Once again, I laugh – from the core of my being, we hug and (content with how I have been managing myself), they leave to see the rest of the Arts Festival tents and booths. In the early afternoon, another dear friend of mine comes over – despite the fact that she has so much on her tray these days. Finally, my One and Only – my daughter/only child, walks into the tent, pushing my grandson’s stroller, completing my understanding of perfection…

On my way back to my car, my steps feel on water, gliding me away – although I am exhausted from a day quite unusual in its length, intensity and activities. Why my dance-like one-foot-in front of-the other-attitude? For this BookFest hasn’t been about selling books at all! It was rather about exchanging positive energy between people who happen to be readers of this or that genre, making time to meet other people who happen to be writers of such or the other genre. All of whom were ready and willing to connect to one another over one area of their lives, asking and answering questions and laughing together. It was about authentic interaction between people. Period.

My first BookFest.Tek Başıma.July 12.2014

May your Sunday and your new week become a memorable delight for you.




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My guest blog post…

Good Sunday!

I had been thinking about writing something quite different for my reflections column today. When, however, a guest blog post I had written for my friend, Anu Lal at the The Indian Commentator on the subject of higher education in the 21st century U.S. received attention beyond my expectation, I decided to share with you my quite fresh text (posted on 4th of July). I hope you also will think my deliberations (however lighthearted they may appear to be) on the subject matter to be relevant not only in academia but also in professions outside it – as several of my friends on another platform concluded.

I wish you a wonderful day today as well as a great new week, and, as always, look very much forward to your next visit.

And my guest blog post is at: DON’T THINK I AM AN APP!


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what is the matter with the world today?


(Black Rose of Halfeti, Turkey)


My heart is heavy today. It has been for a while. Not because of an unfortunate development in my life, or in the lives of my family and friends. It is due rather to an ongoing accumulation inside that red ticking box of mine of the terrifying news from South Sudan, Chibok, Nigeria, Lahore, Pakistan, Southern Asia, Africa at large, Latin America, the Caribbean, Turkey, Germany and the United States. Coming to terms with the extent of violence that has occurred and keep occurring hasn’t been possible for me this time. Then again, I often get this way: become non-functional, if I let too much sorrow from around me seep through me. This time, I had to let it bleed to a poem attempt.


what’s the matter with the world today?


it is not one sweetest Malala only to feel forlorn

nor a love-filled Farzana helpless outside her unborn

the countless still remaining ageless nameless and faceless

halved alive after witnessing butchery of their newborns

or etched to the bones with their hunters so sadistic

their supplies had mercy to end it all at last


i think of




scorched dispensable innocents in sky-high districts

in routine safe A to B B to A making-a-living-transits

walking explosives under modesty cloaks in pregnancy disguise

the piloting sons their heroes they may not even a second despise

for mauling to their stone-aged lairs more and more younger child brides


i think of




papas selling infant daughters

mamas in silence guilty standing by

brothers uncles nephews proud to lend a capable hand

a bowed head from in-lawed blood-seekers no longer a demand

sisters aunts nieces even if at all around

don’t dare or care anymore to disband


i think of




hülya n yılmaz – June 28, 2014







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…where the spirit moved me today…

imageThe “Tarzan” of Sinop in Sinop, Turkey

Perhaps it is the arrival of summer in its loyal promise to don its sun just for me, for one minuscule moment of time, flooding its heat over my yearningly aged body with a bright touch of blue, all the way to the tips of my toes…the sensation in me ebbing in waves…or, maybe I am infected with that delicious microbe reappearing in my young self’s eyes yet once again, for no reason at all…I am taken aback by the irresistible chime of the break-fast bell under the wings of a dove about to land on my nostalgia for Sinop…

Can Yücel.semihcelenk_13510967644

Can Yücel is said to have been a lover of serenity, the simple life, whose images always reminded me of the Sinopian in the first picture but even more so after I learned how this famous Turkish poet had preferred to live  – not necessarily in a self-made hut but certainly catering to uncomplicated living. I admit: my obsession with remote areas and simplicity in all aspects of existence tends to overwhelm me when I least expect an ambush of that nature. Such as today. When the air in my study began to thicken taking away my breath, while my desire to materialize their reality intensified. No such luck! Therefore, I spanned overseas where both of these men special in their own unique ways lived and died. What a pity! I wasn’t moved to a new poem I could share with you. However, I lowered my translation bridge to one of Yücel’s poems…


Dünyamın güzeli martılar
Sizden nasıl da yok yere korkmuşum
Kaşık Ada’nın orda!

Dalın üstüme dalın
Vurun beni, vurun
Denizanası kokan gagalarınızla!
Ah sizden ben nasıl da yok yere korkmuşum!

Bilmiyordum ki çünkü
Ben hem balığım hem kuşum

Ben ama hala anlayamıyorum ki
Bunca zaman niye sizden ayrı oturmuşum


My precious seagulls

How I had been fearing you for nothing

On the Island of Kaşık!


Plunge into me plunge

Strike me, strike

With your bills of jellyfish smell!

Alas! How I had been fearing you for nothing!


For I knew not

A fish also a bird I am


But I still can’t understand

Why all this time I lived apart from you


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…on Madiba (and myself): a post-humous poem…

Before I knew even an approximate location of his village of birth on the world map (for lack of geographic vision on my behalf), I had heard about the “freedom fighter Nelson Mandela of Africa” while I was still on Turkish grounds. My undergraduate years helped me intensify my admiration for him – though still not at all with any in-depth understanding of what he meant for humanity at large. Only later was I to attain the appreciation of his gift to people everywhere. Below, I am sharing with you a poem I wrote from the perspective of a little girl. While I refer to her as “a little girl”, she embodies the young woman who became the object of ridicule on account of her interest in a far away continent but also for behaving as if she were a native disciple of a most prominent world leader. She then meets Madiba, her object of adoration, after all. And when she does,  she complains to him about her unsuccessful attempts to connect with him – this time, her mannerism is that of a spoiled little child. In despair, she concludes she arrived too late. It was her lifelong wish to see her Madiba, after all. However, for her (unversed) celebration of integrity, dignity, fairness, persistence, love of freedom, peace and humanity – the makings of life’s aorta she learned from this legendary human being, there is no lateness. As she realizes it in her grown matter. For she is “no longer the same”…


what, did you say, your name is?


neither an African nor with any other honor




to wait for my turn…



too many call you father brother “our leader”

i have for long been reading their proud demeanor

from the ever so negligent sidelines

cursing my whiteness along most times


i, too, have known you all my life!

spreading your word has still been a strife

ridiculed when in my native land

to the mundane most would rather clap a hand

no one could utter Xhosa even the word

Zulu or Afrikaans? nowhere to be heard


i am grateful better yet in a daze

in disbelief of my timing of seeing these days

i beg of you imagine, Sir: Qunu

why did i deserve bunu*

i trekked ocean crests and river beds

slept in caves made tree tops my nests

doves and eagles flew with me to find my way

not even once did i go astray


tears now flood in me in red

from Sinop to Eastern Cape

what use? i am so gravely late!



Madiba Sir? my name?


hülya n yılmaz, no longer the same


*Impersonal pronoun in Turkish in the accusative case meaning “this”

[Inner Child Press Mandela anthology]

~ ~ ~

Before I sign off for today, I would also like to refresh an announcement I made to you a few weeks back regarding the launch of my part-time freelance writing and editing business. Instead of adding another blog, I ended up creating my own webpage, Services for the Professional Writer.

As always, my best wishes are with you for your Sunday and new week. I look forward to your next visit.















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