So, let’s get this straight right off the bat: if you’re under thirty, you have no clue who the Hell I am. That’s fine, it’s not like you need to know me to understand all this. You just need to know that I was pretty famous. Not Cher famous, but…well, Connie Brightman-Wells famous.

I’m Connie Brightman-Wells, by the way.

Your mom or your older siblings probably know who I am. If you are a mom, or an older sibling, hi! Good to see you! Yes, it’s me! Yes, THAT Connie Brightman-Wells! It HAS been a while since you thought about…

photo: “Outer Banks, NC”, by James Willamor (via Flickr)

I have never stayed in a beach house that was tastefully decorated. Ever. And I think I know why.

I have had the great fortune in my life to have been on many beach vacations. From the time I was little, my parents and other family members have carted me down to the Outer Banks, a strip of islands that separate the mainland of North Carolina from the Atlantic. They act as both a buffer for the Pamlico Sound and a popular tourist spot. With miles of beautiful beaches and a colorful history (ever heard of Blackbeard? The OBX was one of his haunts), it draws hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. My parents went to the Banks…

Probably Sour Anyway…

(This is part 3; read part 1 here and part 2 here)

Denny and Marcella sat at the small round table at the dead center of “Les Chat Blanc,” Frederick Aucoin’s wine bar. Frederick owned several wine bars east of the Mississippi, one in Columbus, one in Charleston, one in DC, and one in Philadelphia. He desperately wanted to break into the New York scene, but his hated arch-rival Robert Strobel-Martin had already ruined his reputation in that city, for reasons only he and Frederick knew.

Currently, Frederick was nursing a mild hangover. He had left their group dinner the…

In a snowstorm, everyone lives in a small town.

I was ten years old when the blizzard of ’96 hit, burying Virginia under feet of ice and snow. My father, who spent every snow day out on the road, fixing people’s phones, took my mother and I down to the river to see what the winter weather had done. As many of the roads were made of red clay, plowing and shoveling was difficult, and many of the residents of the nearby beach area were elderly and infirm. My father felt he had a duty, no matter how tired he was of traversing the county on barely drivable roads.

When my grandmother died, my mom began the emotional odyssey of cleaning out her house. My grandmother had lived in that same house for more than fifty years. She never had any desire to leave or move and, as such, packed her whole life inside those walls. When one spends half a century getting comfortable, they don’t tend to throw things away, no matter their lack of relevance or state of disrepair.

To make things worse, my grandmother had Alzheimer’s. She was convinced for many years that people were sneaking into the house to steal things or burn things or…

THE linguine bolognese. (via my Flickr)

When I was a kid, spaghetti had four ingredients:

  1. Noodles (not actually spaghetti; they were angel hair or capellini, cooked well past al dente)
  2. Ground beef
  3. Tomato Paste (in a tiny can)
  4. “Spaghetti Mix”

The most crucial part of the whole arrangement was the French’s Spaghetti Mix. Without this, dinner did not happen.

My mother and father still buy Spaghetti Mix. It comes in a foil packet and, for whatever reason, their local store stopped selling it. Mom has resorted to buying it in bulk from Amazon.

As a child, I believed this is how spaghetti was made, and that…

“Wine Glass in a Wine Glass”, by Keoni Cabral, via Flickr, used under Creative Commons License.

None for Me, Thanks

(This is part 2; read part 1 here)

Marcella finally finished what had to be the best email of her career. This is the best email of my career, she thought, then added, God, that is the saddest sentence of my life.

She stretched and finished putting on her earrings, brushing away her now-damp hair. She was wearing a simple black dress with a gold pendant necklace and some reasonable heels. She used the hair dryer to finish off the rest of the wetness and then started in on her makeup. Good makeup made you look like you didn’t need…

A Green Glass Bottle

Day 54/365” by Ashnu; via Flickr, used under CC

Clayton Ramsay Garrett’s office sits at the very top of a building most of DC’s residents wanted to destroy a month after it was built. His office is the entire top floor of the tallest building in Washington, DC…or the tallest that isn’t the Capitol or the Washington Monument. In DC, no building can be higher than the streets are wide. There are only a few exceptions, including the Cathedral and the Washington Monument. But Clayton wanted a tall office so he could do just what he was doing now — standing on top of the world, looking down.


Oh, Good, All of My Mistakes Will Live Forever!

“Whoops Infinity” by Jimmy Marks

I’m working on two new short fiction pieces, but in the mean time, here’s a real-life story about “saving one’s progress.”

I was roughly nine years old when I got the Sega Genesis game Aladdin. It was a great game. You played as Disney’s Aladdin, slashing and jumping through the streets of Agrabah, the Cave of Wonders, the Palace…you had Abu and the Genie and the Magic Carpet at your side.

One night, I was on a hot-streak. I had come further than ever before, all the way to level 8…

Image Credit: “Rea House, Anaheim, Halloween 2010", traderchris, via Used under CC License.

My parents divorced when I was six. Irreconcilable differences, or something to that effect. My mom was always a pretty reserved person and my dad was always the more emotional, the more outgoing. It was a day after Christmas that Dad started looking for new apartments…they’d made it through the holiday and he figured time was a-waistin’ and that I’d be too distracted by my GameBoy Color to put up much resistance. It was only a few weeks later he was boxing up all his things, quietly taking them out a Toyota Corolla at a time.

We got through January…

Jimmy Marks

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