How one small comment reshaped my entire trajectory

Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

2009 was a very bad year.

At the beginning of February, I’d gotten unceremoniously laid off from a job I loved and spent the next nine months unemployed, gravely depressed, and slowly developing a methamphetamine habit. By the time I finally found another job, I honestly didn’t know who I was anymore.

I was hired as a prevention educator for the local domestic violence shelter. It was very hard work for very little pay, and the professional atmosphere was absolutely toxic. …


TRUE WORK STORY

Chain hotels are crazy places

Photo by Mathis Jrdl on Unsplash

When I was in college, I came to two very stark, harsh realizations:
1. Things cost money
2. I liked things but had no money

Therefore I had to get a job in order to enjoy certain luxuries like living off-campus, paying fall tuition, and drinking stupid amounts of cheap vodka. I really didn’t want to work, but since becoming an Instagram influencer wasn’t an option back then — honestly, the Internet wasn’t an option back then — I was forced into the part-time workforce.

I got very fortunate. I scored a job as a night auditor at a local…


Hell is tourist season at a chain hotel

Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

Blaine Lucas hates tourists. He hates their excited smiles and sweat-stained tee shirts and patchy sunburns and the way they always balance things; luggage, shopping bags, children, when they approach the check-in desk. He hates their constant needs… I NEED a nonsmoking room, I NEED more towels, I NEED turndown service.

And he especially hated it when they said dumb shit like…

Hey fella, got a room for us?

A classic. Mid-forties, Blaine guesses, with a balding head and rumpled clothing. Probably good-looking long ago before the wife and kids destroyed his good time. Under one arm is a little…


Somewhere in the middle of nowhere stands an old barn- long past its usefulness but still handsome in its own unassuming way. A timid morning sun shows its first signs of arrival over its roof and highlights the blank sky with traces of gold. The stars have nearly disappeared, ready to retire, another night’s work nearly complete. This is the place where the evening meets the daylight, conversing with one another without any expectation. Soon it will be full dawn, but for now, the world sleeps soundly beneath a blanket that the two skies have woven together.

There is a…


MINOR SPOILERS

Second verse, WAAAAY better than the first!

Instead of buying back The Office from Peacock TV or — god forbid — giving us a new season of Stranger Things already, Netflix decided that our summer treat for being good boys and girls during the pandemic was to release a three-part horror movie “event” based on R.L. Stine’s Fear Street books.

Last week I watched the first movie and wrote about it here, but just in case you don’t feel like clicking the link (in which case, how dare you, sir!), here’s the gist — Netflix’s Fear Street Part One: 1994 was pretty bad. As a standalone teen…


MINOR SPOILERS

WTF did I just watch?!

Growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s was terrifying.

It was only natural that we gravitated to the fictional spooky when our young lives were filled with real-life Big Bads like creeps in white vans and teenagers who tried to force us to smoke crack in the park (or so the ABC Afterschool Specials foretold).

The problem was that we were a bit too young for the really scary stuff — Stephen King and Wes Craven and Clive Barker — not that we didn’t try, of course. …


Cold Case

The 32-year-old question that still plagues a small town.

Photo courtesy of fox43.com

About 25 miles outside of the state capitol of Pennsylvania is a small, riverside town called Millersburg. It’s one of those rare American gems deeply rooted in family, tradition, and kindness. Life is slow and sweet there; folks take care of each other.

Bad things don’t tend to happen in Millersburg.

That changed on the night of August 5th, 1989 when 17-year-old Tracy Kroh stepped off of her big sister’s front porch and vanished into the night.


Fiction

Photo by Mark Thompson on Unsplash

It’s cold here. He’s surprised that he’d forgotten how cold it gets this early on the East coast. Of course, in the past decade, he’s forgotten a lot of what used to be important. He wishes, just for a fleeting moment, that he still had that god-awful Marlboro sheepskin coat he used to wear, and he chuckles at the thought of it. It’s strange how the mind ebbs and flows.

Bob knocks on the front door of the lovely little saltbox house at the end of the long, shaded driveway and waits, patiently and without hesitation, which also surprises him…


Fiction

Jonathan Dryden’s red popsicle was melting. It dripped through his fat fingers and when he wiped them on the front of his faded old tee-shirt it looked like blood streaks. Jonathan probably did that on purpose, though. Jonathan always did weird stuff like that.

“Tell them the werewolf story, Jonathan,” said snotty little Randy Bates, who had been following Jonathan around for most of the summer. “Jonathan saw a werewolf last year, guys.”

Jonathan smirked and puffed out his chest a little bit as he tossed his popsicle stick on the ground. “Yeah, I saw a mountain lion all right,”…


The HERstory of a legend

Jeffrey Mitchell was Nancy Reagan the first time I saw him. I don’t mean he was dressed up as Nancy Reagan. I mean that he was Nancy Reagan. The red power suit, the pearls, the sweet, soft voice dripping with ironic disapproval…Jeffrey’s portrayal of the former first lady was uncanny.

Just Say Yes to an ’80s Christmas was my dad’s first performance with the legendary Harrisburg Gay Men’s Chorus, and between raunchy parody songs of Christmas classics and 1980s pop ballads, Nancy Reagan provided campy commentary and snappy jokes.

And oh yes, it was just as fantastic as it sounds.

Jessica Conaway

Mother, wife, storyteller. Lover of doughnuts, haunted things and sarcasm. Struggles daily with the Oxford comma.

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