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selective memory: an Exercise in Fullness

{Title is borrowed from the Eels}
dedicated to my family. you know who you are.

The girl and her father pose for the camera – silly faces representative of the freedom to be someone you aren’t when on vacation.  Behind them a blinking sign promises the “best” St. Louis Bar-B-Q money can buy.  Soon, they’ll be full enough to go home and sleep soundly, satiated.


She’s nervous, but steeled by the shot of whiskey still burning in her chest.  She’s never read her work for a crowd–doesn’t even like sharing it with others.  The whole point of being a writer, she’s always felt, is not having to say anything out loud.  Reminding herself to go slowly, she begins: Most people’s lives were written out before they were born… She stops, glances up.  Silence – the gulf of people listening.  So she continues, allowing the seductive drawl of her narrator to become the strength both she and the story require.


On the deserted sidewalk, two girls sway from side to side, living in that moment between exhilaration and exhaustion.  Behind them looms the ancient landmark clothed in green, consumed by the cacophony: fans, cars, drunks, lights, bar fronts, kids, and street vendors.  One of the girls stops, abruptly.  Squats to pee in a vacant doorway.  Her friend laughs, screaming, “You’re peeing!”  The crouching girl joins her in hilarity, “I know!!”  As if this hadn’t already been a night to remember forever.



Their baby boy emerges kicking, screaming.  Like a prizefighter, his face bears the bruises and blotches of victory.  Hotly, he proclaims enough resistance to represent the collective shock.  They absorb him: rosy cheeks…red hair…ruddy body.  He is everything they would have expected had they dared to expect anything.

From now own, they’ll labor together.


Her bare feet peek up at her from under the white lace.  Lawn chairs surround the wedding party; people who love her and want her to be happy.  Her three closest friends stand near, smiling.  Several small girls twirl around in white cotton dresses.  She couldn’t have had enough daisies; they’re everywhere.  It’s so hot that sweat drips down her bare back.  Still, this is the moment she’s dreamed of, planned for, worried about.  This is what she deserves.


As she skips down the stairs at work, her breasts tingle.  Well, not tingle really.  More like… ouch.  That hurts.She’s never felt that before.  Later, she puts it all together.  Hurries to the grocery store next door (doesn’t stop to talk). Races back to the single bathroom (no one stops her).  The package rips open easily but the directions must be written in another language.  Or are her eyes blurring?  She accidentally pees on her hand along with the stick.  Fuck! Stupid. “Wait five minutes.” (Really??)




A line! No–two lines…and they’re Pink!  She Loves Pink.

pink desk


It’s time to go to bed.  But the daughter continues to lay on her mother’s lap and the mother continues to lightly scratch her daughter’s back.  Are they preoccupied?  Tired?  Or just too comfortable to move?  Around them, the house settles itself, preparing for the silence of sleep.


He walks by her, smiling.  He walks by again, still smiling.  He’s always smiling… Is he smiling at her?  He walks up, and stops.

-You’re scowling, he says.  (She’s always scowling. Is she scowling at him?)

-It’s not at you.

He smiles. She knows he’s smiling at her.

When he walks by the next day, she tries not to scowl.  He smiles: -You’re not scowling.

-No, she says, I’m not.

He smiles at her.  She smiles back at him. After that, she hardly scowls anymore.


The explorers turn off the main road, lured by an expansive, empty beachside bar.  They settle at a weathered picnic table, its shocking turquoise paint in stark contrast to the sandy blue ocean.  One girl turns the empty Red Stripe bottles into still life, while the other pens a lament for Jamaica, the wounded island.  Apart from them, their guide gazes at the landscape he was lucky enough to be born into. Nothing is more satisfying then the ease which he feels around these two wanderers.

red stripe


I shouldn’t really be here. She’s nervous now, realizing how much she has to teach–how much they have to learn; and how little they already know–how little she knows.  She doesn’t know anything about teaching, or anything else.  Oh, God.  This isn’t a joke or a game or practice.  This. Is. Real.  She has to teach so that they can learn.  And they have to learn what she’s about to teach.  Their whole college career depends on it!  Well, she does know that (at least).  Also, she knows that how they look–nonchalant–isn’t how they feel.  She knows they’re nervous, like she once was.  She meets their eyes.  Smiles.  This is where I’m supposed to be.


These aren’t all of my memories, but they’re the moments I’ll remember.  What are yours?

26 responses to “selective memory: an Exercise in Fullness”

  1. Avatar McKnight says:

    I love how this piece gives the reader an outsider's view into your life in bits and pieces and out of chronological order. Secret messages for your reader to decode.

    • Avatar llxt says:

      Thanks, dear "Reader." I wanted to just write all about you, but then the title would've had to be Extremely Over-the-Top Selective Memory… 😉

  2. Gorgeous writing. Beautiful moments of belonging (and all the anxiety and questions that must always preface…) So many great lines that will stick with me. Laughed out loud at “the whole point of being a writer…is not having to say anything out loud.” And maybe because I’m expecting a boy right now, I was particularly moved by “from now on, they’ll labor together.” I really enjoyed these moments. Thank you for sharing them!

  3. Avatar WreckedUm says:

    I'm all about #IV. If it is the prize fighter analogy, or just the fighting into life, that baby has my bet on the over, good piece boss. I hope I can follow up without incident.

  4. Avatar KFrayz says:

    I like when what you write makes me cry…

  5. brian mcgill brian mcgill says:

    got em 1 charley murphy,2wayne brown, 3 kfrayz,4henri,mark,5weddingday???,6 early ave,7 your mama,eight mcknight,9 kfrazy,10 class, what do i get for winning?

  6. Avatar e.c. russell says:

    well done. the living is done in moments. we draw the connecting lines between the moment-dots later.
    "Alexander, sort it out – you're the writer. I just done the living."
    –Stuart Shorter / Alexander Masters

    • Avatar llxt says:

      Thanks, E.C. It's hard for me to be minimal, but I enjoyed the challenge. and I love that quote!

      • Avatar e.c. russell says:

        It's the first line of a book I'm reading, where Stuart (the subject of the biography) instructs Alexander (the author) how to handle some questions he has about his subject's life. It's called "Stuart: A Life Backwards" by Alexander Masters. Strongly recommended.

  7. The content of this piece aside…reading it makes me want to be a better writer. This is wonderfully done. And re: the content – simply beautiful.

  8. Avatar The Tailor says:

    This is really well put together. I know we only know each other as far as a few e-mail correspondences will allow, but I fwlt like reading this made me know you a little better by putting me in your frame of mind during these experiences. Well done.

  9. Kail Kail says:

    great work lee lee! Funny, honest, touching even! Favorite parts are the smiling/scowling, the Jamaican still life, the pink…and the "peeing" part reminds me of a time a buddy of mine (huge Yanks fan) peed right on Fenway Park.

    • Avatar llxt says:

      thanks, kail. you picked up on all of my favorites, too. oh, wait. the whole piece is full of my favorite memories. DAMN it!
      p.s. Yankees SUCK

  10. acbauch123 acbauch123 says:

    Such a strong piece, and although I know Wayne told you you were a fiction writer, I still think you have cnf gifts. I love the structure you use in this piece, a string of lovely vignettes, almost like snapshots of your life. Together they create a collage of a full, wonderful life.
    XO, A

    • Avatar llxt says:

      thanks! coming from you, this means a lot. i love & miss cnf, but mostly because i like to mess with the constraints of it. ha ha. hey–as long as there's a story, who cares what it's called? i'm there.

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llxtm About llxtm

LLXTM is the Head Dreamer of this publication and various other projects, including Needle-Movers.com, The Perpetual You, and Ladymade. She has no spare time and yet eeks out moments to spend with her two {human} boys and two {puppy} boys. She can’t wait for spring, aka Covid Gardening, Part II. Follow her @wordsbyleelee on Instagram, or find her on her front porch in Hamden, CT.

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December 2010
November 2010
On My Honor
October 2010
Witch Hunt
September 2010
If, Then.
May 2010
Small Crimes
April 2010
February 2010
"It's Complicated"
January 2010