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Play On

In 100, by Briene on December 1, 2018 at 12:13 am

Slipping a dollar into his open case, we exchange a nod and a smile as I approach the yellow line, suddenly grateful the train won’t arrive for another ten minutes. Holding my breath as he shakes saliva from the instrument’s hardware, I wait for the soundtrack to begin again. And as the trumpet note echoes off the tiled walls, I slip into the movie that is my life. Where my posture has more intention, where hurried footsteps and drunken chatter are the perfect background track, where the man across the tracks, leaning on a fish mural, becomes a romantic possibility. 

Progress/Perfection

In 100, by Briene on November 29, 2018 at 9:48 pm

It’s tempting to just give in,

Let the violence, hate and greed win.

Because why take in one refugee

When thousands are stranded at sea?

Or protest racial discrimination

When it infects the police of this nation?

Why recycle your bottle of lotion 

When we can’t stop the rise of the ocean? 

So yeah, throw hissy fits and cry

But keep your eyes lifted high. 

Maybe we won’t get it ‘right’

But ‘better’ is worth a fight. 

If perfection’s required today,

Without space for reaction’s delay, 

Then martyrs will sit in their sorrow 

Neglecting an improved tomorrow. 

Progress 

over 

perfection. 

The Kin of Perspective

In 100, by Briene on November 28, 2018 at 9:34 pm

One rainy evening I met Crisis. Demanding attention as he walked into my life where I sat writing my priority list. He took one look at the paper and promptly tore it to shreds, declaring my time to be his. 

But on that very same night, I failed to notice, his sister Healing arrived. Silently, and out of sight, she gathered up the pieces in her brother’s wake. As the weeks wore on, she reassembled his wreckage, but began to run out of glue. So when she returned my list, it was quite a bit shorter, but finally manageable too. 

Finish Lines

In 100, by Briene on November 27, 2018 at 10:33 pm

It’s similar to driving home, when in the last ten minutes, you realize it’s gonna be a close call. 

Who will win? The liquid in your bladder busting at the seams. Or your will power to retain it. 

You unhinge your top button. 

Thinking *any* thought to distract from the conundrum you face between reckless driving and upholstery wreckage. 

Pulling in, you make a plan. 

Pitch forward. 

Hobble to the door. 

Drop bags on the threshold. 

Sprint for the bathroom …

Just like my All of 100 discipline, excruciating to hold as I get close to the toilet called December.

Untitled

In 100, by Briene on November 26, 2018 at 9:41 pm

His little hand disappeared inside his dad’s, resting on the corner of the table. 

“You can do it buddy.”

A reassuring thumb slid back and forth across his bony fist. He didn’t complain, but wished he didn’t have to go through with it. 

“I just need to go at my own pace,” he asserted. 

“Ok,” his mom cooed reassuringly.  

He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, pitched forward and with the determination to overcome the imminent gag reflex, he pushed the fork full of spinach into his mouth. Because no green monsters could keep him from his sugar cookies. 

Stage 4

In 100, by Briene on November 25, 2018 at 8:39 pm

And as the band began the final song of the service, she grabbed him by the hand and led him up to the stage. Their faces beaming with the slight embarrassment of doing something so out of character, but with the innocent joy of a freedom found only in the devastating reality of a tomorrow not guaranteed. They swayed to the beat of a familiar song, holding closer and tighter as each verse passed. And their adoring congregation wept and cheered and sat in awe of the choice they made: to live and love with every fiber of their beings. 

Parental Mortality

In 100, by Briene on November 24, 2018 at 10:12 pm

In an old theater lobby, they held each other’s gaze, lower lids bright with the strain of tears not ready to spill. 

Women resilient and grounded — with hearts mere fragments, rattling against their ribs. 

Despite their best efforts, they weren’t prepared for the day their parents left. Or the day the condolences stopped. The day they heard that saved voicemail. Or the day three weeks later when they thought they’d be ok. The day six months in when they still can’t get up. 

All they want is to be swaddled again.

Yet they’re the head of the family now. 

Bill

In 100, by Briene on November 23, 2018 at 10:20 pm

Near the botanical gardens, isn’t that right? I’ve got an old friend there, a second cousin of yours. He’s a botanist, he’s wonderful, a kind, brilliant man. With spectacles the kin of nearly full moons and a mustache that crawls his upper lip, like a juvenile monarch on milkweed. I’ll look him up, you really should meet. You know his mother was the theatrical one, the patron with the pearls? Oh but he’s quite different. Just enamored with his craft. And yet no one likes to travel with him because he insists upon bringing his bottomless trunk of botany books. 

Cliché but OK

In 100, by Briene on November 22, 2018 at 11:13 pm

My Family and their (restored) health. 

Friends holding up flashlights to guide along dark paths and holding up mirrors to remind me of who I am. 

Time and getting to stretch it across many roles — daughter, sister, aunt, friend, young adult, producer. 

Feeling grounded back into myself for the first time in… I can’t remember. 

For communities that scoop me up in arms of mutual belonging. 

For all these mentioned and those unsaid. I am grateful. 

Oh. And Toilet Paper. She always said that went at the top of her gratitude list. Because think about it… RIP Coach B. 

Now Ends Today

In 100, by Briene on November 20, 2018 at 9:07 pm

Breathe in:   the familiarity of home.

Breathe out: the fatigue of travel. 

Breathe in:    the freshness of the air. 

Breathe out: the fear of the chill. 

Breathe in:    the connections made today. 

Breathe out: the inadequate feelings. 

Breathe in:    the hearts that enliven mine. 

Breathe out: the souls with pain that inflict it. 

Breathe in:    the hope that I have impact. 

Breathe out: the despair that I can do nothing. 

Breathe in:    the satisfaction of accomplishment. 

Breathe out: the frenetic energy of the hustle. 

Breathe in:    the purpose for tomorrow

Breathe out: the mission of today. 

Breathe in. 

Breathe out. 

Gibbous

In 100, by Briene on November 19, 2018 at 9:37 pm

She slides into my room 

without knocking.

She slowly creeps across the floorboards

without the slightest creak. 

She sidles up the throw blanket at the foot of my bed

without a rustle. 

She makes her way, inch by inch, until her gaze is on my eyes and I slip from unconscious, to subconscious to conscious

without will. 

But she’s silent and still, and I don’t know she’s there

without a word. 

So I toss and turn full of worry and yearning at thoughts of tomorrow,

without sleep. 

Then I see her, and I remember, she’s waxing, 

without a mere crescent. 

Endless Lullabies

In 100, by Briene on November 18, 2018 at 9:37 pm

Winded, grocery bags too full, she had overestimated her strength. She sank down, resting her cane against the bench and her bags on the cement. 

Then it began — a slow rumble, discernible only to the loose pebbles and her attuned ear. It mounted into a roar. She willed her eyes shut and began to rock, her head a metronome, keeping time to the lullaby she sang under her breath until the cacophony vanished. 

“The next stop will be Chambers…”

Her mind could forget that night, but her body wouldn’t. And the four-year-old in her still needed soothing at 68.

Rules

In 100, by Briene on November 18, 2018 at 12:51 am

Things to remember in transition:

I wont be a perfect fit everywhere, but I’ll be the right fit somewhere.

Don’t wait to be accepted, extend love first.

I’m not planning my forever, just the next best step.

After each interaction, observe energy levels. If recharged, proceed. If depleted, abort.

Experts in related fields may have opinions that don’t apply to mine. Appreciate them, and trust my gut. 

Plan human interaction time and self-care time in equal proportions.

If overwhelmed, close the computer.

As Grandpa said, comparisons are odious.

Everything’s gonna work out.

Oh, and go out, it’s Saturday night. 

Fertility Friday

In 100, by Briene on November 16, 2018 at 8:35 pm

7:34am

Scrubbing the suds into my wet skin, my hands linger on my belly and I sigh, grateful not to be pregnant. 

10:43am

“S’cuz me, ma’am? I know you don’t work here or nothin, but can you show me the Plan B Pill? My missus sent me.” I quickly locate it, grateful not to be the one taking it. 

12:42pm

[Instagram link from Tiffany] “Here’s that fertility clinic! I’ll let you know how it goes!” Reluctantly grateful I can buy peace of mind. 

8:16pm

[Text from Alexis- ultrasound photo]

“Will you be my aunties!?”

Shit, I’m running out of time! 

X Marks the Spot

In 100, by Briene on November 15, 2018 at 10:11 pm

My Econ teacher explained it like this: the Supply curve goes up, up and away, like Superman. The Demand curve goes down, down like Daffy Duck. And where the two intersect, you have equilibrium.  

As a smug freshman, I rolled my eyes at her childish mnemonic, not knowing that a decade later, I’d be here in a Manhattan cafe, discussing the pros and cons of the career paths in film, wishing that the Superman of passion and the Daffy Duck of compensation would collide at an equilibrium point without deficit, surplus or negative externalities. 

The economics of a job hunt.

My Language Isn’t Yours, but My Family Is

In 100, by Briene on November 14, 2018 at 9:37 pm

How can we love each other so deeply when our time together is so brief? 

Is it because the blood that runs in our veins shares DNA from six generations prior? 

Is it because we saw how much our mothers adored one another, and our grandfathers cried at their every embrace?

Is it purely psychological, we are family from afar, therefore we love? 

Or is it a god, a creator, a force that reminds us we were once connected, and still should be. 

Nature, nurture, psychology or spirit, if it’s a god that births this, it must be a she. 

Between Broadway and Flushing

In 100, by Briene on November 13, 2018 at 9:36 pm

“But it’s not along here, it’s where the muscle meets the bone”, as she ran a firm finger down the side of his thigh and across his knee, running into the perpendicular subway seat. 

“Like a pinched nerve?” 

“Kind of, but not quite. It was odd because up along here was where it was tight,” and her hand again ran the length of his thigh, this time pulsing gently at junctures to his knee. 

And though he watched her lips move, and felt the passion of her conjecture, he got lost in her being, and hoped the train never stopped. 

Pancakes for Dinner, Cupcakes for Dessert.

In 100, by Briene on November 12, 2018 at 9:34 pm

It’s a funny thing, to be four and not three. Your perceptions are keener, but your body, still wee.  

It’s a funny thing to be four and not two. You direct our attention with intention anew. 

It’s a funny thing to be four and not one. You can play witty games and have dance parties for fun. 

It’s a funny thing to be four and not zero. Your snuggles become the prize of only a true hero. 

But I loved you at one and I loved you at two, and I loved you at three so now four’s nothing new. 

The Bar Tender in New York Hates It

In 100, by Briene on November 11, 2018 at 11:19 pm

Blame it on the place, the human made border that confines the metropolis. Assume their flakiness is a product of the water they collectively drink. Or that their local officials influence their false flattery, and their inability to show up. Tell yourself that if you could only return to the coast of your birth, you’d be back with the loyally gritty humans you understood. 

But then you move and you see that maybe it’s a pervasive, exhaustive, presiding set of tendencies, bestowed upon your blessed and broken generation, for their obsession with greener grass, moving fast and options ad infinitum. 

Tired

In 100, by Briene on November 10, 2018 at 11:37 pm

Perfection was the goal in all things. From pointed toes and pliés to inwards and half twists, from sow cows through spikes, drives, ground balls, grades, goals, looks, leadership, sociability, timing, articulation, friends, family…

Falling short was disastrous, my own worst critic by far. But the resounding message — “try harder” — was the only release valve. 

But finding that point of no return — where striving is at odds with surviving, and the push of aspiration becomes the pull of annihilation — meant finding a possibility my former self couldn’t bear. 

Where good enough presides over perfection. In rest. 

Integrity

In 100, by Briene on November 9, 2018 at 10:39 pm

Wound tight ‘round its spool, a golden chord, glowing as it turns and it winds. Casting light to the pitch of the soul in the ribs, the bastion of consciousness’s meandering. 

It bobbles and steadies, accelerates and slows, but paces through this choice and that. Until it catches a snare, and abruptly halts, fighting to spin again. The glow quickly fades, the rhythm subsides, and the life in the ribs starts to dim. 

That’s it? I ask with longing. Is my joy forever gone? 

But the answer is mine, if I chose to align my conscience, I’ll be ignited again. 

In 100, by Briene on November 7, 2018 at 11:56 pm

I stopped believing in it for a while. 

The stuff of unreality. Who has time for that?

But scientific or not, there’s evidence of things just enthralling enough to make me wonder. 

The orange glow over a shallow bath of developer, as the face of my love appears, where nothing was before. 

The tap of an app, the twist of a handle, and the gust of wind as I throttle through the sun-kissed air. 

My stems cells dripping into my brother’s vein, then wriggling their way through billions more until finding the fertile warmth of his marrow. 

Undoubtedly. There’s Magic. 

Showed Up

In 100, by Briene on November 6, 2018 at 10:41 pm

The bells over a rustic frame jingle.

“I Manhattan, please. Dry. Up. One cherry. Unless it’s maraschino. Then hold.”

No man from this town knew how to be that high brow.

She turned toward the trench coat, beret and scarf, before locking on the eyes — the left split blue and green.

“You’re here?”

“I am.”

“It’s early for the holidays.”

“Did you hear about the man who got hit by the same bike every morning?”

Beat. “No? Where?”

“It was a vicious cycle.”

“Ha, I know a thing or two about vicious cycles.”

“That,” slight pause, “is why I’m here.”

Counter Intuition (when raised as a people-pleaser)

In 100, by Briene on November 5, 2018 at 11:55 pm

There’s a balance to strike — as with everything in life — between self and other and both. Where it’s not about winning or losing or spinning, but instead about just being true. While some would require submission, to their whims and wills and wants, by bending your ways you’ll earn heartache and pain that you possibly may never lose. But what if you tried it on this way, learning to live who you Are. By giving your whole you’d receive back in full the kinship you deeply desire. At the end of the day you’ve ultimately gained from being unapologetically ‘self. 

Kindling

In 100, by Briene on November 4, 2018 at 7:23 pm

His father-in-law recounted the mythological tale of a bundle of sticks — a twig alone could be broken effortlessly, but a bundle of branches, lashed together with twine, was nearly impossible to bend.

So he set this as an edict for his offspring and theirs, to remember that a family bonded in a bundle, despite what bends it, cannot be broken. And so it was for years as their benevolent patriarch lived and loved.

Until his last breath left and the family assembled, a bundle still strong. Then parted ways, and the twine fell away. A pile of twigs.

Not So Normal Items (Stranger Things)

In 100, by Briene on November 3, 2018 at 8:55 pm

Scary? No, just flickering lights,

Nothing to cause more sleepless nights.

Plots develop, and characters grow,

But come on, these people aren’t someone I know.

Yet I’ve felt how it feels to love a brother,

And a bit of what it’s like to worry a mother.

I’d never cross the woods in the middle of the night,

But here I am, with these kids wielding a gun and a light!

“Hey body, chill out!” my brain retorts,

“And heart, quit pounding, you’re out of sorts!”

But I’m in too deep, I can’t disguise

That chokey throat and those leaky eyes.

Generous Assumptions

In 100, by Briene on November 2, 2018 at 8:55 pm

Teeth clench as the suburban cuts into the stream of traffic.

Sighs heave as she fumbles for the coupon deep in her purse.

The instructions are simple, but he asks for them to be repeated a third time.

__

If they only knew.

__

His wife hemorrhaged and he was still 20 minutes away.

Her daughter relapsed, and her grandkids weren’t being fed.

His grandson went missing two days ago, and so did his father’s gun.

__

We could approach each other with the compassion to bear the weight of one another’s worst tragedy.

Because days go by, but we are forever changed.

Woosh

In 100, by Briene on November 1, 2018 at 8:25 pm

I sit on the pendulum, limbs wrapped securely around the cable, hair mimicking the breeze of its arc. There’s a comfort in the rhythm. A steady knowing that the pace will continue.

Yet at the apex of each swing there’s a darkness, an extreme unsettling, a reveling in the pause before the drop — it’s intoxicating. 

Left. Right.

Right. Wrong.

Us. Them.

And then, the grace between. I long to remain here, in the mutual compromise of antitheses. For time to stop in the peace of understanding.

But by definition, that would mean life’s clock was… broken.

So I swing on.