Showing posts from 2018

A Christmas Kludge

velutinous-soft & smooth like velvet
eldritch-weird; supernatural; eerie
kludge-an inelegant improvised solution to a problem
transpicuous-easily seen through
*The four words were to be used in a piece for this week's Mid-Michigan Word Gatherers meeting. I was/am sick, but thought you might enjoy this short story. I've included the definitions for those of you not willing to head to the vocabulary site yourselves. :) You're welcome!

A Christmas Kludge, by Kristine E. Brickey
It was Christmas Eve. She’d made it. She’d sworn this year that she would find joy in the holidays or die trying. She’d shopped and wrapped. Played holiday tunes as she baked and frosted Santa shaped cookies and strung popcorn on string. Now, her living room glowed as bright, multicolored lights illumined the perfect tree, so big that the angel’s halo brushed the ceiling. 
Now, nestled on the couch, covered in a dove gray velutinous blanket, she could finally relax. It was almost over, the whole Christmas…

An Offering

Note: The holidays are not happy and filled with anticipation for many people, particularly for the members of the awful 'Parents who have buried a Child' club. I am not looking for pity or sympathy, but I am hoping this piece, written from the prompt 'an offering' at MMWG last week, will add understanding. I want to love this time of year as I once did, and there are still moments that I feel that feeling. However, then there is this reality. Please share and know there are too many of in this club hosted by Grief.

An offering
Don’t cry.  He’s in a better place.  God must have needed him. 
Stupid words from well-meaning people after my son died. Like he was an offering to Heaven. Why anyone thought those phrases would bring me comfort, I will never understand. 
Eight years and six months now my Robbie has been gone, and I still find my heart boarding itself off from feeling too much on an almost daily basis. 
Christmas is coming.  Thanksgiving next week. 
I have been self-prov…

Beautiful Souls

She told me I had a beautiful soul.       She told me it was kismet, fate, that I came to be sitting beside her.       A stranger who sat at the same table in the dessert reception hall following George Takei's sharing of his family story of internment during WWII, has become a part of my story. 

     Last evening, I was blessed to be surrounded by many powerful, beautiful souls. Words escape my grasp as I search for a way to describe how my time at the 34th Anniversary Dinner at Congregation Shaarey Zedek is affecting me. Over 1,800 tickets were sold for this celebration. It was not what I'd expected.       "Why are you here?" I was asked at Table 72. Not accusatory. The woman asking knew who I was, said she'd 'Googled' me when she did the seating chart, said she'd intentionally set my group with the other artists, the people who'd created the video being shown later that night. "You're an author," she identified me. She was c…

What is required...

Lately, I feel that each day something new is 'announced' that breaks my heart, infuriates me, increases the sense of powerlessness. A recent MMWG prompt brought this piece to life.

I would love your feedback.

What is required…to meet their criteria? White. Male. “American” only. Self-sufficient-no relying on their handouts. Nobody brown or black or any other color than white. Only male. Not a male claiming his true gender over how he was born. True. American. Male. 
What is required to be counted, to matter, to meet their criteria of worthiness in our country is too much. Makes me weep as each day’s restrictions are announced. Makes me angry as my empathy for so many beautiful people are deemed unworthy because of color, race, gender, partner, economics. 
What is required to make them see how far from humanity their requirements have moved?


On this rainy morning, a new word in my vocabulary bank. How did I not know this word, a word that describes me so perfectly? I will add it to my author bios: pluviophile-a lover of rain, a finder of peace in rainy days. 
When I was young, my mother would call me in from the branches of my secret apple tree nook when the drops began their descent. Her call was easy to ignore, and I would nestle a bit deeper and watch the sky change hues and try to count the droplets.
As an adult, in charge of my own self, I no longer climb into trees, leaving that to my younger mini-me. However, when I wake to soothing drops on shingled roof overhead, a smile begins even before my eyes open wide. 
Rainy days promise hot mugs of coffee, snuggled in chocolate brown softness of my couch nest, pen in hand, words flowing across the pages. 
Rainy days make for sleepy dogs, peaceful hours of watching the latest novel unfold in my mind as I read hundreds of pages in a sitting. 
Hi, my name is Kristine, …

Mo Rúnsearc (roon-hark) secret love

Mo Rúnsearc (roon-hark) secret love
Lulled by her maid, Aileen’s, gentle brushstrokes upon her thick auburn hair, Maebh sighed and closed her lavender eyes. Sparks crackled with each stroke, bright spots in the candlelit room. She was so relaxed, that Maebh didn’t understand what was happening as her small seaside town’s warning bells chimed. Aileen snatched her by the elbow and hastily shoved her into the small hidey spot used since she was young. After an unnecessary reminder to stay quiet, Aileen scurried to find safety elsewhere. 
Hidden in the recesses of her closet, Maebh watched through a sliver of space as a large, swarthy man moved through her doorway. Though she knew he couldn’t see her, she instinctively pulled back. All Maebh needed to do was wait silently for Aileen to retrieve her once the thieving marauders had gone. 
He stopped in front of the mirrored table where she’d so recently sat, and Maebh saw him pick up her delicate strand of unique pearls. She gasped and clutche…

Book Review: Ghost Boys, by Jewell Parker Rhodes *****


Ghost Boysby
     Wow! This book has been on my 'to be read' list for a while, and last night I picked it up and read the first few chapters before going to sleep. As soon as I woke, the book was back in my hands. It had to be read.      Rhodes has done an outstanding job of combining current social injustices with the historical importance of Emmett Till's story (and the story of so many other murdered 'ghost boys'). Though I am familiar with the horror of Till's murder in 1955 Mississippi, the power of connecting Jerome's new ghost with hundreds of murdered ghost boys, the daughter of the officer, and his living relatives brought it all to new heights.       The changing perspective of 'Dead' and 'Alive' was a punch in the gut, completely brilliant, and necessary. I'm sure that my own personal story made this aspect especially meaningful.       Everyone needs to re…

My First Year without a 'First Day'

Yesterday my alarm beeped at 6:45 a.m. Groggily, I made my way into the kitchen, sleepily turned the coffee maker on, and looked out across the misty morning. It took that long for it to hit me. It was the first day of the new school year. My grin spread wide across my no longer sleepy face. Energy rushed through me. Yes, I was awake, but an hour later than 'normal' for this day. I was up in order to meet a friend out at Brighton State Recreational to ride my awesome horse through the early temps and still freshly spider webbed trails of Michigan.
     All I heard last spring were the warnings of people of how I would be so sad when this day came. As I poured my coffee and made my way to the front porch, I enjoyed my leisurely coffee breakfast as cars on the way to work and buses on the way to Mason Public Schools roared past. I felt like the Grinch must have after he saved the sled overflowing with Whoville's Christmas.
     After a beautiful morning of riding, it oc…


What a beautiful and amazing summer is has been for me. One of my retirement objectives, hosting and facilitating writing retreats, has begun a year earlier than expected! From August 6-8, I was lucky enough to write with a group at Bay Pointe Inn on the beautiful Gun Lake in Shelbyville, Michigan. Our group filled the Boathouse and a few extra rooms as well, did some writing and sharing together, had hours of small group and individual writing time, and took full advantage of the beauteous location.

Here are a few selections from that event that some of the writers were gracious enough to share with me to share with my readers. 


From Kristin Kochheiser, a Grief poem:


Grief greets me
like an unexpected visitor
who should have called
before knocking at the door
breaking into my day, my routine
with its quick, incessant knocking
on my heart.

Just when I think I have seen the last of
my unanticipated guest
a voice, a smell, a taste, a touch, a picture
will twist my heart again…


Homeless Beauty on Barracks

I cannot stop thinking about the homeless beauty outside Café EnVie. Tall, athletic, dirty. White t-shirt tied in a tight bow above her belly button.

Walking home from St. Cecilia’s, the taste of brown butter still on my lips, potatoes Lyonnaise crunch still savored by taste buds. I had eaten every bite, my only meal since breakfast. Redfish Almondine, somehow flaky and tender. Only one of our five carried leftovers, the result of earlier Willie Mayes fried chicken. Her ‘food baby’ wouldn’t let her finish her own flaky fish dinner. Barracks Street was busy, of course, and as I was transported to San Francisco’s foggy bay by a friend’s words, I needed to move behind and beside to make room for evening strollers from opposite directions.

We crossed over Decatur, music from further away filling the air. A clump of people crowded, crouched over at their waists on the adjacent corner, like kids roasting marshmallows around a campfire, leaning in to check the brow…


Powerful Writing made possible via New Orleans Writing Marathon 
“Why don’t you take a pause and clean your room?” This last line delivered in a humorous anecdote while breakfasting at Croissant D’or, and as I laughed, something clicked in my head and I immediately had to write.             I was reminded of all the times I had said something similar to my own two kids. Robbie’s carpet was a deep, dark blue, but I only know that because I bought it. Katie wanted red, bright like summer tomatoes, but settled on a dark forest green when Momma put her foot down.             How many wasted moments, worrying/nagging/fighting about the stupid rooms?             “I can’t even see your floors!” I would argue. “Why did I pay for carpet if we were never going to see it again?”           And Katie, preparing for Air Force departure, piles, heaping piles of clothes and all the things she’d collected in her eighteen years so far. She was only allowed one large khaki military bag and a small duffel whe…

Yes, Baby, Yes!

Monday, July 9       EnVie Cafe, 4:30 PM

In the Quarter. Again. Sitting across from Janice, her pen moving furiously across her journal, a secret smile upon her lips.

It feels like home, like it has been too long since I was here last. Less than five months since I walked the hot concrete streets, but an entire year since the NOWM.

More familiar every year, more family than the year earlier, deeper hugs, brighter reconnections, and a bigger pile of lookin' forward to...

'The sounds of New Orleans' on the speakers, jazz, raucous across the scales. It would let me know I was here even if I were blind. My ears would give this place away--the sax and trumpets, the drawling of "Yes, Baby, Yes!" and the bravado of the 'Who dats?!'

New journal now filling, purchased just for this event. New faces to meet, places to discover, words to pen.

Let the magic take me where it may. I am ready to let it in.


Friday, July 6th 1:54 PM
Ocean Springs, Mississippi
Lancaster's Diner tastebuds already know the Ephemera which awaits them, here at a high two seater table in the front window of Lancaster's. New flavors, delivered by the gingham shirted, overall short wearing waitress, reminiscent of Sweetilicious.

The first spoonful is not a disappointment. Rich yet delicate, the spice creates close my eyes appreciation for the shrimp and crab that sacrificed their lives-heightened as the heaping Sassy Salad-1/2 order sky high-is set beside the cup of bisque.

This place feels like home-warm, cozy, filling me with contented sighs as I settle into the hair. Country music softly plays in the background; Janice across the small square table.

The four boys at the adjacent table finally abandon their video games, devices pocketed as platters of chicken & fries are devoured. Mmm...the oldest groans, biting into crispy fried chicken. Finally, over fries and ranch dressing, the boys beg…

Chocolate Ice Cream Toddler

Chocolate Ice Cream Toddler

Covington Farmers Market, 7/7/2018 ~11:30 a.m.
Mouth open like a baby bird, the chubby cheeks lend themselves to two deep dimples. Sweaty hair on the back of his neck evidence to his love of the music, as he bops his head in perfect rhythm to Lambert's band. Between bites of chocolate ice cream served to him by his mother, the youngster relaxes back into his stroller seat, blue flip flops tapping to the beat.
Unable to contain the musician inside him, his hands clap and he lurches forward, trying to escape. I can imagine him, dancing, holding the stroller for support, khaki shorts and purple t-shirt rocking.
Dance like nobody is watching I think, or, like you're two, blessed with long dark lashes, and chubby thighs that can withstand hours of unbridled moving, not a care in the world except the music...and that next bite of chocolate ice cream coming your way.

ROUGH AND READY (or not, here they come) WRITINGS FROM NOWM 2018

Four years ago, I timidly approached my very first New Orleans trip. I still remember my trepidation, sweating in the backseat of an airport shuttle van, listening to some rather horrible women discussing 'friends' of theirs in the most uncomplimentary terms. I remember worrying that I was going to be late for the first night's events, having not realized just how long it would take the shuttle to get me to LeRichelieu, the final destination deep in the French Quarter comprised of one way streets.
     That was back in 2014, five New Orleans Writing Marathon events ago. I've only missed one year. The year my girl was stationed in Qatar and I didn't know when she was coming home. It was a horrible, awful, stressful year, and I needed to be home when the Air Force decided she could come home; so, I passed on New Orleans and my week of writing in good company.
     I was a poopy diaper the entire time, despite gifting myself with day writing trips of my own at ho…


Turquoise, rosy cornflower, and baby blues traverse the horizon as I settle into my porch chair, coffee in hand. A new day is dawning, and nothing but beauty surrounds me; yet, as I sip my coffee tears well up and spill down my cheeks.
     I don't wipe them away. There is no one here to see, to question, to pat my hand or ask if I am okay. I am, actually, fine.
     This is normal.
     My normal.
     At this point, I cannot in all honesty claim it as 'new' normal. It has been over eight years since my son died. There is nothing new in my tears.
     Sadness isn't the reason for this salty release. I wasn't woken from the grip of a nightmare's torment. Nothing horrendous happened to someone I love or me personally today or yesterday or recently. This week, in fact, has been particularly lovely, filled with moments of total joy. Good writing. New opportunities. Blissful rides. Great friends. Buoyant laughter. Joy.
     My weeping this morning, in this mom…


It's only one more day. One more day without him. One more day without his smile, his laughter, his dirty socks in the couch cushions, empty Dorito bags in the bathroom (yes, the bathroom).

     Eight years ago my world was changed for all eternity. My sweet son, Robbie, gone.

     I remember the moment I knew something was wrong. It was in the air as I walked up the steps. It was goosebumps on my skin as I stood in the doorway. There are so many things I remember but don't want to, and so many things I don't that I wish I could have back.

     So now I have a new normal. Dreams sometimes bless me with his presence, younger or 16 year old versions, but never older. Last night I cried while watching a show, flashing ahead to future views of the characters' lives, children, laughter, playing, together. I will never know what he could have become. I will never hold his babies in my arms, snuggle them, kiss away their boo-boos.

     In the week leading up to this day …

The Struggle is Real

Struggling tonight. I was looking forward to today's workout at my Cross Fit, aptly named 'The Undead.' 5 RFT. 15 DLs, 25 Abmat SUs. I went rx. Seems like lately, my body requires more time to recoup, but I'm trying to do mobility, focus on my gains, etc...
Round 1 and I was already behind, but moving at a steady pace as my coach had advised. 25 sit ups take me awhile, and I tried to keep reminding myself that a year ago I would have been home on the couch, not even working out.
By Round 3 I was struggling, breathing during the ab mats got more difficult. Half the others were already finished. FINISHED. I DL'd mind swirling with 'leave your ego at the door' and other positives I've reinforced from this site and CF since last May. I'm 52. Oldest by a lot in the class. I completed the entire 5th round alone, my fellow GLC mates cheering, I fought the mental struggle more than the nausea and shortness of breath.
I didn't quit.…


*A Heads Up before reading...This piece contains my emotional response to the Conference at the White House with people from the recent Florida shootings. This is my personal reaction. I am not starting a debate. If you want to argue, please don't bother. At least not now. I am too broken right now to play with those people. I needed to write this in order to breathe. There will be more later, but I will not be drawn into arguments on this piece. Sincerely, KEB* 

Earlier this evening, I sat and listened to the round circle discussion of parents, teachers, and students, all survivors of school shootings. My heart was heavy as one after another student shared their fears, the idea that their entire life has included this fear; that they've never known a world that didn't include mass killings in schools. Tears flowed as parents shared their tales of receiving texts and calls from sons and daughters as their children hid, gunfire in the background. 

However hard I anticipated t…

'First Touch' Reading

I am so proud that my piece, written in New Orleans during the Writing Marathon of 2017, is the kick off to this amazing radio presentation.

This is the link, so please enjoy, and let me know what you think of it at some point.

I love New Orleans and the writing that I do while inspired by all that is 'The Big Easy.'

Decisions at a Deli, by Kristine E. Brickey (jiggle, brouhaha, woozy)

Sassy was going to kill her friend Cindy for getting involved in her love life, forcing her into this ridiculous predicament. Was it considered a doubly blind date if she hadn’t actually met this Matthew before, NOR was aware he was going to show up here, expecting she knew she was on a date? Just because he’d seen her article and sent flowers, what, she was obligated to date him? She’d sold the flowers to her coworker, but then Cindy had nabbed the card and made herself matchmaker. Imagining Cindy’s head jiggling as she shook her silly later this afternoon helped a little, Sassy thought with an evil grin. At least rejection in this public place should prevent any brouhaha. All this information floated around Sassy’s brain as Matthew sat waiting. Grimacing, Sassy tried to decide how to best explain; but just then, the waitress arrived with lunch. Postponing the inevitable, Sassy took a bite from her sandwich, woozy with hunger and anger. Rather than digging into his own, Matthew began …