By the time I got back to my bedroom, all I had left in my head was the number 17.

Cassie Brighter
Brighter Thoughts
2 min readApr 27, 2024


And so the detective process began. I went to the disorganized attic that is my memory, and asked the memory butler, "what is 17 for?"

Fleetwood Mac — "The Edge of Seventeen."

I saw a solid flashback of watching John Cleese and Taylor Swift on the Graham Norton show, taking about their cats. Taylor has two cats. John Cleese has seventeen.

Yes, ok... But is that *useful* in any way?

No, not really.
And MY seventeen was important. Actionable.

So I tried again.
Seventeen. What is seventeen?
This time my memory went back to the speech Taylor gave when accepting the Billboard Magazine Woman of the Decade award in 2020. She talked about Billie Eilish (one of the many things I love about TS is how always spreads praise and elevates other women and other artists). She mentioned Billie was Woman of the Year, at the tender age of — wait for it — seventeen.

Sure. Ok. But how is that useful? What am I supposed to do with that?

My daughter is seventeen. She just went to the prom with her girlfriend. They both looked magnificent.

No, that's not it.

Stevie Nicks singing. "Just like the white winged dove." Anni-Frid and Agnetha, now. "You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life."

And then it hit me.
Not even ten minutes ago, I had been in the kitchen. I counted the meals I have available, counting frozen food and other ingredients.
And I had counted 17.

Which means I don't have to go to the grocery store today.

And also, I should look at my finances today, maybe pay some bills.

That’s what seventeen means: Open the spreadsheet and look at the numbers today.

This, folks, is the way my memory works. Stumbling in the dusty dark, finding trivia first and foremost. Maybe obscure history facts. Funny details about the lives and adventures of those I love.

Until finally it sits down for a break, and feels something pointy on the left cheek of its ass, and turn to look at it — and there it is: The relevant, useful bit I’d been looking for.



Cassie Brighter
Brighter Thoughts

Activist. Public speaker. Writer. Community Organizer. Mom. Creator & Host, Empowered Trans Woman Summit. Managing Editor,