From My Brain to The Keyboard

We’re living in bizarre times when it comes to our society.

One one side, it’s pleasing to see a value as basic as acceptance make it to the mainstream. 30 years ago, things like being gay or trans or even from a different background were kept hidden behind the proverbial closed door. Now, more light is being shed on these groups, and thus making life that much easier to just be comfortable living their lives in their own way. This is truly amazing to see.

But there’s something else I’ve noticed. Just as the pendulum was thrust out of the right of the Trump era into the left for the well-meaning attempts to push positive change, a totalitarian mindset was thrust with it. It’s the idea that every single person must agree with and love every single thing done, said, written, or filmed in that end of the spectrum. Any criticism, differing opinion, belief or taste is to be ostracized, talked down to and shunned.

The counterproductive effect of it all? It’s made us hate each other.

The thing about people is we are all different. We all have elements that make us unique. This is what makes us interesting. We all come from different ancestry, countries, households, religions, and have had different events in our lives which have molded us into who we are as individuals.

But one thing that unites us as human beings is this:

We do not like being preached at.

Just as one dreads answering their door to a Jehovah’s Witness, it works the same the other way around. When we encounter a person or media source which talks down to us, demands we abandon all views, opinions and tastes which differ from theirs and spews insults at us when we tell them “No”, our minds do not change.

Instead, we push back, which causes what has now become the “opposing party” to push back. So we push back harder, which makes them push back.

This goes on.

And on.

And on.

Further pushing human beings away from each other.

As a society, this approach has had the power to cleanly divide us in half – left and right. If one of us dares to dip a toe somewhere in the middle they’re harrassed, “canceled”, and sometimes physically attacked for doing so.

Family members who were once able to at least set differences aside long enough to share a holiday meal, “disown” each other as an act of vengeance. Lifelong friends, who once shared bonds deeper than politics, become deliberate strangers. Love is forgotten. People are no longer fellow human beings, but a specific category to qualify them for interaction.

Just a quick scroll through the comments on any given article, which granted were already a cesspool before, will show just how much cruelty and hatred humanity has developed for humanity.

Civility is a prisoner of war in this vicious cycle. Kindness and understanding are casualties. While diplomacy would be an ideal weapon to combat all the pointless rage at friends, family and total strangers alike, it seems to be missing in action. This leads me to another point.

When you “troll” someone online, coming up with what you perceive as as a “smarter” or more “clever” counter-insult to type,  ask yourself these things:

Does this really make me happy?

Will I really change the mind of the person who reads it, if it even is an actual person and not an advanced chunk of code programmed to answer?

Doesn’t it ultimately feel like beating my fists against a cement wall?

The energy spent on such things, I think, would be far more productive (and satisfying) when applied in a positive manner. Sending positive messages cheering on your favorite cause. Complimenting a friend or even a total stranger. Maybe, dare I say, put down the fucking phone and connect with the actual living people in your life.

Because despite whatever differences you may have, their time on this planet is fragile, and it is finite.








The sudden departure of someone doesn’t leave a void, which is the lack of their presence. It’s more an absence. It’s noticeable in the small things; quirks, phrases repeated, the sound of their laugh, now transformed into dead air. White noise.

You notice it’s cold, and realize it’s because he didn’t come in that morning to crank up the heat. This used to annoy you enough to turn it down when he wasn’t looking. But now you wish you could look over at that thermometer and see a red light, which would mean he was here to require warmth.

You look at the American flag folded next to your desk, which you once used to lovingly tease him. You think of another joke about your Americanness in relation to his Britishness, and turn to tell it to his empty chair. But you remain silent, knowing he isn’t here to engage in the banter you so enjoy in your friendship.

Needed advice now lacks a trusted source. Stories only he would relate to must now wait an undetermined amount of time. His past protection of you now leaves you vulnerable.

You feel it in the mood of the rest of your team, now a rudderless ship, with no beloved captain to steer you well.

You text him to tell him as much. He responds, “I’ll be there in spirit”, and he has no idea how painfully true that is.

They came for you, Andy, the best boss I’ve ever known, the best friend I’ve made in Germany, like you told me they would. I thought you were being paranoid, but you were right. They came for you with false accusations, maligning your performance, and your absence remains.

And I have to say, your absence sucks.


Apart from my life in Germany, there lies a much older one in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland is not only my mom, uncle, neices and nephews, but also many dear friends collected from different eras of my life.

On December 6th, 2022, I received the news that one of these friends could no longer handle the torment his demons hurled at him. Jack Smiley committed suicide.

Jack, who through his beloved saxophone, expressed emotions for which words didn’t exist.

Jack, whose drawings had the power to bring people into his world, and compel some to remember their humanity.

Jack, a quiet, gentle man with an artistic mind who never missed a chance to help a friend, even when his own need for help was so much greater.

His absence, now a permanent hole among many, haunts me as I write this. My hope for his eternal peace is barely a consolation.

Wherever you are, Jack, please know you will be loved and missed for a long, long time.

In my own mind, this is how I’ll always remember you.

So I bought a thing…

Some of my Cleveland people might recognize the black version of this from my years of Muay Thai posts.

I know, I should have used that money for furniture, at least for a couch. And I know, this wasn’t the most financially savvy move I could have made, especially in the midst of moving. Also, I already have the black one, so why did I buy another one, right?

Hear me out.

Continue reading “So I bought a thing…”