Podcast News and Notes

In what is sure to be the most exciting news you read today, episode number three of Everyone Is Funnier Than Us — the groundbreaking podcast created by myself and Samantha Clarke of Comic Wisdom — is out.You can find the audio below.

Okay. So perhaps that specific news wasn’t exciting. After all, it is Monday and we’ve been rolling out new episodes of the podcast for a month and a half now. But what is exciting is that we’ve submitted the show to three podcast providers for review.

Hopefully within the next few days, you’ll be able to download Everyone Is Funnier Than Us via Pocket Casts, iTunes, and Google Play. You can click the links in the previous sentence to find Everyone Is Funnier Than Us on the specified platform. We were also going to submit to Spotify, but apparently Spotify handpicks their podcasts. Meh.

Samantha has been amazing with all her help doing this. Really all I do is ramble on the podcast and do the audio editing — she’s the driving force behind most of the other stuff we do.

There’s another poll this week, however instead of it being here, it’s on Samantha’s blog. Click on this link to read her write up of today’s episode, titled “Duck Court”, and to vote on whose joke of the week was funnier.

Please Don’t Buy My Book…For Now

For those of you who are frequent readers of this blog, my Twitter, listen to my podcast with Samantha Clarke, or in any other way have heard my voice in the past six months, you know I wrote a book. It’s called An Epilogue to Innocence and it’s available on Amazon and CreateSpace.

You’re also likely aware that while I’ve managed to sell some copies of the book that sales haven’t exactly been perfect. As of today, counting all book sales and discounting editing/shipping/other costs, I’ve made approximately -$20 on my book. Yes, that’s a negative number, albeit a small one.

So. Why would I tell you not to buy my book? Sounds like a self-destructive plan for an independent author.

While I’d love to make money off of my book, I’ve come to the realization that there are people who would benefit from the money I could potentially make off this book far more than me. While I’m spending the money on Chipotle, ice cream, getting titanium rods in my mouth, Chipotle, video games, unnecessary random items for myself, and Chipotle[1], that money could go towards an organization that makes a difference in countless lives.

So…what am I going to do about it?

Last week was Mental Illness Awareness Week in the USA (October 2-8) and yesterday (October 10) was World Mental Health Day. As someone who has had numerous people in my life who have been impacted by mental illnesses, I’ve always tried to do my best to raise awareness about mental illness, mental health, and suicide prevention. Two of the stories in An Epilogue to Innocence – “Use As Directed” and “Tia” — deal with the concepts of mental illness and suicide directly.

Instead of just trying to use AETI to create awareness, I’ve decided to use the profits from the book to help a group that can make a tangible impact in this fight.

From November 1st, 2016 through December 24th, 2016, 100% of profits from the sales of An Epilogue to Innocence will be donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Northern Ohio branch. This includes all sales of the physical book and the ebook, regardless of if those copies are purchased through Amazon, CreateSpace, Kindle, or resellers. If I can track the profit/know about it, it will get donated.

I recognize that sales for my book haven’t been going the best. With that said, I also recognize that money made from my book would be better served going to an organization that can make a significant impact on the lives of others, both within my community and in the nation as a whole.

What does this mean?

Don’t buy my book until November 1st. Really. Do not do it. Don’t buy An Epilogue to Innocence until November 1st.

How can I help?

I need help getting the word out there to help make an impact. If there is anyone that would be willing to help — whether that be by sharing the link for people to purchase my book, purchasing a copy yourself, or something else entirely, please do so. More importantly, if you’d prefer to make a donation to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention directly, you can do so here.

There are plenty of ways you could help, including the following.


On December 25th, I’ll be totaling up all monies donated during the donation period and making a donation to AFSP of Northern Ohio. I’ll share the amount here for those interested in seeing how much we’re able to raise. Even if I don’t sell a single copy of the book, I’ll still be sending some money their way, as the work they do matters.

As we get a bit closer to the charity drive’s date, I’ll be doing quite a bit of marketing on my own to try to help get the word out there. I’ll be keeping a running tracker on the site as to how much will be donated to AFSP of Northern Ohio.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this post. I hope this plea, as silly as it may be, is the first step to raising money for a group that has the ability to change the lives of so many.

Hand of Silence

Note: The following is a fictional(ish) short story. The concept behind this story comes from one of the prompts (#55) on Think Written’s 365 Creative Writing Prompts.

The television’s bright lights flickered through the room, passing through my eyeballs and to my brain with no acknowledgment on my part beyond that of knowing I wasn’t paying attention to it. It was still two hours before sunrise and three hours before I could go anywhere. Not that I minded.

The television kept me awake some nights. Working when most people are sleeping wasn’t the most ideal thing in the world, but it gave me enough money to live off of. It wasn’t like my work was hard. Occasionally, one of the potheads or drunks would saunter in, wave at me as they passed by, then make their way up to their room. On the rare instance one of them would stop and talk to me, it was to make sure the building head wasn’t around. It was usually at that point I’d watch as some freshman snuck in a backpack or two that totally wasn’t filled with the cheapest beer you could buy. Since I couldn’t see inside the backpack, I couldn’t say anything.

Every once in a while, particularly closer to mornings, and especially on weekdays, one of the residents would come by my post. Their requests were usually innocent enough. ‘I’ve locked myself out’, ‘Can I borrow your stapler/tape/scissors?’, or ‘What’s the weather like?” topped the common questions list. The first two questions were within the scope of my job responsibilities, while the third was a fact I’d look up early on in my shift, just so I could answer the question when it inevitably arose.

And so it went. Two nights a week from midnight until 8 in the morning, and two other nights a week from 4 in the morning until 8 in the morning. This was my life. I never had to do any projects other than group endeavors during my normal waking hours because I had a ton of free time to spend on them during my job. My boss even encouraged it, as doing homework (generally) kept me awake. So I sat at my desk, typing away on a laptop held together by duct tape and dreams, staying awake for the 5-10 minutes I would actually be needed each night during my shift.

I kept the television in the corner of the lobby on as my way to know if we were having power problems. Though most of the building didn’t have any sort of backup power, the building head’s room and the entry desk had full backup power. Unless the TV was on, I generally wouldn’t know the power was out until someone came downstairs to tell me so. On the nights I worked alone — which was at least 3 of the 4 shifts per week — Sportscenter played on loop for four hours. Its repetition served as a way for me to track where in the hour I was without having easy access to a clock. It also provided me some amusement when people who didn’t understand the show was on repeat saw it for the first time.

This particular night wasn’t my night to work. I generally worked every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then three out of every four Saturdays in the month. But my co-worker had come down with a case of the early autumn flu (read: she was probably too drunk to come into work), so I was awoken from my Thursday slumber at a quarter until four in the morning. I slogged across campus in the pouring rain, giant energy drink in one hand, massive cup of coffee in the other, and a laptop and charger in a backpack on my back, arriving just in time to see off the two girls who had the shift before this one.

I didn’t like picking up extra shifts at work. Sure, the money was nice, but I barely slept as it was. I didn’t need to further my sleep deprivation. Tonight was different though. I needed to know the end of a story.

Last night, just about this time, a sleepy-eyed girl named Marcie came downstairs to the lobby. For the third night in a row, Marcie told me, she couldn’t sleep. She missed being near her family. She missed her pets. She missed everything that she was used to in her life prior to university.

We sat at my station, me in my underpadded office chair and Marcie in a cheap plastic chair from the arts room, and talked for the rest of my shift. Though my initial goal was to talk to her long enough to get her to fall asleep so I could go back to working on my paper, I found myself more and more interested in Marcie as the night turned to morning. We spent much of the time playing cards and drinking more that our fair share of caffeine — which seems like a terrible decision for Marcie’s sleep habits in retrospect.

Around our fourth hand of gin, Marcie began to tell a story about this terrible date she went on a few weeks prior. She had met this guy, Lucas, in one of her early morning classes during last semester (biology, I think it was). They done a group project together in the first few weeks of class and started hanging out somewhat regularly after that. Summer came and went, with Marcie barely hearing from Lucas. Then, two days after school started up again, Marcie got a call from Lucas asking if they could go on a date.

Marcie planned to meet Lucas for dinner that Friday night. Marcie arrived at the restaurant first, just a few minutes prior to the date’s planned 7:30pm start time, so she sat down on a bench in the lobby and played games on her phone while she waited. Before she knew it, time had passed to a quarter after eight. Lucas was still nowhere to be found.

Marcie went to the hostess booth at the front of the restaurant to see if somehow Lucas might have arrived without her noticing. Sure enough, the hostess recalled seeing someone fitting Lucas’s description, so she led Marcie to the part of the restaurant in question. When they arrived there, Marcie found Lucas laughing and chatting with another girl, clearly on a date of his own without her.

When Marcie pressed to find out what was going on, Lucas explained that he had messed up. He had meant to tell Marcie that their date would be Saturday night, then began to make up some excuse as to how he confused the two dates. Marcie stormed out of the restaurant and back to her dorm room. Though her roommate consoled her with freshly delivered pizza and contraband beer, Marcie was depressed at the turn of events her night had taken.

I told Marcie how Lucas had been a dick to her and that no guy should treat her like that. Marcie then told me how that wasn’t the end of the story, but that she would come find me another morning to tell me the rest. She strode back up to her room — hopefully to get some sleep, I assume — leaving me in the silence of an empty lobby for the rest of the night.

That brings us to tonight. It’s a cool, slightly rainy Thursday early morning. I never know what to consider the time I work. The people who see me at the beginning of my shift always tell me good night. The people who see me at the end of my shift always tell me good morning. To me, it’s night, as I’m still waking up before the sun rises. But it’s whatever day the calendar says it is because that’s how calendars work.

The clock on the wall across from my station read 4:43am when I heard footsteps coming from the hallway to my right. Marcie strode around the corner, her body wrapped in a fluffy yellow comforter and her messy black hair partially obscuring her face.

“I didn’t know you worked tonight,” she said, stifling a yawn.

“Normally I don’t,” I replied, “but someone called off. It’s free money.”

“Do you actually do anything?”

“Sometimes. Usually I just do homework and dick around on the internet. But every once in a while someone will lock themselves out of their room or come get a board game.”

“Does anyone visit you?” asked Marcie.

“Rarely,” I responded. “My roommate will drop me off food at the end of his shift sometimes, but that’s only if I’m working the midnight shift. My boss will stop by occasionally, but that’s really it.”

“Well, hey! Now you have me to visit you too.”

“Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Stressed. Worried. Miss my family. Had the same problem last year too.”

“Any way I can help you?” I asked.

Marcie shrugged. She turned away from me and stared at the television for a few moments. As the screen flickered away showing highlights of some baseball game on the West Coast, an echo of thunder rumbled outside the dorm. I watched outside as the rain began to pick up, its pattering landing making its way into the silence of the lobby.

“Can I change the channel?” inquired Marcie.

“Yeah,” I answered. “The remote should be over there.”

“Okay. I’m going to lay down.”

The building head tended to get upset at the desk staff if we let anyone lay down on the couches. Apparently it was a potential legal issue if students fell asleep outside of their dorm rooms in a supervised area. But if Marcie needed to sleep and the couch happened to be where she fell asleep, I wasn’t going to question it.

“Hey!” Marcie shouted from the couch.


“Come watch this with me.”

I walked over to the TV area and started to sit in one of the chairs beside the couch.

“No,” she scolded me, “come sit with me. It’s cold.”

I sat down on the couch beside Marcie. She leaned her head against my shoulder, then snuggled herself tightly into her blanket. We watched as a pack of ran across the desert, presumably fleeing from some sort or predator.

“I always wondered how anything other than a camel could survive in the Sahel,” Marcie mused.

“The what?” I asked.

“The Sahel,” she replied. “It’s a region in Africa between the Sahara Desert and the rest of the continent. It’s hot there all year around just like the Sahara, only there’s a couple of months a year where it rains like crazy. At least that’s what my geography class taught me.”

“Yeah…you’ve lost me. I don’t know much geography.”

“You don’t need to. No one ever does. I just talk about it to amuse myself. If someone’s there to listen, all the better.”

“Now that much I can do,” I answered. “I’m good at listening.”

“I do owe you the rest of my story,” she said.

“Yes you do.”

“So later that night, Effie decided she was going to go to the store to get us ice cream.”

“Effie’s your roommate, right?”

Marcie nodded. “Yeah. Effie, Steph, Steffi, Stephanie. She answers to pretty much anything you call her. It’s not even her name.”

“What’s her name?” I asked.

“Well,” replied Marcie, “Stephanie is her middle name. Her first name is Andrea, but she hates that name. As long as you don’t call her that, she’s content.”


“Anyway. So Effie and I drove to the store to get ice cream. We picked up ice cream, a 2-liter of root beer, whipped cream, and we were going to make root beer floats. Normally we’d go through the self-checkout but they were all closed down for maintenance or something. So we’re standing in line waiting to check out when fucking Lucas walks up behind us in line with the girl he took on a date.”

“No shit?” I said, trying to feign surprise at his sudden reentry to the story even though I knew he’d be coming back.

“Yeah. Asshole was buying condoms and cheap vodka.”

“So what did you do?”

“Effie hurried us through the check out line as quickly as she could,” Marcie continued. “Lucas was pretty drunk, so I don’t think he even realized it was me standing in front of him. The girl knew though. She made eye contact with me, gave me this evil smirk, and winked at me.

“I broke down in the car on the way back here. I had to pull over and let Effie drive the rest of the way back.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“It’s not your fault,” replied Marcie. “I knew what was going to happen. But to see them out was almost like the universe was mocking me. It’s like I…HOLY SHIT!”

As Marcie talked, the television had turned to a cheetah crushing the neck of an antelope to kill it. It was one of the bloodier things I had seen on TV in some time, catching both of us by surprise

“That antelope is so dead!” I exclaimed.

“This is why you should never trust a cat,” replied Marcie. “One moment they’re laying on your lap, letting you pet them and snuggle them. The next minute, BAM! Motherfucker’s chomping down on the neck of some gazelle in the Serengeti.”

“I don’t think all cats are godless killing machines.”

“That’s what they want you to think.”

A commercial gave us a reprieve from the cheetah’s victorious hunt. Marcie slid her body along the couch, her legs dangling over the end of the armless sofa. She clumsily pulled at the arm of the chair near her feet, trying to drag it over near her.

“Do you want me to get that for you?” I asked.

“No!” Marcie exclaimed. She poked her tongue out of her mouth, trying to focus as she pushed her toes against the soft fabric of the chair. She gave a quick tug with her legs, only for her toes to slide off the fabric and her feet to fall away.

“…yes…” she said, defeated.

I rose from the couch and pulled the chair over closer to Marcie. She lifted her legs over the arm of the chair, then placed her feet down on the cushion. She stretched her ankles and pointed her toes toward the back of the chair, the toenails missing the backrest by just a few inches.


I sat down on the couch beside her, only for Marcie to scoot further down the couch to get her feet further on the chair. Marcie sat her head down on me, her dark hair covering my lap as she rest her head on my legs.

“Do you think it’ll get easier?” she asked.

“Do I think what will get easier?” I retorted.

“The not being able to sleep for my first few weeks here. The homesickness. The missing everyone.”

“I don’t know. I never missed my family when I came here.”

“That’s sad. Everyone should have someone worth missing.”

Marcie freed one of her hands from her blanket cocoon and raised it above her head. She felt around without seeing clumsily smacking my leg and side a few times before hitting my arm. She slid her hand down my arm, grabbing my hand and pulling it back to her. Our hands rest on her side atop her fluffy blanket.

“What’s that for?” I asked.

“I feel bad for you,” responded Marcie. “It’s shitty that I’m awake all hours of the night because I miss people. But at the same time, it means I still care about them a lot. If there’s no one you care about, I’m not okay with that.”

“I care about people.”

“Then be quiet and miss them for a moment.”

I sat in silence for a few minutes, trying my hardest to think about my family and to miss them. Thinking about them was easy. I thought about my family regularly and talked to them regularly. Missing them was another story though. They’ve always been there. While I know they won’t always be there, the impermanence of their lives seemed natural to me.

I felt Marcie let go of my hand slowly. When I looked down, it became apparent she was dozing off to sleep. I took my hand back from her and brushed some of her hair off of my legs.

“You should do that.”

“Do what?”

“Run your fingers through my hair. It’s calming. It helps me sleep.”

I listened to Marcie, running my fingers through her hair as she snuggled up tightly in her blanket. The television had switched from an action-filled program with cheetahs killing antelopes to some guy talking about bird eggs. Wherever he was looked exotic. I thought about asking Marcie where he was or trying to reach the remote to figure it out for myself. But Marcie had started to fall asleep. I didn’t want to disturb that. I didn’t want to miss out on the silence. She certainly seemed like the kind of person I could learn to miss.

Everyone Is Funnier Than Us – Ep.2: #Cookieslovakia

After two weeks, some debate, and the recording of a new episode, the podcast that Samantha Clarke of Comic Wisdom and I are doing is back.

First off, the podcast now has a name. You’ll see us promoting our podcast, Everyone Is Funnier Than Us, online as we get it up and running. We also have this fancy new podcast art that Samantha created. You’ll probably see it on coming show posts here/maybe on the podcast feed itself.


In the episode, we did a segment we called Half-Baked Theories. At the end of the segment, we invited you, the listener, to vote on which of our half-baked theories you liked the best. Vote on this poll to choose. The poll will remain open until Saturday, October 8th at 1pm Eastern.

If there’s feedback, suggestions, or whatever you’d like to share with us, please feel free to do so.

In Lettero 3: Reminisce With a Vengeance

I was dumb once. Well, not just once. Mostly I was dumb in my past. I’m also dumb at times now, but hopefully less so.

A while back, I wrote a pair of blog posts with a series of letters to myself (you can find them here and here, respectively…all inspired by a post from Samantha at Comic Wisdom). The basic premise of those posts was to give my past self advice, as I’ve done some stupid things before. If time travel ever happens, I’d love to be able to give my younger self advice to help me avoid stupid decisions that make my life more difficult[1].

To Tim, Age 7

This is going to sound really weird, but in early April of this year, you’re going to see something on television that’s going to be your first long-term memory. Some idiots with a truck are going to blow up a building in Oklahoma City, killing a lot of people. You won’t know or have any connection to anyone in that bombing. But your parents are going to get divorced starting later that year, and pretty much every memory prior to the divorce starting will get wiped out. Except seeing the Murrah building in shambles on TV. Memory is weird. Focus on trying to remember as much as you can growing up. You won’t have a lot of artifacts around to help you.


Future Tim

To Tim, Age 12ish

For about a year, you’re going to live in a two bedroom house with ten other people[2]. You’re going to hear and see A LOT of things that are going to shape the way you form your political/societal opinions from now until you get to college. Let me clarify a few things to help you out.

  • Confederate flags don’t actually stand for someone being a good ol’ boy.
  • The majority of people do not consume tobacco, despite what you see on a daily basis.
  • 2Pac wasn’t rapping about white empowerment.
  • Just because you can hear multiple people having sex while you’re trying to sleep doesn’t mean that’s normal.
  • Not everyone who’s registered as a Democrat[3] is a bad person.

On the bright side, at least you quickly realize that someone having two kids with two separate moms less than a month apart generally isn’t a good thing.


Future Tim

To Tim, Age 19

Stop growing that mustache. You look like a fucking moron.


Future Tim

To Tim, Age 20

You’re going to meet a girl who you’re going to crush on. Hard. While this is not a new development for you at this stage in your life, this particular girl is going to get you heavily involved in a church. Said church has some positive points, but is full of extremely manipulative people. I’d love to tell you not to talk to this girl at all, but it’s unavoidable[4]. Instead, when she tells you she really doesn’t want a relationship with someone who doesn’t attend her church, just say okay. Drop it there. It’ll save you six months of religious confusion, people trying to control your lives, and a $600 deposit you won’t get back.


Future Tim

To Tim, Age 21

You managed to get tickets to see Paramore and Gwen Stefani just a few days before your 22nd birthday. You won’t go though. Your overwhelming infatuation with Hayley Williams aside, a friend tells you it’s a great show. You should go. Don’t cancel going to the concert and waste the $80 you spent buying the tickets. It’s not worth it. The date really doesn’t go well.


Future Tim

To Tim, Also Age 21

There’s a girl who is going to spend the better part of two and a half weeks trying to schedule a date with you. Don’t go on it. She used a false picture online, she’s not a nice person, and she literally punches you in the face for no reason other than “she wants to see a girl hit a guy for once”.

While this isn’t your dating low point[5], it’s damn close.


Future Tim

To Tim, Age 25

In a three month span, you’re going to write six of the ten stories that become part of the book you’re going to publish in a few years[6]. This is a period of creativity that is unprecedented before and since then (at least as of writing this post). Please take advantage of it the best that you can. The stories that come out of this time are going to be dark, they’re going to be passionate, and they’re (mostly) going to be very difficult for you to write. Do continue writing. Even though you’re not going to make a ton of money off of your book, it’s still an incredibly exciting experience.


Future Tim

First Podcast (w/Samantha Clarke)

I’ve got a podcast now. Sorry kids, not burying the lead this time. You can find the audio below.

Now for more of a full story. Samantha Clarke of Comic Wisdom and I have decided to start a podcast. It’s definitely a thing at this point. We don’t know exactly what kind of thing it is…but it’s a thing nevertheless. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going to go following shutting down That Tiny Vlog Series. That said, between my radio/audio editing background, Samantha’s storytelling capabilities, and still wanting to do some sort of project, this seemed like a natural landing spot.

With that said, we have questions that we’d love to have answered if possible. I’ve taken most of this list from Samantha’s post introducing the podcast, with a couple of other additions.

  1. What the hell should we call this thing?
  2. Ideas for how to get it online for free?  Soundcloud charges after a bit, like 190 minutes I think.  Should we host it on Samantha’s blog/my blog?  Do I have room[1]?  Right now we have it on archive.org which is fine but is that where boring podcasts go to die?
  3. Where should we submit it?  Google Play, iTunes…that’s all I’ve got.  Halp.
  4. Are we interesting or funny, like, at all?
  5. If it’s terrible, do you still love us?
  6. What kinds of topics do you want to hear about?
  7. Any other sage advice?  We’ll take anything you’ve got.

Samantha called you all beautiful swans and I’m sure some of you are. You know who you are. But for those of you who are not…thank you for listening and giving feedback anyway.

Can You Really Be You On the Internet Anymore?

On the internet, you are invisible and yet cannot hide from anyone. On the internet, you are both just a number and a unique entity. On the internet, everyone and no one is looking for you, all at the same time.

But are they really looking for you? And if so, are they finding the real you? Or are they merely finding the image you wish to share of yourself?

In late 2011, I lost my job. It was the first job I had out of grad school. I loved that job. I loved helping the people I got to interact with on a daily basis. I loved (most of) the people I worked with. I loved my short commute which let me drive home and eat lunch[1] if I wanted to. But between the company I worked for nearing shutting down and my relatively low “sales” numbers[2], I was an expendable cog in the machine.

I spent the better part of the next two months looking for a job. Between my own work and the help of a pair of staffing agencies, I had 8-10 interviews per month during the time I was unemployed. At the same time I was looking for a job, NaNoWriMo was going on. I took part in NaNoWriMo that year to provide myself a little bit of relief from the mental exhaustion that the job search caused me. Those two months I was unemployed was a pretty bleak time in my life — and my novel I wrote that November followed an even darker tone.

In early 2009, I was having a rough time adjusting to life out of college. I’d moved back home and started living with my grandparents. I took the first job I could find out of college[3], which meant I was working at a call center for less than a dollar an hour above the minimum wage. My then-girlfriend made it clear to me that I’d fallen much harder for her than she had for me. Couple that with some prejudices that I’d had formed in childhood that I still hadn’t moved on from[4], and that led to us breaking up quickly and extremely heatedly.

All of that combined together led to me seeing a psychologist for a few months. After our fourth or fifth appointment together, I had to tell the psychologist I couldn’t afford to keep coming to see her. Between my low paying job, working overnight hours, and not being able to afford health insurance[5], it just wasn’t realistic to keep getting professional help. The psychologist understood my plight and recommended that I try writing as a therapeutic technique. The goal was to get all of the thoughts and emotions I was struggling to cope with out of my head, if only to save myself the frustration of dealing with said thoughts.

So that’s what I did. And it worked. Writing allowed me to clear my head. It’s worked when I’ve written shitty 50 word posts online. It’s worked when I’ve turned those emotions into a much more creative endeavor. If it wasn’t for that advice — write to help my own psyche — I don’t know where I’d be in life today.

Yet as time as gone on, I’ve found myself more careful about what I write and talk about on the internet. Part of that is a natural fact of growing up and growing more mature in the process. But part of it is also this nagging feeling that somewhere, somehow, should I ever need a new job in the future, someone’s going to stumble on my work, see a post where I’m just venting off steam, and decide I’m a terrible human being. Job opportunity lost.

I know I’m not the only person that thinks this way. I follow more than a handful of people on Twitter who work as social media managers (or an equivalent role) for companies. A couple of them are actually promote themselves as their own brand. On one hand, it’s a brilliant ploy. In an increasingly digitized and interconnected world, who better than you to control the message that the media tells about you. It’s been the basis of American economics and politics for years now. Put yourself out there in the light you want other people to see you in.

On the other hand, only showing the happy, healthy, and hopeful sides of ourselves to the world is a foolish endeavor. We are complex individuals. We laugh and we cry. We do not do one or the other. To try to hide the fact that sometimes we fuck up is a failure in logic. Without mistakes, how can we learn how we need to improve ourselves?

I was asked recently when I was going to write a happy story. My short stories are generally pretty dark in nature, so why not try writing a happy one. Right? Most of me doesn’t want to. That’s not why I write. If a story ends up being happy, great. But I write in general — but especially my fiction — to help me process complex emotions, to release frustration, or just to be creative as I can be in turning an idea into something that I want to read. Generally, those stories end up being very dark.

Yet I find myself wondering if I’d be better received if I wrote happy stories. Would I be a better selling author? Would a book of upbeat stories I wrote be reviewed better than my collection of dark short stories[6]? Would a happy story enhance my brand and bring more eyes to my work?

That last question — that’s the one that frightens me. It’s the question that determines which side of the line I fall on. Am I a person or am I a commodity? That’s the power of the internet. It’s a terrifying power. Most people don’t even realize that power’s being exerted on them when it’s happening. Everyone can see everything and yet you’re all alone.

Kind of a dark idea, is it not? An entity that can completely change who you perceive yourself to be without you realizing it. It’s like you’re not even you anymore when you’re on the internet.