One Woman’s Experiences Show How Nasty The Internet Can Be

by Bill Brenner August 17, 2016 Dealing with life

We’ve all seen how nasty the Internet can be. Scroll Facebook, Twitter or any number of blogs on a given day and you’ll see people going out of their way to rip each other apart in the most cowardly way possible — hidden in the shadows. Many of us have stories about being attacked online. Usually, it’s because we offered an opinion people disagreed with. But Amanda Nickerson has been living with something a lot more…  [Read More]

This Wasn’t Part of the Plan

by Bill Brenner July 26, 2016 Dealing with life

This is the first in a series of posts about navigating through the unexpected. It’s based on experiences I’ve had since my father’s death last year. I’ve tried to follow the words of Winston Churchill, who once said, “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.” I’ve had shitty years before — 1984, when my brother died, the year following my best friend’s suicide in 1997, and 2004, when another close friend died and I came closest to an emotional…  [Read More]

Don’t Be Embarrassed When People Rescue You

by Bill Brenner November 20, 2015 Dealing with life

I was recently talking to a friend who has had a shitty couple of years, with illness and death in the family. He noted that he’s gotten a lot of support from friends, family and colleagues along the way and that he’s embarrassed about it. I get where he’s coming from. Mood music: Whenever I’ve experienced the things he is going through, I’ve felt a little embarrassed when people come to me with sympathy and…  [Read More]

Anatomy of an Identity Crisis

by Bill Brenner February 4, 2015 Family

When a sibling’s death turns the baby of the family into the oldest son, you get an identity crisis filled with anger and confusion. Mood music: I’ve written at length about my brother Michael, who died of an asthma attack when I was 13. That experience will test any kid, and I was no exception. The loss infused a deep reservoir of fear and anxiety in me that would bubble up many times over the years….  [Read More]

God Bless Cousin Melanie

by Bill Brenner January 27, 2015 Courage

I’ve always looked up to my cousin Melanie Segal. She’s been through a medical grind that would make a lot of people understandably bitter. But that’s not how she operates. Mood music: Through kidney and liver problems, she has lived her life with smiles, grace and good humor. Not once have I heard her complain about her medical difficulties. You never see her on Facebook complaining about her lot in life, either. In fact, I’ve seen her on…  [Read More]

I Forgot About Back Pain Depression

by Bill Brenner August 25, 2014 Physical Health

After eight years of life without any significant back pain, I’d forgotten how threatening an injury can be to one’s mental health. This past week and a half, I’ve gotten all too clear of a reminder. Mood music: A couple Fridays ago, I twisted my tailbone out of joint while plugging in a power cord. It has never the heavy lifting for me that’s caused injury; it’s always been the quick, careless movements. I spent…  [Read More]

Three Things Jeff Bauman Teaches Us About Being Boston Strong

by Bill Brenner April 16, 2014 Gratitude

Jeff Bauman has gotten so much attention since the Boston Marathon bombings a year ago that I had resolved not to write about him here. I’m as inspired by his story as everyone else; I simply thought there was nothing I could say about the guy that hadn’t been already said. Then I started reading his new book “Stronger.” Mood music: I’ve only read previews and excerpts thus far, but already I’m seeing something special….  [Read More]

The OCD Diaries, Four Years Later

by Bill Brenner December 5, 2013 Adventures in writing

This weekend marks four years since I woke up in a funk and started this blog on a whim, figuring I’d at least feel better if I spilled my guts. It did the trick. But in the years since that day, it has become something far bigger than I could have imagined at the time. Mood music: I didn’t expect so many people to connect with the writing. I figured it would be no big…  [Read More]

Defending Joe Biden (Updated June 1, 2015)

by Bill Brenner January 4, 2013 Political discourse

Updated June 1, 2015: The Vice President, who has suffered a lot of loss in his life, has more character and depth beneath his outward image of buffoonery than most people know. With news that his son Beau has died of brain cancer, I’m remembering the post below, originally written in 2013. I also recommend this column from Ezra Klein on Biden’s grief perspective. I’ll surely get a boatload of criticism for what I’m about to do: defend Vice President…  [Read More]