by Niall Doherty


Tourist day in Berlin, with a girl I’ve now met on three continents. We do the buffet breakfast, visit the Brandenburg Gate, and walk the longest stretch of wall still standing. Later we visit a specific park for reasons I’d best not write about. Everywhere we go there’s a backdrop of graffiti and a soundtrack of street music and the weight of history.


Trying to take after a friend I met in Amsterdam. She’d practice Dutch with anyone and everyone, even me. Didn’t matter that I couldn’t understand a word; she just wanted to get more reps in, get used to those sounds in her mouth. And she was always so fun and pleasant about it that you enjoyed the exchange regardless.


I self-sabotaged this past weekend. Came home from an 80’s dance party at 3am yesterday morning pretty tired yet decided to stay up and watch a movie. Didn’t get to sleep until 7am, and only slept six hours total. Another six last night. Exhausted today, not enough will power in stock to knuckle down and get a good day’s work done. Ugh.


Last day in Berlin. I’ll be in Amsterdam and Ireland the next couple of weeks. Then back here pretty much full-time til November. I do like this town. Lots more digital nomad types about, my rent is half what I was paying in Amsterdam, plenty of cheap places to eat out, and no shortage of things to see and do.


Long hot train ride to Amsterdam, step off and there’s a beautiful woman turning heads in a fresh dress the color of tropical ocean. She’s been waiting for me, the sweaty guy without a home. We’ll go grab food and she’ll ask if I hooked up these past two weeks in Berlin, and I’ll tell her no because I wasn’t looking, but that last part isn’t entirely true.

Bis später, Berlin.

Bis später, Berlin.


There’s a great scene in the movie Inside Out – you can watch it here – where Sadness comforts Bing Bong not by trying to make him feel better, but by listening and acknowledging and even sharing his sorrow. It’s especially tough for us men to do that methinks, eager as we are to find a quick fix for every pickle. Today I got to practice.


I’ve been moving back towards a veg diet the past few weeks, and Safran Foer’s book is getting me there faster. (Best not read that if you want to keep eating animals. You’ll know too much.) I doubt I’ll ever go full-on vegan again, but I definitely want to cut back, steering especially clear of factory farmed meat and dairy. Which, unfortunately, seems to be the majority of it.


Looking through childhood photos back home. I’m in my mid-thirties now, the same age as my parents in many of those images. It’s an odd feeling, seeing stills of them in their prime, realizing it all goes by in a blink. Tomorrow they’ll be married forty years. My dad remembers life without electricity. We’ll never be here again.


Susan Cain wrote that introverts “may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas.” Those jim-jams fit me perfectly. Lots of social interaction today and it was enjoyable, but also exhausting. On the introvert/extrovert spectrum, I’m definitely left of center.


Something we’re not taught in schools that’s so crucial to good living, is the mindfulness to ask and the ability to answer the question, “How do I know this is true?” The things you read in the newspaper or hear from an expert or see on Facebook or even think in your head… all things that could well be bullshit and lead you astray.

Slightly embarrassing childhood photo found at my parents house.

Slightly embarrassing childhood photo found at my parents house.


Reading back over my post three years ago about quitting veganism. I still agree with the points made there, but see now that meat eating is a very slippery slope for me. I call factory farms “an abomination,” and they are, but most of the meat I’ve eaten the past three years has probably been factory farmed. That makes me part of the problem.


Some days I feel like the luckiest dude in the world, mostly because of the people I happen to be related to or friends with. Last night I crashed at my cousin’s house. Today I spent several hours being fed and loved and working from a friend’s place. This evening I moved to another friend’s and will be availing of his spare room for the next week.


We stop on the Blauwbrug and look up along the Amstel, seeing a couple of other brugs lit up nice against the dull night sky. I say something silly and she cracks up. We’ve been laughing all evening, as usual. She makes me laugh more than any girl I’ve dated. Also, more than any girl I’ve dated, my eyes are rarely the only pair upon her on a night out.


Weird situation at that bar meetup tonight. Wasn’t expecting herself to be there. It was nice to see her, but we’re not boyfriend/girlfriend or anything, so I wasn’t sure how to behave. Focus my attention on her, or mix and mingle like I usually do (minus the flirting, of course)? I chose the latter, and it seems that was the wrong choice.


I only met these people fifteen minutes ago. Mike is strapped to my back, our legs dangling approximately three kilometers above the ground. Ruta is clinging to the side of the aircraft, her helmet cam pointed right at us. No countdown, no time to reconsider, Mike jolts us forward and we’re falling at 120mph and it’s hard to breathe.


My friend who’s hosting me has relentless energy, tough to keep up. I need regular downtime, give my brain a rest. Even simple conversation becomes a strain when my batteries are running low. I’m finding it’s best to let the energetic and extroverted types know this in advance, so later they’re not surprised and I don’t appear rude when my lethargic ass is sullen and withdrawn.

Falling from the sky.

Falling from the sky.

In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?

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