Joseph Oliver Ellrich

Joe was born on September 20th, 1989. He had his issues, his vices, as we all do; unfortunately, his particular addiction ultimately led to his death.

He was easily influenced by his “friends.” I use quotations to emphasize that anyone that introduces you to drugs–and especially those who feed an addiction that has already caused much harm–is not your friend.

He knew the pain that he was inflicting–not only himself, but upon his family and loved ones–yet he did not have the tools nor the strength of mind to pull himself completely away from it.

He tried many times to break free of the bonds that drug addiction had on him. It was like he was attached to a bungee cord. He could get away for a while, but when the cord was stretched, when the stresses of life were pulling at him, he no longer had the strength, and was jerked back into that world.

Joe was loving and caring, and was constantly joking and laughing on the outside. It was always fun to be around him and he made me laugh a lot. He also suffered from depression, which was a side that many people didn’t see.

Like A Mousetrap is dedicated to him, because there are so many people suffering in silence, and more awareness should be brought to those who are struggling and feeling alone. Joe was not even 30 years old, had so much potential and promise, and had yet a lifetime to fulfill it.

I put a phrase at the end of that book: Help someone, be a friend to someone, love someone. It is a simple phrase and simple acts, but the impact can be immeasurably great. I hope that you will follow that directive and, hopefully, prevent a tragic event. It will cost you nothing, but the reward will be priceless.

Rain is a Poem

Rain itself is a poem -
Sounds that are rhyming,
Rhythmic timing,
Dark and foreboding or sweet and endearing.
It can be touching and light, 
Or it may drench us like 
So many tears.

Short and sweet -
A cloud burst;
Or it may be the worst
Storm we have seen.

Interpreted differently,
It may leave a message,
Or with simply more inquiries.
Rain is a poem.

Copyright © 2020 Brandon Ellrich

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Is Your Birthday Killing You?

A Birthday Party is a time of celebration, of commemorating another year of life. As a child, we look forward to getting presents, as a teen, to a driver’s license, and then to becoming an adult, and then, perhaps, to simply having a reason to eat an ice cream cake! I have often wondered, however, if this marker of the passage of time hastens the end of our existence. Hear me out…

We all have a general idea of the average life expectancy (somewhere around 78, with variations in regard to gender, genetics, geographic location, etc.) and as we age, we cannot help but make a mental note of where we currently are on that time line. How often have you heard or made the comment, “I’m too old for that”? How many instances of the proverbial “mid-life crisis” have you witnessed?

What would happen if we didn’t keep track of our ages? What if we lived our lives, not knowing when we would reach that proposed or assumed midpoint of our days on Earth? Many people like to say that “age is just a number” and “you’re only as old as you feel,” but how much regard to our ages is actually lying in the subconscious, affecting our everyday actions?

I think it would make a fascinating experiment, but almost impossible to implement, as we use our age and birth date for identification purposes, among other things. There are also many legal restrictions associated with certain age markers; thus, we may never know the implications of such a possibility.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Please leave a comment.

Today, as it turns out, is my birthday. No, please, there’s no need to buy me a present 😉. And if anyone asks me how old I am, I’ll just say that I’m simply ageless!

Who is disappointing whom?

Do people often let you down? Do you create and build plans only for someone to pull the rug out from under you?

Something you might want to consider is that you are pulling the rug out yourself. I came to this realization a while ago, but still have to remind myself of it. If you are constantly let down by people, stop and think about where the disappointment is coming from. You build up a specific idea about a particular future event, and then expect a person to react a certain way–perhaps the way YOU would react. Then, when that person reacts in an unexpected manner, you become disappointed, sad, maybe angry.

Did the other person cause you to feel this way? Is it his or her fault? No. No one can make you feel a certain way. You are attributing feelings and motivations to others that they might not have.

I’ll give an example: I wanted to plan an event for my birthday. I contacted several of my friends and family to see if they wanted to go play pickleball (if you don’t know what that is, look it up — it’s a lot of fun!). Everyone said they were busy, or didn’t seem interested. I was disappointed. I thought, “My birthday comes only once a year. Couldn’t they put aside their plans for that one day?” and “If they asked me to do something to celebrate their birthdays, I would definitely go!”

I feel like I am a very loyal friend, and I would drop everything if a friend asked me for something. But not everyone has this quality, and I can’t change others to fit them within my box. I have to be aware of other people’s characteristics when developing my expectations.

So, when you’re disappointed that nobody but you shows up at your birthday party, you can blame all the people in that room!

P.S. One friend of mine ended up going with me and we had a fun time!


    Phantyna Segregata’s abilities were not in hunting and gathering; in fact, she didn’t need to do those things. She perfected the art of trapping. She didn’t work well with others and so chose a solitary life. It may be lonely, but it served her well–she did not have to provide for another, did not have to worry about anyone else’s safety but her own. This might change in the future, but for now, it was only herself for whom she had any concern. She knew the benefits and art of patience. Now, she calmly waited as she heard the Dipteran approaching. She did not move.

“Come closer,” she said to herself. As if in response to her request, the Dipteran did, in fact, approach and was ensnared in her trap. She moved quickly, before he had a chance to free himself. She was good at trapping, but even the best snares were not unbreakable. The Dipteran struggled–even more so when he saw Phantyna approach. She almost felt sorry for him–almost.

“N-n-n-no…please,” he begged, but it was pointless. He spoke in the language of his species, which she did not understand, nor did she care to. Nevertheless, it wasn’t difficult to recognize the fear and desperation he felt.

    Before she had too much time to think about it, she injected him with her homemade serum. It took effect quickly, which made it much easier when she tied him up. The serum would eventually kill him; until then, she would wait. It seemed most of her life was spent waiting–waiting for others to die, but also for her own life cycle to come to an end. She knew it would happen, eventually, but hopefully not before she was able to have a family of her own.

    She may be a killer, but there were creatures that would easily turn her into their prey. Phantyna was good, though, and knew where to hide so she wouldn’t be caught. She rested a moment, looking down at the Dipteran lying quietly in front of her. She sighed, languidly. The excitement of the moment took a lot out of her. “Back to bed,” she said to herself. She looked around first for signs of movement and then hurriedly went back to her lair.

    The next day, Phantyna peered carefully from the entrance of her hiding place for possible predators and then went to her victim. Dipteran were useless life forms, overall. She really did the world a favor, didn’t she? She knew he was dead; did not need to check. As she untied him, she vomited. It was an automatic reaction and happened every time she made a kill.  She knew which parts to eat, and there were some that she did not, would not eat. After she feasted, she discarded the rest of the body for other scavengers.

Phantyna did not see the Blatella behind her, but as she turned around, he was caught. She would have no compunction about this kill. The Blatella were despised by most who were familiar with them. She started toward him when a shadow distracted her. She ignored her potential kill and moved quickly to hide from the danger from above.

    “That one’s an Apex Mesh Weaver Spider,” Roger said. “Looks like she’s got a cockroach caught in her web.”

    “Cool!” Nickie responded with awe.

    The Phantyna Segregata scurried away into a hole, and there she remained, patient and cautious. The kill would have to wait.

Copyright © 2020 Brandon Ellrich

Photo by Pille Kirsi on

If you enjoyed this story, you might also like my poem Victim.


Tell me that you want me,
I won’t ever ask why.
Tell me that you need me,
Even if it’s a lie.

Be with me and hold me,
If only for today.
Promise me forever,
Even if you go away.

Tell me that I’m lovely;
I don’t care if it’s true.
And when I profess my love,
Whisper, “I love you, too.”

Tell me that my happiness,
Is more precious than your own.
Lie to me just one more time,
So I won’t die alone.

Copyright © 2020 Brandon Ellrich


Darkness.  Some people fear it.  Maybe because they fear the unknown.  You can’t see what’s in the dark, don’t know what may be waiting out there.  For us, it meant protection; at least, most of the time.  On rare occasions, one of us would be taken during the night, unexpectedly.  Most of the time, though, we had at least a warning when the door to the cavern was opened.  The light was a sign of danger.  

We came from many different places, backgrounds, and were mixed together and became one unit.  Then we were separated, broken apart and shaped, molded into whatever they wanted.  We had no choice.  We are all young; the older ones are less desirable.  

We travelled through intense heat and rose to greatness.  We became hardened to stand against what we would be faced with.  When they thought we were ready, the alarm sounded and we were sent out to face them.  Some of the others were taken before they even had a chance.

Those of us that remained made it to this cavern where we thought we might be safe.  Judging by what we found here, we were not optimistic.  There were remnants of ones who had come before us.  Pieces of their lives could be found strewn about–evidence of past generations, but all with the same result: not a single survivor.  

We weren’t able to rest long before the attacks came.  The monsters.  We had no other word for them.  At first glance, they seemed harmless, but it wasn’t long before their true nature was revealed.  They were ravenous beasts with insatiable, self-serving desires. The door of the cavern opened, light flooded the interior, and one by one we were taken, plucked out.  We were defenseless against them.

I had hope, at first, that maybe we would be different from the others.  That we would somehow survive.  Now I am the only one left and I have abandoned that hope.  I decide to leave something behind–a piece of myself that makes me special.  Others who come later will see it and know that I was here.

I hear noises outside the walls and I know what is to come.  Light floods into the cavern and I am taken.

“Mom!  Nickie took the last cookie!”

“Nickie!” his mother admonished, “I told your brother he could have the last one.”

“Sorry,” Nickie said through a mouthful of cookie.    

“Well, we can always bake some more tomorrow.”    

The lid to the cookie jar was replaced.  Nothing but crumbs and a single chocolate chip was left inside.

Copyright © 2020 Brandon Ellrich

*If you enjoyed this short story, you might also like some of my other ones like Dia de los Muertos or Dinner Party

Grow Your Nose

I’ve met many people who can’t see past the end of their own noses. As Mary Poppins said, it may be through no fault of their own. That’s not to say that people can’t change.

I grew up in a very small community, almost completely devoid of diversity. I heard a lot of racist comments and “jokes” (in quotations, because jokes are supposed to be funny, and these were not). These people had very short noses, indeed. I knew from a young age that racism was wrong, however, and did not understand why other people could not see that.

It wasn’t just about race, though. They were examples of individuals who simply couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see any other belief, custom, or way of life that was different from their own.

I hope that every person will examine your own behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. If you find that you can’t see past the end of your nose, I hope that your nose will grow at least a mile long!

“Just Get Over It”

Not long ago, I was privy to a conversation about people with depression. Obviously, neither of the participants in the discussion had ever experienced clinical depression, and said that everyone got “the blues” every once in a while. One of them said that they [people suffering from depression] should “just get over it,” just “be happy.”

If you have ever been diagnosed with depression (or even if your condition has not been labelled by a mental health professional), you know how ridiculous these suggestions are. Even if you have never experienced it, I would suggest that you research the signs and symptoms of this quietly alienating mental illness. A simple attempt at empathy can go a long way toward helping someone who may be suffering so silently that it can be deafening.

You might feel unqualified to talk to someone about their problems, that what you say won’t help, or that you can’t really understand what that person is going through. Well, to that I say…just get over it.

Is FOMO Ruining Your Life?

I like the phrase, “It is a waste of precious time to focus on where you are not.” Focus on worry and other negativity is pointless and only serves to bring one down. I recognize our changing world and the reliance on social media for connecting with those whom we cannot see every day, but I am also cognizant of my own tendencies to become addicted to such venues and, I must admit, would likely fall victim to dreaded FOMO. For this reason, I opt not to have a Facebook account. Hopefully, those who do, are able to practice moderation.

Dr. Eric Perry’s Blog

Written by Dr. Eric Perry
Image Credit: Pixabay

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not.” ~Ann Brashares

We are living in an age of ubiquitous distractions and interruptions. Technology has given us the ability to stay connected to each other every single second of the day. You can watch events unfold throughout the world in the palm of your hand. Like no other time in history, you are given unparalleled access to the lives of others. In today’s society, there appears to be no such thing as oversharing. Unfortunately, access is granted without a warning stating “Beware… what you see may just be an illusion and may not be good for your mental health.”

We live in an instant world with disposable dreams. Unanchored to anything real we float from one distraction to another looking for the next thing to anchor ourselves. Our thoughts…

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