Jeremy Sewell

Writer. Entrepreneur. Principal Collaborator at Firefield.

Read this first

5,000 Friday Nights

It was a Friday night. The band was riffing on a J.J. Cale tune when Peter—one of the craziest characters I’ve ever met—leaned over his Stella and said, “Stetson did the math. You only get 5,000 Friday nights in your life. Think about that.” Then he howled and turned back to watch the girls dancing in front of the band.

This was about two and a half month ago and I’m still thinking about it.

It didn’t sound right. So, I did the math, and yes, it’s true—if you until you live until your 96th birthday, you will experience just around 5,000 Friday nights.

However, on average, we don’t live that long. In the United States, the average life expectancy is 78.4 years, so it’s actually closer to 4,000 Friday nights. Then, if you factor in your early childhood years and figure that your later years will be marked by some type of dementia that affects your awareness, you really only have about...

Continue reading →

Skipping School

I’m back in the area. We’re renting a house in Rockland for the summer. There’s a basketball hoop in the driveway. It’s just like old times. I’m reminded — all at once — of where I come from and where I’ve been.

When I was in 5th grade, I skipped school a lot. I think I skipped over 40 days of school that year. I would stay home and play Nintendo — the original Nintendo in all its 8-bit glory. Zelda. Master Blaster. Super Mario Bros.

Some days, a friend of mine would skip with me. He lived up the street and was in 4th grade. Other days, I would stay home alone. I got caught a couple times, but mostly, I got away with it. You can’t blame my mother. She worked during the day and had no idea because my teacher never reported me absent. I think she was happy when I didn’t show up. Things were different back then.

My 5th grade teacher was named Mrs. Gould — a name that fit her well — and...

Continue reading →

How To Quit Your Job

It’s 9pm on a Monday night. I’m at the office and I’m screaming at the top of my lungs. I just quit my job. My bosses are trying to calm me down and get me to reconsider, but it’s no use. I’ve snapped. How did it come to this?

It was a project I advised them not to take on. We didn’t have the necessary resources and the timeline was unreasonable. The client was delusional and manipulative. I’d been working for 15 straight days. We were supposed to launch yesterday and it was already dark outside. The client called. She had complaints about how an animation looked in Internet Explorer 6. Major parts of the launch weren’t anywhere close to ready and she was harping on rendering issues in an out-of-date browser.

I was polite. I said we’d look into it. I hung up and threw the phone against my desk and screamed, “Fuck!”

Everyone looked up from their computers and stared at me. I stormed...

Continue reading →

Living Beyond Our Means

I’m standing in a cash machine, money swirling all around me. My coworkers are cheering me on. I’m reaching out, trying to grasp at the bills. I catch one, but then in trying to grab another, I see both slip through my fingers. The wind of the machine never stops. I’m oblivious to the metaphor, but I’d understand it later on.

I find it remarkable how much of a role credit cards have played in my life. When I was a kid, no one I knew had a credit card. They were for rich people. We had what we had and that was the end of the story.

Credit cards first began to appear in the early 1950’s, not as a way to borrow money, but rather as a tool of convenience for traveling salesman, which was a common career back then. Over the ensuing decades, credit cards gained popularity, and in the 80s and 90s, credit card companies began to understand their sweet spot: Cardholders that couldn’t afford to...

Continue reading →

My Summer as a Young Black Man

If you want a really good voice coach, hire a blind person. They hear everything. They connect words, intonation, and pauses in ways those with sight cannot. They have a vision of the world that isn’t corrupted by visual preconceptions.

The summer before my senior year of college, I came down to New York to live with my girlfriend and her family in the Bronx. They lived on the 17th floor of a towering building near the southern edge of Van Cortlandt Park. I had never lived in New York City. I had only visited as a tourist, and that hadn’t included spending time in the Bronx.

I needed to find a job. A friend of my girlfriend got me a job working at Barnes and Noble on the Upper West Side. I worked a desk in the bargain book section and my boss was a tall, skinny African man named Elijah. He would come by and chastise me for reading the books. I hated it and after a few weeks, I quit...

Continue reading →

You Have No Right to Privacy

In college, I had to read a book called The Social Construction of Reality, a seminal text in the field of sociology.

The basic premise of the book is that reality isn’t an absolute, but rather the end accumulation of a society’s knowledge, beliefs, and choices. The beliefs of a culture become so ingrained that we begin to take them as truths — this is the social construction of reality.

One case in point is the right to privacy. Privacy is a human construct, not an inalienable right.

There was a time when there was no such thing as privacy. We lived in villages without expectation of personal space, without secrets and without shame.

We invented clothes. Just as we invented walls, doors, and hallways. We invented personal property and then we invented locks. We’ve found ways to close ourselves off, to guard our thoughts, our bodies, and our property.

Maybe it doesn’t have to be...

Continue reading →

My Deadbeat Dad at Christmas

The last time I spoke to my father was Christmas Eve of 1990. I was twelve years old.

I don’t own a single photograph of my father, but I remember he was tall and bald. He wore glasses and sported a thick brown mustache. He was a carpenter and owned a construction company. I remember him as cold and distant. His movements were economical, almost mechanical. He smelled of booze and cigarettes. I remember him leaning against the wall, flicking cigarette ashes into the wood-stove and sipping brown liquor through his teeth.

I grew up in small, sleepy town in mid-coast Maine. I was the youngest of three brothers and when I was 1 year old, my father abandoned my mother, leaving her to raise their three sons on her own. He didn’t go far. In fact, he was soon remarried to a woman that lived just a few miles down the road. She already had children of her own and he moved in with them. My mother...

Continue reading →

Why I live In New York

The first time I came to New York City, I was ten years old. I grew up in a small town in Maine and despite whatever television and movies I’d seen, I was totally unprepared for an experience like New York.

My uncle is a woodworker—an artist really—and he had a gallery opening in Manhattan that my mother and I were to attend. A trip longer than an hour away from home was rare occurrence for us and this would be three days and two nights in the big city. We stayed in a modest Murray Hill hotel one night and some wealthy relatives put us up in the Hilton in Times Square the other night. At the Hilton, I remember the glass elevators—lit up like year-round Christmas trees—that catapulted us into the sky.

Overall, the city was a shock to my system—one that forced me to alter my basic understanding of the world. I’d never seen such wealth and such poverty. People and places that I’d read...

Continue reading →

Before the Internet

I was born in 1978 and I’m a member of the last generation to know what the world was like before the Internet. If you’re older than me, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re younger than me, you’ve probably already stopped paying attention.

One of my favorite words is retronym.

A retronym is a new term created from an existing word in order to distinguish it from the meaning that has emerged through progress or technological development

For example, “acoustic guitar” — a guitar was just a guitar until the electric guitar came along. Some other examples include: a cloth diaper, an analogue clock, a manual transmission, a hardcover book, and, of course, offline.

Before we had online, everything was offline, or rather, it was all just life.

Life, it seems to me, used to be more of a straight line and the points you passed lived only in your memory. Over the years, many inventions...

Continue reading →

Why Am I Doing This?

Does the Internet really need another blog? I think it does. I think it needs mine. And maybe it needs yours too.

My goal with this blog is to motivate myself to write. My hope is that through my writing I can help create connections with people I know and also with complete strangers. I plan to tell stories that only I can tell, discuss topics on which I have a unique perspective, and challenge others to stop and think about things they may take for granted.

I plan to fail admirably, learn, and continue to forge ahead. I hope that you find it entertaining, thought-provoking, and not a complete waste of your time.

The name of this blog is a paradoxical wink to my background and experience.

I did grow up in a small town — at a time when the world’s knowledge and art was still sealed in libraries, museums, and our minds. The Internet had yet to create global connections, disrupted...

Continue reading →