Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Know Thyself…Very Little

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In the early days of my blogging "career," I was jealous of those who were asked by another blogger to do a "meme."   I used to ask myself:

"Why wasn’t I asked to do a "meme?"  Am I so unloved?  Doesn’t anyone want to learn more about me?"

I was ecstatic when I got  my first meme.  Finally, somebody cared!

Until then, I never had trouble writing a post.  But with the meme, I stared at the screen for an hour.  It was difficult for me to do.  It was like writing an essay for college admissions.

Since then, I’ve been offered other memes.   I’m hoping no one has noticed that I never actually do them.  I’ve only done that first one.  I hope you don’t think me snobbish, as if I’m too proud to answer your question about what type of underwear I wear.  I love reading your memes.  I love learning more about you.  But when I try to do one, I just break out in hives.

I’ve thought about my reasons, and I’ve concluded that I have a "fear of memes."   I’m afraid of memes because they require that I answer questions about myself.  

And in all honesty, I don’t know myself very well.

Here are some typical meme questions:

What is my favorite movie?  It really depends on my mood or who I’m watching it with.  Sometimes I watch a movie I thought I loved, like Star Wars, and the movie seems incredibly cheesy.

If I were a fruit, which fruit would I be?  Do any of you actually think about this shit?  I may have once harbored a fantasy of fucking the Chiquita Banana lady, but I’ve never dreamt about being the banana.

What’s in your bedroom closet?  I stuff my closet with dirty laundry.  I never open the doors.

Maybe I need to force myself to do these memes.  Maybe they will make me understand myself better.  Maybe I can use these memes as a cheap way to get some therapy.

A few years back, I did see a therapist.   It was, in fact, Sophia’s therapist.  At the time, Sophia was seeing Doris, a sixty-ish woman, a former schoolteacher, who always wore tweed, which is odd-looking in Los Angeles.  Sophia suggested that I see my own therapist.  I told her that I had no idea on how to find a therapist.  Soon, Sophia was seeing Doris on Tuesday and I was visiting Doris on Wednesday. 

Seeing the same therapist was a disaster.   Sophia and I would complain about each other to Doris, and then press this poor women to tell us what the other one had said behind his/her back.

"Whatever Sophia told you, was a lie," I used to tell Doris.

Our arguments at home grew more intense:

"I don’t care what you say.  Doris told me that I shouldn’t cave in to you.  That’s I’m too passive with you."

"Oh, well, Doris told me that I should stand my ground.  And that you manipulate me with your guilt."

"Why don’t we just call Doris and find out who’s lying?!"

Eventually, Doris said our arrangement wasn’t working.  She dumped me, since Sophia was her client before I was.   Doris suggested that I see her son-in-law, Josh, who just graduated from UCLA and was doing his "required hours" to become a licensed therapist.

My time with Josh was worse than with Doris.   I was his very first client.   He looked twenty years old.  I had this feeling that he had never been on a date before.  How was he going to give me any marital advice?

Like many inexperienced people trying to fake it, he overcompensated by doing everything by the book.  He sat there silently and wrote notes, like he must have seen therapists do in the movies.  I would get so bored just talking to him, like I was on a really bad date.  Sometimes, I would try to coax him into conversation:

"Surely you’ve had this same problem with women.  Right, Josh?"

He always gave the same stock answer.

"We’re here to talk about you, not me."

Because I did all the talking, I became anxious that I wasn’t interesting enough for him.  On the way to his office, I would jot down little notes and jokes, hoping that I would somehow amuse him.  But he never smiled.

One day, I was in an Italian restaurant in Westwood, and I saw Josh, eating alone at his table.  I started going over to say hello, but he turned away from me, ignoring me.  Later, he explained that it wasn’t a good policy for a therapist to interact with a client out of the office. 

Gradually, I began to question the sanity of my own therapist, especially after I found out that he was visiting a therapist himself five times a week.  Not only that, but it was a lot of work to come up with new material to entertain him all the time.

I hope this gives you some insight into why I have a problem doing those memes.   The questions are too difficult for me.  I just never had a good therapist and still don’t know who I am. 

But please continue sending them my way.  I really do appreciate it — even if I never do them.

59 Comments

  1. You could be onto something here with the psychology of memes! My responses are often so evasive, I even questioned if they were worth doing.

  2. I know I sent you a meme that included “What color are the underwear you’re wearing now?” I wasn’t offended that you didn’t complete the meme and pass it on; I just thought that you had something better to do with your time…like BLOG!

  3. I’ve never seen a therapist, although I wonder if it wouldn’t be a good idea. As long as he/she was strange like your male therapist obviously was.

  4. I just received my first ‘meme’ too Neil … completed it and tagged two other bloggers (not you!) but after reading your post, I’ve decided to tag you too. Don’t bother about doing it … just didn’t want you suffering ‘meme envy’.

  5. My estranged husband (who is, by the way, a very good friend) saw a therapist who would trash me to him. She had led him to believe that I was “short-leashing” him, and that I was just a mean bitch. What bunk. I would often fantasize about storming her office and screaming at her – but, of course, I never did it.

    I saw a therapist too, for a bit over a year and a half. Now, this therapist wanted me to leave my husband – at once (I was in no way in a physically abusive situation) – without taking into consideration that I did not have the financial means to do so. But, overall, the sessions were rather cathartic. I’d recommend good therapy to anyone.

    Hey, doesn’t Tony Soprano’s therapist (a character I really like in that series) see a therapist too?

  6. If I do a meme I try give crazy answers, especially to the serious questions.

    As for Josh, you should have asked him if he had been through puberty.

  7. A therapist seeing a therapist? I want to know why so badly. Low self esteem? Identity crisis? The possibilities are limitless!

  8. i can’t believe sophia’s therapist agreed to even see you… not only is it a conflict of interest, it’s a recipe for disaster!… as you found out.
    good riddance to bad trash 🙂

  9. It’s funny you mentioned underwear, my blog is centered around underwear today.

    As far as answering questions about yourself, I agree that they help us to understand and realize things about ourselves that we weren’t aware of.

    Now a therapist seeing a therapist, HA that’s just hilarious.

  10. Please tell me this doesn’t mean what I think this means…because I’ll be very disappointed.

  11. But Neil… not doing memes… how does that make you feeeeel?

  12. I love that you wrote things down to tell your therapist. It reminds me of my first “confession” (was raised catholic) — I was in elementary school and a goody two-shoes geek, so really had nothing to confess — so I made some stuff up. How’s that for irony…

  13. I went to a therapist twice, like yours, who didn’t say much. I ended up talking so much about random stuff and gossiping about my friends because she never said anything. It was so boring. Then I switched to a therapist who took my side on everything and tried to get me to blame my parents for all my problems. I recommend forgetting the therapists and just going straight for the prescription drugs. Then maybe you’ll be able to do memes.

  14. I don’t have any memes, but I do have a good therapist. Two, actually. And since you & I have never even exchanged memes, I’m guessing you could see one of them without it posing a conflict. You know–when you’re ready.

  15. Kevin, Eve — It’s no joke about therapists seeing therapists. Every therapist goes through therapy when they start out. It is a requirement. Am I right, Communicatrix, since you seem to be the therapy expert?

  16. A lot of therapists see therapists. In fact, I think the craziest and most unhappy people I know are in that field! Maybe that’s what draws them in – familiarity with the subject matter. Or maybe it’s the good referrals!

  17. Former therapist here. And yep, we’re a crazy group. Believe me, after listening to other people’s problems for hours, it’s best for everyone involved if someone listens to yours.

    Do bartenders have the same occupational hazard?

  18. I used to see a therapist. After a year he asked, “When are you going to stop telling me jokes and start dealing with your life?”
    I told him I should at least get a cover charge refund.

  19. I can honestly say that I’ve never had any sexual fantasies about the Fruit of the Loom clan, but, on occasion, I do think about what it would be like to be underwear.

  20. I saw about a million therapists before I found one that helped me. And it’s normal for therapists to see therapists. Hell, if I sat around and listened to people bitch about their problems all day I’d have to unload on someone, too.

  21. I was thrilled the first time when my shrink told me : “that he had choosen me because I was interesting”

    I only slowly realized that this statement wasn’t that awesome…

  22. Out of everything in your blog, this Doris character is the least believable.

  23. I have one MySpace friend who fills out every single one and posts them all the time. I wonder to myself what the point is, and if I should stalk her just to show her that posting so much info is a bad plan, and does she have any hobbies, any at all?
    Hmmmm.

    As far as therapy goes, yeehaw.

  24. Therapy is the best. Who else besides Mr. Rogers, is going to tell you you’re perfect just the way you are?

  25. I fantasize about seeing a therapist! I can only imagine the sheer joy of having one person whose sole function it is to listen to me unburden myself. Period. Hmmm…so I blog…?

  26. Oh, Therapy! Can mean so many different things. One of my first therapists (and yes I’ve had several) was right out of school, like your buddy Josh. I ended up listening to HER problems, and then going over to her house to hang out. (She got the best weed around) Yes, it pretty much was a disaster too.
    My 2nd Therapist was a middle-aged seasoned therapist, that both myself and husband #2 were seeing for Marraige Counseling. He didn’t last very long. He was my parents therapist as well. Immediately following our 3rd or 4th session, he had a massive heart attack, and had to go in for triple bipass surgery. We didn’t wait out the how many weeks until he could go back to work to see him again. (My parents quit referring their therapists to me after this. Although they did say they didn’t blame me for his heart attack)
    The therapist I saw when I first moved to Arizona, now she was wonderful, and young enough that I didn’t worry she would fall over into a heart attack. Finding a good therapist really is about trial and error. Or, possibly word of mouth.
    The very last therapist I saw with my present husband was a joke. At $160.00 an hour, the sessions would get away from him, (we would be screaming at one another)or if it didn’t desolve into screaming matches, I swear he would fade out, be daydreaming. He was useless as tits on a boy dog.
    On second thought, I’m thinking you’re on to something Neil. Memes would be so much cheaper finaincially. It might be worth it, to revisit the Meme as a form of therapy. You can start with this one, Name 8 qualities of your perfect partner. No?

    ;-)3T

  27. Um I saw a therapist once, but I was just trying to see what kind of cool drugs she would give me…but she was REALLY boring and all she ever wanted to do was talk about me….wtf?

    I have yet to be tagged with a MeMe and in fact I did not even know what the f*ck that meant until I read this post, so THANKS…now I will continue to feel very inadequate until I actually get tagged..

    😉

    Jamie

  28. I was a “student leader” and “student counselor” in college. That basically equated to being responsible for large number of student woes, so for me, the one hour a week I could actually talk about my own problems was precious time. I loved therapy, I had a great relationship with my therapist and she did me a lot of good.

    And then I graduated and we parted ways.

    Every now and again I think about going back to a therapist but I always come back to the same conclusion – I don’t need one, I have the blogosphere! 🙂

    (yeah, yeah, hokey, but true!)

  29. My mother tried to send me to a therapist once when I was in college. The session lasted all of seven minutes (I timed it). I refused to say anything “useful” until the woman asked (annoyed), “Do you have something better to do?”

    “Yeah, I could have been sleeping,” I told her. I WAS going to add, “How does that make you feel?” for good measure, but she kicked me out anyway.

  30. i like being tagged for a meme which is odd because in elementary school i didn’t like being tagged AT ALL. you have so much stuff to say, why meme? i like to save memes for writer’s block/avoidance days.

    😉 sizz

  31. I didn’t realize so many people had bad experience with therapists. I hope I didn’t sound anti-therapy, like a crazed Scientologist. I’m a believer in therapy, although I’m too cheap to do it myself. In fact, I think most of my fellow blogger-friends could benefit from some therapy… immediately!

  32. Could you repeat that, Neil? I just want to make sure I get it all down in my notes.

  33. Tag, you’re it. Here’s your next meme: _______ _____ __ _________ ______.

  34. I know that ‘what underwear am I wearing?’ was just a trick question, because like you don’t wear any right?

  35. i always do anything i get tagged with, but i always seem to screw it up somehow cuz i don’t do it right away and forget what it was about. i think of memes as a way i can post a blog without having to think, i like that.

  36. my mom informed me a little while back that her therapist seems to have up and disappeared. no more answering service, no forwarding info…it’s like the mob got her or something!

  37. Maybe your penis could do a meme?

  38. I don’t know if this has already been said in the comments above (I jumped straight into writing) but almost every therapist has a therapist. They need to dump the shit they take in somewhere. Which begs the question though, if every therapist has a therapist and those therapists have therapists and so on and so forth doesn’t it stand to reason that, at some point, there will be a tier of therapists with no therapists to go to? What happens to them?

  39. I see ppl going to the therapists all the time on TV, movies and more TV. I guess it’s fashionable to see a therapist in the West… Asians are more calculative. Our mentality is – why should i pay for someone to just listen?? lol

  40. Cherchez — They become board members of the American Psychiatric Association.

  41. I saw my old therapist at Tae Bo a couple weekends ago. I hung out in the parking lot 10 extra minutes to see what she drove. A RAV-4. I have yet to decide what this means.

  42. I think your approach to memes is the correct one. However, I would not dismiss them entirely. I think I found the best meme of all – one I made up, the Liar’s Meme. You can add to it, ignore it, ignore some of the questions – whatever you want!

    My idea of memes is to make up my own so I can talk about whatever I want, regardless of whether it’s true or not. All that matters is whether I find it interesting and feel like doing it. I don’t bother sending them to anyone either since they are really posts I create for myself.

    It’s a bit self-indulgent. But it is, after all, the Internet and the 21st century, so I think it’s spiffy.

  43. I love therapy.

    I love therapists.

    Everyone elses.

  44. I actually don’t like memes, (aka tags.) In fact I dislike them so much I have a NO TAG button on my sidebar! My dislike finally went postal when I got tagged three times in one weekend. ENOUGH 😉

  45. I have read a few blogs with the “100 Things” essentially 100 random things about the blogger. I love to read them. Maybe you should try that. You can just put the things you are passionate about.

  46. I always thought memes were hard, too. I thought they’d be boring for others to read. I guess I was wrong.

    On the other hand, I have wanted to create a 100 things list for a long time now, only I think 100 is too much. For some reason 72 sounds about right.

  47. I don’t like memes either. Not because I don’t know how to answer them but because I won’t have the structure of my inane thoughts dictated to me, damn it! After all, isn’t a blog is just the ultimate meme?

  48. How in Hades did you find out about your therapist’s therapist? That’s Melrose Place-ish.

  49. The stars align…another person who hates doing memes! The therapist bit, by the way, was hilarious.

  50. are you so busy in therapy that you don’t have time to post anything new? or maybe it’s that vixen sophia, she’s probably tempted you.

  51. I’ll give you advice for less than what your therapists charge you. What do you need to know?

  52. and this, my friends is why I won’t go to therapy. Sure, I need to, I have LOADS of issues, but I’m really into my own kind of therapy. It’s called REPRESSION. And it works really well. Except for this nagging eye twitch that I have….

  53. I saw a therapist once, but she was so cold and removed that I felt like I was talking to a robot. I never talked about ice cream (which I love by the way) but if I had been really sad and teary eyed one day about my ice cream falling off the cone and onto the dirty NYC pavement her response would have been: “That’s because of gravity, when the scoop was off balance gravity pulled it down.” No empathy, no “oh that’s awful!” Anyways, I’m not sure if this is a good example but trust me, she was a robot.

    And see by telling you that I got a little venting therapy in. Blogging in therapy if you ask me. 🙂

  54. I feel the same way about memes. I can blab away about all sorts of crap, but give me a meme and my brain freezes.

    I’ve had my share of therapists who were more messed up than I was. I guess they go into the field to try to figure out what’s wrong with them. Used to be you’d get a two-for-one: if you needed a shrink to prescribe meds, they’d also talk to you (or listen to you) for 40 minutes. Now that’s been outsourced to a therapist. Who can afford both? Gimme my pills and I’ll figure out the rest as I go along. I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid.

  55. You had to keep finding new ways to ‘entertain’ your therapist? Maybe you should be the therapist.

  56. What the heck’s a meme?

  57. Sorry I haven’t been around, but I’ve been trying to do a meme for the last four days and I’m still stuck…

  58. Neil, maybe we could all help you out with your meme…give each of us a question to answer for you.

  59. No sweat Neil, I knew you wouldn’t do it anyhow.
    😉

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