the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Two Neurotic Bloggers


One of my father’s biggest faults was his inability to accept gifts.  He was uncomfortable when people did favors for him because he felt pressure to return the gesture.  He didn’t even like getting birthday gifts, which was odd since he was generous with others.  He was always picking up the bill in restaurants, even when others wanted to split the bill.   Rather than finding this quality endearing, I found it somewhat petty and insecure.   But he was the oldest of three brothers, and never grew out of the role of the “big brother,” so I understand where he was coming from.

I’ve inherited some of these tendencies.  Oh, I’m not as bad as he was, but at times, this insecurity just pops out. 

Like this morning.

In the blogging world, there are some special bloggers who go out of their way to make the blogging experience as personal as possible.  These bloggers don’t only write comments on your blog, but send you an email after you comment on THEIR site.  I really find this an endearing gesture.  Of course, I rarely do this myself.

One of these special bloggers is named Abby. (I’m using Abby as an alias to protect the identity of Alison of Ali Thinks).

After writing a typically dumb comment on her blog, I received a humorous email from her.  At first, it made me laugh, but then, immediately, guilt set in, both for writing such a shitty comment to begin with, and for never sending HER an email when she writes a comment on my blog.  Like my father, I didn’t feel comfortable with our uneven relationship. Why should she send me an email when I rarely send her one?

Out of total anxiety, I wrote her the stupidest email I’ve written in a long time.

Dear Abby,

As much as I adore getting emails from you in response to one of my dumb comments, you don’t have to always write back to me.  I won’t be upset.  I know you love me either way!  I just hate that I’m giving you all this extra work.


A few minutes later, Abby wrote back:

Dear Neil,

 It’s habit, Neil. And the truth is, sometimes I don’t write back. The funny thing is that as I was hitting send on that last e-mail to you, I thought “He doesn’t want to answer that stupid question you’re writing him, Abby!  Don’t respond to comments with questions!”

If it bugs you, I won’t answer your comments. But trust me, I like to do it. 🙂


At this point, I was totally embarrassed.  Does she really think it bugs me that she is such a kind-hearted person?  Did I just insult her by saying I hated her emails?  I quickly wrote back:

Dear Abby,

Shit, I should have never wrote you that last email.  I DO LIKE you writing to me.  In fact, I love it!  I was just trying to make it easier for you by telling you that I wouldn’t feel bad if you didn’t.  Jeez, this is so neurotic.  I was worried about you, not thinking myself worthy of your time to write those emails.


Abby wrote back:

Dear Neil,

And I was thinking that I wasn’t worthy or your time and attention!  Gah!  Neurotic! Insecure!


After laughing a bit, I wrote to Abby again:

Dear Abby,

Two people pleasers trying to please the others.  Just like I wrote about in my blog post a few days ago.  But since I’m trying not to be a people pleaser anymore, I’m going to start asking for what I want.  And yes, I do want you to email after a comment.  In fact, I demand that you do it every time!  Or else.


After I sent off the email, I thought about how this ridiculous exchange would make a great blog post, so I sent her my fourth email of the morning:

Dear Abby,

I might just write a post tonight based on our email conversation.  Wouldn’t that be interesting?  Of course, I won’t mention your name, unless you want me to.  Is it OK?  Again, if you don’t want me to do it all, I’ll understand.  Is this being neurotic?  Email me!


A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  A Tribute To Teachers


  1. laurie


  2. elle

    Wow, that’s like an overachieving hall of famer. Glad to see you’re letting up on the people pleasing.
    *rolling eyes*

  3. claire

    Nice how the internet saves time, eh? 😉

  4. madeleine

    people pleasers unite!! this was so sweet. i am filled with joy to think others have the same concerns.
    you know i won’t sleep tonight if you don’t e-mail me. seriously!

  5. bookfraud

    this is so neurotic, so worrisome, that it sounds like all the relationships i had before meeting wife. like the one i was in for 4 years though i hated her because i didn’t want to hurt her feelings by breaking up.

    my hats off to you, neil, for giving this issue so much thought. if someone wrote me e-mail for my typically retarded comments, i’d start to feel stupid as well. and i’d write her. and she’d write back. and…

  6. Melissa

    From now on whenever Neil comments on anyone’s blog, email him.

  7. Scarlet

    I always feel weird about that, too. I love to get any email, especially from a comment I left, but then I don’t know if I’m supposed to respond or when to stop the string. And I blame gmail because it’s so easy to reply and not realize you’ve emailed 390 times.

  8. Neil

    I hardly have commented anywhere in the last three days, so you can imagine the guilt there.

  9. liz elayne

    i love this peek into your conversation back and forth and the bit of neurotic of it all (that words sounds a lot like erotic doesn’t it? never noticed until typing it out…hmmm), but i was also struck by this “confession” that you see your father in you. yep. we are learning another layer to the gentler side of neil.

  10. Viscountess of Funk

    Hi Neil:
    I totally get you. One time I left a comment on a very popular blog. I misunderstood what this blogger was posting, and my comment – if read by the wrong person – may have hurt someone’s feelings. So the blog author politely asked me to remove the comment. I apologized profusely, and the blogger graciously accepted, and apologized too. The blogger then complimented my blog, but I was so embarassed for the misunderstandng that I didn’t e-mail this blogger back to thank the blogger for the compliment. Now I wonder if I further offended a fellow blogger by not e-maiing a second time. I still leave comments on this blog, and I am still embarassed for the misunderstanding.

    By the way, everyone who has ever left a comment on my blog has been very nice. I’ve never had to remove a comment or block someone. Funny. What do all bloggers have in common? We want to be loved!

  11. Alison

    Funny that the post from a year ago was called “A Tribute to Teachers,” because I used to be one.

    And you don’t have to answer this comment.

  12. Pearl

    Neil, forget the comments. I want to know what is in the box! What present do you have for us gentle-hearted, funny bloggers?

  13. pam

    You people should get a room. Maybe one with a therapist in it.


  14. Miss Eight-oh-Five

    What a perfect tribute to bloggers – that tedious, self-conscious group who write their lives online in the hopes that someone else will give a damn. I am one of those people, of course.

  15. Tara

    I’m almost the opposite. I don’t understand ettiquette in the real world, let alone the internets. I’m so neurotic and insecure that I don’t e-mail people because I’m worried that they’ll find me creepy and weird for unsolicited contact.

  16. Alexandra

    Better to be super neurotic and thoughtful than dull and thoughtless. You’re both endearing!

  17. Karl

    Ha, I do that, too…e-mail commenters. For about a week, though, I was too busy because I was at BabeHer. Weird thing is I actually felt GUILTY for not responding to comments by e-mail. Where’s my FREAK t-shirt?

  18. V-Grrrl

    Oh sure, now I feel GUILTY for not analyzing my blog relationships and reflecting on blog etiquette. I’m just a LOSER–a shallow, tea-drinking, shadow of a person not even worthy of my sad, virtual life. WAH!

  19. Paris Parfait

    I’m one of those people who tries to answer people’s comments w/ an e-mail. But lately, it’s all gotten out of control and I can’t keep up. And I feel guilty when I don’t follow-up a comment with an e-mail, but if I did, I’d have no time left for anything else, like writing. So these days, I send e-mail following up a comment on occasion, but not every single time. Quel dilemma!

  20. treespotter

    i don’t get this, nobody ever comment or email me. I’m feeling left out again.

  21. BA

    So, should I expect an email now?

  22. justrun

    I, for one, enjoy the occasional email. If I emailed back and forth with everyone all the time, it would turn into a full time job (with no full time pay). It’s more like a nice surprise when I leave a comment on someone’s blog and they respond in an email with just a simple “thanks” or something like that.
    By the way, your conversation with “Abby” sounds like my internal dialogue when I’m feeling guilty. At least you were actually communicating with someone else. 🙂

  23. Brooke



    It’s funny how everyone’s neurosis manifests differently… I function more like Tara: “I’m worried that they’ll find me creepy and weird for unsolicited contact.”

  25. Sarcomical

    ah, the lovely world of blogging gives us all yet another area of our lives in which to feel inadequate and socially akward.


  26. LisaBinDaCity



  27. e.

    Oh no… now I feel guilty for not responding personally to your comment about my leg-shaving habits…. I’m so sorry!

  28. question girl

    OMG – i TOO e-mail back & forth w/ blog posters ALL THE TIME!!!

    i really love when the recipient is there to recieve it and then sends one back and we end up “chatting”

    have you ever noticed how once these start rolling you don’t want to stop??

  29. tamarika

    LOL. I am as neurotic as both of you!

    In fact I *so* agree with this comment above:

    “What a perfect tribute to bloggers – that tedious, self-conscious group who write their lives online in the hopes that someone else will give a damn.”

    I, who receive so few comments or e-mails about my writings, found myself even envious of this shared e-mail conversation!
    (just kidding – just saying it to receive sympathy … no … really)

  30. Dagny

    I guess we all have to have our own little neuroses. Me? I love gifts. All that is necessary is a “thank you” in return.

  31. Blonde Vigilante

    I get emails sometimes from people responding back to my comments. It’s always a nice surprise. It brightens my day. Shit, you brighten my day…believe it or not.

  32. Charming, but single

    LOL. You crack me up. How do you get anything non-blog-related done during the day if you’re responding to comments?

    And I better get an e-mail, Mister! ;P

  33. Bre

    As far as neuroses go… this isn’t too bad to have!

  34. Rebecca

    I think it’s cute. But then again, I’m in need of some therapy myself so what do I know?

  35. Heather B.

    I try to respond to every comment within the comment section. But it always ends up being something like “Yeah. Thanks.” LAAAME.

  36. Tammy

    I was going to post about this but as usual you said it all. I have a couple of lovely readers who do this and I felt guilty that I don’t. My disability will not allow for that much typing but I LOVE the gesture too 🙂

  37. missmckay

    you two are adorable.

  38. 3rdtimesacharm( 3T )

    You both are completely adorable!
    🙂 But then, I admit to being neurotic in my sidebar. 😉

    I never send emails on comments. Crap! Have I been rude all this time???


  39. wordgirl

    I feel bad that I don’t often comment on the comments of others. Does that make me a bad blogger? I’m asking, but I don’t really expect a response, Neil. Really, I don’t.

  40. paperback writer

    I’m always surprised when people email me after commenting on a post they’ve just written.

    I like it, but I never remember to email them back. Or to initiate the email.

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