the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Making a Plan at Hot n’ Tot


After much thought, I realize that my frustrations lately haven’t really been about writing every day for NaBloPoMo, but about — surprise, surprise — moving back with Sophia.   Since she’s come back from New York, it has been very nice being together, but NOT exactly the way I fantasized.   I visualized us running down to the beach every morning hand-in-hand and with as little clothes as possible,  then skinny-dipping in the Pacific Ocean while eating homemade breakfast burritos in the surf.  Sadly, we’re still having the same exact issues we had the LAST time we lived together.

One of our arguments is always about “our stuff” and our limited closet space.   It is an especially loaded subject now because it is still not clear whether I am here for good, or just for the the short term.  Who knows — maybe me moving back before we resolved things was a bad idea.  We’ll see.

But we have matured… a bit.   Here’s my evidence:  Over lunch today at the Hot’ n Tot restaurant, we decided to be proactive and make a plan.  Rather than fighting, why not BUILD extra shelves in the closet?

Can we actually build new shelves?  Will we survive?  Will I be able to walk into Home Depot without getting hives?  Will someone get injured by a falling hammer?  Stay tuned!




  1. Two Roads

    Call a California Closet designer and let them do it. It was the best thing I did and I doubled the amount of space in my closet without lifting a hammer. It is worth every penny and since they know what they are doing there is no headache worrying about measurements and parts and such.

  2. Becky

    I second Two Roads…especially if Home Depot is prone to giving you hives. No need to add that to the adventure.

  3. Churlita

    Right now, you should avoid things that will cause more undue stress between you and Sophia. I third the other two about letting someone else deal with your space issue.

    Are you two getting counseling together? That might help with your latest transition.

    Good luck. Since I’ve been single for an embarrassingly long time, I’m probably the last person to give out relationship advice. Did you notice how that didn’t stop me from trying anyway?

  4. michelle

    Don’t get lost in the Home Depot. I hear people have disappeared down the lumber aisles. Word on the street is that it’s the new Bermuda Triangle.

    But you two definitely need to remodel your closet, so it’s worth the risk.

  5. Abigail

    The Container Store provides the same kind of service as California Closet. I think it might be cheaper because you install it yourself.

    But they give you all the pieces and directions and help you plan it all out. And the directions are real, not like Ikea directions. So, if you want a cool project but not a Home Depot project, maybe check that out.

    And while you’re there, feel free to get me anything from the stocking stuffer section.

  6. Dave2

    Your solution is to stop wearing clothes. Then you can use your closet for what it was meant for… storing porn and comic books.

  7. Deborah

    The pressure of working on issues while sharing the same (limited) space is a tough one. I’m sure the Home Depot folks may offer closet improvement/relationship enhancing workshops on Sunday afternoons from 2:30-4:30. Keep the faith & remember, measure twice, cut once. hugs, JP

  8. Ally

    I’ve always wondered if the Hot n Tot was any good. I’ve driven by this place for years and never eaten there.

    Closet space is a precious commodity. Make space asap! or move to a bigger place and the 2nd bedroom can be a walk-in closet. Hey, one can dream, right?

  9. Ash

    I have a solution! Throw away *your* stuff, then there will be enough space for Sophia’s stuff 😉

  10. gorillabuns

    damn, i can see why the lack of closet space is major source of stress.

    one word…or two…plastic bins(stored underneath the bed.)this way, no one is harmed by flying hammers.

  11. Bonez

    Always remember that starting a DIY project with a woman in the house carries a sever burden. If the project is not complete by the deadline that the woman never tells you about, you will catch more grief than you can handle.

    Have fun with it. I look forward to seeing a very sturdy set of shelves with , ideally, some cup holders and a mini TV.

  12. better safe than sorry

    go to ikea, they sell wardrobes there that are so easy to put together, even i can do it! they have lots of different styles and price ranges. i love home depot, but i don’t have alot of vision to figure out how to build things.

  13. better safe than sorry

    here, go on line and have a look!

  14. NSC

    Do NOT try to build anything with your wife – much less your separated wife who you are trying to get back together with – it is destined for pain and heartache.

    Go to Home Depot or some other store and buy some of those neat and simple closet solution things and put it together yourself when Sophia is gone.

    I speak from experience – husbands and wives should never, ever build anything together.

  15. Alison

    Wow. That looks like our closet. I keep my clothes in a pile on a chair in the bedroom. We really need to get a dresser or two.

    So, uh, yeah. Maybe don’t try the Home Depot route. Have someone else do it for you.

  16. Megan

    Go with a professional; home improvement projects are just fights waiting to happen. Seriously.

  17. Becky

    Sadly, Bonz is actually right on. We have deadlines. We don’t really know them until they are past (which is why we don’t tell you.) We don’t want to be mean or make you crazy, we just don’t know it’s taken “too long” until the whole process is driving us around the bend.

    Ok. Maybe the “us” is “me” but it sounds like Bonz knows whereof he speaks, so it might be a trend.

    Bottom line: Get someone to do it. It will be fast. It will be right. And if it’s not, you have a common enemy on which to focus your frustrations. Then you can work together to get satisfaction from said contractor…key words “work together.”

    See? Win/win.

    Good luck.

  18. pam

    I’d like to second Ash. But for both of you. Get Rid of Stuff. Before you go to California Closets, fill up the car and go to Goodwill for a Big Unloading. Be brutal and get rid of as much as you can.

    Also, while you’re doing that, do NOT, repeat do NOT get rid of each other’s stuff. Hoo boy. Each person has to focus on their own stuff. No saying, “I have always hated you in that shirt.” Or “There’s a fashion trend that’s not coming back!” Nope. Your OWN stuff is the stuff to focus on.

    Less stuff, new closets, let the new democrazy begin!

  19. Tatyana

    Re: employing a designer to double your closet space:
    if you will be good (and I mean both of you), I can even do it for free.

    Did I say free? Looks like I did.

    Sometimes I marvel on my own incredible charity. Especially when I see someone not ashamed to show the world their wire hangers.

  20. plain jane

    I have to go to a Home Depot-like store today and I have been feeling anxiety all week.

    Bonez: “Always remember that starting a DIY project with a woman in the house carries a sever burden.”

    What gets severed? I’m scared for Neilochka.

  21. ms. sizzle

    i’m glad you’ve realized the source of the stress- better to tackle it with a proactive approach now before things escalate.

    step one: fix the closet. think of it as a TLC show and have some fun with it!

  22. wendy

    Michael and I have been together almost 17 years. The closet has ALWAYS been an issue. I’m a slob, he’s not. I steal his dress socks to wear under my tall boots(for riding) and I’M A SLOB. While it seems like the fight is over the closet space, I think its really over styles, lifestyles. and respect for eachothers idiosycrecies ( i also can’t spell. deal). We have moved to different houses, always gaining a bit more closet space as we go one rung higher on the housing ladder. It never solves the problem. So here it is. She will never change you. You will never change her. What annoys, annoys. Can you love her for her, and can she love you for you. Profound, huh. All fights are for control. LIke I tell my kids, the only person you can control, is yourself. Thats it…I’m done. I really hope you guys get back together. Sophia is always on your mind. That such a good sign…oh anh hire someone for the closet.please, for the health and well being of us all.

  23. psychomom

    Please do it yourself!! Nothing better than a man working with tools. Oh and take off your shirt and show Sophia how real men do it. Real men don’t call designers. It should be good for some laughs too.

  24. CGHill

    And while we’re on the subject, what makes the Hot ‘n Tot so hot?

  25. Susan

    We have a teeny, tiny closet in our apartment, AND we don’t have enough room for a dresser or bureau in the bedroom. We’ve got two IKEA hanging sorter thingababobs for socks and pjs and other foldable items, plus some shelving type units that we got at Target. Mostly though, our lack of space issue has been solved by many, many trips to the Salvation Army.

  26. Tatyana

    psychomom – and real women don’t buy clothes – they sew them. And real women don’t go out to eat – they can cook their man’s dinner better. Same with lawyers, doctors, and clerks at the Motovehicle Department.

    OK, I’ll take back the clerks.

  27. Nance

    Oh God. Your relationship is already stressed and now you, a novice, plan to build something. Right.

  28. Two Roads

    psychomom – jewish men with an electric drill is a scary thought. Better Neil gets someone else to perform this task! 🙂

  29. Kevin

    We really are all sync’d up, aren’t we? Katie and I tore apart our closet and started to patch, paint, and rehang. We hope to have it done today (Sunday). But, the difference is that this is the fourth closet we’ve rehung. Not as big a deal to us. Until that Home Depot credit card bill comes in, that is.

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