the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The Luckiest Blogger in the World


Can someone have his best birthday ever — four days before his actual birthday? 

Knowing that Sophia and I we were heading off on our road trip to Portland, Danny invited us over for some pre-birthday birthday cake (which he baked himself!  Coconut!) 

First surprise:  Communicatrix and her boyfriend, Brenton, showed up to wish me an early happy birthday.  

Second surprise:  Sophia revealed that she has been secretly working behind the scenes to make my birthday extra special.   She has been emailing YOU for several weeks, telling you of my upcoming birthday, and asking you to mail me a card or a gift to Danny’s address. 

Third surprise:  A whole bunch of gifts and cards were piled high in Danny’s living room, the gifts and cards as varied as there are bloggers:

Chocolates from Belgium.   Art work.  Photographs.  T-shirts from various cities across the country.  Baseball caps.  Soap shaped like a woman’s breast.  A tool kit.  Books.  Movies.  CDs.  Fancy notebooks.  Buttons.  Chewing gum.  Handmade candy.  A beautiful purple bathrobe!   A hand-knitted scarf.  Magazine subscriptions.  Special beer from Chicago.  An emergency phone charger.  Poems.    And tons of birthday cards.  

And more is coming.

I was in shock for the rest of the night.  I had no idea of any of this.  I feel like George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life.” 

I am still speechless.  I can’t think of anything clever to say, other than, “Wow, I’m truly touched.”  

I’m also drunk, so I’ll need to write more about this tomorrow.

Thanks, everyone.  Thanks, Danny.   

And Sophia, you really ARE the best!

P.S. — Does this mean I have to start reading your blogs again?


  1. ExpatJane

    Oh crap slinging monkeys! Your gift just landed in L.A.

    How do I know this? Am I psychic?

    No, in Korea they track express mail by getting your cell phone number and then send you automated text message you with status changes. It landed on Saturday at LAX at 2:29pm.

    Drats! Foiled by a roadtrip!

    Well, Happy Birthday and have a great roadtrip! Tell Danny to keep an eye out on the mail 😉

  2. Ash

    Happy Birthday for Wednesday Neil and I hope my package reached you in time 🙂

  3. lizardek

    I know mine is going to be late since I had an email saying it had just shipped on Friday. le sigh. have a super trip and a even better birthday! (PS: that Sophia? She’s a keeper)

  4. tamarika

    Smiles and thunderous applause.

    Have a great trip!

    You deserve all the joy!

    Yes, and Sophia really is the best.

  5. Bre

    I have to agree – that Sophia is rather fabulous! Hopefully mine got there in time, seeing as I’m the biggest procrastinator known to man!

  6. Pearl

    Hope they got “the revelation” and your initial reaction all on film! (YouTube, here you come…?!)

    Have a very happy birthday.Happy/safe motoring…

  7. Not Faint Hearted

    How fun is that, huh? We did it! Have a happy happy birthday and safe trip.

  8. Karl

    Very cool. Happy early birthday.

  9. V-Grrrl

    We’ll do anything for Sophia. We love her blog, and she’s just so damn charming and funny. And the nude pictures she posts of you totally crack us up, not to mention the hilarious comments that Heather Armstrong leaves there. When Sophia throws a blog party, we’re all elbowing each other to get in on it. ; )

    I’m happy my gift made it in time, glad Danny hosted the party, and hope you have a wonderful trip!

  10. Otir

    Your worst fear may come true: I fell in love with Sophia, a woman who is able to do such a thing is truly the best blessing in a man’s life (too bad I am not a man).

    Happy early birthday! until 120 years! may you have many others that can ever match this wonderful surprise. Sophia you’re the best ever!

  11. Finn

    That woman of yours, what can I say? And what any of say about you? You’re the best, George! xo

  12. ms. sizzle

    YAY! Sophia did an awesome job. You totally deserve it! 🙂

    Can’t wait to see you both in a week.

  13. Caron

    What fun! Happy Birthday to you and Kudos to Sophia!

  14. BA

    A very happy birthday to you Neil! And Sophia, well done at keeping it all on the d-l!

  15. question girl

    happy birthday!!!! (btw – how did you think WE were able to e-mail HER on HER birthday????? — she had already e-mail US!!!) Sophia is one sneaky woman!!!)


  16. Rhea

    Wow, Sophia did a great job. And no one let the secret slip out. A miracle. Neil, I used an old stamp on my card by mistake (37 cents) so it may not have gotten there in time, but count me in! HAPPY DAY!

  17. NSC

    Happy Birthday, Neil. You should get my present in a few weeks although once you realize that National Review doesn’t have centerfolds you may be a tad disappointed – LOL.

    Still you can pretend to read it and that will keep you in good with Sophia.

    Again, Happy Birthday and the best to you.

  18. Karla

    Did my anatomically correct, life-size inflatable Karlababble doll arrive? I send those things out from time to time, but I think the postmen keep swiping them.

  19. Leah

    Wow! That’s so awesome. That Sophia is a KEEPER! 🙂 Happy Birthday Neil!

  20. Two Roads

    Amazing in this world of everything not being a secret – Sophia pulled it all off without a hitch. Kudos to Sophia for coordinating all of it. I bet she puts on some awesome parties too. Happy early birthday to you Neil. Safe travels.

  21. Nance

    Who needs “The Secret?” You have “The Sophia!” Happy Birthday!

  22. deannie

    How incredibly good of Sophia, who clearly has always known how special you were, to allow us to join with her in imparting gifts to you. You share so much with us regularly and

    Hey V-grrrl, what did you think of that post Sophia did late Thursday night? You know, with all those pics lit only by candle light?!? You have to squint (a lot). Sophia’s blog is incredible! The ‘real’ Neil. Who knew?!?

  23. Rabbit

    Wow, that’s very cool. Had I been in the loop, I definitely would have sent you something, Neil. I’m all about sharing the love.

    Anyway, Happy Early Birthday!!!

  24. Ariel

    Here, here! “For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow and so say all of us!”. The Royal Mail is slow, there is more to come. Happy Birthday Neil!

  25. wendy

    Mines one of the “on the ways”…I’m always late…my poor husband has been told this..thinking me preggers..oh so many times! No reflection on you my friend…just my small need to make an entrance… Have fin on your road trip… That Sophia..She’s a keeper.

  26. wendy

    Didn’t read the OTHERS until after I wrote my clever comment… Seems like its a concensus! SHE’s a keeper. The wisdom of the masses does not lie!

  27. Danny

    It was great fun conspiring with Sophia. It fulfilled all my “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” fantasies about working with a beautiful Russian spy. Just call me Napolean Solo.

    It was amazing and quite moving to see the generous outpouring from your readers. (I hope you’ve weeded out the serial killers now that they all have my home address.) And the gifts are still arriving by the bushel. I think it’s only fair that I can keep anything that comes after your actual birthday on Wednesday.

  28. Orieyenta

    Cool! I was wondering when the “big reveal” was going to be! So…did you think Little Orieyenta’s drawing of you resembled you? (I wish I would have scanned it!)

    Happy early birthday!

  29. Mo

    Neil, don’t ever doubt power of the bloglove you’ve got going on here. And don’t doubt the Sophia love you (and all of us) have too!

  30. Dagny

    Did Sophia tell you that she sent out that email before the thank you emails?

    I had planned on picking up something but I’m a horrible procrastinator and knew that it wouldn’t reach there in time. Perhaps if you make a stop in the Bay on your way back home, I will have something then. Otherwise, it will be waiting for you when you return home.

  31. Roberta

    Oh, the guilt. I was going to send you a key to my apartment. What means more than that?
    Maybe I’ll cook you a pot roast instead…

  32. V-Grrrl

    Danny, No need to worry about the serial killers, but the MAIL CARRIER HATES you for all the work you created. Be afraid, be very afraid. I don’t want to read a story about an LA newscarrier going postal.

  33. Heather B.

    Damn me and my awful procrastination. But the card was pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

    Happy almost birthday, Neil.

  34. claire

    Quite the pile of loot, you’ve got there, Neil. Excellent. Happy early birthday!

    Nicely done, Sophia. And Danny, thanks for hooking us up.

  35. alissa

    Yay! Sophia had such a great idea. Happy Early Birthday fellow birthday sharer person…. ehhhhh… you know what I’m trying to say. Cheers!

  36. Jules

    A pisces such as yourself hopefully understands the procrastination (or maybe it’s plain busy-ness) that regrettably sabatoges the best of intentions in other pisces such as myself.

    (Perhaps the fact that I have this rather funny little gift sitting on my desk awaiting a trip to UPS is my own subconcious way of extending your birthday!)

    Have a wonderful birthday road trip – drive safe!

  37. steppingoverthejunk

    I am so behind on your blog! Was wondering when you would actually get the goods! Great photo! Hope mine made it, I sent it right away! Happy Birthday, what is this, 60?

  38. better safe than sorry

    happy birthday neil!!!
    you really do have the best (separated) wife a man could have, i can’t believe she pulled off this surprise for you (with help from your pal danny).
    hope you have a great birthday and a wonderful trip. stay safe!

  39. savannah

    happy birthday…what a great surprise (sorry i forgot to mail my card before i left town…)

    but i still have the address *L*

    happy motoring/happy birthday!

  40. Long Story Longer

    Wow, this is the coolest thing ever. Happy early birthday, my Pisces brother! 🙂

  41. Alexandra

    Happy Birthday Neil! I hope you got my card I sent too. If you two have any free time while in Portland I would love to have you two over for birthday cupcakes. I live downtown so if you have time my email is . If not have a wonderful, wonderful birthday and vacation- if you are driving be SURE to stop in Ashland on the way if even just for lunch-its real close to the 5 after you pass into Oregon. THat was SUCH a sweet and thoughtful act of Sophia to do- just amazing. You look super happy which you deserve to be !

  42. churlita

    I was a little late as well. (stupid ice storm) If my card didn’t get there yet, at least you’ll have something to look forward to when you get back from the Tequila Fest.

  43. buzzgirl

    Does it count if I meant to send a card? Sorry I never got around to it. Your gift, however, should arrive in 4-6 weeks – or so I’ve been told.

    P.S. Sophia, everything was taken care of w/ Amazon.

  44. Mo

    We want to see pictures of all the booty! Show us! (heh heh, yeah that booty’s cool too)

  45. Mo

    Unwrapped booty, I mean…

  46. Neil

    Thanks for all the birthday greetings. I’m in the lobby of our hotel in Napa Valley. Can you believe they still charge for internet access by the minute in the room? I have so many people to thank personally, but I’ll have to do it when I get back to LA.

  47. Jack

    Happy birthday old man.

  48. It's Me... Maven

    Color me a “Late Kate,” Neil, but happy belated birthday to ya!

  49. Lynnster

    To be honest, I’m not sure I fully believed Sophia truly existed until she came up with this plan. 🙂

    I’m glad you had such a good birthday surprise and hope you two are having a wonderful trip. And yep, she is definitely a keeper. 🙂

  50. treespotter

    oooh, i missed that! happy birthday anyway neil!

  51. kapgar

    Happy to have been a part of it, man. Happy Birthday!

  52. plain jane

    Happy Birthday to the best blogger on the planet!

    Good job Sophia & Danny! You are a lucky man Neil.

  53. psychotoddler

    Happy BD! I hope you got our gift!

  54. Javacurls

    Happy Birthday Neil!! Looks like my gift will be a little late. I hope you & Sophia enjoy the goodies once they arrive! Have a fabulous vacation!

  55. Mr. Fabulous

    You deserve it, my friend!

  56. Michele

    Yay Neil! We love you. And we’re amazingly good at keeping secrets.

  57. cruisin-mom

    Neil…my gift is…you get to meet me any time you like (good one, huh?)…I have been absent from the on-line world…so please know I wish you a very happy bday. Sophia is an amazing woman to have done this for you. Danny is a wonderful friend…and you are the bestest blogger ever!

  58. Jaime

    You are the luckiest blogger in the world. What a really heartwarming gift to give you. That’s awesome!

    Happy Birthday Neil.

  59. margaret

    Happy Happy Joy Joy Birthday Birthday… I’m drunk too!

  60. Jurgen Nation

    Neil, I adore you and now I can come out of the closet and tell you that through this I have come to adore Sophia. I wanted to be all creative and stuff, but I didn’t know if you liked any of my photographs enough to have it in print form and that would be an obnoxious form of arrogance to assume if you do and if so, which you liked. So, you get Writers’ Magazine (or is it Writer’s?). I hope you like. At the very least, I hope it’s good bathroom reading.

  61. gorillabuns

    happy birthday!

    as par for the course in my life, i haven’t a clue where i put your card. it’s the thought that counts, right?

    hope you enjoy the celebrations!

  62. Edgy Mama

    As always, I’m late too! But happy, happy, happy birthday with lots of sugar on top!

  63. Paris Parfait

    And more is coming, from across the pond. xo

  64. MichelleV

    Happy Happy…. Sophia has a blog? How did I miss that? I need the info!..
    P.S. No need to thank me – unless you won millions.

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