the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

That’s What Blogging Friends Are For


Hey, God, what’s going on? Give us a break already!

On Friday, Sophia’s surgeon called. An MRI test showed that something they’ve been watching for a year is still there, and at this point, another biopsy just cannot be trusted any longer, and a full surgery needs to be done to remove it. There is a 50/50 chance that is is cancerous.

WTF? Are you pissed at some blog post I wrote? Are you mad that we skipped over most of the Haggadah during the Passover Seder so we could eat dinner?

Well, we’re tired of this. Even the characters on “All My Children” get a break every once in a while from their soap opera drama.

Wasn’t it just three weeks ago that Sophia’s mother was in the hospital? Wasn’t it two weeks ago that Sophia had an exploratory surgery, because the medication that she was taking to prevent a breast cancer recurrence was suspected of causing another type of cancer?! Why would you play with our minds, like the producers of American Idol, by letting us celebrate the good results of that surgery, only to learn that there’s a plot twist a few moments later?

I have some news for you, God. Even the storyline is getting old. Didn’t Sophia already go through a breast cancer surgery and endless treatments three years ago? The recovery took such a long time and was very painful. And I really hate seeing Sophia in pain, you know? I love her. I really love her, despite whatever kind of crazy married/separated relationship we have going on. This news makes me very mad. And it makes Sophia very depressed.

Eh, God, you know what? I’m not even in the mood to talk to you right now. That’s right, I’m showing you the hand. I’m busy. We can negotiate later.

Right now, I want to talk to the readers of “Citizen of the Month.” If you have been a long time reader of this blog, you know Sophia. She is my real-life Lucy Ricardo — funny, wacky, kind, sometimes overly-assertive woman — who I write about on these pages all the time. She’s the strongest woman I know, but she’s not that strong right now.  

She needs some serious cheering up. She knows many of you already through emails, comments, and our trip to Portland. She actually asks me at dinner what is going on in YOUR lives, as if we are gossiping about friends in the neighborhood.

The surgery is on May 9th.  So, send her a card.  Send a joke.  Send her a message.  Send a song.  Send a voice email. Send a webcam greeting.  Send a postcard.  Send Sophia some TLC:

Neil Kramer
P.O. Box 475
Redondo Beach, CA, 90277


  1. Pearl

    ” I love her. I really love her, despite whatever kind of crazy married/separated relationship we have going on.”

    Neil, it’s 3:55 a.m. in Toronto, and I’ve just finished reading your latest post.

    Those quoted lines made me cry.

    G-d willing I’ll find Sophia a very sweet card and will write her a very sweet message, and I hope that the Canadian-U.S. postal service will do a damn, fine job of getting my card to her on time!

    In the meantime, give her a warm hug from me…and then tickle her till she gives in to your demands!

  2. Karl

    Mucho love going out to Sophia. One thing after another, eh?

  3. better safe than sorry

    i’ll send her my prayers with this comment right now.

  4. tamarika

    Darling Sophia,
    I am holding you in my thoughts right here, right now, and for as long as it takes. And for Neil, the same.

    From Tamarika

  5. ExpatJane

    Sophia, keep your head up and hang in there. Honestly, I’ve had hell befall me, and I’ve managed to keep myself sane. Well, somewhat…I think a wee bit of insanity helped me cope 😉

    I’m hoping it’s not cancerous. They’ll successfully remove it and you’ll be on the way to complete remission and recovery.

    Buckets and buckets of love and hope being sent your way from Seoul!

  6. Rhea

    I am so sorry to learn Sophia has had such serious health problems to deal with. I hope this is just an exploratory thing and that all will be well.

  7. echo

    I was very sad to read your post Neil. I can’t imagine how scared and frustrated you both must be right now. I will be sending Sophia lots of positive, healthy thoughts.

  8. deezee

    so sorry for both you and Sophia. I send positive thoughts and recommend funny movies for laughter as good medicine…

  9. Otir

    Anger is good, Neil. There is no punishment in what is befalling us, otherwise how can people believe in a loving Creator, that would make no sense.

    Anger is energy, let’s use it against anything that is worth being destroyed, like bad cells.

    Let’s all ask for God to grant a refuah shelemah to Sophia.

    Sophia is such a giving person, now she is on the receiving end, I wish her all the best. My heart goes to her, because I am a depressive person, so I can feel what she is experiencing when she is depressed.

    I can tell her that it is a very hard struggle to battle the negative feelings, and that all the positive that is in life is still there even when we cannot feel it no more, it is still there, it is our choice to acknowledge it or not.

    I pray that you both get strength, instead of the break you are asking for, nobody wants to be broken, ask for the right thing, Neiloshka, you were very right to ask us all to send something positive to Sophia, we will, be this is what friends are for, virtual and real, a long chain of hope, and laughs, as Sophia needs a lot of laughing moment to be prepared for the surgery and go there in the best of spirits ever.

    Good sleep, good laughs, healthy eating, arnica.

    You take care of the cleaning up, the providing laughs and lifting up. Let’s face the fear, we are all afraid now but we are not going to sit back, an army of internet friends can block any harm to a loving person such as Sophia.

  10. V-Grrrl

    I’m sorry the two of you are going through this. I’m glad the earlier exploratory surgery yielded good results, and I’m betting on this one to do the same. Hey, if they’ve been watching this for a year, it can’t be too aggressive, even if it is cancerous, and I’m counting on it NOT being cancerous.

    I will be praying for you two. Peace…

  11. Non-Highlighted Heather

    Don’t be afraid, Sophia. It sounds like you have some proactive, aggressive doctors and as V-Grrrl said, if they’ve been monitoring it this closely….

    The date is on my calendar and you will be in my head, in my heart, and in my prayers.


  12. Non-Highlighted Heather

    Um. That didn’t quite format the way it was supposed to. Oh well, I kinda like it. Infinite hugs and kisses to Sophia. (And to you too, Neil)

  13. Finn

    You’re both in my thoughts and prayers. Just remember to breathe, both of you. And lean on each other.


  14. Sizzle

    can i send myself?

    big bigbigbig hugs for my friend sophia.

    more love is on the way… STAT!

    thinking of you both. XO

  15. MichelleV

    Lots of prayers coming your way and a card too. (Neil, if you want any alternative ideas email me privately)

  16. Bre

    Gracious that’s an awful big challenge to be facing right now! Sophia will certainly be in my thoughts and prayers!

  17. Alison

    Lots of love and good vibes to you both!

  18. Sarah

    Shit. I’m so sorry! This even got me to come out of my Flickr shell to comment.

    Sophia is strong and amazing and her humor and matter-of-fact outlook will help her tremendously. Thinking of both of you and will definitely get off my ass and do something for her.

  19. Long Story Longer

    Fuck! I’m sorry to hear this rotten news. Sending lots and lots of good vibes . . .

  20. schmutzie

    I feel for you guys. This is terrible news. I have you, and especially Sophia, in my thoughts.

  21. Roberta

    My thoughts are with you both… my focus is on a well, happy, vibrant, full-capacity Sophia.

  22. JanePoe (aka Deborah)

    Many healing thoughts for Sophia and support for you both … love, JP

  23. kanani

    I’m so sorry.
    Will send a card and best hugs.

  24. psychomom

    God loves you both and you are so lucky to have each other. Life can be a rough ride. Sophia and you need to hold on tight and hopefully it will all be better soon.

    Sophia and Neil you are in my prayers and even though we have never met, I care about you both.

    {{{Mom hugs}}}

  25. sbukophile

    Aw, Fuck! You’re both in my thoughts.

  26. Ash

    So sorry to hear your news Neil. I’m thinking of both of you.

  27. claire

    I’m so sorry to read this news. All my best, Sophia, really.

  28. lizardek

    Wow, what a 1-2-3 punch. 🙁 I’m sorry to hear this news, but I KNOW that you and Sophia will get through this together. Hang in there and know that the whole blog world is thinking of you and sending all kinds of powerful mojo Sophia’s way.

  29. Jocelyn

    So G_d, could you pick(on)someone else for a while? Not that I think you’re paranoid or anything, Neil…

    I’m sending positive, healing thoughts your way, Sophia. {{Hugs}}to both of you.

  30. Neil

    Thanks, all. I also should say that when I told Sophia that I was putting down a P.O. Box # rather than our home address because “of all the crazy people on the internet,” I wasn’t referring to most of you.

    OK, that was dumb, but the line made Sophia laugh, and that’s the point.

  31. brooke

    I’m so sorry. Much love to Sophia.

  32. molly

    You guys will get through this…and please know that there is someone in New York pulling for Sophia. Best wishes…

  33. Non-Highlighted Heather

    Most. Ha!

  34. Irina

    My thoughts are with you.

    You’ll definitely be hearing from me soon, and meanwhile keep strong!

    Hopefully, everything will be all right!

  35. Margaret

    i’ll pray and sacrifice animals and send sophia my well wishes

  36. wendy

    Even here, you show wit!  How is that possible.  I believe they call it grace.  You can negotiate with God later.  Priceless.  Has it occured to you that there is a pc. of god in all your weirdo internet friends?  Maybe he’s working on the deal right now.  There’s no place for suffering.  No reason for it.  I do wish Sophia paitence and faith.  She is a strong and beautiful woman.  She is strong enough to face this.  If she needs’ll help her.  We’ll help her.  One step at a time, my friend.   I know it’s very scary..but it’s still one step at a time.

  37. Sarah

    Refuah Sheleimah to Sofia.
    Hope everything goes well.

  38. jenny

    sending all the best wishes for a successful surgery and speedy recovery!

  39. Nance

    Wishing the best of all possible for you, Sophia.

  40. Heather B.

    Seriously, yo. WTF???

    I do sincerely hope things go smoothly.

  41. Danny

    Much love from the Millers. I love how you two take care of each other.

  42. Mariana

    This is terrible news, I’m very sorry.

  43. RD

    We will wrap her in a bubble of positive energy so that only good things can come to her. She will get past it all and be well. We’ll be thinking of you!

  44. Two Roads

    Neil, sending thoughts and good karma to Sophia. Just makes the little I do each year by supporting the Breast Cancer walk all that more important. No one should have to go through this once much less twice. Hang in there – you know you have lots of love out here to keep Sophia’s spirits up.

  45. Michael

    Sophia is in our thoughts and prayers

  46. SJ

    It’s so scary to not *know*. I just got past two weeks of “waiting for results” myself. It’s hell.

    I’m going to pray every day that beautiful Sophia gets the same wonderful news I did: NORMAL.

  47. Neil

    SJ – Glad to hear that your results were good. Yes, the waiting is the worst part.

    Two Roads — Thanks for walking in the Revlon Walk this weekend!

    Sophia and I went to see “Rent” tonight. It was the first time for both of us. I’m not sure it was the ideal musical to see right now, but the music was surprisingly good. We both liked it. And it is good to be distracted.

  48. Rach

    Dear Sophia and Neilochka, sending you big hugs and love from across the sea. I know you will give each other the strength to get through this.

  49. susannah

    I’m sending so much love and support to you both right now xox

  50. Tracie Lyn Huskamp

    dear sophia,

    we may never meet face to face… yet, I have come to know you via this blog.

    In my humble opinion, the world REALLY needs you to be here!
    I mean GEEZZZ… do you HONESTLY THINK you can leave Neil unsupervised!

    Sending warm thoughts of peace and comfort to you both.

  51. orieyenta

    Oh I’m so sorry to hear this…I’ll get Little Orieyenta working on a card ASAP…she’s just like Hallmark, when you care to send the very best. Rufuah shelamah Sophia!

  52. AscenderRisesAbove

    🙁 sorry to hear this sophia 🙁
    Sending you healing wishes and energy.

  53. Churlita

    Oh my god. I’m so sorry to hear about Sophia. I hope everything comes out alright. You definitely need Sophia to keep you in line and call you on your shit.

  54. sandra

    All my best thoughts Sophia’s way; I have a feeling that she’s just about to prove to herself and the world that she’s 100 times stronger than anyone ever knew.

  55. kristen

    I’m sorry about this news and I will be sending some love and support Sophia’s way. xo

  56. Roberta

    As a Jersey theater chick, I was surprisingly behind in finally discovering Rent. And it’s not the kind of musical I tend to like. I finally listened to it maybe 2-3 years ago, and it grew on me. It’s like a modern day Hair.
    Depressing as it may have been, pick yourself (and Sophia) the soundtrack and crank up La Vie Boheme anytime you need a lift.

  57. Atomic Bombshell

    Sophia, you are an awesome, strong woman, and that’s what it takes to get through times like these. You’re not alone. There are many ladies who’ve been through similar health trials. We’ll all be cheering you on and sending you love… XOXOX!

  58. It's Me... Maven

    Postcard will be sent forthwith!

    Also, I think it it would be a good use of our energies to Click to Fund Free Mammograms.

  59. Neil

    Thanks, Atomic. It is sort of depressing to hear how many woman have gone through similar circumstances. We’re still hoping it isn’t cancer this time. Does it make sense why anyone would put cancer in women’s breasts — perhaps the most beautiful things ever created? At least if there must be cancer, put it in the pinky toe.

  60. laurie

    Both you and Sophia are in my thoughts and prayers, too. I love love that pic of Sophia you selected, it’s lovely 🙂

  61. Jack

    Refuah shleimah to Sophia.

  62. psychotoddler

    Sophia: I’ll be happy to put in a good word for you with the Man upstairs. I need your Hebrew name and your mother’s Hebrew name. (email me for quicker results)

    Of course, feel free to pick my brain (such as it is) for medical questions. Hang in there!

  63. Neil

    Laurie — I’m a pretty bad photographer, but this one came out nice — maybe because Sophia told me exactly where to stand and take the shot.

    Jack — Thanks.

    Psychotoddler — Thanks. It is Sarah Rifka. Her mother’s name is Fanya. I don’t know her Hebrew name. And I still want you on this site soon as a guest, so we can all grill you with questions about medical care.

  64. Lynnster

    Neil, I am SO sorry y’all are going through this. Will keep you both in prayers, thoughts, send good karma, and everything else.

  65. Elisabeth

    So sorry to read about this damn thing. Hope all will be well in the end. In the meantime, you are both in my thoughts.

  66. gorillabuns

    sofia, i’d sing you goodwill wishes but i don’t think you would care for my wanna-be singer’s voice. most don’t, only when they’ve been drinking one too many drinks.

    sending both of you good thoughts, prayers and positive vibes your way.

  67. Javacurls

    Oh Neil I’m so sorry to hear about Sophia. I will keep you both in my prayers.

    Sophia: On May 1st, Lily of the Valley flowers are sold on the streets of France & Belgium as part of the May Day celebration. Friends & family give each other Lily of the Valley flowers as they are believed to bring good luck throughout the year. So tomorrow I’ll purchase a bunch in your name in hopes that it will bring you lots of luck & hope. Hang in there. 😉

  68. plain jane

    I send my good thoughts your way.

    Illness and disease has met its match in Sophia. I have complete confidence in her strength and resiliency.

  69. Ariel

    Oh darlings, this sucks! Lots of love and hugs from England…

  70. Dagny

    Everything will be OK. I know it will.

    My maternal grandmother is a two-time survivor of breast cancer. And she is the only living grandparent I have at this point. I think that says a lot. Sophia is just as feisty as my grandmother so I know that even if things are bad, she’ll make it through.

    Now I feel inspired for a road trip — to Sebastapol. So that I can send Sophia a present I know she really needs.

  71. Shelli

    I’m thinking about her. I will send her something. Something to cheer her up. I will think about it first and it will be something good. God bless. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  72. Tex In The City

    Sing this to the tune of Happy Birthday and if you do it with jazz hands I am sure it will make her smile 🙂

    God is blessing you now!
    God is blessing you now!
    God is blessing you your wonderfuuuul!
    God is blessing you now!

    I am sending you both lots of love and healing light.

  73. Neil

    Tex… I can’t wait to try it, but… what are “jazz hands?”

  74. Paris Parfait

    Dear Sophia, I know you’re a tough broad – you have to be to put up with Neil – and you’re going to get past this latest challenge, because you’re strong and amazing! I’m sending you something in the mail, but for now, please know you’re very much in my thoughts and prayers. Hoping you’ll sail through the upcoming surgery and/or treatment with your usual good humour and fighting spirit! Bisous, Tara xo

  75. Miss Syl

    Man, I’m angry, too. So angry, that I decided to vandalize God’s property to show Him just how pissed off I am about this.

    So, like, do you know how hard it is to toilet paper a burning bush?

    Sigh. Well, until I can afford more TP, I guess I’ll have to settle for sending you all my best wishes and good hopes, Sophia, for this to turn out as well as possible…because you deserve it.



  76. an9ie

    Sophia, I hope that everything turns out well. Sending you positive thoughts from across the ocean and hoping they will do some good.

    Neil, still love your writing. Don’t ever stop 🙂

    Warm wishes to you both,

  77. Linda Freedman

    Okay, I need the Hebrew name. Sophia bat ? Or Sophia ______bat _____ _______.
    Something like that.

  78. Neil

    Linda, thanks — It is Sarah Rifka. Her mother is Fanya, without a Hebrew name.

  79. LisaBinDaCity

    At certain times of my life I’ve certainly thought G-d was really pissed off at me or something. It just all seemed to hit the fan at once, and was SO NOT FAIR.

    Here’s the good news… after Sophia gets through this, she, (and you,) have a run of great good luck coming.

    Best to you both.

  80. Susan

    Sophia, good luck. I really hope for the best for you. Hugs and lots of it!

  81. Jenn

    well, I’m late to the party, but I’ll send some good vibes your way. And Neil, I know how hard it is to watch someone you love deal with this, so while I do send prayers and whatnots to Sophia, I’m sending some your way too. Hang in there. All this is manageable.

  82. brettdl

    Sorry Neil, we were out of town until recently. Sorry to hear the bad news. Let us know if you need anything.

  83. Anne

    Hey Neil:

    Sorry to hear the bad news. I hope everything’s okay. We’re no strangers to the C-word around here–my mother’s been battling Stage 4 for about five years now. There are always new treatments–there were three approved in the past year for breast cancer. Hang in there.

  84. Neil

    Thanks, Anne!

  85. donno

    don’t know you… came across this site by accident.

    keep fighting and keep good people around you!

    i feel the love…

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