Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: May 2007 (page 3 of 3)

Do You Do Yoga?


With Sophia’s surgery coming up, I’m trying to not make the mistakes of the past, where I get more anxious than Sophia, and I’m the one who feels like fainting in the hospital.  I don’t think I breathe properly, especially when I’m nervous.  I also have a deviated septum, so I tend to breathe through my mouth, which I’ve read is NOT the best way to breathe.

I remember reading an article about some sort of yoga that deals specifically with breathing.   Do any of you do yoga?  What does it do for you?  I really know very little about yoga, which should be a surprise to you, since there are as many yoga studios as fish taco stands in Redondo Beach.  I’m most interested in the breathing aspect of it, rather than the ability to flex myself like a pretzel.   They do yoga at the gym, but it seems less focused on breathing than exercise.   I’m also a little turned off by the pseudo-religious aspects of places like the Rising Lotus Yoga Studio:

Come join us for an evening of ecstatic chanting. No singing experience needed, only a willingness to open your heart (and your mouth) to the blissflul flow. Kirtan (from the sanskrit word for singing) is easily learned and instantly memorable. The form is simple: a lead group calls out the melodies. The crowd responds. Sanskrit, the language of ancient India, is also the mother tongue of many modern languages. But the true meaning of its sounds are in the effect they create. As everyone’s breathing becomes synchronous, a feeling of unity and timelessness arises. When we sing without restraint our heartfelt expression brings peace and joy and meditation follow effortlessly.

Am I being too judgemental?  If we’re going to be singing songs to relax, why do we have to do it in Sanskrit?  If we’re going to use some obscure language, why not Yiddish? 

And most importantly, through yoga, can I really perfect my tantric lovemaking like Sting?

I’ll probably wimp out about going to yoga, but I’m still curious about YOUR experiences, and what type of yoga you most recommend. 

A Year Ago on Citizen of the MonthFat People

Farmers Market








My First Day On Twitter


(I feel bad that I never join those online applications like MySpace and Facebook.    So I decided to join the newly popular Twitter to see what it is all about.   I’m still trying to figure it out.  I’ll probably stop using it by Monday.)

My Proposed Twitterings

I just woke up.  It is morning.  Sophia is sleeping.  7:00AM

Drank a cup of coffee. 7:12AM

Think about calling my mother.  7:19AM

Decide against it.  7:20AM

Think about going to the gym. 7:21AM

Decide against it. 7:22AM

Wondering who will be the final two in American Idol. 7:23AM

Going back to sleep.  7:30AM

I Sang for Sophia


A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:

Are there any songs about Sophia?

I’ll write a song about Sophia.

I’ll sing the song I wrote about Sophia.

Lillies of the Valley


A few days ago, Javacurls left this comment on a post about Sophia:

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.

The next day, Javacurls sent Sophia this email:

Hi Sophia,

I hope all the well wishes have brightened your day. Like I promised (per Neil’s comments) here are the Lily of the Valley flowers I’m virtually sending you so they may bring you the good luck that the French & Belgians believe they bring each year.

Take care,

Sophia LOVES flowers.   Sophia’s email back to Javacurls:

Dear Javacurls,
This was so fantastic and really cheered me up!  I never see those flowers in the States, and I wasn’t familiar with a flower with this name, but when I was a little girl in Odessa, I remember my mother loving this song about a guy bringing his girlfriend Lily of The Valley flowers, and not red roses or carnations (it’s called LAHN-dishi in Russian) and that the flowers are a greeting from the warm month of May.  So, when I saw your picture, I immediately knew what it was.
Thank you so much, and as you can see — I made it into my desktop theme, so I can look at them all the time.


Sophia then spent an hour searching for this song on the internet.   Sophia’s email to Javacurls:

Dear Javacurls,
See?  …you inspired me, so I went on Google and started searching for Russian Retro songs, and I found that old song my mom loved, when she was young.   I am attaching it for you.   Here’s the mp3.   It must be from the late fifties or early sixties, I think.
And just for your wonderful gesture, I translated the entire song (very roughly) for you:

What you brought me today, wasn’t a bouquet of magnificent roses,
Or tulips, or calla lilies.
Very timidly you extended your hand with these very modest flowers,
But they are so charming.
They are Lilies of the Valley,
They are Lilies of the Valley,
As if bright May is sending its regards.
They are Lilies of the Valley,
A white bouquet
Even though their outfit isn’t extravagant,
Their aroma is so gentle and tender;
They embody the charm of spring,
Like a song without words,
Like a first love,
Like a first confession of feelings
They are Lilies of the Valley,
They are Lilies of the Valley,
As if bright May is sending its regards.
They are Lilies of the Valley,
A white bouquet
I don’t believe that time dissipates feelings.
I have another opinion:
I believe that every year
Even when many years pass,
Come Spring, You’ll give me:
Lilies of the Valley,
Lilies of the Valley,
As if bright May is sending its regards.
They are Lilies of the Valley,
A white bouquet

Ты сегодня мне принёс
Не букет из пышных роз,
Не тюльпаны и не лилии.
Протянул мне робко ты
Очень скромные цветы,
Но они такие милые.

Ландыши, ландыши –
Светлого мая привет.
Ландыши, ландыши –
Белый букет.

Пусть неярок их наряд,
Но так нежен аромат;
В них весны очарование.
Словно песенка без слов,
Словно первая любовь,
Словно первое признание.

Я не верю, что года
Гасят чувства иногда.
У меня другое мнение:
Верю, будешь каждый год,
Пусть хоть много лет пройдёт,
Ты дарить мне в дни весенние.

Yours, Sophia

A Spring Night’s Dream


I fell asleep early tonight.  Around 2AM, I woke up after having a vivid dream.  I went downstairs and found a sleeping Sophia in front of the TV.    She hates sleeping on the couch, so I helped her upstairs to the bedroom. 

I’m now back in the living room, totally awake.  What I have on my mind — is the dream that woke me up. 

I sometimes read about the dreams of other bloggers, but I NEVER remember my dreams.  I’ve even tried to wake up with a notebook at my side, but the minute I open my eyes, ZIP, it is erased.

But tonight, I remember my dream! 

If you are waiting for something profound, please go to another blog.


I am in my childhood home in Flushing, Queens.  I exit my bedroom with a bunch of old newspaper clippings.  Sophia is sitting on the living room couch.  I lift up one of the clippings to show her.

“You’re not going to believe what this one says!” I say to her.  “It’s from an article that I wrote for my fifth grade newspaper.”

I read from the clipping.

“”Why Computers Are Not Going to Make It,” by Neil Kramer, P.S. 154 Newspaper.”

I continue on, as Sophia chuckles.

“Some experts say that one day,  computers will be important.  While computers may do some math, I don’t think that anyone will use a computer to get information.  Can you imagine looking on a computer rather than going to your local library?’

Sophia and I can’t stop laughing as I read this fifth grade “news” article (which I never wrote in real life).  Suddenly, we realize that the entire living room is on the “American Idol” stage and the audience is applauding.  Randy Jackson loves what I wrote.  Paula gives me a standing ovation.  Simon says it is the most original piece of writing since Mark Twain.

Suddenly, I’m walking through some cobble-stoned European city.  There is an alarm coming over “air raid” loudspeakers which are standing on every block.   Every pedestrian stops walking and stands silently. 

“What’s going on?” I ask some gentleman wearing a hat.

“It’s May Day.  And it’s been re-invented.  Now we all celebrate YOUR fifth grade article on “Why Computers Are Not Going to Make It.”  During the alarm, all women undress to honor you.”

I look around and every woman is taking off her bra and panties and dancing for me.

That’s when I woke up.

I know this dream is very adolescent, but it really happened… well, at least in my dreams.

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