the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Truth and Fiction


When I took baths as a child, I would create James Bond-type adventure movies right in the bathtub. I didn’t use toys. My hands were my toys. Each hand was a different character. My right hand was the “hero” and the other was the “villain.” These “movies” were action-packed. My hands would have have fist fights. They would swim during underwater battles. The soap dish was a mountain cliff in Hawaii, and when the right hand was trapped by the evil left hand, the hero would jump off the cliff into the “ocean” below. As the hero swam away, he make his final escape by boarding his super-powered motorboat, which was played by my Penis. There was nothing sexual in any of this. My hands and my Penis were actors in a studio blockbuster.

My Penis retired from acting for several years, then — like John Travolta in Pulp Fiction — he made a dramatic comeback when I started this blog. My conversations with my Penis in this blog are not a joke to me.  I see them as true, as I do most of things that I write about on this blog.   At times, they might take place in an alternative reality, one different than the one where I went to Mamma Mia with Sophia.

I’ve always had the habit of drifting off into fantasy. Maybe I should talk about this when I go into therapy. Do I use fantasy to escape from reality? Am I still stuck in a world where James Bond still lives in a bathtub in Flushing, New York, and uses my Penis as a motorboat?

When I was twelve, my mind would drift off at the dinner table while the adults talked. As they blabbed, I would imagine the entire table levitating That’s sort of cute. But it’s not adorable to do this as an adult.

In a few weeks, I’m supposed to be moving out of “Sophia’s place.” How am I dealing with this? Am I looking for a new apartment? Have a made a decision about living in NY or LA? No. I’m completely avoiding thinking about it. So, what AM I thinking about?

You already know. How long would it take me to sleep with 50 women in all 50 states?

As Sophia might say, “Like a child.”

One of my fears about therapy is that I will actually have to look at things IN REALITY, something I try to avoid at all costs, like watching Regis and Kelly .

Yesterday, I called up a clinic about going to therapy with one of their therapists. Today, some intern called up and wanted to interview me — on the phone — to learn more about me before I came in for a session.

She asked me all sort of personal questions.

“Do you feel anxious a lot?” she asked.

“Sometimes… uh, maybe… not all the time, but sure, when something is going on that causes anxiety…”

I was not prepared for her questions, certainly not by some faceless intern, who I visualized as a pretty twenty-something brunette with tortoise-shell glasses. I don’t want her to think I’m a loser!

“How is your sex life?” she asked. “Are you happy with your work?” What can you afford to pay?” Are you taking any medications? Have you ever been hospitalized for a psychiatric problem?”

“Uh… it is… uh… uh… no, of course no. Sex life? Well, we are separated, but…. Work? You mean real work? Are you supposed to like work? Sure, everyone can be happier. I’m happy enough? What do you mean about happy?”

Later, during dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, Sophia took me to task.

“Why didn’t you just answer her the truthfully?” she asked. “You shouldn’t go into therapy if you are going to lie to the therapist.”

“I didn’t lie. I wanted to tell her the real truth. I’m just not sure what the “real” truth is?”

“You’re not going to tell me about this childish alternative reality nonsense again? Do you want to do therapy or not?!”

“Well, of course I want to do therapy. It’s just… it’s…it’s…”

Suddenly, our table started to levitate, floating in the air at the Cheesecake Factory. Sophia was so astounded by this amazing event that we never did finish the rest of our conversation.

And that’s the truth.


  1. V-Grrrl

    Well Neil, your penis has always gotten straight to the point–no waffling over reality for him. You and your penis need to have a heart to heart (no HANDS involved) about what’s REALLY going on on at Chez Kramer. Then you’ll be ready to meet the brunette in tortoiseshell glasses–I mean then you’ll be ready for THERAPY.

    (Neil reads this. GASPS. Stands on edge of soap dish and PLUNGES into the Pacific, pursued by sharks.)

  2. Bre

    I think that the initial process of getting into therapy and really answering the hard questions truthfully was one of the hardest things I’ve done – best though. Hands down best.

  3. Not Fainthearted

    Neilochka, in answer to your question, Yes. Therapy will force you to look at things IN REALITY. But I speak from experience when I say even though that’s the scariest thing in the world it is totally worth the work it takes. And YOU are worth the work it takes to do it.

    So quit stalling and jump!

  4. sizzle

    just know that therapy only works if you work it. it’s all up to you to do the internal reshifting. as much as it feels like they are interviewing you when you first begin, remember that you interview your therapists too. it’s important to find a person who you can work with! there are some great therapists out there.

    great things can happen. . . and will!

  5. plain jane

    I’m divorced from a guy who wouldn’t do the “real work” in therapy.

    I agree that its hard work, its scary and its emotional but it is so worth it.

    P.S. Is the blog sponsored by the American Counseling Society?

  6. Margaret

    did the intern ask you if you heard voices? that one always cracks me up…. even if it is the start of opening up with a new doc who i will have to pay (adding insult to injury) to burst my bubble

  7. wendy

    1. It was an intake intern. Anyone who spills all to the intern, is, in my opinion, a little nuts. WAIT FOR THE DOCTOR. Then, wait til you feel safe, then….now if you never feel safe, get a new doctor..or…consider you may be the prob.

    2.The happy question is one of the LAMEST questions…Someone asked me that recently…I gave them a blank stare…What am I one?cause I think from that point on (happy vs sad) gets a little more complicated.

    3. I do see a theme here though..hero vs villian..present vs zoned out….we could delve deeper here.

    email me..I have really cheap rates…

    PS..HOW MUCH CAN YOU PAY?????please….
    really not what youwant to hear on an intake call…

  8. Otir

    Talking therapy never did me any good.

  9. scarlet hip

    “A Man, His Penis, and His Therapist”

    The title of your blockbuster book. You can thank me later.

    Oh, and this is my new name and address, but still the same old me!

  10. Two Roads

    You have a choice to be honest or truthful. Truthful is answering the question – no more, no less. Honest is answering the question with feelings and other pertinent information thrown in. Honesty will get you the help you need. Truthful will leave you frustrated.

  11. better safe than sorry

    it’s so much easier to get caught up in a fantasy world, where things work out the way you want them to. i don’t know why it’s so hard to be truthful and honest, maybe you don’t want to hear what they might have to say?

  12. Mitch McDad

    I’m not impressed. When I order the Tex-Mex Eggrolls at Cheesecake, my table levitates, too.

    Having lived in both NY and LA, I’d take LA in a heartbeat.

    And I say definitely lie to your therapist…gotta keep them guessing.

  13. Laurie Ruettimann

    I think your penis needs group therapy.

  14. By Jane

    Here’s one of my epiphanies from my recent Travels With Molly: “There are the things I know and there are the stories I tell myself about the things I know.”

  15. churlita

    I’ve been thinking about going into therapy too. I have no idea why I’m so scared of it, but I definitely am.

  16. ren.kat

    I have never- never- heard of an intern calling to ask preliminary questions. I wonder if this therapist closes the door when you meet, or shows the whole session on short circuit for the interns in the lounge? There are a lot of therapists in the book.

    And I don’t see how you could be any more honest than you are here.

    Oh, and one more bit of unsolicited advice. Reality is overrated, and subjective experiences ARE real.

  17. Ariel

    Did the table levitate a little or did it fly past, carrying your food away? I was hungry yesterday and wishing for some American cheesecake, hoping to manifest a piece… and one fell from the sky onto my lap. Might the two incidents be related?

  18. gorillabuns

    so, what you’re saying is your penis made the table levitate, right?

  19. JanePoe (aka Deborah)

    “Reality leaves a lot to the imagination” ~John Lennon

    Much peace to you dear Neil as you sort through all the challenges of reality. JP

  20. leahpeah

    wow, neil. i feel for you. i’m guessing you already know that i’m a cheerleader for therapy. you get out of it what you’re willing to put into it. and it is some of the hardest and scariest work you’ll ever do. i would suggest making sure you are doing things to take care of yourself immediately after every session. for example, don’t plan any heavy meetings at the office as the next order of the day. maybe a walk in the park or lunch or a massage which will make you cry even more. or sex. sex is always good.

  21. helen

    Do your penis get a say in those therapy sessions?

    Penis for equal rights

  22. Long time reader

    Hmmm let’s see. Therapy vs. Fantasy.

    You’ve been semi-separated from your wife for well over a year, can’t be together yet can’t seem to separate, and are seemingly more unhappy by the day.

    And yet somehow in the entire LA metroplex, (and all it’s surrounding areas,) you can’t seem to find one good therapist? I’m calling bullshit my friend.

    Team Therapy!

  23. Katie

    Good for you, Neil. Therapy doesn’t have to be like what you’ve seen in Woody Allen or Mel Brooks movies – there are many different types. You might find cognitive therapy useful, as it is more action oriented. has some referrals (I’m not affiliated, but I have some academic experience in this area).

  24. Karl

    Wow, therapists are nosy.

  25. melanie

    Fantasy is a great tool for writing and sex, not so great for the rest of life. Figure out what it costs you to place fantasy above the “real time” you wish to achieve. Everything has a payoff. Humor is fine, but using it to avoid reality, its something I know all to well.

    Good Luck Neilochka.

  26. August

    Ok, so I’m starting to think that I need to start at the beginning and then read in order so I know what’s going on. I’m not normally inclined to do this when I start reading a new blog, (new to me) but I LOVE YOUR WRITING and I’m intrigued and want to know what the heck you are talking about… like “What happened at Mama Mia”. It looks like I’m going to find out in the next (yet, previous) post.

    As for your bath story, how did I know the Penis was going to have a role somewhere in the action? I know it’s not a joke to you, of course, but I had to laugh when I read that it got to be the motorboat! What a fun ride that must have been.

    I used to always be a mermaid in the tub. Maybe I’ll blog about my bathtime mermaid adventures someday.

  27. Alexandra

    Hmm, that is very weird and I think not good practice to essentially have done an intake with you by the phone. I’m curious which one it was? And I hoped to see you guys while I was here! What happened? Sending you and Sophia hello’s!

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