the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

I’ve Learned to Hug


If you look at my archives from last year, you’ll notice that it was a dramatic week here at Citizen of the Month in 2006.  There was the wild “Blog Appreciation Day,” something which many of you participated in.  There was a post where I expressed my fear of meeting some of you, wondering if I should hug you or not.   And it was also moving week, where I moved back in with Sophia.

It is now a year later. Things change.

1)  I’m now going to move OUT.

2)  I don’t have the energy to do a big Blog Appreciation Day.  I’m in a much more mellow mood.  Of course, I greatly appreciate all my blogging friends, even if I don’t send you a photo of me reading your blog.  Let me postpone the big day for a month.  I don’t like to end traditions.

3)  Most importantly — I have overcome my fear of life-long fear of hugging strangers!  Last week, I went to a blog reading AND Secret Agent Josephine‘s art show, and I just hugged everyone — men, women, child, and dogs.   I even hugged LvGurl before I was even sure who she was. Something has happened to me over the past year — I have become a hugging machine.

Tonight, Danny invited me to see Wilco at the Greek Theater.  I have to remember to hug him.

By the way — I did end up buying a print done by Secret Agent Josephine, but I still have to pick it up from the gallery. Here is the original sketch to give you an idea of what it looks like.  Isn’t it perfect for me? — A dog with glasses surfing for pornography on his laptop!



  1. tiff

    The hugging is very important, especially if you want to impress the ladies with your extensive knowledge of the types of hugs.

    You did know that there are types of hugs, right?

    Gosh I hope so. You could get in a lot of trouble if you didn’t.

  2. Neil

    Huh? Different types? Should I ask Sophia about this?

  3. nabbalicious

    I’m going to that show, too! Dooce also is going to be there. I have so many people to stalk now.

    Um, hello. Are you going to meet Jeff Tweedy? If so, can you give him a long, lingering hug for me, please? (It’s a hug-by-proxy, so just tell him it’s for a girl and he might be okay with it).

  4. e.

    Yes, like Nabbalicious said, I read earlier today that Dooce will at the show. There will be plenty of people for you to hug!

  5. Neil

    Great. Just my luck. I’m sitting next to Dooce and have to hug her. That is like the ultimate test. Luckily I have my new therapist’s business card in case I need to call her.
    If someone needs to pick me out of a crowd — I look like a cute dog with glasses who spends too much looking for pornography on his laptop. Nabbalicious, will you be wearing anything idiosyncratic tonight — like a feather in a hat — so you are easily seen?

    And, Danny — I think you just because my most important blog connection. Yeah, yeah… Me and Jeff Tweedy… we go way back…

  6. August

    I’m your crush of the day??? I can’t tell you how that truly makes my day. I love you too Neil!

  7. August

    Oh, by the way, I love Secret Agents Josephine artwork too!!! And blogfriends are the best!

  8. LVGurl

    Ah, it was such a nice hug!

  9. sizzle

    i believe you hugged me more than once…but i might be confusing that tush pinch for a hug. 😉

  10. nabbalicious

    Well crap, I just gave away my feathered cap to Goodwill! And in typical fashion, I haven’t decided what to wear yet, but I’m leaning toward my gray skirt because it’s comfy and L.A. seems like it’s been hotter than blazes every time I go up there.

    But I might be more easily spotted if you see Darren first — he’s heavily bearded with longish hair. Or wait, did I just describe about 80% of Wilco fans?

    I’ll keep an eye out for you! Woot!

  11. Neil

    Nabbalicious — a grey shirt? Thanks for making it easy.

    Sizzle — I think I turned the corner when I gave you that special hug in Portland. I thought, “This hugging biz ain’t so bad after all!”

  12. nabbalicious

    No, no! Skirt!

    Wait. That doesn’t help, either, does it?

    Um, I have brown hair? Wait. Er, I am of perfectly average height? Just look for the boring chick.

    Ah, I know. I should carry around a plate of chicken and waffles.

  13. Danny

    Oy, I think that’s so funny that Dooce is going to the show tonight. Considering your so-called rivalry with her, I think you should wear a sign that says “The Tweedys invited me to the show but Dooce had to buy a ticket.” Looking forward to my hug!

  14. Neil

    Nabbalicious — I’ll be wearing a black and white short sleeve shirt, jeans that are one size too small because I think I gained some weight from lack of exercise, and those “hip” converse sneakers that we used to wear when we were twelve years old. Sophia put some stuff in my hair to make it stand up, and I shaved. And my “coffee burn” on my lip has almost disappeared. I’ll also be wearing a button that reads “I Love Mommybloggers.”

  15. scarlet hip

    Will you please hug Danny for me!?!

    And grab his ass a little.

    And just a little grind…

    Thank you.

  16. Bre

    Hugging is one of my favorite things in life … I’m sending you an imaginary internet hug right now!

  17. PocketCT

    Wow what a nice print that seems to be. Good for you to turn a hug phobia around to a hugging machine stopping at nothing like the terminator of light affection. I wasn’t around for your last blog appreciation day and have yet to read the archive since I was quickly inspired to comment. If you need to postpone the holiday for a month, oh that is just fine. Will you accept a bit of high regard for you and CotM while I am waiting? Good. Thank you for all the fine text to read while drinking coffee in the morning or reading a bit before bed. I hope you remember that for every comment there are many who smile without typing their thoughts. I would love a hug if I get the opportunity to meet you! Cheers

  18. Dave2

    I want to know if it’s Doggy Porn that he’s surfing for…

  19. teahouseblossom


  20. Otir

    People make fun of us French for our simple habits of kissing each others or shaking hands (only the first time and not always), but it so much easier than the hugs that I never know how to do . Bleah.

  21. come clean

    I think that hugging is greatly under appreciated by most people. A simple hug can totally change your mood and lift someone spirits up. It’s too bad we don’t do more of it.

  22. Alison

    So, did you run into Dooce at the show? If so, did you hug her?

  23. sassy

    I so agree with Come Clean. I live in France and no one hugs here.

    Sometimes I hug people and they freak out. Imagine my mother in law imagining the issues I must have to want to do a full body press with an aging woman.

    Hugs are underrated until you don’t get them without someone looking at you like a pervert.

  24. Ash

    Wow, a whole year …

  25. kapgar

    We may be postponing it a month, but, believe you me, I still appreciate the heck out of you.

  26. sarah

    i love hugs! HUGS to all!
    yes, there are most definitely different types of hugs!

  27. nabbalicious

    All right, I missed you. The parking situation at the Greek is a nightmare! We wound up not getting there until the middle of “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.” Grrr. Also, no Dooce sightings. But I DID see Sandra Oh!

    Neil, were you the guy with the lighter?

    Awesome show — Jeff really seemed to be on and enjoying himself! Plus, any show that features “Via Chicago” is automatically worth the price of admission. Hope you had a good time, and I’ll catch you at the next show!

  28. churlita

    I would totally hug Danny too if he invited me to see Wilco at the Greek Theater.

  29. Neil

    Nabbalicious — Yes, the parking was awful. I got there an hour early because I’m used to the parking at these venues already. Had an eight dollar hot dog and diet Coke at my seat. But getting out of there took longer than the show.

    And you were right about the insanity of looking for a guy with a beard. I’ve never seen so many beards in one place. And men with glasses! I actually felt uncomfortable fitting into the band’s demographics too well.

    Sorry I didn’t get too talk with you. Or meet Dooce. But I saw James Spader. And my shirt looked exactly like those of the ushers, so I had three people ask me to show them to their seats. I didn’t have enough nerve to hug them, though.

    Thanks Danny!

  30. Fashion Minute

    Carefull… affection is contagious. You may just have started “Hug APpreciation Day.”

  31. Eileen

    Love the art- love it. You’ll have to show the final piece.

  32. Danny

    You definitely looked like you fit the Wilco vibe, Neil. Except you weren’t smoking pot. There were so many smokers around us last night that we all got contact highs, even my 12-year-old daughter. I’m sorry you couldn’t make it to the after-party, I was looking forward to your Dooce smackdown. I saw James Spader too but am bummed I missed Catherine Keener and Sandra Oh. And I never really got my hug which you still owe me.

  33. Neil

    Danny — It really was great. You should read some of the reviews from local bloggers. There are some music lovers who thought seeing Wilco was akin to meeting Jesus:

    Here’s one example —

    “Well, I’m not going to lie about it. Wilco has just about perfected live music performance. The playing was pretty much flawless. Their setup looks amazing. The sound and the mix is immaculate. They knocked me out.

    There were times that I was just floored by the nuance I was hearing out of each instrument. Normally, I don’t like it when a band plays note for note what’s on an album, but somehow Wilco’s newest record (and a lot of their old stuff) is meant for just that. I know that the idea with Sky Blue Sky was to only record things as a band that they would be able to replicate live, instead of relying on overdubs and studio tricks. I didn’t really know what that meant until tonight. It means that they’re America’s greatest rock band. I really believe that. There is no other band in America that can do what Wilco did last night. There is no other band that can make the music on their records live with the level of craftsmanship and intelligence that Wilco provides. It was an amazing show. I only wish that they’d played at a venue that would have let them play past 10:30.

    Then again, I can’t get greedy for the Tweedy. Thanks for the great show, Wilco.”

  34. tamarika

    Hey! Did you hug me? I can’t remember. Memory fades…

  35. tiff

    Re: types of hugs

    Women do not pat each other’s backs, men do (twice, then the release). Neither one rubs the other person’s back (see lovers below)

    Lovers hug with their crotches as well as with their arms. They also rub each other’s bacs briefly

    Crushes hug chestally, and when done look into each other’s eyes.

    Um, let’s see.

    Strangershug through the upper chest area. being sure to keep the groins separate. The hug lasts about 2 sconds and when its done the huggers separate completely. No lingering hand-holding, no shoulder patting nothing like that.

    Oh, I’m sur there’s more, but I’m trying to remember what I read about hugs just a day or so ag, and I’m not getting it all regurgitated. Sorry ’bout dat.

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