the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: August 2007 (Page 2 of 4)

The Washing Machine – Part One

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(from previous post)

A washing machine is like a woman.   If handled right it gets wet and inviting, and washes away all sorrows.    But a washing machine, like a woman, is a turbulent, emotional machine.  When something goes wrong — watch out!

OK, I hear you.  My comparison of women and washing machines in my last post is borderline offensive, but I do associate washing machines with women, which is odd, since it was my father who did the laundry when I was growing up.  

When my parents married, my father was a real traditional sort of husband, which meant, of course, letting my mother do all the household chores.  At some point, when I was around six years old, my father decided to do the laundry.   Did the feminist movement finally reach him?  Did my mother have a “serious” talk with him while I was over at my friend Rob’s house playing “Operation?”  Or was it because he was able to go downstairs to the apartment building “laundry room” and be the only adult male in a sea of horny housewives?

My father loved going to the laundry room and talking and joking with the women.  I would sometimes accompany him downstairs and help him fold the towels, embarrassed that others could see my Fruit of the Loom underwear as he place it into the dryer.  Most of the women would ignore me as they spoke with my father, hanging their enormous cupped bras right in my face, not realizing how this would affect me in my later years. 

My father took on his laundry-chore as a job, doing it for the rest of his life, even though he never got the hang of doing it correctly.  He was stubborn and refused to follow “the rules.”  He mixed the whites and colors, and always dried everything on high heat.  My underwear always came out pink and too tight, proving once and for all that you are born gay.  Tight, pink underwear can make you look like ABBA, but it can’t really change your sexual orientation. 

I went to college at Columbia in Manhattan.  I stayed in the dorms, despite my parents living in nearby Queens.  During my freshman year, I was so bad at doing my laundry that I would pack it in a suitcase and take it home with me on the subway to my parents.

During my sophomore year, while watching the McNeil-Lehrer Report on PBS in Nanette’s room, Nanette unbuttoned my pants and gave me a hand job.  It was a tremendously good experience, but when I came all over her duvet cover, she immediately insisted that I  go downstairs to the dorm laundry room and wash the duvet cover with hot water and bleach.  But from that day on, I did my own laundry.

When I moved to LA, a roommate found a girlfriend in a laundromat in Hollywood.  I started doing my laundry at the neighborhood laundromat, even though there was already a decent machine in my own apartment building.  Rumor had it that the laundromat was a good place to pick up girls, so that was the big draw.  I was pretty bad at it.  I felt phony acting like a dumb guy and asking questions that I already knew the answer to — like, “How much Tide do I put in the double load machine?”

I never did meet any women in a laundromat, but I enjoyed the experience.  Women would come in looking disheveled; their hair in buns, wearing sweats and flip-flops.  It was very easy to imagine that this is what a woman would look like in the morning after we had sex all night.  Women became less of a mystery.  Years before meeting Sophia, I began to understand how women used their makeup, hair, and clothes to enhance what God gave them.   In the laundromat, I could see the “real” woman, and when it came down to it, even the most gorgeous woman had dirty laundry, just like everybody else.  I consider my single male “laundromat days” as an important part of my education.

After Sophia and I got married, one of our first purchases was a Kenmore washer/dryer from Sears.  I think it was the first time I had ever actually walked into a Sears.  Sophia insisted that we buy a “frontload washer” for reasons that, years later, I still don’t understand. 

Buying a washing machine was symbolic for me.  What could be more iconic of domestic life?  Gone were my days of hanging out in public laundromats, watching women drying their delicates.  We were now a family unit – husband, wife, and washing machine.

Sophia and I have not had an easy marriage, but throughout the years, one constant has been our reliable Kenmore washing machine.  It cleaned our clothes and didn’t ask for anything in return.

Last week, I was packing up some books from my office.  Sophia and I are “separating” again.  I’m supposed to be moving out by next month, but I am moving very slowly. 

“Neil!” yelled Sophia from the garage.  “The water won’t go down.  Something is wrong with the washing machine!”

(continued)

The Washing Machine — Author’s Preface

Once we were mere boys, playful and innocent, unaware of our future roles as breadwinners, caretakers, and role models for the community. 

One day, we wake up, and we are men. 

We march into adventure — we find the soft toilet seat, we save the little pigeon from a sure death.  But each time we slay a dragon, there is another one pounding on the door, breathing his hot flames of destruction against our skin, threatening our homes and loved ones.  And we must put on our armor and fight.

This is a story about a man and a washing machine. 

A washing machine is like a woman.   If handled right it gets wet and inviting, and washes away all sorrows.    But a washing machine, like a woman, is a turbulent, emotional machine.  When something goes wrong — watch out!

(continued later)

Inspirational Sunday: Loyalty

Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.
WALT DISNEY

Talk to people in their own language. If you do it well, they’ll say, “God, he said exactly what I was thinking.” And when they begin to respect you, they’ll follow you to the death.
LEE IACOCCA

Leaders are leaders only as long as they have the respect and loyalty of their followers.
HANS SELIYE

From my Google Analytics stats —

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There’s also some wonderful news to report —

— blogging friend Schmutzie is now cancer-free! I’d like to think that our photos to her “cockroll” gave her some added strength. I was certainly proud to be the first to share my cock photo with her! It is great how we can help each other. I know the support of the blogosphere certainly helped keep Sophia’s spirits high during her breast cancer/DCIS  surgeries.  As always, I’m ready to send good vibes to anyone who needs it!

To continued good health, Schmutzie!

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(Chicken Boy, an old LA restaurant icon, now retired and stored in the back of an LA art gallery where Ellen Bloom had her art show)

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(Chicken Boy’s Glory Days)

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A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  The Art Gallery

Four Reasons I Haven’t Posted Today

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1)  A blogger named Frida linked to me, saying she liked my blog’s humor, and I have been reading her archives all morning

After I saw Frida’s link, I went to her site and was very surprised to learn that she is a human rights officer in Afghanistan.  Maybe I am dealing with stereotypes, but I wouldn’t expect someone with this very serious job to be reading Citizen of the Month.  I’m now reading through all her archives, and this is such fascinating reading — that I postponed writing a post.   You should check out her blog, Frida’s Notebook.  Frida’s humanitarian work in dangerous places makes me ashamed of my blog posts about eating dinner at El Torito.   I bet you anything that this woman does NOT need therapy!   While I can already see that I have a difference of opinion with Frida over Israel, like I do with my blogging friend, Paris Parfait,  one CANNOT be unimpressed with how this woman lives her life.

2)  I’m getting blogged down with my blog reading, so I decided to read your blogs rather than write anything new. 

There are so many cool blogs out there and so many nice people.   How do people handle all this interaction without going crazy or appearing rude?  Here is blogging big-wig (and former Microsoft evangelist) Robert Scoble explaining how he skims through 600 blogs a day.  This video is supposed to impress you with his amazing skill in filtering through information.  Sorry, Robert, but skimming through 600 blogs a day makes you a jerk.

3)  My washing machine overflowed and Sophia wants me to fix it.

For some reason, the water from my washing machine won’t go down.  I called the “service guy” and he came over, but then honestly told me that to fix it, he would have to charge me MORE money than the machine was actually worth.  When he saw my long face, he took me aside and whispered, “You can fix it yourself.”  He explained to me how I just need to unscrew some thingamajig and take off something else, and most likely the problem is a coin stuck in the whatever part of some tube.  He said this all in a heavy Spanish accent, and even though I hardly understood a word, I thought it was impolite to ask him to repeat it.  I’m taking bets.  How many of you think the machine will be fixed by the time Sophia shows up?

4)  The two flight attendents  from the house next door are sunbathing topless.

Need I say more?

You Talk Like You’re a God

I was about to sit down and write about my first therapy session, but I’m not sure what to say yet.  Am I even supposed to write about my therapy  or does this fall into “confidentiality?”  I’ll say this — the therapist was very nice and nurturing, but I have no idea yet whether she will be “effective” with me.

I came home tonight and was amused to find a unfriendly comment on an old post — “Why is Los Angeles So Ugly?”

from YOU SUCKER:

you suck. you talk like you’re god or something, thinking you’re right and everyone is wrong

I’m not sure why this weird comment struck such a nerve with me.   I don’t even remember the post to be controversial.  But I have to admit, I like the poetry and drama of the comment.  What did I say that made him so upset?  Do I really appear “god-like” to him?  Cool! 

Being a little tipsy, I thought I would help this commenter expand on his comment to me.

to MYSELF:

You suck.  You talk like you’re a GOD or something, thinking you’re right and everyone is wrong.  What hubris!  Do not the stars shine on us all?  Do we not all fall and stumble?  If you are a GOD, you are a weak one.  You stand there naked, your stance unsteady, pleading for a woman’s flesh.  You are no knight going into battle, or even a farmer growing fruit.  You are just a man, drunk on margaritas, hours after therapy, taking off your glasses, your body wanting.  

Besides, no real God would order the chicken tacos at El Torito.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the MonthWolfgang Puck Hates My Family

Beautiful

I read over the last few posts and thought there was too much sex stuff going on. I really feel like expressing something beautiful today, like a tender poem, written from the heart. I just can’t think of anything. Sorry.

I searched on Google for a famous painting that I consider beautiful, a Gauguin or a Matisse, and I was going to just publish it as an example of beauty, but it just seemed stupid, publishing someone else’s famous painting.

A few weeks ago, Sophia and I were staying in a hotel, and on Saturday night, there was an Indian wedding. The women and men both wore such exotic clothes, multi-colored saris of the finest fabrics and rare silks for the women, and light-colored suits with intricate embroidery that enhanced the dark complexions of the Indian men.

Indian wedding clothes are beautiful.

I don’t find mountains as beautiful as grasslands. I think I would like living on a farm for a while. I really love rivers. Rivers are beautiful. The Brooklyn Bridge is beautiful. I would like to live by a brook. I really enjoy the sound of water moving, even when I’m standing in the shower. I can shower for an hour. I like to move around, letting the water hit me in different spots, listening to the shower spray off me at different angles, which changes the musical tone of the final splash.

I like that last line. It makes me laugh. The line isn’t beautiful, but laughter is.

There’s no point to this post. I like that. Not everything has to have a point. Like when you give a flower to a girl. What can she do with the flower? Not much other than look at it and enjoy the beauty.

I wish this post was more beautiful, like the sunset in Malibu or the leaves changing to orange in Vermont during the briskness of early Fall.

But I’m not God, so it isn’t easy.

Psychology Today, Therapy Wednesday

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Neil: “Hello.”

Therapist Intern: “Hi, this is Jodi calling from “Neurotics-R-Us” Clinic. I’d like to make a first appointment with you.”

Neil: “Great.”

Therapist Intern: “Which day of the week would you like to come in?”

Neil: “Um…uh…”

Therapist Intern: “Well, actually, now that I look at the calendar, we only have Monday and Wednesday?”

Neil: “That’s good. It makes it easier for me. Because part of my problem is that it is hard for me to make decisions.”

Therapist Intern: “I see. And when would you like to come in?”

Neil: “You mean like morning or afternoon?”

Therapist Intern: “Yes.”

Neil: “Are both available?”

Therapist Intern: “Yes.”

Neil: “Before I give you an answer can I go write a blog post asking my readers if they think a therapist is “better” in the morning, when she is “fresher,” or in the afternoon, when she is in her therapy “groove?””

Therapist Intern: “You realize that this is neurotic and it is something we should discuss, right?”

Neil: “I was joking.”

Therapist Intern: “Humor can be used to cover up serious emotions.”

Neil: “Can I ask you something that is on my mind, now that we’ve talked twice on the phone?”

Therapist Intern: “Of course.”

Neil: “What do you look like?”

Therapist Intern: “Well, I’m a green-eyed, brunette, with horn-rimmed glasses, very shapely, wearing jeans and a top with spaghetti straps, showing a bit of cleavage, and red “f**k me” shoes.”

Neil: “I see. Thank you. I know that in “reality,” I never asked this question, but I appreciate the “imaginary” answer.

Therapist Intern: “Well, while we are drifting off a bit, there is nothing I enjoy more than eating pizza, then riding a neurotic Jewish man, my perfect breasts bouncing, until I’m orgasming to the music of ABBA (the original, not the lame musical, Mamma Mia).”

Neil: “OK, OK, let’s keep the truth quotient to at least around 80% today.”

Therapist Intern: “When would you like to come in?”

Neil: “How about right now?”

Therapist Intern: “How about Wednesday afternoon.”

Neil: “It’s a date!”

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Sophia Wants You!

Truth and Fiction

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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.

Tonight’s Performance of Mamma Mia

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(As judged by Debbie Allen and Mary Murphy of “So You Think You Can Dance?” and Neilochka)

Debbie Allen

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“Can I just say that this performance was perfection personified. Everyone in the cast deserves a standing ovation. My Debbie Allen Dance Academy is open to every single one of you. Mamma Mia was intense and emotional. I felt the spirt from within. Thank you. Thank you everyone who worked on this show. You have inspired a whole new generation of musical theater lovers. You have inspired ME. The vocabulary of your souls touched us today. Thank you.”

Mary Murphy

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“All I can say is that after watching this performance of Mamma Mia is — WOO-HOO — GET me TWO TICKETs to the freakin’ hot tamale train and drive it through the tunnel of Abbalicious love!”

Neilochka

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“Imagine there’s a popular song that you really like. It speaks to you. The lyrics are about love and loss and when you listen to this song, it feels as if was written especially for you. Now, make believe you hear this song… in a commercial for Viagra.

That is how I felt at Mamma Mia. Like it was one big Viagra commercial. This show truly sucked. For once, I wish I never heard the drums, Fernando. I’m surprised more ABBA fans aren’t insulted by this lame musical. The story is inane, and the entire script seems to be constructed around excuses to use ABBA songs, most of which make no sense in the context of the story. I really love musical theater, and Mamma Mia is probably one of the worst musicals I have seen.

Despite their reputation as bubble-gum group, I think some of ABBA’s songs are very heart-felt and beautiful. Mamma Mia is just cheesy nostalgic crap.

Bleh. (and I even shelled out for the good seats!) At least, Sophia and I made fun of it all the way home.”

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: the infamous Yes, I Am Wearing Women’s Panties!

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