the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Happiness Project, Day 5 — Depending on Yourself

It is 2 AM, and I just woke up with, my thoughts urging me to rush to the computer and write this down. It’s as if therapy has finally knocked its way into my brain.

Here’s the thought. It may seem obvious to you, but I’m a slow learner:

Things are always going to fail if you’re always looking for someone or something else to make you happy.

Sure, the perfect relationship can help you be happy. Sure, getting a few photos of bras in the mail for your birthday will put a smile on your face. But when it comes down to it, you need to depend on yourself for your own happiness. Even finding Beyonce in your bed tomorrow morning is not going to change that, although it will go a long way in helping.

I can’t become dependent on bloggers for my happiness on my birthday, any more than I can put all my money on a spouse or significant other. Too much pressure all around. I’d love for you to say hello to me on my birthday, but I need to take care of myself, not depend on you to give it to me. It’s nice to get attention, but you shouldn’t need it. This is how I’m going to make this birthday as significant as my last birthday. I’m going to use all this therapy I’ve had, and be less neurotic this year.

I know this post has WTF written all over it. Feel free to mock the self-importance. I certainly would do that if YOU wrote it. That’s the one big danger of therapy. You begin to take this crap a little too seriously.

After the bra incident, I came up with a short list of things that made me happy, and asked you to send me photos of them. I’m sure some of you will. But, honestly, why wait? And why feel bad if NO ONE did. I can just as easily get the photos myself and enjoy them the same.




NYC Street Scenes


Books by Charles Dickens

Cool Men’s Belts

That wasn’t so hard, was it? I didn’t have to wait for my mother, my wife, or random bloggers to give it to me.

I did it myself.

Reader survey:

A) I love the new Neil. He’s so insightful.

B) He’s still completely dependent on anyone who smells nice. It’s all Bulls**t.

C) I have no idea what this post is about.

D) Bring back his Penis!


  1. Eileen Dover

    Perhaps, just perhaps, this little blog here is more than just you. It’s about the community you created.

    So, dammit, if you want to ask for things on your birthday, I don’t think there’s a problem, especially because you give back to this pseudo-community in so many other ways.

    (And that’s enough of me being a sap. I have a reputation to protect.)

  2. You can call me, 'Sir'

    Perhaps Charles Dickens isn’t the wisest choice at the moment (nor is that belt). You should probably stay away from Poe, as well.

    Also, you’re worried about coming across as self-important? On your personal blog? Everyone has a duty to be self-important to themselves. Period. Stop worrying about what other people think. Screw ’em! Not literally!

    Also also, D.

  3. Long Story Longer

    Hey, my pisces brother! I hope you have a nice birthday on Friday. I just keep thinking that this is rough – just separating and moving out and everything. One thing I learned in therapy is to be really gentle with yourself during the rough times. And also – I think 2008 is your year, Neil. It’s going to be a good one. I can feel it.

  4. blackbird

    I’ve only just started following you, so the whole penis, bra, Dickens and belt thing has been a bit of a whirlwind…but you seem to be figuring things out, so I’m just sitting back and watching.
    Suspecting you’ll be fine.

  5. savia

    Well, you picked “hard” times, so I can at least giggle over that.

    Can you tell I’m all about Option D?

  6. Not Fainthearted

    As a veteran of the whole “I can be happy in myself” phase I applaud you. It’s an important step. So is asking for what you want/need and not back-pedaling because you’re afraid of what people think.

    You’ll get there, Neil. But remember, it’s not a straight path.

    Happy Birthday-eve.

  7. bookfraud

    while i’m always in favor of d) — not that there’s anything wrong — i vote for the new, sensitive neil (a).

    hang in there, you’ll get through the shit.

    i’m glad to see you’re a fan of dickens — “david copperfield” might be just the right pick-me-up (you’re not macawber, after all).

  8. DaveX

    See? That’s why I didn’t send you any pictures the first time around. Not because I’m lazy or anything. All my plans are working as planned.

  9. Finn

    I’m going to use all this therapy I’ve had, and be less neurotic this year.

    I know this post has WTF written all over it. Feel free to mock the self-importance.

    Are you saving the “less neurotic” until after your birthday?

  10. Julie

    I hope you have a wonderful birthday. I’m of the opinion as well that you can be as self-important as you like on your blog. I do it all the time.

    If I don’t wish it to you on Friday, then Cheers! *drink clink*

  11. miguelina

    This is deep stuff, yo.

    Also? That ABBA picture makes me happy too.

  12. Leslie

    I like this post. Oh and ABBA gives me giggles!

  13. Marge

    Can we get a comfortable cross between A and D? You’re dead on about nobody can really bring you happiness but you … and your penis.

  14. Tuck

    “D” wearing a bra…covers all your needs and wants. Also…if you had to choose between Beyonce and Barbara Eden….Hmmm.

  15. gorillabuns

    I’m with Fainthearted, don’t go changin’, to try to please everyone… Please yourself.

    Wait, that just didn’t sound right. Hopefully, you know what I mean.

  16. Erin Cooper

    I am glad you are discovering new things about yourself, and that therapy is helping you. It’s true about the attention thing. I have that struggle too. Anyway, call me crazy, but I vote (a). I like you working on you…it’s about time, and you deserve to understand yourself and be happy.

  17. sizzle

    I choose E because Neil? You’re going through a really hard time and it’s your birthday in a couple days and this blog is a source of comfort and community for you so you aren’t doing anything wrong by reaching out to us.

    I’ve always thought you were great. If therapy is helping you face hard stuff, we’re here to listen and lend support. So many of us have been there or are there…


  18. sarah g

    Need is okay. Thank you for sharing with us! And for sharing some of your ‘favorite’ things with us : )
    Hope you have a good day!

  19. Joe Crawford

    The insight is good. Neil, you might like a book called “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie. Lots of insights into the problem of finding core validation through other people.

  20. Penelope

    You are doing so much better than I did at this stage in my break-up! I couldn’t have strung a coherant sentence together. Your blog is the place where you get to write “It’s ALL about me” – go for it, whatever works! I used the Chardonnay method, it wasn’t quite as constructive ;o)

  21. 180/360

    I was going to say E., too! I think if you want bras, then damn it, you should have them! Bagels, pizza, penises, whatever.

    But I do know that you must find and sustain your own happiness, too. Other people can help on the surface, but in the end it all comes down to you.

    I wish for you to find your inner joy, peace and confidence this coming year. You’re an amazing guy, Neil and you DESERVE happiness.

  22. Miss Britt

    I can’t make up my mind whether you’re being a smart ass or not.

    But for what it’s worth – that’s totally true.

    Happiness is a choice. I’m sure someone wise said that once.

  23. melanie

    I am jealous of the maidenform model. great revelation! (Too bad it happened at 2 am) I still say, BRA’S!!!

    and my answer is D, of course!

    and I would have posted Great Expectations! cuz I am kinda sassy. 😉

  24. HeyJoe

    Casting my vote for E – All of the above.

  25. Cicily Janus

    Neil…Nice blog, and as for bagels, pizza and bras, I like all three too. The others are great as well. But, I think you are right to be touting the all important self first thingamajig from therapy. It’s great. You’ll feel better with it on your shoulders.

    As for me, I like pinup girls on retro posters. So here’s one for your birthday.

    Birthday Graphics

    Have a great day!


  26. suburbancorrespondent

    Dear Lord, I miss NY bagels. My family is bringing me down an infusion of them this weekend. I can’t wait.

  27. Atomic Bombshell

    I dig that Maidenform ad! Retro cool.

  28. Olga, the Traveling Bra

    Well, dang it – if it’s bras you want, you really need to visit my blog! (And my website) I’m a bra unlike any other you’ll ever meet!

  29. Hilly

    People tend to wonder why I make such a huge ordeal out of my birthday each year and this is the exact reason. Every time I’ve thought that other people would make my day special, I felt let down and hurt due to my own unwarranted expectations.

    But when I feel good and when I find what makes me happy about living, it’s the best birthday there is.

  30. Annie

    Neil, we are so meant for one another, I am a pisces too and my birthday is just around the corner :-). I think this is a great post by the way and so are you.
    I won’t be around for a couple days, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! early. Sorry I have no photos to send…

  31. Melissavina

    Almost nothing can cheer a person like the sound stylings of Abba… well, maybe Abba performed by Little Orphan Annie while being fed pizza and good beer by a woman in a bra…

    This is the stuff dreams are made of.

  32. nancypearlwannabe

    I enjoy all the Neils in their anxious, insightful, dependent-on-nice-smelling-ladies glory.

    Happy almost birthday!

  33. Bec

    Neil, you make me want to cry. You are so wonderful and (Abba – seriously) there isn’t a part of you I don’t love. That belt is gorgeous.

  34. Pearl

    I’m sensing your birthday near. Mine too. On Saturday. We Pisces are old school. We downplay these things, eh?

  35. marisa

    If it means anything coming from a complete stranger, you are great and Happy Birthday! You’re in my twitter-feed and I love stalking you every day, enjoying your tweets, links, and your blog. Your words really settle into my skin sometimes ~ so I hope you know what a great writer and person you are. Abrazo ~ mari.

  36. Theresa B.

    Pisces are nice. I hope your birthday goes swimmingly. You’ve already given yourself the best present you could. Kindness. And yes, I am a sap. Also, I pick A, with a penis.

  37. Stacey

    C. The answer is always C. I learned that in my Scantron test days.

  38. better safe than sorry

    birthdays are no big deal for me, but if yours is important to you, then i think it’s right that you should want it to be perfect. i hope you find that happiness on friday, even if it’s just for your special day.

  39. Dana

    Don’t want to ask about the purpose of the belt. Nuh-uh. But, Hard Times? After the bra entries, I would have expected The Sale of Two Titties. Yep. I was an English major.

  40. Dana

    I also italicized the second title. Tittle? But it didn’t take the HTML.

  41. Jennifer Griffin-Wiesner

    I think for your birthday you should watch The Adventures of Priscella: Queen of the Desert.

  42. plain jane

    Reader Survey:

    E. Now we’er getting somewhere!

  43. therapydoc

    Didn’t you just have a birthday?

  44. ACG

    I know the post was written to entertain, but it’s really nice to think that you may be beginning to put yourself first occasionally. You deserve to.

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