the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Not Playing By The Rules

Important Update: Monday 1:15PM — Before you read any further, I have been reminded by a friendly caller from the Los Angeles area that I have called HER as much as she has called ME, and that this post is completely one-sided.    She is right.   OK, now continue:

Important Update 2:  When Sophia called about the lizard in the garage, she just wanted to tell the story.  She never asked me for advice on how to capture it or to insinuate that I should do anything to help her — other than look on the internet and google “lizards.”

I am going to get in so much trouble for this post, so be nice and don’t take sides.  These are more philosophical questions than anything else.

When a married couple separates and moves 3000 miles away from each other to “get some space,” is it really appropriate for the female party to call twice a day and then get upset if the male party would rather chat with some blogger than play online backgammon with her?

If a man is walking in Manhattan enjoying the sites and he gets a call from his separated wife 3000 miles away that there is a “lizard” in the garage, what the hell is he supposed to do?  Take a flight home to kill it?

If a man buys a webcam at Radio Shack (on sale!) thinking he might “communicate” with his separated wife 3000 miles away on Saturday night, is that wrong?

Other than that, I’m doing pretty good.  I forgot what being with myself all the time was all about.  Well, myself… with my mother cooking dinner.   OK, I know that is hurting my sexy quotient with some of you, so let’s just keep the information about me living here with my mother for the summer very quiet… at least until BlogHer is over.   From now on, I will refer to her as “the older hipster/roommate who was written about in the New Yorker magazine.”

On Saturday night, I went into “the city” and met a group of really cool bloggers — Miss Britt, Karl, NYC Watchdog, Poppy Cedes, Cissa Fireheart, and hellohahanarf, as well as some strange overly-friendly guy we met walking on the street who ended up coming to dinner with us and hitting on both Karl and hellohahanarf!

I always find it so much fun to meet bloggers for the first time.    Sometimes, they are more shy than their online personality.  Other times, it is the complete opposite.  It is always the one who writes the knitting blog who ends up standing on the bar stool, waving her blouse in the air.  Unfortunately, nothing that dramatic happened on Saturday night, other than someone kissing that strange guy we met on the street.   The New York heat was oppressive, so we didn’t want to walk too much (Note to visitors:  come to New York in the fall, spring, and winter.   Avoid the summer!   This is when everyone leaves.)   We ended up in a karaoke bar.  It was a decent place, but the contigent from Florida was insulted that they charged two dollars just to sing a song.

Welcome to New York City!


  1. Chag

    If you’re both trying to “get some space,” I would think limiting contact with each other would be in order.

  2. D

    I would think (and know) you can’t have one without the others … but hey, you are human! We are just trying to bumble our way through!

  3. ricewenchie

    I am thinking that said NYC’s half of separated couple should send said Californian’s half of separated couple a list of ‘husbands for hire’ in said Californian’s half of separated couple’s living region. For prompt lizard removal, it just seems to be a more expedient & affordable choice to call someone in her area rather than attempting to hire someone from NYC for said lizard removal.

    In other words, Mr. Neilochka, you are worth far more than some Californians can afford!

    Just sayin’ :o)


  4. hello haha narf

    it was great to meet you, neil!! great fun!

  5. ali

    crap…i’m going to NYC in the summer…

  6. hello haha narf

    p.s. regarding the wife thing, the answer to your questions seems to lie in whether or not you want to get back together…

  7. followthatdog

    Don’t you have amazing powers of the mind that could cause the lizard to burst into flames from 3000 miles away? No? How sad.

  8. Avitable

    Those Florida people are a bunch of whiny bitches. And I think, hypothetically, the NY half of the separated couple should stop answering his phone when it’s coming from a California number for a day or two.

  9. Christine

    Lizards are cute.

  10. MammaLoves

    Hard not to take sides here. I’ve been the one who wanted to have her cake and eat it too. I didn’t learn my lesson until I was denied–and then of course for me it was too late.

    Sorry this is hard.

    Glad you had fun with the bloggers.

    Hoping you’ll be at BH so we can meet in person.

  11. Jane

    How is it that you evoke all my big sister feelings? If I were your big sister, I would have talked you out of the webcam purchase. Bad things happen with webcams. Bad, bad things!

    And certainly both you and Sophia have better ways to idle your time away than online backgammon. She could learn how to shoo lizards out of the garage, and you could trim the rest of your chest hairs so you don’t look all uneven. Or — hey, here’s an idea! — you could write a NOVEL!

    I’m asking Mrs. Kramer is she’ll adopt me. You need a big sister.

  12. Neil

    Important Update: Monday 1:15PM — Before you read any further, I have been reminded by a friendly caller from the Los Angeles area that I have called HER as much as she has called ME, and that this post is completely one-sided. She is right. OK, now continue:

  13. anon

    Dear Mr. Ochka,

    Why are you two apart? Love is hard. And whereever or whomever you end up starting over with, it is still starting over. The shiny part always dulls to some degree.

    There are worse vices than longing for the familiar. Only you can answer if the purpose for buying a Radio Shack webcam (on sale!) is the response of a creature of habit, or someone who,deep down inside, has already forgiven the faults of what appears to be another kind human being (and vice versa for said kind being).

    If so, perhaps separate frequent flyer programs should be established in the future. A little individual travel can do a marriage good.

  14. paintergirl

    ok i’m a bit insulted by the florida whiny bitch part 😉 (From FLA-Lived in GA,CT,NY,VT) New York is the only place where you can buy a really good bento box with salmon for 5 bucks. NY is cheap compared to the overpriced tourist trap in florida. I miss the city and it really good cheap food. peace out Neil!

  15. anon


    “Bad things happen with webcams. Bad, bad things!”

    I’m sure that’s part of the dream, dear.

  16. sizzle

    Who kissed the stranger? Inquiring minds want to know.

    I am not even going to try to understand your relationship with Sophia. We really can’t know what goes on between two people, regardless of what might be shared on this little thing called a blog.

  17. Neil

    Important Update 2: When Sophia called about the lizard in the garage, she just wanted to tell the story. She never asked me for advice on how to capture it or to insinuate that I should do anything to help her — other than look on the internet and google “lizards.”

  18. Neil

    Sizzle — I can’t reveal who it was. But I was the only one who saw it. And it wasn’t Karl.

  19. piglet

    i’ve only met one blogger in my blogging history, and it was at an augusten burrough’s event (in which augusten was there-it was exciting to me). he lived in the next state over.

    i loved new york, except for the whole “where are you from”? question that people kept asking me and the general look of disdain when i said north carolina.

    maybe if you would have just *offered* to fly back to get the lizard. for me, most of the time just the offer is better than the actual execution of a plan.

  20. linda woods

    I think you can say whatever you want because she isn’t reading this. Well she isn’t reading this is she? Everyone knows that spouses aren’t supposed to read their spouse’s blog even when you are spouses on a break. It’s against the marriage law! We agree to that right before stomping on the glass.
    The solution to a lizard in the garage is easy- sell the house.

  21. ACG

    “communicate” you say *eyebrow waggle*

  22. Elisabeth

    I separated from my husband close to nine years ago, and we still talk on the phone nearly daily. We are too lazy to get a divorce, although we know for sure that we will never get back together – that is in the realm of the impossible. Besides, I do have a boyfriend now.

    It is too early for you to know what your relationship with Sophia will evolve into, but I do not see anything wrong with keeping in touch and remaining good friends. But do not shut down the door on the possibility of new relationships. And I hope that Sophia can be open to that option.

    But yeah, relationships are complicated.

  23. Miss Britt

    I think it’s hard to find yourself when you are that closely tied to someone else. Especially a really strong someone else.

    It was really, really great to meet you Neil.

    Yes My Real Name Is Britt 🙂

  24. Judy C

    You might think that I should be the last person giving advice on affairs of the heart because of the 5 divorce thing, but I do and I will. Here is my two cents – separating is hard to do and the heartbreak continues until it is over – and by over I mean a decision one way or another. When the decision is made, whether you stay together or split up, the worst of the heartbreak is over but a different kind of sadness and loneliness set in.

    Stay and you wonder will you ever get what you need; leave and wonder whether you let go of the best you will ever have.

    There is no easy way to break up and no one right way to do it. Whatever you do, whatever calls you take or don’t take, don’t judge yourself too harshly.

    Be kind to yourself; I know you are kind to Sophia.

  25. anon

    Find yourself…find yourself…I must not have started early enough in the blog to know wth is going on. Why do people think they get ‘lost’? We always evolve. It is the responsibility of both spouses to keep up with the program. If you aren’t ready at 23 then you shouldn’t hook up until later. If you have already made the jump, short of illegal and immoral activities, throwing the towel in for the hopes of something better rarely works, but isn’t unheard of. After 10 years? You can let the question tempt you, but any more than that and you end up in all kinds of compromising positions. Which I feel nowadays are just too damn acceptable. They are called standards because it requires a bit of fiber to hold it all together.

  26. Noelle

    I love it when everyone leaves the city in the summer. There’s so much room on the trains.

  27. Ellen Bloom

    People who write Knit Blogs are wild. I oughta’ know.

  28. melanie

    and for just TWO DOLLARS you too can sing out of tune in the heat, while seducing a stranger.

    thats a good night right there. I don’t do a “knit” blog. But i would have been right up there with her flaunting my totally inappropriate behavior! you have all the fun neil.

  29. mr_g

    We were in the city Saturday night – calling the heat oppressive is making oppressive look worse than it actually is.

    And the thing to do would’ve been to ask Sofia to go to the pet store and buy a habitat and food for the new pet that just adopted you…

  30. AnnieH

    Have Answers, Will Travel…
    1. Yes, entirely appropriate.
    2. Commiserate sincerely by screeching loudly and jumping about on said Manhattan street, then try to one-up her by describing the “mouse” in your kitchen.
    3. Hell yes, that’s wrong. that’s why God invented the phone–for dirty, rotten, break up/make up phone sex.
    4. Think about the possibility of karaoke as couples therapy–cheap and funny. Think Dueling Divas:>)

  31. Neil

    I actually got the webcam just so Sophia can see what my hair looks like… and they were selling it for nine dollars at radio shack (Webcam for Dummies — seriously!) I also thought I might make a video for Seesmic and talk to the blogger Otir (Seesmic is sort of a video twitter).

    The rest of you are kinky freaks. What the hell are YOU doing with your webcams?

  32. Non-Highlighted Heather

    All I could think of when you mentioned Sophia and the lizard was Annie Hall.

  33. di

    You’re making me love coming here more and more. (Who thought that was possible?)

    Coming to Europe anytime soon?

  34. ingrid

    oh darlin’
    love is hard isn’t it? confusing too.
    web cams, lizards, and miles. i feel a song coming on.

  35. better safe than sorry

    i think you have an unusual relationship with sophia and i’m not exactly sure why she can’t look stuff up on the internet herself. if you felt like you maybe needed to hop on a plane and kill that thing, maybe the way she is telling the story is making you feel like you need to do that for her. i remember before you left you mentioned something about you having to set up the Wii for her that she had just bought, which i thought was kind of strange, she kind of comes across as not being able to do much for herself, and if that’s the case, i blame you for not encouraging her to learn to be more independant and shame on her for not wanting to be more independant and relying on a man to do everything for her. of course this is entirely one sided on my side based on how i read things into what i’m reading.
    i’m a romantic at heart, i’m still hoping things work out for the two of you and if they don’t, that you both find your perfect mate.

  36. kenju

    I agree with the commenter who said that “space” can be achieved by not calling each other, maybe more than once per week.
    I think she just wanted you to know about the lizard….LOL

    I love meeting bloggers and I love what you said about the woman who writes a knitting blog – probably so true! I will have to check out all those you mentioned, as none of them is familiar.

  37. Lisa

    There is a $2 charge to sing a song in NYC??? Wow, that’s deep.

    Which one of those bloggers actually knits because they must be one of those “closet” knitters. Those are the worst type.

  38. Diane Mandy

    Once I called a boyfriend, who was 2000 miles away on business, because I had a frog in my house. I sort of got put off when I heard him laughing on the other end of the phone. Are you saying the problem was me?

    PS. I’m glad you’re getting out.

  39. anymommy

    Sigh. This is not advice, cause I have no real idea about you guys, but reading here I wish you would realize you are meant to be and stay together. From this limited perspective, it seems like you’re in love.

  40. kate

    As I embark on my own separation, I wonder how we’ll play this out. I guess I’ll be looking forward to lots of phone calls.

    All the best to the both of you.

  41. Karen Sugarpants

    I’m with Chag. 🙂

  42. V-Grrrl

    Hey, I blogged about lizards today too.

  43. V-Grrrl

    P.S. You two get off the phone. Too much togetherness.

  44. Irina

    Hope we’ll have a chance to meet up one of these days! : )

    So what happened with the lizard?

  45. anon

    Be careful what you ask for. You really want space? You could get a lot of it. Out of sight, out of mind, isn’t a cliche for nothin’. Just sayin’.

  46. NYCWD

    I say put the phone on vibrate. This way every call will be pleasurable to some degree.

    We totally need to hook up with knitting bloggers next time. They sound like fun.

  47. Poppy

    Is this why you didn’t show up Sunday?

    It took me half they day to wonder where you were, but I eventually did! (I’m fun like that.)

    Dawg explained this all to me and I like his explanation. You’re with someone for a really long time you naturally share things with them. So, without actually reading your post, perhaps as she said she was just sharing a story with you and not trying to get you to fix anything but just get a sympathetic ear.

    I wish you and Sophia luck. By the time I filed for separation my mind had moved on. If there is anything worth salvaging between you… try. (Not that you asked.)

  48. Neil

    Poppy — I was disappointed I didn’t see you and Dawg on Sunday, but soon we can live it up in Queens!

  49. Karl

    Neil, always a blast to hang out with you. Thanks for coming out to meet with us. Lizards don’t bother me, really. We have them all over the place in Florida…outside. They scatter and zip around the sidewalk as you approach them, hang on the walls and lampposts. They eat bugs and that’s a good thing.

  50. Postmodern Sass

    You on a slippery slope, Neil — writing about karaoke!

  51. Poppy

    Yay to living it up in Queens! I’m starting to think it’s gonna be a perpetual party living there… WHEEEEE!

  52. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    The updates are just as funny as the rest of the post.

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