Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: December 2008 (page 1 of 2)

Citizen of the Month 2008 Recap

2008 was a difficult year for me.   My personal life was chaotic and, in my opinion, my blog wasn’t that good this year.   Thanks for continuing to read Citizen of the Month.  I know there are 700 billion other blogs out there to read.   I consider your input and comments as much a part of each post as my own writing.

I went through my archives and chose the posts that best exemplified the events of my life during 2008.

Citizen of the Month 2008

Things fall apart with Sophia
(“The Last Few Days,” February 2008)

I go to a therapist
(“Therapy is Making Me Into a Humorless Twit,” March 2008)

I become obsessed with women’s bras
(A Birthday Chick Lit Tale:  The Royal Bra, March 2008)

I think about retreating to New York City for a bit
(“A Five Minute Long Wild Sex Comedy,” April 2008)

I DO retreat to New York City
(“Saturday Night’s Alright for Writing,” June 2008)

Relatives visit us in Queens
The Wrong Apartment 1H,” June 2008)

My plans to attend BlogHer are screwed up by Dockers and JCPenney
(“My Conversation with TLC Marketing Customer Service,” July 2008)

I create an imaginary BlogHim in NY
(“Sex in the Male City in Honor of BlogHim 08,” July 2008)

A blogger stays over in Queens and meets my mother
(“Meeting Mother Kramer,” August 2008)

I almost get into a fight with an Orthodox Jew outside the supermarket
(“The Orthodox Jewish Guy Outside the Supermarket,” August 2008)

My writing partner and I argue over a bar scene in a screenplay
(“Are Mojitos Gay?,” September 2008)

I spend too much time in McDonald’s drinking coffee
Searching for My Identity in a Queens McDonald’s,” September 2008)

I attempt my first sexy email exchange with a female blogger
The Sexy Email Exchange,” September 2008)

Obama’s campaign makes me focus on “change” in my own life
(“Change,” October 2008)

I remember my father’s love for Santa Claus
I Believe in Santa Claus,” December 2008)

ETC.

The Biggest Selling Post
(“The Great Interview Experiment,” January 2008)

The Most Comments On a Post For the Least Amount of Work
(“Name Your Sandwich at Neilochka’s Virtual Kosher Deli,” March 2008)

Weirdest Fake Story
(“Giving Head,” October 2008)

Weirdest True Story
(“Neilochka vs. Archie,” May 2008)

See you in 2009!

Return to Nature

In the past, I’ve made jokes about myself.    About my lack of “masculine” interests.   I don’t watch football or hockey or NASCAR.  I enjoy Broadway musicals and ABBA.  And I love chatting with the mommybloggers about their bra-shopping.

But now I realize it was all an act, my true nature being hidden out of fear.  As a co-dependent personality, I take on the traits of whoever I live with at the time.  So, when I share a space with a girlfriend, a female roommate, Sophia, or my mother, my male inner soul becomes feminized.  The pheromones of the female are such a powerful and hypnotic force  that they domesticate my animal instincts, like the aliens do in The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

My mother has now been in Florida for two days.  I have not spoken with Sophia in two days.  I am left by myself, the way God intended when he created Adam.  I have returned back to my true nature, and my apartment in Flushing is my personal Garden of Eden.  Yes, I have become a Man.  For years, because of the negative influence of the so-called “weaker sex” I lost what the Chinese call the “ch’i,” the natural energy of the Universe.   I have returned to what the 18th Century French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, called natural man — a savage man, “living dispersed among the animals.”  To Rousseau, natural man is more or less like any other animal, where “self-preservation being his chief and almost sole concern” and “the only goods he recognizes in the universe are food, a female, and sleep…”

I have become that man.  I eat Chinese food from the carton, I sleep ten hours a day, and I think about f**king.

In the two days since my mother has left, the once spotless apartment is a mess.  I have not made the bed or done the dishes.  Just like a real man.  No more watching “All My Children.”  On Christmas, I watched the FULL James Bond marathon, dreaming of my own fancy watches, fast cars, and Pussy Galore.  I have completely stopped wearing clothes in the house.  It saves me from having to do a laundry.  I like it.  I am like a wild boar roaming the jungle/two bedroom apartment, searching for his next prey.  Whenever I pass the large bedroom mirror, I stop and admire how hairy I have become, like King Kong.  I have stopped shaving and showering.  My only concession to vanity is flossing my teeth and trimming my public hair so my penis looks more prominent when I pose in the mirror.  It is looking good.  Life is good.

Leah of Daily Piglet clearly wants to sleep with me, which is not surprising.   Who doesn’t?   Why else would she send me a tin of Christmas cookies, with each cookie delicately wrapped in fine paper.  I admire the feminine touch of the gesture, because I would never do anything so nice.  I ripped open the box, grabbed seven cookies, and wolfed them down for dinner.  I’m not going to thank Leah for the cookies.  I’m figuring that the real pleasure was all hers.

After devouring these tasty cookies, I wanted some ice cold milk.  I took the container from the fridge and was about to pour the liquid into a glass, when I was struck by the flower design on the glass set that my mother recently bought at Pottery Barn during their Holiday sale.   I stopped in my tracks because I was falling from the manly wagon.  What guy drinks milk from flower-decorated drinking glasses?

I immediately did what I’ve seen in countless unfunny movies and TV shows — I drank directly from the carton, letting some of the non-fat milk dribble down onto my hairy chest, like the blood of a gazelle as the lion, the King of the Jungle,  feasts on the raw flesh of his recent kill.

Now it was time to leave the house, to go forth into the world on my own terms, and to do something dangerous and reckless, as men are adrenaline junkies wanting to push their bodies and minds to the next level of pain and competition.  But what insanely crazy activity could I do, something that would make a squeamish female like my mother or Sophia say, “Why the hell would you want to do that?”

I found it.  I would sail around Manhattan in the freezing December cold when most mortals just want to stay inside like weak hibernating bears, watching the Yule Log on TV

(I should add that I didn’t go by myself, or do any of the actual sailing.  And you could sit INSIDE the boat if you wanted to and drink hot cocoa and sing Christmas carols. )

But I would have none of that pansy stuff.  I ordered a whiskey and stood outside, enjoying the icicles forming in my nostrils, like in the sea-faring tales of yore.   I would have even stood outside naked, but there was a family onboard visiting from the Ukraine and didn’t want to give them the wrong impression of New Yorkers.  Or start an international competition with the father, who was way more hairier than me, and the type of guy who I bet would SWIM in the water in December.

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Christmas Day Tidbits

Merry Christmas!  Peace and Joy and hopefully, good presents for all!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Holiday Concert.   The talent was amazing.

My mother is now at the airport en route to Boca Raton.  She will be there until the end of March,  “trying out Florida” during the winter months.  She will be fine there.  She has already been invited to a Florida New Year’s Party, as well as to be part of a weekly mah jongg game in her complex.   The six month chapter of me running home to Mom has come to a close.  I’m back on my own.

Metalia complained about the lack of Hanukkah songs for women to sing.  I think the holiday  is too geared for children, in an attempt to compete with Christmas.  It is especially difficult to find a sexy Hanukkah song for a rocking woman.   So I came up with something for the hot Jewish babe to sing to her man after lighting the Hanukkah candles:

Menorah
(sung to the tune of the Kinks “Lola”)
midi accompaniment here

I met him in a deli down in ol’ Soho
Where we ate corned beef and we read the temple’s To-rah.
T-o-r-a Torah

He was tall and strong with eight candles in hand
I asked him his name and in a New York voice he said Menorah
Me-me-me-menorah   Me-me-me-menorah

Well, I’m not the world’s most religious gal
But when I lit his candle, it really made me go, “Wow.”
Me-me-me-menorah   Me-me-me-menorah

Well, I’m not dumb but I can’t understand
How he made me as hot as a latkes pan
Me-me-me-menorah  Me-me-me-menorah  Me-me-me-menorah

Well, we spinned the dreidel and we kissed all night
Under the flickering candlelights
He took me home so not to end our date
And he kept it up for eight nights on straight!

Well I’m not the world’s most religious gal
But when I looked at his lights, well I almost fell for my menorah
Me-me-me-menorah  Me-me-me-menorah

(fade out)

Third Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert


“A “Bloggy” Santa Baby”
performed by Kristy of She Just Walks Around With It (via San Francisco)

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“Grown Up Christmas List”
performed by Allison at Maple Mama (via Vermont)

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“Winter Wonderland”
performed by Redneck Mommy (via Alberta, Canada)

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“The Little Drummer Boy”
performed by Abbersnail of Bright Yellow World and The Horse Whisperer (via San Francisco)

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“Mary Did You Know”
performed by Gingersnaps (via Nashville)

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“iPhone Ocarina Silent Night”
performed by Aimee of Greeblemonkey with Bryan and James (via Colorado)

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“Greensleeves”
performed by Sarah of Whoorl (via Southern California)

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“Hava Nagila”
performed by Fancy of Fancy Schmancy (via Connecticut)

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“Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas”
performed by Mr Lady (and family) of Whiskey in My Sippy Cup (via Canada)

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“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
performed by Sarah of Sarah and the Good Squad and Ian (via Washington D.C.)

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“It’s a Very Penguin Christmas”
performed by Marie and Family of The Snake Charmers (via Texas)

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“Good Tidings”
performed by Loralee of Loralee’s Looney Tunes (via Salt Lake City)

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INTERMISSION

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metalia
photo by Metalia (via New York)

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noteMi Yamalel
performed by Psychotoddler (via Milwaukee)

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mommyknows
photo by MommaKnows (via Alberta, Canada)

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noteHave Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
performed by Saucybritches and her husband, Tim  (via Oklahoma)

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margalit
photo by Margalit (via Greater Boston)

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noteHayo, Haya
performed by Otir of Un Jour a la Fois (via Northeast U.S.)

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photo by Jamelah (via Michigan)

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noteCaroling, Caroling
performed by Merry Mishaps (via Annapolis, Maryland)

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leesa
photo by Leesa of Piece of My Mind (via Montana)

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noteWhite Christmas
performed by Backpacking Dad (via Menlo Park, CA)

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poppycedes
Photo by Poppycedes (via New York)

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noteWhat Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?”
performed by Ms. Sizzle  of Sizzle Says (via Seattle)

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catheroo
photo by Catheroo (via San Francisco)

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noteIt’s a Marshmallow World in the World in the Winter“/ “Merry Christmas Polka
performed by Not Fainthearted (via Minneapolis)

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saj
photo by Secret Agent Josephine (via Southern California)

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noteSevivon
performed by Danny of Jew Eat Yet? (via Los Angeles)

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karla
photo by Karlababble (via Texas)

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noteCoventry Carol
performed by Alejna of Collecting Tokens (via Northeast U.S.)

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noirebetty
photo by NoireBettie (via Los Angeles)

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noteO Come, O Come, Emmanuel
performed by Suzannesez (via Florida)

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alimartell
photo by Ali of Cheaper Than Therapy (via Toronto)

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noteBurning Bright
performed by Mommymae (via Missouri)

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maggie
photo by Maggie Dammit (via Wisconsin)

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noteMerry Christmas, Darling
performed by Laurel St. Clair (via St. Petersburg, Florida)

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kim
photo by Kim of 180/360 (via Las Vegas)

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noteO Holy Night performed by Maitresse (via Paris)

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photo from Ry at Arts and Dafts (via New York)

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
performed by Mommy Melee and kids (via Florida)

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bloggess
Photo by The Bloggess (via Texas)

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I Believed in Santa Claus

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I never thought to tell this story on the blog, mostly because it didn’t seem like anything special, but when I told a blogger about it, her response was surprising, so maybe my experience was more unique than I thought.

When I was a child, I believed in Santa Claus.

Remember, I am Jewish.  Of course, there are many Jewish parents who tell their children about Santa Claus so the children don’t feel “different.”  There are others who avoid mentioning Santa completely, worried that their kids will lose their Jewish identity to the mainstream culture.

My father loved Santa Claus. It was sort of an odd obsession.  He dressed like Santa for the children in the hospital where he worked.  He shouted with excitement when Santa appeared at the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade.   If my father was alive today, one of the question I would love to ask him is, “What the hell was it with YOU and SANTA?”

Our family did not celebrate Christmas.  We never had a Christmas Tree.  We never made eggnog.  I never felt like I was missing out.  We always celebrated Hanukkah. But for some reason, my father loved Santa Claus, and told me that Santa really existed.

Now here is where it gets interesting, because my father was an eccentric guy.   He told me that there WAS a Santa Claus, but that he didn’t come to OUR HOME because we were Jewish.   He skipped over us like the angel of death on Passover.

“It isn’t our holiday, so Santa doesn’t come to us,”  he said.

In retrospect, this might seem like child cruelty.  Why even say there IS a Santa, if he isn’t coming to visit you?   But it never bothered me or made me upset.  It made logical sense.   It wasn’t my holiday, so this bearded guy and his reindeer didn’t bother schlepping to me!   My father was able to  create a whole different meaning for Santa Claus, making him seem mystical, but from afar, like a visiting baseball team’s cool mascot.

So, I believed in Santa, even if he didn’t show up at my home.

“What about Anthony?” I wondered, referring to the Italian Catholic kid down the hall.  “How does Santa get to him since our building doesn’t have any chimneys?”

“Santa comes through the terrace door.”

“OK.”

It seemed sort of odd, but I figured that Santa had to deal with a lot of modern urban obstacles, like telephone wires and satellites.

Every year, my father would drag me downtown to Macy’s 34th Street to visit the “real” Santa Claus.  We would wait in this Disneyland-sized line.  Wide-eyed children from throughout the city were eager to meet their hero.  I was more excited about going to Nathan’s for hot dogs afterwards, but I saw my father’s happiness over ME meeting Santa, so I played along.

“There he is!  Can you see him?” he said, pointing to Santa sitting on his throne.  My father’s voice had the same enthusiasm of someone feasting their eyes on the Pope at the Vatican.  “It’s Santa Claus.”

After an hour, it was my time to go face-to-face with jolly St. Nick.  I would sit on his lap, which always made me feel uncomfortable.  Why did I have to sit on his lap just to talk with him?   When Kissinger went on diplomatic “talks” he never sat on the Chinese Premier’s lap.  But I was respectful to Santa and did what he asked, because — after all — this was Santa Claus.  And I knew our meeting was a special moment, and needed to be recorded for posterity, which explained the elf with the KISS shirt taking our photo with a bright flash.

“And what would you like for Christmas, young man?”  he asked me.

“Well, nothing really.  I’m Jewish.”

“Ho Ho Ho, Jewish boys and girls also get presents from Santa.”

“No, we don’t.”

“So, what do you want for Hanukkah?”  he retorted, already trained to handle the annoying smart-aleck Jewish boys.

“I don’t know.  Whatever my parents get for me.”

“Do you want to whisper to Santa something you really really want and I will put in a good word for you?”

I leaned in.  Santa had bad breath.

“Hot Wheels Stunt Track…maybe.”

“Very good.  And were you a good boy this year?”

“Yeah,” I said, with a “Duh” tone to my voice, considering that Santa should already know this answer.  Hadn’t he been taking notes all year on who was nice and who was naughty?  I was beginning to doubt the authenticity of  this department store Santa.  Years later, I had a similar experience in Hebrew School when I questioned why God had to ask Adam if he had eaten from “The Tree of Life.”

“Why would he have to ask Adam this question?”

“He was testing him,” said grouchy Rabbi Ginsburg.

“It makes no sense.” I replied, using my young Talmudic knowledge.  “If he was God, wouldn’t he already know this?”

As I left Macy’s, I told my father that I was not impressed with this Santa Claus.  I asked my father for the truth.  Was this red-suited guy with the fake beard and bad breath really “Santa Claus?”

“No.  This Santa was a BAD one.  Even I play a better Santa Claus.  And I’m not even that fat.”

Something clicked in my head.  If my father dresses as Santa, and the guy in Macy’s is a fake, then…

“There’s no Santa Claus, is there?” I questioned. “It makes no sense.”

“Nah,” he admitted, a little sad at the myth being put to rest. “There is no Santa Claus.”

He paused for a moment, and then took one more final stand, like the soldier climbing over the hill in a suicide mission.

“But maybe… just maybe… I AM Santa Claus!”

I didn’t buy it.

“If you were Santa Claus, you wouldn’t be living in Flushing, would you?”

I stumped him.

“No,” he said.

And that was the end of me believing in Santa Claus.  It was fun while it lasted.

My father and I walked down 34th Street and went to Nathan’s for some hot dogs, then we went home, just in time for sunset and watching my mother light the Hanukkah menorah.

Music and Giving

The Holiday season is all about joyful music and giving.  As many of you know, music means everything to me.  My friends never see me walking downtown or on the subway without my trusty iPod at my side, playing the latest tunes, an ABBA classic, or some duet from an old Broadway show.  One of the best aspects of living in Queens is that this borough has some of the finest stores in the country. I bought my iPod and all the accessories at J-OK Electronics in Flushing, Queens.  They sell EVERYTHING at terrific prices, and their knowledgeable sales staff, led by Jonathan Lui, treat their customers with respect.  From their lovely pre-war building in downtown Flushing, to their festively decorated “listening room,” J-OK Electronics “gets it right!”

Jonathan is the coolest guy.  When he received the latest iPod in his store, he wanted to give me one — for FREE!  I’m sure you are all anxious to read my upcoming review on this hot new product.  But then I felt a little guilty.  Why should I be the only one to have a happy iPod Holiday?!

I went to Jonathan and told him, “I want to thank all my readers during this season of giving.  I want to give away a brand new iPod to one of my online friends!”

And you know what — Jonathan of J-OK Electronics agreed to find me another iPod!

(editor’s note:  iPod giveaway is subject to availability.  If iPod is NOT available at time of giveaway, a photo of a PEAPOD with Neil’s face photoshopped inside will be substituted (signed by Neil AND his mother!)

peapod

So, how can you win a iPod*** from “Citizen of the Month” and J-OK Electronics?

(***editor’s note:  From this point on, the term iPod signifies either an actual iPod, or the photoshopped PEAPOD photo.)

Through music!  After all, this is the season of GIVING and MUSIC.

The rules:

1)  Record a Christmas or Hanukkah song.   Sign up here.
2)  Send it to me by Monday, December 22, 2008.  I must have it by Monday!
3)  On the following day, on Tuesday, all entries will be part of the Third Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert.
4)  My readers will then pick which entry best captured the “spirit of the season.”
5)  The winner will receive a brand new iPod from JOK Electronics!*** (see note above on restrictions and definition of iPod)

CONTACT ME IF ANYONE IS HAVING A PROBLEM RECORDING THEIR SONG!   This will be the last reminder until the concert.

carols

Also, please send me some Holiday photos of your homes for decoration of the Holiday concert post!

Thinking About Religion

I don’t know if it is stress, loneliness, the upcoming Holiday season, or economic fears about the future, but I thought about religion today.  Perhaps, it is the book I am reading, “The Jew and the Lotus,” or the pizza slice I had for lunch.  Although I’m a rational person, in another place, under different circumstances, I could see myself as a person involved in spirituality and mysticism, which to me, is the logical extension of creative writing.  After all, f irst a man talks to his Penis in silly sex stories, and soon, he is inevitably conversing with God.

I like to read YOUR posts where YOU write about your religion, no matter what your faith.  Even if I don’t believe in Jesus Christ or the holiness of Buddha, these are all human attempts to understand the world, which is… well, human.  I know it is cool to make fun of religious people, and they sometimes deserve it, but I respect those who think about the deep questions, such as “Why do shitty things happen to good people?” and “Will praying increase my traffic on my blog?” I regret that I don’t have more spirituality in my life.  The “community” of Twitter is fun, but it doesn’t truly connect me to the ethical and spiritual thinkers of the past and present.

When I hear a religious person talk, my mind’s first instinct is to say “bullshit,” but my heart believes that there is an energy out “there.”   Even when I encounter one of you online, available on IM, I can feel YOUR energy.  What is this energy?  Is it in my brain?  Why do I have a special connection to certain people?  Is it random or for a purpose?  Is there a universal energy — a God?  And what does this mean in reference to ethics or day to day life?   As for my own religion — how should a Jew act?  What does being Jewish mean?  Do I have to believe everything in the Torah?  Do I HAVE to eat gefilte fish?

I’m not going to bored you today with the crap that sometimes fills my mind when I’m not blogging or watching Judge Judy.    And don’t worry about me suddenly changing my blog title to “Scientologist of the Month.”  I don’t get involved in any religion which doesn’t joke about itself.  But I do think my “rational self” suppresses my more spiritual and mystical side, the one born a Pisces, the Neilochka who isn’t so straight-arrow logical, who might EVEN believe in the supernatural power of words.

OK, enough.   Back to the empirical world tomorrow.

Married with Dyson

This post I am writing right now might seem like I am poking fun of mommyblogger promotions and giveaways, but that is not the case.  The following is more about me and my marriage, and what to expect from a wife:

Momdot.com has started an interesting promotion titled Dyson Domestic Divas.

Every 2 weeks from now till April, we are going to be picking a new mom to spend a full two weeks with our Dyson and then come on as a Dyson Domestic Diva and give everyone the lowdown on it. Comparing it to your current household cleaning, your vacuum that you use on a daily basis, the all around ins and outs of how you feel about the Dyson after spending 2 weeks with it in your home. You will be able to blog during your experience from set up to the day it leaves, posting pictures, videos and sharing your experience with the world.

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The Dyson is an excellent vacuum.  I have one myself.  If I were a Mom, I would love to try-out this new model, the DC 25 Rollerball Animal.

Each Mom who gets picked after sign-up gets to keep the vacuum for two weeks before they have to return it to the company.

Just imagine how clean your house will be and how convinced your husband will be to let you get one after you have proven to him how great it is!

This last sentence made me think about my own marriage, and the roles we played in the home. Were Sophia and I out of step with current reality?  Do wives still need to convince their husbands before buying a vacuum cleaner?  Did I get a raw deal with Sophia?  She is the type of woman who would never ask me before buying a new vacuum cleaner!

She might say, “Neil, I want to buy a new vacuum cleaner.”

I might answer, “Why do we need a new vacuum cleaner.”

And she might reply, “Because the old one stinks.”

What am I talking about?  Sophia never used the vacuum or asked for a vacuum cleaner.  I did all the vacuuming in the house.  I was the one who bought the Dyson for our home!  Am I the only husband in the country to do the vacuuming in the house?  Not only did I do the vacuuming in the house, I had to SHOW Sophia how to used our year-old Dyson before I came to New York because she never used it before!  Was I tricked by Sophia into thinking that a husband should do anything useful in the house, like vacuuming or doing the dishes?  How did I get suckered into that?

If I ever get remarried, I’m going to be looking for a different type of wife — one who ASKS me before she buys a new vacuum cleaner?  A woman who enjoys vacuuming so much, that she will give me oral sex after she finishes cleaning the house in appreciation for my staying out of her territory.  That would be cool, and make me feel manly.

And if she did ask for a new vacuum cleaner, I would tell her that I need that money for my Maxim magazines.

“No! You cannot buy a new vacuum cleaner.  Back into the kitchen, woman.  And put on that French maid’s uniform!”

“Maybe we can get a cleaning woman?” she might ask, a little in awe of my Maleness.

“A cleaning woman?  What for!  That’s what you are here for.  And I like watching your ass move when you dust!”

“Oh honey, you are such a rascal.”

I learned three important lessons this post about Domestic Divas that I need to remember if I ever get re-married:

1)  A wife must ask her husband for permission before buying any household product.

2)  Wives love to clean the house, especially with innovative appliances.

3)  Men have no interest in household cleaning, or are they even expected to contribute and help.

Sophia apparently never read the rules.   If I ever remarry, my next wife will be a Dyson Domestic Diva.

Charlie Sheen’s Daughters Unhurt in LA Car Crash

My mother and I are watching Access Hollywood when this story comes on:

Male host:  “Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards had quite a scary night.”

Image of a crushed car near PCH.

Male host:   “This is the mangled car after it was hit by another car during an accident in Malibu.  Inside the car, were the Sheens two daughters, driven by their nanny. But don’t worry, the two beautiful girls are both fine!”

Female host:   “What a relief!”

I turn to my mother.

Neil:  “What about the nanny?”

Mother:  “No one cares about the nanny.”

Is the nanny in the hospital?  Is she still alive?  Has she been fired?  I searched online and cannot find any information about the nanny.   Is my mother right?  Why doesn’t anyone care about the nanny?

Three Photographs

I bought an inexpensive Canon camera on Amazon during Black Friday and I received it in the mail last week.  As usual, I ignored the suggestion to read the manual and started to play with it without knowing what I was doing.  Why are there so many buttons and menu selections on a camera?

But so far, I haven’t broken it.

I’m not a true photographer at heart.  I don’t get tremendous urges to capture a moment in time or to shoot a scene on film.  I do like photos.  Especially your photos!   I would love to take more photos of people — quirky individuals doing funny or incongruous things, like nuns eating hot dogs, but I’m too shy to ask them if I can photograph them.  It seems rude.

Here is my first shot with my new camera:

coffee

I was in a very nice cafe at the time, by myself.  Most normal people might have taken a photo of the pretty cafe or the people in the cafe.  Or ME sitting in the cafe.  I didn’t think about it.  I’m not 100% aware of my surroundings.  I am more of a “storyteller” in my own mind, than a photographer interacting with the real world.   As I sat alone, sipping my over-priced coffee in this trendy Manhattan cafe, I created a story about the girl sitting in the corner.  She was wearing a black-and-white striped dress and a red beret.  In this homespun New York City tale of romance and adventure, I strutted over to her table and joined her.  We talked and laughed for an hour; the time passed as fast as the sun setting in the Pacific on a summer day.   As she cocked her head to the side and smiled, the light in her eyes…

…well, anyway, it was only a story.  And it was sort of cliched.   I never finished it.  Besides, she left.   It didn’t bother me too much.   Her table was a mess.  She left behind crumbs and crumbled napkins.  It was a big turn-off.   I probably should have just photographed her, so I would always remember what she looked like.   Already, her image is fading, like an old Polaroid.

I need to figure out how to use my zoom lens.  That way, I can take photos of people without them knowing.

Here’s my second photo:

broadway

It is from Thursday night.  It was pouring outside, but my mother and I schlepped into Manhattan to see the play “August: Osage County.”  This is the play that won the Tony and the Pulitzer Prize last year.  It is excellent, a skillfully written and acted drama about a dysfunctional family.  If you can, you should see it.  I know most of you can relate to the subject matter of the play, since so many of you are nuts or on anti-depressants.

I told Victoria, a blogger in New York, that I was going to the theater.

“Are you going on a date?” she asked.

I wasn’t sure what to answer.  It seemed pathetic to tell her that I was going out with my mother.  But with 2009 coming soon, and my #6 upcoming resolution being, “Never Lie to a Woman,” I decided to tell her the truth.

“I’m going with my mother.”  I said.  “She wanted to see it, too.”

“Oh, that’s so nice that you’re going with your mother.”

At first, I was taken aback by her positive response. Then, I remembered this Oscars ceremony from a few years ago, where Leonardo DiCaprio walked down the red carpet with his MOTHER as his date.   The pre-show host (Joan Rivers, maybe?) was all over him, saying how wonderful it was that he was bringing his proud MOTHER to the Academy Awards.  So, rather than hiding the fact that I went to the show with my mother, I am proudly making it into a public announcement.

I WENT TO SEE AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY WITH MY MOTHER, much like the handsome, extremely talented Leonardo DiCaprio, who clearly could have brought any gorgeous women in the world with him to the Academy Awards, including that hot Israel model he was dating — but he chose to pick his mother out of love and respect.   So, don’t assume that I went with my mother only because she is the only woman who will talk with me.   I just didn’t feel like going out with ANOTHER Israeli model!

This is my third photo:

train

It is from a large toy train display in the lobby of the Citicorp Building (soon to be renamed The Tower of Broken Financial Dreams).  I went with my childhood friend and his wife, and their two young boys.  The older boy, K, is obsessed — OBSESSED — with trains.  He can tell you about every episode of Thomas the Tank Engine.  He owns DVDs of famous train lines speeding through Europe and Asia.  One of his favorite activities is going to Grand Central and watching the commuter trains take off to New Jersey.  Even though K is only in pre-school, he is an expert on the New York City subway system.  When we were on the subway, he announced the stops before the conductor.   K can also point out the differences between the old trains and new trains on the “R” and “6” lines.

On Sunday afternoon, we were all traveling by subway to the Rubin Museum of Himalayan Art (only in Manhattan do parents bring their kids to see the Tibetan art as a fun activity).   As we took off from the station, K pressed his face against the window, watching as the train noisily sped through the mysterious subway tunnel.  K does this every time we enter a subway train.  This makes me smile, because we are kindred spirits.   I used to do the exact same thing when I was his age!  I would sit between my parents, knees pushing against both of their legs, peering out at the passing blurry lights, and I would imagine that I was a NASA astronaut in a spaceship speeding through the emptiness of space.

I thought this was a perfect way to bond with my friend’s son.  I sat next to K, facing the window, much like I did in my youth.   Together we sat, young and young-at-heart, both facing the dirty subway window, both of us directly under the “Drink Stolchinaya!” advertisement.

“I see you like looking out.” I said to K.  “It is dark out there… and all those lights.  You like that, right?”

“Yes.”

“You know, I do that too.  I look out the window and I see all the darkness and I imagine that I am in a spaceship passing by all these stars and galaxies.  Like I am astronaut on an Apollo mission or on the Starship Enterprise!  Doesn’t it look like space?”

He gave me a WTF look, as if I was speaking another language.  Mentioning the Apollo mission and the Starship Enterprise was like my late Uncle Morris talking to me about Joe Dimaggio’s skill as a batter.

“It is space,” said K, finally responding to my statement.  “There’s space there so the express train can pass by on the other side.”

Smart ass.  I was dissed by a pre-schooler.

But I learned a lot from my young friend through that statement.

I’m not 100% aware of my surroundings.  I am more of a “storyteller” in my own mind, than a person interacting with the real world.   K will be a better photographer.

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