Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

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Let’s see, Sophia’s step-father is in the hospital, I am struggling with my marriage, and I have work stress.  What can I do for a little relaxation?  How about I write a blog post where I present myself as a horrible person?!

Why did I write the last post?   Here’s the truth.   I’ve been sleeping in the same bed as Sophia, and we sometimes end up doing something called “the tushy-push,” where we end up sleeping back to back, our behinds touching each other.    Two nights ago, I thought about how much I missed sleeping with someone in bed — the human contact.    I thought about some past relationships, and the rollercoaster ride that we all go on, and about how much marriage has taught me about women.   I woke up and wrote the last post.    It’s a personal blog and this is a personal story.

I was a little uncomfortable writing this, but I figured most of you know me long enough now that I can create a fuller character.   You may be surprised to hear this, but I didn’t expect such an intense reaction.    I wasn’t going for controversy.   Who would want that attention?   If anything, I was stupid not to think about all the hurt that so many of you walk around with every day.  This event in high school always bothered me because I was so disrespectful, but we both moved on, and I learned to better relate to women in college.   This was a specific incident with a specific person, not something I did repeatedly.    Perhaps I over-dramatized the aftermath.  I don’t go around thinking about it all the time.   I’ve told other people this story, and it didn’t come off as dramatic, so maybe there is something to the WRITING of it that makes it so powerful.   Or maybe it was ME writing it, and it came off as unexpected.

I’m not sure you can make any generalizations from the story, as if I was an asshole in high school and a great guy now.   I’m the same as I was before, just more mature.  I really hope that I’m not judged on one post, or any post, which would only make me more timid about opening up and telling you true stories.   I can just as easily write funny stuff every day, but I figured I would take a chance on being real.

41 Comments

  1. Well Neil, as your personal PR consultant, I am very concerned about your brand. HOwever, you should be relieved to know that you are still not in as much trouble as Tiger Woods and Compost Studios continue to rely on you as a spokesperson. XO

  2. Neil, I like you real. Don’t be anything else.

  3. We could all write a post like this. About being horrible, condemnable. Every single one of us.

    It’s normal and human that you needed to tell this story at this point in your life, and contemplate it. It’s normal and human that it triggered people who carry an unspeakable and related hurt.

    None of it is condemnation. Not once we breathe, and think, and remember all that is normal and human.

  4. I dig the real Neil.

  5. I can’t say that your previous post didn’t make me pause and while I wanted to comment, I somehow couldn’t.
    I agree with Kate. We have all done things as children (cause that’s really what you were) that were mean spirited or that we truly regret. I think it was brave of you to share your regret.

  6. Maybe it’s just as simple as teenagers can be such jerks. And thank god most of us grow up.

  7. I love deep dark truth. And whoever thinks less of you can GO AWAY!!

  8. I didn’t read the comments, but I read the post.

    I think it was human, that’s what I think. And I think that being a teenager is about losing control and making mistakes, and now as a man you are owning one.

    And someone close to me just told me that I should write from a more personal place on my own humor blog. So like Pearl said, Real is Good.

  9. Regrets have quite the bitter aftertaste that never goes away, don’t they? Well…what else would we do at 4 in the morning besides go over our own personal list of coulda-shoulda-wouldas like a tongue over a sore tooth? But, life goes on and hopefully we do better. And, people should be judged by more than one isolated incident. Especially when we’re judging ourselves.

    Sorry you’re stressed. Hope Sophia’s step-dad gets better, and if not, hope he’s comfortable. Give Sophia a hug from this stranger in the midwest:>)
    Oh, and Happy New Year!

  10. Real is good.

    I’ve lived through some pain in my lifetime, some of it at the hands of others. Your post was disturbing to me, but I don’t hate you for it. We ALL have darkness in our pasts, in our hearts. It’s only by exposing it to the light that we are able to move on and be better people for it.

  11. my prayers are with her step-dad and as always, with you and sophia.

  12. People don’t have to read. You HAVE to write.

    Writing that post and sharing it publicly was brave. I commend you for it. And like others have said, we all have at least one episode we can look back on with regret (I wish I had just one).

  13. I like you real. I read the post, and was surprised by it, but not enough to leave a comment (although it would have been along the lines of “Wow, way to be honest”).

    I don’t know if I could write a similar post. I sure did some stupid stuff back in the day, too.

  14. Welcome to my world. People think the blogosphere is such a wonderful place, filled with encouragement and love but I learned the hard way that only certain subjects are “fashionable.”
    I thought you were a boy acting like an idiot and that most boys the age you were then do something stupid also

  15. We like you real. We like you funny. We like you.

  16. I would say that it simply shows that ANYONE is capable of actions that are unthinkable. I would also say that it proves that not everyone who makes a chance mistake of judgment is a horrible, rotten abuser who will always continue to look for victims. We are ALL capable of crappy, crappy actions. Just because yours was one aimed towards a girl when you were a teenager doesn’t make you any worse than the rest of us.

    Except for me, of course. I’m freakin amazing. No dark horses in my closet. Nosiree….

  17. Found you through Maggie.
    As regards the previous post, speaking as the mother of teenage boys and as a secondary teacher… adolescent boys do stupid things. Testosterone is a beautiful thing as it surges through their systems. The important thing is NOT that you actually did something like that… it’s that you reflected about it and learned from it never to do it again. Plenty of guys take a lot longer than one incident to modify their behaviour, sad to say.

  18. We all read with our own lens, hence the power of the word. I commend you on your post and bravery – that was real and truly refreshing. Anyone can be funny, witty and circumspect.

  19. i have to admit i was a bit surprised by the reaction your last post received, as well.

    i have been a victim, although i do wrestle with that word for a host of reasons. but anyway, i have been sexually violated in the “5 year old under the care of a MUCH older male cousin who lifted my nightie and did things, repeatedly”. so shouldn’t i be wanted to wring your neck and tell you off and demand you seek redemption? i don’t know… i am not feeling that at all.

    we all have done things we aren’t proud of. some big, some small. the shame, the fear, the guilt… it’s destructive and blinding. i don’t know if you feel any of that over this incident and i am certainly in no place to tell you how to proceed with your life other than live looking forward, as much as you can. don’t get mired up in your head, which is my biggest mistake.

    oh, and a little more unsolicited advice? if it is salvageable AT ALL, stay married, try to make it work. there’s no pot of gold at the end of any rainbow out there.

    so anyway.

  20. Its been a rough year for deaths, i have seen way too many. I hope that her father is out of danger soon.

    If only life was like a book, you could rewrite over and over again. oh wait… we are never done writing the book of our lives. the sooner you get to the truth for yourself the easier things become.

    isn’t staying married a decision you make together? If she isn’t willing to work on it or you aren’t, no reason to continue. Just find what WORKS for you both.

    Work sucks… but its what we need to keep us from killing and eating each other…. (OH BTW that was a JOKE!!!!!)

    hugs.

  21. It’s about time we started to meet the “real Neil.”

    I feel so sad that you have some much love and emotion and it’s being stifled because you are afraid to be the real you.

    Being real is much sexier.

  22. Neil, you mention surprise at the response. I wonder if writing it and having it read by so many different people, without hearing you tell it, having them interpret it through their own experiences, coming to the story dragging all of our own carry-on baggage along, that all of that may have contributed.

    Also, when you said you shoved your hand between her thighs, that left a lot of room for interpretation. I’m not asking you to clarify, but just wanted to point out that that statement could mean a lot of different things, and again – our own experiences color how hard that line hit us.

    For what it’s worth, I think you started an important conversation – both here and over at Maggie’s.

  23. To err is human, and all that stuff. There are things I did when I was a kid–like bullying the fat nerdy genius in my class when I was in 5th grade–that still make me feel sick inside. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe when we do things we’re not proud of they’re meant to make us feel shitty, indefinitely. At least that’s what I hope has happened to people who have done crappy things to me. And, for what it’s worth, I didn’t really think it was beyond forgiveness (I mean your own). xo

  24. It’s the problem with blogging. Posts are about a moment in time, but they live forever online. We give one-time happenings and fleeting thoughts permanency, and then they get thrown back at us over and over.

  25. I am getting in on this really late, but Neil, yes I am shocked that you did what you did, but I too have some shocking things I did in my past, I would never judge you. xoxo

  26. Neil, I’m probably going to give you the harshest feedback of anyone here, and I do it because I think you deserve it. I respect you too much to try to brush this whole thing off with platitudes about how everyone does stupid stuff (though we all do), and how it’s no big deal. It was a big deal for you then, and I think it’s turned into a big deal for you now, after having shared it with us.

    I think this piece marks a turning point for you. The truth is, you could keep writing the stuff that makes people laugh – and ONLY that stuff (you know, the talking penis stuff, etc.), or you can explore some of the more personal experiences in your life. The hard stuff, the embarrassing stuff, the stuff that sometimes makes you (and your readers) cringe. But by doing the latter, as much as it might bring you discomfort, you will improve yourself as a writer, and possibly as a human being.

    The negative reaction you received was only to be expected (as was the positive); it was a shocking piece, in more ways than one. I know it must have been hard to write; some of the best pieces you ever write probably will be. But by being honest, and by showing your readers the whole Neil, not just the wisecracking, boob-ogling, penis-talking version, you become so much more (as a writer AND as a person) to those of us who count you as our friends. You know, I think this is something you’ve been struggling toward recently; perhaps this article was just the push you needed.

    Writing honestly is a hard, dirty process. But personally, I’d rather have the honest Neil, smudges and all.

  27. Ah Neil, just one example of how life is complicated, confusing and messy. Every one of us has done something stupid that we regret.

  28. It is because I want to believe your remorse that I’m really surprised you didn’t expect an intense reaction. I also cringed when you said “you both moved on”. I have only heard your story and there are still two sides. It’s good that you want to own your truth, but please don’t assume hers.

    Actions of force from anger, jealousy, wanting… should never be dismissed as immaturity. Wrong is wrong.

    It’s good to regret; it helps keep history from repeating. It’s also good to be real, honest and human.

    I don’t know what else to say.

  29. I’m glad that you were real, and that you shared.

  30. Neil, your post was the equivalent of ski tracks leading to unstable snowpack on a 35 degree slope. We can all see the tracks, there’s a sense of horror that they lead to…. there…

    And it triggers a slab avalanche of emotion in every single one of us.

    As it should.

    Layers of ice, old crystalline snow all covered with the fresh new snow of our new beginnings, hopes and dreams.

    On a moderate slope. In the early afternoon of our lives, with all the goodness of our new journey stretched out in front of us.

    And dammit if you didn’t have to go and ski right up on top of it all. The audible cracking sound reverberated and resounded through each one of us; some are caught in the aftermath, buried under the weight and frozen hard and cold. Some are broken, bleeding again- limbs fractured and dislocated. Some are witness. Standing on the sideline, hopefully with avi beacons and probes at the ready, prepared to dig out any survivors.

    We can all agree that the skier in this case, (you), shouldn’t be hung at dawn. But that didn’t stop the avalanche, did it?

    It was there all along. It’s ours, actually. We own it. Each one of knows where we stand, even when we don’t know. I think this post of yours dislocated my spleen. But I’ve got my shovel and I’m looking for survivors.

    And I still like you. Don’t let anyone take away your skis.

  31. Neil, keep it real man. Keep it real. 🙂

  32. Another vote for real.

    Your writing voice and online demeanor remind me of a close male friend of mine. He’s an angsty Jewish 40 something scientist, who writes well, pokes fun of his often slightly arrogant introspective musings and he occasionally does/says incredibly stupid things to women.

    If I ever convince him he needs Twitter, I’ll send him your way.

  33. Sorry about your marriage, the difficulties. My ex moves out this weekend. I’m trying not to think about it. I hope you two can work on it more than mine could. Refusal is the last straw.

  34. i didn’t read all the comments on the last post, but i loved that last post. your honesty, your courage, your “side of the story”. as a female, i’ve had a lot of strange encounters with men and not many actually apologize.

    fuck the haters, you be you.

  35. well, not literally *fuck* the haters 😉

  36. This quotation from author Kristjana Gunnars seems apt: “To write is to admit.”

  37. I don’t know you at all, but I read that post as a depiction of a teen boy’s feelings and responses. It rang true to what I recall from my friends and boyfriends in high school. I think it is meaningful that your feelings and the way you acted have stuck with you all these years. Better that than to laugh it off or consider it of no importance.

  38. We have all made mistakes. I don’t think your mistake was in writing the post. It invoked great reaction and got this community thinking. You answered the why behind why you wrote the post and I accept it the way it is. We can’t erase the past, and you shared with us something deeply disturbing and made yourself vulnerable in the process. I think you learned something then and now. I wonder if the boys and men who inappropriately touched me all my life grew up to be as aware as you. I would like to think so. Thank you for listening to me and the many other people who reacted to this post. It shows great character to have done so. You’re obviously not that teenage boy anymore and haven’t been for a long time.

  39. Really, what person doesn’t cross a boundary in high school? I remember feeling up a guy just for that bug-eyed look. Or maybe that was in a dream, with real bug eyed.

    Seriously, the reactions spoke more of others’ sh*t. Anyone who was sexually abused and not let it all go will have some ire. Ooo, someone admits they haven’t always been perfect with boundaries! A place to direct ire. Just for being human.

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