the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: February 2010 (Page 1 of 2)

Need to Sleep

Writing on the iPhone is so personal. I am in bed. I am thinking about you, but I don’t know you. I hold you in my hands as I type. My thumb slides over and around your tender keys, hoping to create letters and words that please you, that connect us across the wide rivers and snowy mountains that separate us. I want you to feel that we met for a purpose. Once, I came to this exact location to be a storyteller, a humorist. Those days are long gone. I am now aimless, but learning how to approach the difficult journey. But that’s tomorrow. Always procrastinating. Tonight I need to sleep. I need to close my eyes. Maybe I will dream about you, dear friend. I imagine your lips taste sweet.


I was reading a little about codependency after an IM conversation with Juli Ryan, a blogger living in New Zealand, who was kind enough to say, “I think you might be co-dependent,” in that blunt manner that Kiwis are famous for, or at least I imagine them to be.

How long can this status quo continue with Sophia? Why does it scare me to bring up the word divorce, as if the very sound of these two syllables will cause a major earthquake on the Californian coast. The fear of change is so palpable, the walls of our home are already cracking from the vibrations.

My first reaction to Juli’s diagnosis of codependency was to make a joke. How typical of me!

“Finally, I can blame my mother!” I said.

Later, I thought about the parental influence on my life in a more serious, searching manner. And then it hit me. It wasn’t my mother.

It was my father.

Written on the iPhone

Carpool Lane

I am enjoying writing posts on my iPhone. They tend to be short, snapshots of half-baked ideas, complete with amusing errors from the spell-checker, passages with no literary value.

I am sitting in the waiting room of Sophia’s therapist, dragged along at the last minute as the live carpool dummy, so she could make her appointment in time. She drove the car, because I hate to drive in the carpool lane during heavy traffic. I become unsettled at the speed that you can drive in contrast to the bumper-touching stillness of those stuck in a automobile rut.

I like the gentle slowness of traffic. I like to linger and watch people, to wink at the pretty girls in their Volvos, all impossible to do when you are careening forward in the far lane, like a bobsledder in the winter olympics, dangerously navigating the curvy, snake-like path against the dividing wall.

I let her drive fast. I would rather drive slow, even in fast-paced Los Angeles, another sign of our incompatibility.

I put my ear to the wall to see if I can hear her speaking with her therapist. Is she talking about me? I hope so.


Before she left for Florida, I asked my mother if she wanted me to set her up a Flickr account. She said she doesn’t really like seeing photos on the computer. She prefers the snapshot that you can hold in your hand. When you can touch the photo, place it in your wallet, hang in on the wall, or prop it up on your nightstand, you are more likely to keep alive the memory.

Photos in my father-in-law’s bedroom —

I Could Write

I could write about what’s on my mind, but you don’t want to know. These words would create a slowly-cooked stew of disturbing images of sickness, illness, and dying, a stubborn refusal of my FIL to eat or drink or live anymore, the complete denial of reality by my MIL as she faces the inevitable after decades of companionship, a stew seasoned with my own angry emotions, feelings of frustration about my own marriage, fear of being trapped, all served with a hefty dollop of mental exhaustion and a need to live fully, to break away, to ask the lonely-looking thirtyish Russian nurse visiting right now — as i write this on my iphone — out for coffee when she is done taking his temperature, to make out in the car, and then later fuck her until we can’t fuck any longer, right on the bed next to my dying FIL, and then fuck again slowly as we listen to the calming, gentle songs of James Taylor on the radio, because he would understand what I am feeling, and my FIL would approve, and so would my father, looking down from heaven. Life is now.

Valentine’s Day, 2010

I’m not in a happy place in my romantic life.

But for some reason, I remain optimistic about the potential of love, even when I am at a low point, like today, sitting in a hotel room a few blocks from my home on Valentine’s Day — and away from my wife. After a traumatic week, I decided I needed to pull away and refresh myself. The tensions surrounding this family, and my sick FIL, have become overwhelming and exhausting.

I stay positive because I am creative, and more importantly, very easily deluded by myself. Writers know that there are always new twists, new characters, and new loves as the plot grows. So, even when things turn sour — it’s no problem; it is not impossible for a bag of gold to fall into your lap the next day, on the way to work.

My interest in telling stories did not grow out of a love for language, but out of the inherent belief in the make-believe. Storytelling is myth, and as cynical as I sound at times, I embrace the bullshit of even the most corny Hollywood story. I believe in happy ending, maybe not the finale you first expected, but some ending that will allow you to leave the theater smiling.

It is Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day to those in love! I’ve always felt bad for those who were alone, or feeling lonely on Valentine’s Day. This was the case even when I was happily in love, being that I am a guilty sort of person. Why shouldn’t everyone be in love? It’s not fair! Money is a limited commodity, but certainly there is enough love for every citizen of the world.

We should remember that love is always right around the corner. We frequently forget that wisdom. That is why it is important to have great artists amongst us who will keep us connected to the great ideas and essential truths about love. Things will work out, and love will find a way, as is so well-documented in one of the most important works of music in the 21st Century —

California Rain

I’m sick of the sound of the California rain, the pitter patter of the drizzle, the daily downpour since December.  Is it over?

Once upon a time, the rain was nice.  We would close shop and stay in bed and drenched with wetness would mean wicked kisses, womanly warmth, wild with pleasure,  the boiling of the water for your camomile tea, and the steamy udon soup from Tanaka’s take-out, which we would eat in the sturdy wood bowls on the flannel sheets, the thick heavy noodles bursting with flavor. 

Now it’s just an endless rain, rain go away, raindrops keep fallin’ on my head, like bitter tears. And when it pours, man it pours.

Sent from my iPhone

Making Fun of Twitter at the Hospital

It was claustrophobic in my FIL’s hospital room, so I took a walk down the corridor. As I walked past ICU, an old man beckoned to me from inside his room. I was reluctant to enter. I was unsure of hospital policy, and frankly, I didn’t want to get involved, but something — a bizarre curiosity, dragged me into the room, like a rope around my waist.

“Hello,” I said. “Can I help you? Do you want me to get you a nurse?”

“No, Father. I am ready to meet my Maker. To shake the hand of Jesus. To see my wife. I want you to give me my last rites.”

I was in a rush that morning, throwing a dirty black shirt over a dirty white t-shirt, and this elderly man, with his poor vision and medicated mind, was confusing me with a priest.

The beep of his heart monitor went erratic and a red light flashed. An alarm sounded with an emergency code. I could hear running in the corridor. This man was about to take his last breath. I was not a priest. I was not Catholic. But who was I to refuse this man his last moments?

“You are blessed,” I said, in the solemn tone of a hospital chaplain. “You have been a good man. Jesus and Mary love you!”

I was winging it. I tried to remember some movie scene involving a priest’s rites, one that I could steal from, but all I could think about was The Exorcist.

“Do you have an regrets about this life you lead on Earth? Would you like to speak them now.” I quickly asked, knowing that I only had a few seconds left with him.

“Yes,” he said, solemnly. “I regret not getting retweeted more on Twitter.”

And then he died.

The ICU unit was in chaos as I left his room. A male nurse ran in and tried to revive him, but I knew it was hopeless. He had already revealed all.

Truth quotient — 0%


I can understand how he felt. I have had my own regrets. I’ve been so busy in the hospital that I forgot to change my avatar on Twitter for those affected by the Haitian earthquake. I was finally going to do it yesterday, when I took a little break in the hospital cafeteria with my iphone, but I noticed that everyone had already changed their avatars to The New Orleans Saints for the Super Bowl, so I guess I missed out my chance! Life moves so fast online. I hate when I miss out on an avatar switch!

Truth quotient — 10%


It was Sophia’s step-father’s birthday yesterday. All the nurses in the unit – about 25 in total – came in with a cake and sang happy birthday. It was a beautiful moment.

I posted the photo on Twitter. I asked the nurses if any of them were on Twitter, and none of them were. Eh, I probably wouldn’t follow any of them anyway. Probably not very good writers.

Truth quotient — 95%

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