the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Nothing To Say

Have you noticed how infrequently I have been blogging? I’m afraid the competition in the blogosphere market is getting to me.   There are so many other others out there with something to say — celebrities, comedians, professional authors, journalists, individuals who have overcome incredible obstacles — that I just don’t think my voice matters anymore.   My life is not that interesting.  Some of have lives worthy of memoirs.   The rest of us live small, forgettable existences.

Luckily, I have friends who have lives worth caring about, like my long-time friends, Noel and Joy, who recently had a beautiful baby girl in New York.  I was lucky to visit them at their Upper West Side apartment a few days before my flight to Los Angeles.  Their baby was only two weeks old, so small, but so cute.  As I admired their new member of the family, the remaining piece of her umbilical cord few off.  I found this disturbing since I assumed the doctors already finished the job at the hospital. After all, my health insurance rates are so high, I assume the money pays for something.  Leaving part of the umbilical cord on is something you might expect in Canada, but not in the good ol USA!

Joy explained that this was quite normal.  This did little to calm my nerves. I decided to take a cab to my next destination, an Italian restaurant in Harlem, to meet friends for dinner. I bought a bottle of wine for the occasion.

When the cab reached the restaurant, the fare on the meter was seven dollars. I gave the cabbie a ten dollar bill.  He was under the wrongful assumption that I was giving him a three dollar tip.   I explained that I wanted change, and he started cursing at me in Arabic. The combo of the earlier umbilical cord and the angry cabbie was too much for me to deal with in one afternoon.  I rushed out, leaving my bottle of wine inside the cab as it sped off.

At dinner, I joked with the others about the lost bottle of wine, but we toasted each other nonetheless with a new bottle.   At the end of a delicious meal, the waiter came with the check.  I reached in my back pocket, and the wallet was not there.  I didn’t only leave the bottle of wine in the cab.  I also left my wallet.

Talk about a pain in the ass.  I didn’t care about the money; there was only $50 inside.  But what about the credit cards and my driver’s license?  My library cards?!

My mother reminded me that I was flying to Los Angeles in three days.  Could I fly without identification?  Luckily, I remembered that I brought my passport to Queens, just in case I met a Parisian model in my local Flushing McDonald’s, and she wanted to bring me to France to meet her parents.

A week after I returned to Los Angeles, I received a phone call from some woman in Manhattan named “Katie.” She found my wallet in the back of a cab, and since she worked in TV news, she asked her research department to track me down in California and return it to me.

The envelope arrived with no return address.  I wondered, just like you — was this Katie Couric?  All my cards were in the wallet, but the fifty dollars were missing, so I seriously doubt it was Katie Couric.  She would not swipe my fifty bucks.

That’s the end of that story.  Other bloggers give advice on how you can find happiness. I give you a half-baked tale of an umbilical cord, an angry cabbie, and lost wallet.

I still wonder what happened to that bottle of wine.

I had hoped to find some good blogging material once I came to California, but no.  I’ve been in Los Angeles a couple of weeks now, and while there are moments of humor and pathos, things have been pretty uninspiring.   On Twitter, everyone who lives in Los Angeles is always having lunch with important people. My only celebrity encounter is that I almost rammed into the automobile of one of Clint Eastwood’s producers in the Warner Brothers lot.  But I doubt you have not interest in that incident.  There is nothing sexy about it.   Didn’t even see Clint Eastwood.

Since arriving in Los Angeles, I have continued to enjoy my new hobby of taking heavily filtered Istagram photos.   Unfortunately, the consensus is that my friends enjoy the photos I took in New York City far better than the ones I’m shooting in Los Angeles. There are a number of reasons for that, the most important being is that it is difficult to do street photography when you are stuck in your car 90% of the time!

One day, I became so desperate to find some “action” to shoot, that I took a walk in a residential area in the San Gabriel Valley, a neighborhood where I was staying with a friend.  Across the street from my friend, I encountered three adjacent mailboxes.  For some reason, maybe because I never owned a stand-alone mailbox myself, the mailboxes captured my attention.  I took a quick photo with my iPhone.

A half hour later, there was a knock on my friend’s door. It was the POLICE!  The owner of the house with the mailboxes saw me take the photo.  She was worried that I was casing the joint and called the cops.

I explained to the police officers that I was not a criminal, only a online photographer intrigued by the visual symmetry of the three mailboxes, and they seemed to buy my story.  Thank God I wear glasses and I’m not African-American.  I gave the officers some Christmas cookies, and they left. In NYC, I took photos of gang members on subway platforms without incident.  In the LA suburbs, I was almost arrested for taking a photo of mailboxes.

Another lame story.  I apologize.   You want to hear about successes, not failures.  That I’m a keynote speaker somewhere.  But sadly, no.  I have nothing to say.

It’s embarrassing to say, but I’m miserable. I returned to Los Angeles because it was time to finally move out of house I shared with Sophia, finalize the divorce, and get my own apartment (and also not live with my mother anymore!)

Should I live in Los Angeles or New York? I torture myself with that question, but I’m sure you have your own problems and don’t want to hear me kvetching.

When I first arrived in Los Angeles, I thought it was better to stay over at a friend’s house. So I did,  in the neighborhood where I was almost arrested during the infamous “mailbox incident.” I felt a little self-conscious staying in the house during the holidays, especially when he was working and his parents were visiting from Japan.

One day, I got bored writing my screenplay. I was also feeling lonely, like many others during the holiday season.  I called up Nicole.   Nicole is this woman from Brooklyn who I had a one-night fling over the summer.  It’s a long story, and you would be falling asleep if I told you the details.

It was nice to talk to Nicole over the phone. I told here that I was feeling isolated being in the suburbs where I was deemed a dangerous criminal for my iPhone activities.

“I like your iPhone photos,” she said, and then suggested that I make believe that she is riding me in the bed. I said, “OK.”

A little while later, as the tension built during this phone exchange —

“Uh, I think I have to…” I said.

“Go ahead.”

I looked around the room.

“Jeez. There are no tissues or napkins in this guest room.”

“Nothing? That’s not very hospitable for visitors.”

“I don’t think they expect visitors to be doing this.”

“Go the the bathroom and get tissues there.”

I peeked through a slit in the door and saw my friend’s parents watching a Japanese soap opera in the living room. There was no way to reach the bathroom without walking past them.

“I can’t leave the room,” I said.

“There must be something else.  Use your sock,” she suggested.

“I’m not going to come into my sock. I just bought these socks!”

“You must have something made of paper in that room.”

I looked on the bed and saw my unbound first draft of the screenplay.

Anyway, I’m not sure I should continue with this story. It’s that whole branding thing. I hate that about blogging nowadays. Everything you write suddenly become part of your “brand.” It’s like you can’t say “I hate gay people” or “fat people suck” anymore without someone unfollowing you.  I want to be judged on what I do, not what I say.

I am a good man. In fact, I am so good, that I when Sophia called me a few days, saying she tripped on her laptop cord and broke a toe, I immediately went back to Redondo Beach to help care for her, even though we are on the verge of finalizing our divorce.

Of course, things went quickly downhill when we drove to Trader Joe’s and I offered to wheel her around in her mother’s old wheelchair so she wouldn’t have to put pressure on her foot.

As I wheeled around, danger around every corner, we argued over which direction I should go and how fast I should be wheeling her, and it all seemed like a very very bad movie, and I started acting like an asshole, and by the time we reached the frozen food section of the store, we remembered why we were divorcing. It probably didn’t help that Nicole called while I was wheeling Sophia around, pissed at me for something I’m not going to tell you about, and promptly told me that she didn’t want to talk to me ever again.

That night Sophia and I both slept twelve hours.  She slept in the bedroom.  I slept on the couch.  The next day, we felt calmer, and we laughed a little about our adventure in Trader Joe’s.  But it was laughter tinged with pain.

Perhaps now you can understand why I have been avoiding writing on this blog.  I have nothing to say.


  1. IlinaP

    Oh, you do indeed have things to say. Keep taking those Instagrams and by all means, keep writing.

  2. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    It’s the things we can’t say that are often the most interesting and human things about us. I feel for you. And I think you should live in NY.

  3. Stacy @bklynstacy

    That was a whole lot of lovely, memorable, poignant, ordinary nothing, Neil. Plus, the won’t-come-in-your-new-socks story is the best. xx

  4. Dana

    It’s hard for me to know how earnest to be because maybe you use self-deprecation for humor or as your @brand” (though I don’t actually think that’s true). So at the risk of embarrassing myself, I absolutely love your stories and your voice and perspective and would miss you madly if you ever caved to your insecurities and stopped writing. Carry on sharing, please, and know that your words matter.

  5. Roxanna (miguelina)

    You obviously have a lot to say. Don’t stop blogging!

  6. sweatpantsmom

    What?! Nothing to say? You have plenty. Yours is one of the few blogs I still read. (Shhh – don’t tell the others.)

  7. Geoff Meeker

    Love the sock thing, Neil. And the kvetching. When you become a famous writer, as you inevitably will, and regale us with tales of hobnobbing with Woody Allen, Danny DeVito and Ryan Gosling, we will all be rolling our eyes and wishing for the Neil of old.

  8. Dory

    I can dig it. And my vote, not that it’s worth much, is for LA. Cold sucks. LA has less cold than NY.

  9. sweetney

    *slow clap* Oh, indeed, indeed.

  10. schmutzie


  11. thepsychobabble

    sometimes a person wants advice or tips.
    sometimes a person wants a story. even a story about umbilical cords and lost bottles of wine.

  12. moosh in indy.

    I just wrote a post, scheduled it to go up in the morning.

    It is so similar to this.

    Well, not really. I didn’t lose my wallet or travel or have any good dinners.

    But my last line?

    You matter.

    And you do.

  13. Julie Marsh

    There are a lot of people whom I like a great deal, but there are very few whose writing I enjoy as much as yours.

  14. Twenty Four At Heart

    I’m crazy busy this week – want to get together next week?
    I will un-bore you. Weird shit happens to me everywhere I go.
    I’m a weird-shit magnet.
    I take lots of photos ….

    P.S. Did you read about my pomegranate stalker? Things DO happen in the suburbs!

  15. sweetsalty kate

    I’m more suspicious when I have plenty to say. That’s when I’m the most insufferable.

    You’re doing alright. Be random, be quiet, be chattery, be unsure. It’s all okay. xo

  16. Genevieve Thompson

    I haven’t been by in a while. I’ve sort of fallen off the blogging train in a way. But I am so glad I did. I found this post remarkable, even if you didn’t.

  17. Sandi

    You have lots to say, it’s just whether or not you want to say it here.

    I’ve noticed the difference in your instagram pictures, I figured it was the difference in the walking culture of NY versus the driving culture in LA but the pictures are still definitely in your style.

    Keep writing and taking pictures please 🙂

  18. Anna Lefler

    Well, mister, that’s the best blog post I’ve read in a long time. Your “nothing” is a hell of a lot better than most people’s “something.”

    Happy new year. And way to protect the sock. I totally get that.



  19. 180|360

    I can only imagine what sort of gems the Google search world post will bring your way after this post! 🙂 You simply cannot leave us with that fucked up mixture of visuals.

    PS. LA is an Instagram treasure trove. I assure you that there is plenty to shoot.

  20. The Honourable Husband

    Shut up and blog already.

  21. Jane Gassner

    God, I’ve missed you!

    Hey–wanna come see my new apt in Hollywood? I just moved in…..

  22. snozma

    Listen stay off Twitter and you’ll be fine!

    No, I don’t really want you to stay off Twitter. But it does make blogs seem unnecessary. That instant gratification!

    So FUNNY about the umbilical cord.

  23. afteriris

    Who doesn’t love a story about wanking, Neil?

  24. Tamarika

    I don’t want to sound pathetic or anything … but … you have *already* 23 comments on your blog post. When I write something I am lucky if I receive one even after days! LOL Neil – you are an excellent writer. I laughed and cried through this post of yours. Keep up the blogging! We need you!

  25. barb

    you had me at library card(s). plural. a man needs priorities.

    i’m new to you & your writing/photos, but I find you enjoyable & interesting. just one girl’s opinion.

    keep on keepin’ on.

  26. nic @mybottlesup

    i like your words.

  27. Jana A (@jana0926)

    Bravo. Surely you don’t have much else to say. Unless you do. Then I’ll probably read it.

  28. Alexandra

    This is the kind of blogging I like so much.

    This is what I love.

    I’m afraid to do it, you’re brave enough to do it.

    I always feel the push and need to entertain.

    Where you just flow, and it works, and you entertained.

    It was a whole lot of what you may see as nothing, but it was something that made me read every word.

  29. Varda (SquashedMom)

    Neil, you need to know that your “nothing” is so much more than most people’s something. Keep writing and we’ll keep reading.

    Also – I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again and again until you believe it – your instagram photos are luminous, whether in NY or LA. You truly have “the eye” and it’s a rare gift.

  30. Gina

    You probably shouldn’t write when you have nothing to say. In addition to all the typos and incoherent thoughts, you come across as a weird, lonely old guy with a bigger imagination than a 4 year old, with absolutely zero people skills. Silence for you IS golden.

  31. Megan

    Thirty comments later do you believe you have something to say? You’re a writer and you can make “nothing” into “something.” You always do. That’s why we keep coming back.

  32. Caitlin

    I have to say, I can’t stomach any of the “branded” big-time blogs you talk about because they are so impersonal. I prefer the little guy to the big one most of the time, but it’s so hard to find people who are willing to add their chatter to the sea of big fish bloggers. I’ve always admired your writing, and I do read everything you write, even if I never comment on it. I think you should move to Florida. 🙂

  33. Angi

    I love how raw your posts are…no matter when they come. I don’t often comment, but I will…because you need to know that people out here are reading what you have to say…whenever it suits you to say it.

  34. Katherine @ Postpartum Progress

    Loved this post. All the stories are mundanely fabulous. The stuff of everyday but somehow better. Please keep writing.

  35. Neil

    Whoa. You all are so nice. I need to write about this more often.

  36. Jenn

    I want to install a magnet in your back that keeps you on the East Coast. Yeah, I know. They haven’t perfected the technology yet. Get back home, you. Love your honesty. Screw writing, let’s talk about THIS stuff later this week. xo

  37. Chrisor (ynotkissme)

    When I saw this, I thought you had to be kidding. I always have something to say and figure everyone else does too! What you think is boring or uninteresting is fascinating or enlightening to the rest of us. 😉 Even normal, every day things that happen can be entertaining, it’s all in how the story is told. Your photos are a joy, as is your quirky personality! 😉

  38. rhea

    I’d say you had plenty to say!

  39. Vicki

    This is much better than your instagrams. Twitter, Facebook, instagram, and other services are diluting exactly these types of blog posts, and that’s what makes me sad. You are brave to write what you did, even though I always imagine a ‘10% truth quotient bubble’ in my head as I read.

  40. Stacey

    I prefer to read about normal people living their “boring” lives.

  41. Emma

    If only Google Reader still had a ‘like’ and a proper share function other than Google + – this would be there for me.

  42. Sophia

    Neilochka, I love you, divorce or not. And I have always abstained from commenting and posting truth quotients about your stories involving me. But when you say that you dropped everything as soon as you heard that I broke my foot and drove to cater to me… truth quotient is screaming bloody murder. I broke my foot because I was running to open the door for you and then the next morning, when I needed to get to urgent care and told you that I couldn’t walk and had nothing in the house to eat – you said, “You’ll be OK.” and left for 4 days. So – truth quotient zero?

    • Neil

      Hi Sophia. Was it four days? Uh, but I did come back immediately four days later!

  43. Liz @ Welcome to the Juggle

    This is the very first post of yours that I have ever read, but I’ll be back for more so I hope you continue writing. It would be a shame to lose such a non-voice as yours. 🙂

  44. sizzle

    I just bought these socks!

    That is so you, it’s cracking me up. 😉

  45. TwoBusy

    i wish i could have nothing to say the way you have nothing to say.

    also: i fear for what… uh… became of your screenplay. DO NOT ELUCIDATE. ignorance, in this case, is preferable.

  46. Lisa

    I love this kind of post, Neil. Truth quotient or not (Sophia’s comment cracked me up) I find them more genuine and human than the manufactured branded blogs.

  47. San Diego Momma

    New York.

  48. Jill Johnson@Unoccupied Property Insurance

    The “nothing” you had to say was more interesting than what most are posting on blogs today.

    I doubt the lady who took the trouble to return your wallet was the person who took the $50. The $50 was probably taken by the person who took the wine but left the wallet behind as it would be evidence of theft if it was on the theft.

    But you got your wallet and cards back. 🙂


  49. deborah l quinn

    You have nothing to say in ways that are *way* more interesting than people who think they have a great deal to say. Someone once asked Flannery O’Connor if she thought creative writing programs squashed the hopes of beginning writers. She said she thought these programs didn’t squash *enough* writers. In my more crotchety moments I think the same way about the interwebs: just because you *can* have a blogspot account doesn’t mean you *should.* You, however, should write nothing more often. As it were. Or rather, write something about nothing more frequently.

  50. Lesley

    You truly are the king of self-deprecation Neil. Your writing is as heavily filtered as your Instagram shots and that takes nothing away from either of them. It’s the angle that matters; the eye.

  51. Hannah Joy Curious

    Everything is interesting, even the most mundane of details. It’s all in the story telling. Erm, what kind of socks were you wearing the day you called Nicole? Just trying to complete the mental picture…

  52. alejna

    Ah, Neil, you do tell a good story. Clearly a lot of us enjoy reading what you have to say, even when that what is nothing. (What? Did that even make sense? I think it needs more punctuation. I just can’t do it. I’ve spent hours today adjusting hundreds of single quotes, double quotes and apostrophes in a technical paper. There were some semicolons, too. It wasn’t pretty.)

    (And I also enjoyed hearing from Sophia.)

  53. Holly

    You have a way of making nothing sound interesting.

  54. pia

    It’s not that you don’t have anything to say it’s that blogging has fundamentally changed. It felt new; it felt exciting
    You have it better than most childless women bloggers as you’re a male very much accepted by mommy bloggers. Excuse me if I don’t think they should be running the blogosphere
    Blogging shouldn’t be about “do you fit at blogher?” It should be about exchange of ideas, interesting writing , quirks and all.
    I have a house that has a stand alone mail box about a thousand feet from it. I used to stare at it for minutes
    Not for me to say but I think you belong in NY–some of us are made out of city dust and tend to tarnish a bit when we leave

  55. Otir

    Why on earth would I have expected that a blogpost with a title reading “Nothing to Say” would take me just five minutes to read? Silly, oh silly me…

  56. martina

    This is refreshing!!

  57. Anna

    Your life and writing is never boring. Please keep blogging, I need my citizen of the month fix (:

  58. abigail.road

    I wish I had that much to say. You make me feel like the most boring person on earth. 🙂

    I really enjoyed this post. It’s the “boring” things that make life interesting.

  59. K A B L O O E Y

    Woah, Neil. Your nothing to say could be a very moody indie film. Wim Wenders could capture your ennui or… oh! Sofia Coppola could make your walk around the city of drivers and strivers into a sad beautiful thing. Don’t let Abel Ferrara get his hands on the whole pretend you’re riding me/sock scene, though. Remember what he did to poor naked Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant.

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