Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: May 2014

20 Minutes on IM #3: With Logan

Tonight, on Facebook messenger, with Logan of A Muddled Mother.

Neil
You there?

Logan
Yup…all is quiet. Just waiting on you. Ready? Or need some time?

Neil
Oh, hi.

Logan
Hello!!

Neil
No, I’m here. I didn’t see your little green light. You hide, don’t you?

Logan
My little green light might not be on. I am not sure I hide.

Neil
OK, you ready. Gonna put my timer on?

Logan
I think sometimes the messaging thing can feel like high school if no one messages you. It feels like you’re less than. OK. Ready. Timer on? How much time anyways?

Neil
Hold that. 15 minutes. But it goes fast.

Logan
Ok. All yours!

Neil
OK, starting. Hi, Logan.

Logan
Hi Neil!!

Neil
I have to admit, you are #3 doing this, and I am most nervous with you.

Logan
Why are you nervous?

Neil
I probably know you the least. Mostly from doing the “Listen to Your Mother” show with you.

Logan
Oh. I get it. Well, I am not that scary, and I think an open book. And I have been feeling like it will be easy to talk with you.

Neil
But you want to know something. Since the others from the show aren’t here. When you walked into the room, there was something about you. That sounds like a bad pickup line.

Logan
About me? Really?

Neil
Yes.

Logan
Ha Ha.

Neil
First of all, if I remember, you were dressed from work, right?

Logan
Well I have to admit, I’m intrigued. What is it about me, because to tell you the truth, I easily feel inferior.

Neil
And you also traveled three hours there from upstate.

Logan
Yes. I came from my teaching job. Yup. Three hours away.

Neil
And there was a something to you.

Logan
Can you put your finger on it? Really? I’d love to know. I think my therapist would be jumping for joy right now.

Neil
You know, I do think there is something about chemistry… and not just talking in the romantic sense. I felt I “got you” from the minute you opened your mouth.

Logan
Oh, I completely agree. There are humans who just get other humans. It doesn’t have to be romantic. It’s funny. I felt the same about you.

Neil
You were funny. But even before I knew anything about you, there was a sense of real to you. And maybe a little darkness. Like you had lived life.

Logan
Yes. I have lived some life. There’s darkness. Don’t you think there is in everyone? OOOH! Not your mom!

Neil
And then you were telling everyone that you had like a twenty year old AND a three year old, and that was intriguing. I might have the ages wrong.

Logan
Two sons from a first marriage. First baby at 22. Second at 26. Third with second husband at 40.

Neil
Did you feel comfortable with all the big city folk? Do you consider yourself a smaller town girl?

Logan
I felt inferior. But that is a running theme in my life.

Neil
Ha ha, maybe I caught that. But I also felt that you actually knew more than everyone else.

Logan
I tried very hard to remember that I was chosen on the basis of my writing because I certainly didn’t have the credentials that you all had.

Neil
Ha ha, all our credentials! That makes me laugh.

Logan
Well, to me, the small town teacher, what you all do, just seems so much loftier. Tell me a little about your career credentials. They fascinated me in your intro.

Neil
I met two friends at dinner yesterday who came to the show and they specifically talked about your piece related to mental health.

Logan
Or…am I not supposed to ask you about you? How does this work? Me? Really? Well….I just wish the piece would catch the eyes and ears of someone who could change the laws.

Neil
Some of the best writers didn’t have credentials.

Logan
I think you are right about that.

Neil
I think we were discussing what happened in santa barbara, and one of them brought up your piece. I noticed that you had some opinions when everyone was talking about it over the last few days online.

Logan
It is a perfect example of what I was talking about in my piece. The parents’ hands were tied. They knew he was dangerous. The police hands were tied as well as far as what they could do. It is ludicrous and maddening that no one is willing to step up and change that.

Neil
It’s so funny when someone says they feel insecure. I know exactly how you feel, but all I want to do is tell you nonsense. But you can never tell yourself that. The whole debate over it online made me very uncomfortable as everyone searches to make sense. It always happens.

Logan
Yes. I sometimes feel like I should just shut my mouth on the topic. I don’t want to offend anyone, but honestly, this isn’t a gun issue or not just a gun issue. It’s a mental health issue.

Neil
No, you need to speak what you believe.

Logan
And so do you. I saw your post today. You surprise me.

Neil
But the sad thing is that because everyone has a strong way of viewing things, nothing ever gets done. It is more important that we are all right in our opinions and self identities than fixing anything.

Logan
I guess I am more cynical than you. I don’t think it has anything to do with strong opinions. I think it has to do with money. And the gun people have MUCH more than the mental health people.

Neil
What I wrote was different. You strongly believe what you said. I felt obligated to say something like it was homework. But then, someone can also point the finger at the media…. the violence…. the video games…. the rap music…. or whatever.

Logan
Oh. Yes. I can see how that is different. Although, I have to say, that your “homework” is always exemplary. Well thought through. But talking on social media shouldn’t feel like a chore.

Neil
Yes, but not paying the bills. I have never been very smart in using my online life for any monetary advancement. Have you?

Logan
No. It doesn’t. Do you freelance? Is there something that you are supposed to be writing that you have a deadline for?

Neil
Yes, but it is scripts.

Logan
I haven’t made much money off of my writing by using social media. I am just trying (like every other writer) to have a sturdy base. Scripts for what??

Neil
Darn it. Time is up. Let’s go another five minutes.

Logan
Ok. That was quick. Let’s go more!

Neil
Damn it. First i went ten minutes, then fifteen. Yes, time goes too fast.

Logan
See… no need for nerves! We have lots to discuss.

Neil
You realize that for me, this is actually a terrible idea for a blog post…

Logan
Why? I love this idea!

Neil
It is not that interesting for the reader. Yet I am intrigued.

Logan
So am I. Loved yours and Kizz’s. I am so sad I can’t come and see you all at Amy’s.

Neil
It goes totally against the idea of “interviewing” someone who is promoting a book. Yes, I just saw that today. We will call you on skype.

Logan
Correct. This doesn’t feel like an interview at all. Just a chat with a new friend.

Neil
Jeez, times goes so fast. This really makes you see how time flies.

Logan
Sheesh. So tell me something important.

Neil
I also like the weird breaking down barrier between public and private. And maybe this is a good excuse to talk to you. I don’t think I would say “let’s chat” without a reason. Not sure why.

Logan
Yes. I like talking with you, Neil. We need to keep doing it.

Neil
Maybe that is why you always hear me complain about social media.

Logan
So the convos will continue! Good.

Neil
It feels so intimate. But it isn’t because it is done publicly.

Logan
Well this is more intimate. Just two people.

Neil
And we are avoiding the issue that this will end up being public, by not mentioning it.

Logan
Thanks, btw.

Neil
I always find it weird when people talk to each other directly on twitter.

Logan
Twitter… it is weird.

Neil
And then I realize they are not really talking to each other…. they are doing it publicly. Because being seen talking is part of the experience. It is almost theatrical.

Logan
So are you ever going to tell me what “Stuck with” list on twitter means? Really, I have been paranoid.

Neil
Ha ha… it is all good. It is my list for when I am overwhelmed… so stuck with means… well, stuck with….

Logan
Ok. I like that.

Neil
At least it is better than categorizing you as “Mommy Blogger.” Do you consider yourself a mommy blogger?

Logan
I guess, I feel like your niche is what you write, do, feel best and strongest about.

Neil
I find it hard sometimes not have a niche as a blogger. I’m not a parent, and everyone else is a parent in parenting groups. I’m not even a good humor writer because I don’t have the temperament to remain consistently funny like my other humor writer friends. I’ve actually felt a little more into exploring being a man.

Logan
YES!!

Neil
Since I am in crowd of so many women. But is a little tough.

Logan
There is very little I see online about being a single man.

Neil
And just because because I am supposedly an “enlightened” guy…. I struggle with the same stuff that every man does… so even some of the misogyny stuff that was constantly retweeted this week bugged me after a while…

Logan
There aren’t a lot of enlightened men… you could really write about that.

Neil
I don’t want to write about the enlightened stuff. That is so boring to me. Everyone trying to prove how they are a better human being than the next guy, rather than looking within. Everything online reads like a public service announcement for children lately.  And I don’t trust anyone who presents a holier-than-thou attitude to the world.

Logan
no no…

Neil
There is this post I wrote… if I can find the link… maybe six years ago…

Logan
Write about being a single man. Your enlightenment is just naturally part of what you have to say.

Neil
…made a horrible stink.

Logan
Oooo… I love horrible stinks!

Neil
I told a honest story about some girl I liked in high school…

Logan
And…

Neil
…a whole group of us were in a car, and she flirted with my friend in the
backseat, so I turned around, put my hand on her thigh and said, “Is this what you want?” or something like that…. and made her cry.

Logan
Oh… Jeez… yup. Can see how that would be a problem with women.

Neil
This was over half my life ago. A long ago. The only time I acted so jealous and out of control.  This girl — woman now, with a family —  we follow each other on Facebook.

Logan
But raising a stink… is what gets you notoriety.

Neil
God no! Getting notoriety was the last thing on my mind. I got so much
shit… like it happened that night I wrote it on my blog. People said I was a predator.

Logan
A mistake made by a young man. YIKES!! That thought didn’t cross my mind.

Neil
…and that I had no right to tell the story.

Logan
Fringe…Fringe…there’s always people on the fringe.

Neil
People who previously ignored every one of my posts, not taking much interest in any of my funny stories, suddenly showed up to tell me I was a horrible person based on one post from my past, as if it was symbolic of every terrible thing any man had ever did in the world. I think it was especially shocking because I wrote it. Proving that under ever nice guy is a dangerous wolf.   It was so weird. Of course now, years later, I understand where all this anger came from. Women have been hurt so often by men.  Just felt unfair at the time becoming a scapegoat.

Logan
Yes. A nice guy…

Neil
I wasn’t trying to be controversial. I was trying to be MORE of a real
writer. I thought people would appreciate it!

Logan
What was the purpose?

Neil
To grow as a writer. Not to just post funny stuff, which was easier for me.

Logan
Ah. Real life. Revealing.

Neil
To find one of my worst moments and share it.  But I got the message that no
one wants that.   Because it becomes YOU.

Logan
Usually makes the best writing… but often the most controversial.

Neil
That is why you only hear stories bout being bullied.

Logan
I disagree.

Neil
No one ever is the bully.

Logan
You can’t let the fringe… stop you from writing what’s true. I entered a contest. It was called America’s Next Top Writer. I entered a story about the day my husband left me.

Neil
hmmm…

Logan
I had had an affair…

Neil
You see, you are brave…

Logan
My parents were mortified.

Neil
And were you judged poorly that you wrote this?

Logan
My ex husband…trashed the house before leaving. He was abusive… and I called my parents to get help. I was pretty isolated. My parents were, “You made your bed… lie in it.” And my parents FLIPPED that I wrote that story and entered it into the contest. I won.

Neil
Oh, wow.

Logan
5000 dollars and a publishing contract. And the next day…

Neil
You are America’s next top model?! I mean writer?

Logan
They took my winnings away.

Neil
Huh?

Logan
And said that my parents threatened a law suit.

Neil
OMG.

Logan
The contract that I signed said that they had a right to change their minds. And they did because they were scared.  But… that didn’t stop me. I published it in an anthology for women who have been abused.

Neil Kramer
Good for you.  Wow. The timer just rang. 20 minutes are up. Wow. Wow. Wow. What a way to end this.  I am impressed with you.   Maybe we could have been more focused in the beginning, but this is how we talk. I knew we had that in common! We go off topic.

Logan
So… Neil and Logan are now friends because we did this funky blog post.

Neil
Thank you, Logan.

15 Minutes on IM #2: With Michele

Tonight, on Facebook messenger, with Michele of Midlyfemama.

Neil
Ok, we are going to try for 15 minutes.   I will tell you when we are starting.  Again, disclaimer… I will put everything online… unless horrible.

Michele
Define horrible. BORING?

Neil
Like we call each other racist names.

Michele
Ah. Let’s say we won’t.

Neil
OK, you ready…. putting on timer now.

Michele
OK. And you are not saying anything.

Neil
Ok. Begin. Hi, Michele.

Michele
HELLO!

Neil
Thanks for being the second victim.

Michele
My pleasure.

Neil
What do you think of this crazy idea…?

Michele
I love it. Speed blogging.

Neil
I like the fact that it is rather random and that I am not talking with you for any specific reason.

Michele
What do you want to talk about? I spent my day dealing with an annual audit. RIVETING

Neil
Facebook messenger is hard to copy and past these conversations into the blog. I will look for a better place next week. Are you worried about being boring?

Michele
Aren’t we all?

Neil
hmmm…. not really.

Michele
You worry about everything. But not about being boring?

Neil
We don’t know each other that well, but you are always so wise when you give me advice on my neurotic updates.  You have a degree in psychology, right? BA or MA?

Michele
Bachelors in science. BS. Appropriate. My masters in higher education administration and college student personnel.

Neil
hmmm… you are coming off more cynical and self deprecating than I expected. That is my shtick!

Michele
I was two classes away from a second major in student counseling. Decided to get a job instead.

Neil
So why do you think you have such good advice for me? Have you been in therapy yourself? People who study psychology tend to be a little weird themselves.

Michele
I understand where you are coming from. Been there done that. I think everyone should do therapy at least once. I have been called weird by more than one person.

Neil
So are you saying you didn’t need it?

Michele
I DID need it at that time.

Neil
And now? From what you read from my updates, is my therapy working at all? What is your unprofessional opinion? Should I change therapists?

Michele
These days I am pretty happy, confident, making good choices. But therapy is more than just solving problems. And yes, your efforts are working. I loved your updates today.

Neil
You know what I thought after that update… because the very positive one was shared like five times. People love the positive stuff…

Michele
I have no idea if you should change therapists. Do you feel you are making progress? It took you however old you are to get to this point. It is going to take more than a month of sessions to get through the gunk.

Neil
…and shy away from the negative… but I don’t think I would have come up with this positive update if I didn’t first think up with negative updates…

Michele
I find the negative stuff to usually a defensive effort to put off being real.

Neil
…so I respect the negative as well…

Michele
The negative is FUNNY.

Neil
Usually we think of the negative as the more real, not the positive. So you see the negative as defensive?

Michele
Most of the time. When you write it at least.

Neil
hmmm… I will think about that. I told you that you were insightful.

Michele
I see YOUR negative as being deflective and a way to keep yourself safe.

Neil
Do you advise students in your job? Yes, I like to keep myself safe. Is it financial stuff or career stuff?

Michele
I am not an academic adviser, but I am the one who hands out money so I end up talking to students about making good choices. I am the director of financial aid.

Neil
So that must give you insights into stuff. Choices such as…? Man, colleges are so expensive nowadays.

Michele
Hey, don’t use loan money to buy beer and hamburgers, get a job and don’t drop classes

Neil
Were you like that in college?

Michele
NO.

Neil
Do you follow any of your students on Facebook? Can they find you?

Michele
They can find me if they want, but I won’t friend them while they are students.
I avoid posting about specifics so no one thinks I am talking about them.

Neil
What do like writing online?

Michele
WHAT?

Neil
You have a blog. Do you live near Newton, MA?

Michele
I do have a blog. www.midlyfemama.com, but I haven’t been good about updating.  I work in Newton, live in Waltham.  Newton, for which Fig Newtons were named.

Neil
Really? I didn’t know that.

Michele
For real. Now I want to do the fig newton dance.

Neil
I know there is a big temple there where that famous rabbi worked…. the one who wrote that book…. “why do bad things happen…” There is a fig newton dance? I used to love fig newtons. Maybe I will go buy some later in your honor.

Michele
I am not up on Rabbinical writings and yes, there is a dance.

Neil
Can I find it on you tube?

Michele
I do NOT have any youtube stuff. Wait, yes, you can find the commercial, I am sure. It is old. A guy dressed in a fig newton costume.

Neil
OK, our time is running out. This was wonderful. The aim is not to be especially interesting, just to connect in a weird way…. and then put it on publicly. I don’t know why I love the idea.

Michele
I think it worked.

Neil
Maybe it just gives me an opportunity to talk to people…

Michele
I think it is a great idea. Keep doing it.

Neil
…by having a purpose. We probably wouldn’t have chatted otherwise. Although we have chatted in the past a couple of times.

Michele
I am always happy to chat with you.

Neil
OK, nice. Thanks…. and thank you. This conversation is officially over. 15 minutes is up.

Last Week’s Chat #1 with Kizz.

The Mother’s Day Picnic

Let me just say that I’m not mad at Cindy for last week. She was only looking out for me. She DID invite me to the Mother’s Day picnic in Central Park with her other friends. She just thought I would be uncomfortable as the only woman there without a husband or kids. Did I really want to endure all these crazy kids running around screaming at the top of their lungs? She was probably right. Better to meet her alone on some weekday night, when she has more time, for a quiet dinner or movie.

My other friend, Dagney, of course, thought Cindy was rude, but couldn’t even understand why I would want to go somewhere I wasn’t wanted or treated like a second class citizen. Dagney really loves being single and not stuck at home with kids. She can’t stand Cindy, who is always mom-this and mom-that. Dagney has a whole group of forty year old women, all of them career women without kids, who go out each Friday night together, living it up like the women in Sex in the City. More power to them! I love Dagney, and I don’t blame her for never inviting me along on these women night outs. She’s right about me. I’m too much of a downer, and I wouldn’t fit in with others. I’m also not successful enough. They only go to expensive places.

It’s like I don’t belong with the women who are moms because I’m childless, and don’t belong with the fun-loving independent women because life seems empty without a family. Sometimes I don’t feel like a woman at all.

Ten Minutes On IM #1: With Kizz

online

This afternoon:

I used to have all these blog gimmick ideas, and then I stopped. I’m not sure this is a good one, but you never know until you test it out. I’ve always been fascinated by interviews and conversations — the rhythm and dialogue — I also think any dialogue could potentially be interesting. I had this blog gimmick idea that will probably fail, but I’d like to try it. It involves the cross-pollination of the public and private. I want to IM someone or maybe a few people, one a week – it doesn’t matter who – for 5 minutes ONLY — with a timer — alone and then I post the entire conversation on my blog. We can ask each other anything and both have the right to refuse. But everything goes down, except I might fix some typos and punctuation. Is that too weird?

Tonight, on Facebook messenger with Kizz of 117 Hudson:

Neil:  you see me?

Kizz:  I do now!

Neil: yay!

Kizz:  OK, so now what?

Neil: OK, this is an experiment….thanks for being guinea pig. In a second I will turn on a timer and then we will just chat, but I will post it on my blog….honestly I have no idea what the experiment is about.

Kizz:  OK, sounds good to me. Anything else you want me to know before you hit go?

Neil: if five minutes is too short will go to seven. nope. just talk normal.

Kizz:  Cool. I’m ready when you are. Heh, it’s nice you think normal is in my repertoire

Neil: ok ready?

Kizz:  Ready!

Neil: hi Elizabeth

Kizz:  Hey Neil

Neil: is that how you like to be called? I usually call you Kizz. What do friends call you? Liz?

Kizz:  Honestly I’m Kizz to most people in my life. It’s not my given name but it’s who I feel I am.

Neil: nickname in school?

Kizz:  Chronologically I was Elizabeth, Beth, Elizabeth, Liz, Lizzie, Kizzie, Kizz.

Neil: schizo then?

Kizz:  Yes!

Neil: i promised i was going to ask you as first question something i said on facebook. when I asked for volunteers you said you would do it, but then you said, maybe I would want someone more interesting. you know that is bad to say.

Kizz:  And yet isn’t that what you would have said if you were in my place?

Neil: no.

Kizz:  Really?!

Neil: i have a million insecurities but I would assume I would be interesting.  Man, looking at ticker.   time is going fast…..might have to extend this conversation…

Kizz:  Heh. OK, if I’d looked at it that way I wouldn’t have qualified.

Neil: and you are actually more interesting than I am…. a singer, into animals….

Kizz:  You know a lot of really interesting people.

Neil: are you feeling the after the “listen to your mother” show blues….i spoke to two people in other cities who are rather depressed after all the activity about their shows.

Kizz:  I guess I think of myself as more weird than interesting — so interesting in a way people find uncomfortable.  I am definitely feeling the loss after the show.

Neil: hmmm…. I suppose i don’t know you that way of being weird. You seem pretty normal.

Kizz:  I’m also not done working with LTYM though. Thanks for reminding me, I have to bring some stuff to Amy tomorrow!

Neil: Did you do your dog training class today?  What work is there still to do? The show is over.

Kizz:  Since we don’t know each other well, it’s kind of a neat checkpoint to hear that you see me as normal!

Neil: Wait a minute…. I am on your facebook page…. you are single? I could have sworn you were married.

Kizz:  My academic dog training classes are over (they were Wed nights) now I’ve got 5 more practical sessions on Sundays. So much to learn!

Neil: Five minutes are up. Let’s go for ten. Are you going to get a certificate or degree?

Kizz:  Re: LTYM, we just have paperwork and mop up stuff to do but it needs to be done so records are complete for next year.

Neil: Did you enjoy doing LTYM?

Kizz:  Ten minutes is good. Single. Never married. Two long relationships. I have a BFA and a 1 year post grad certificate in acting.

Neil: Any gossip about LTYM? Like that you hated Amy or someone and want to say it publicly.  And have you done any online dating? Ha Ha, now this conversation is becoming about me and my dating life…

Kizz:  I love LTYM. I think the movement is incredible. Not being a mother nor wanting to be one that love is not without conflict but I love LTYM.

Neil: Great. I was going to say we should meet for coffee soon, and now we have this whole both being single thing to deal with.  Does not being a mother get you down in this mother obsessed mom blogging world?

Kizz:  Hah! I signed an LTYM non-disclosure agreement so I can’t say much but I hope you believe me when I say that I’d like to be Amy when (if) grow up.

Neil: Sometimes it bugs the hell out of me…. makes me feel alienated…. everything is mom blogger or dad blogger…

Kizz:  I have filled out many an online dating profile but never let them go live. I am terrible at starting relationships, great at sustaining them…which is….problematic.

Neil: you notice that this idea of mine made us chat on IM…. something we never do? It is like we talk to each other on facebook but afraid of one on one….

Kizz:  OK, let’s go on photo walk so we can say that’s our focus and forget about the whole dating aspect..unless it comes up naturally.

Neil: the fact that this is going public…. makes it safer…. I think that might be the core of this blog post experiment….ha ha…. You’re the first I’ve done this with…. and I already have a date….

Kizz:  Yes, totally feel alienated in a world of mommy bloggers but, I assume like you, I really like a lot of bloggers who are moms so…just have to live with uncertainty.

Neil: but from experience…. dating people online is trouble….

Kizz:  OK, repeat that slower. What is the core of the experiment?

Neil: And if it doesn’t work out when dating…

Kizz:  Dating people is trouble. Period. If we’re lucky the trouble is worth it.

Neil: ok, ten minutes is up. no answer to that… thank you for this experiement. This was the dumbest idea ever…

Kizz:  NO answer to the core of the experiment!?!?!?!

Neil: Ten minutes is up

The Kindergarten Show

Last week, there was a story in the news about a kindergarten principal in Long Island who send a letter to parents telling them that they were ending the annual kindergarten show, a tradition that had been going on since the parents themselves were children at the school.

Kindergarten-1via The Washington Post

The reason, as outlined in the letter, was that the demands of 2014 required educators to prepare today’s students to succeed in a competitive business world dominated by math and science.

Yes, this was a letter to parents of children in kindergarten.

Yes, it was about the annual kindergarten show, one of the most beloved events of school.

The item went viral, and the principal was mocked, a symbol of an educational system run by lunatics.

To be fair, a few parents agreed with the principal, thinking that school today is for college preparation, career readiness, and individual achievement. How can you grade or test a child participating in the show, unless it is a competition? And if you can’t grade them, what is the point?

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Last night, I was in a performance of Listen to Your Mother NYC.

“Listen To Your Mother” is part of a 24-city series of live readings in honor of Mother’s Day. This New York City production features prominent local writers and performers telling their own tales of motherhood in all of its complexity, diversity, and humor.

I was especially honored to be involved since I was the only male in the group, reading a piece about my mother, who was in attendance at the show.

After the show, I was talking with the other cast members about the experience. Most felt empowered, either connecting to the concept of motherhood or the oral tradition of storytelling.

I thought about that news story about the kindergarten class in Long Island.

You see, I don’t snub my nose at the kindergarten show, or see it as inferior to a math class.   And themed literary readings are theater, and theater is the adult version of the kindergarten show.

Even Shakespeare knew that.   And that’s nothing to look down on.

From the minute I auditioned for Listen to Your Mother, I viewed it less as a literary event, than a theatrical one, like one of those MGM movies where someone shouts, “Let’s Put On a Show.” My story was important to the production, but no more than any of the others stories, whether sad, touching, or funny, read by anyone else at the performance.

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If one piece was bad, it would make all of us look bad. It was to our common benefit to help each other, to give advice on diction, joke writing, using the microphone, and how to sit in a chair for an hour without fidgeting. I knew that I was picked to be in the show for some specific reason, and that those who auditioned and didn’t make the show were just as good, perhaps even more polished.

So my comparison of LTYM to the kindergarten show isn’t to dismiss it’s importance, but to say how much I enjoyed and savored every moment of it. I loved that our individual ambitions took a back seat to a common theatrical event — the way it’s supposed to work. Working with others is a skill as necessary to the modern world as being an “influencer.”

This “Let’s Put On a Show,” was very much alive in my early years of blogging. But at some point, we were told, “No more kindergarten shows. From now on, it’s all math and science. So out went all the badges and blogrolls, and in came the data and demographics. The social manifesto of “Is Blogging a Radical Act?” became “How much does it cost to buy more Twitter followers?” We started to believe in an online Darwinian world where only those who brand themselves as unique, or differentiate themselves from the pack, deserved to survive.

I was desperately missing the kindergarten show, a place where everyone had a role, and collaboration was necessary.   That was my main takeaway from Listen to Your Mother. I already have a blog, so I did not need this showcase as outlet for my voice. What I learned was the importance of putting on a show, of rooting for the success of another because her success means your success..

We should never cancel the kindergarten show, no matter how old we get. It would be a sad world when we only respect math, science, and how many hits we get on our own blog posts.

Thank you to LTYM-NYC — the wonderful cast members, directors, and producers — and especially Ann Imig, who started it all.   I know she has a theater background, so she will understand what I am saying in this post.