Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: December 2014

2014 Online Recap

January

In January, I visited my friend, Veronica, in Virginia.

virginia

I wrote the first of many 2014 posts about my favorite topic, going to therapy.

Defense Mechanism,

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February

In February, a freeze came over New York City and much of the East Coast.

freeze

It felt like an big accomplishment to sweep aside my fear of self-promotion to expand my photo “store.”

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March

In March, I increased my productivity by working in the library, which worked very well until I realized the library had internet service.

library

I wrote about a breakthrough in therapy that happened when I needed to ask for the wifi password at a coffee shop.

The Password

On my birthday, there is a near-accident while trying to take a nude photo of myself with my iPhone.

The Story of the Birthday Selfie

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April

In April I attended the 50th Anniversary celebration of the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Park.

unisphere

I wrote about life in my apartment building in Queens, including this “scary” tale of apartment living.

Doorbell at 3AM

April brought an unexpected viral hit, a collaborative parody of a now obscure independent film titled “American Blogger.”

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May

On Mother’s Day, I participated in Listen to Your Mother at Symphony Space, NYC. It was a wonderful working with so many other talented storytellers.

LTYM

The Kindergarten Show

I also posted a video of my piece, titled “Glass Half-Full.”

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June

In June, I attended a fun 1920’s era garden party on Governor’s Island.

ferry

I struggled with the fact that my special relationship I had with Juli in New Zealand had come to an end.

Three Months Later

I tried shopping therapy to cheer myself up, crowdsourcing on Facebook for weeks about which jeans I should buy.

Which Levis Jeans Makes My Ass Look the Best?

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July

July brought the big 10th anniversary conference of Blogher in San Jose. I was honored to c0-present a Pathfinder session on Visual Storytelling. I also got to hang out with my friend JC Little in Los Angeles.

blogher

Blogher ’14

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August

I had a wonderful time at BlogHer, but I didn’t hear much that was inspirational about blogging. The excitement has moved to other venues — social media and more traditional outlets, where there was a better chance to been seen, heard, and read. I had seem my own traffic take a dive. So, I decided to change things up, and started to write short fictional pieces based on New York City photos.

steps

Fictional Characters of New York #1

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September

In September, I traveled to Nova Scotia to attend Kate Inglis’ Shed Photography Workshop. I had the best time there. I learned so much about photography from Kate and the other participants.  I also got to spend quality time with some of my favorite online friends from Canada.

halifax

Kate’s Shed Photography Workshop

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October

In October, I toured the Ford Foundation and other interesting NYC buildings during the Open House New York Weekend.

window

By now, my readers were familiar with my therapy-oriented posts.

M or N

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November

In November, I socialized way more frequently.  Jana from Georgia came to visit, and I attended  an art gallery opening with two visiting friends from Canada.

art

By the end of the year, there was one undisputed fact about my writing — readers were much more interested in hearing about my mother than myself.

Mom, are you a Feminist?

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December

In December, most of my energy online went to “producing” the Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert, which mostly involved reminding others over and over again on the deadline! Despite several who have never learned to read instructions, it was a huge success.

christmas

The Ninth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert

It was a pretty good year.    Thank you for your friendship.   Happy New Year.

The Ninth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert — LIVE!

The Joy In Her Heart Overflowed And Colored All She Saw
photo by Lotus Carroll of Lotus Carroll

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Welcome to the The 2014 Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert! It is my honor to be with you here for the eighth year of this concert. Thank you for keeping this blogging tradition alive. May we all be happy, healthy, and creatively productive in 2015!

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Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit (Christmas Has Arrived) performed by Nenette Alejandria Mayor of Life Candy and her daughter, Miranda.

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Joy the the World performed by Kristen Howerton from Rage Against the Minivan, Chad Markley from California Loves Culture and Lauren Francis from Beer and Hymns Orange County singing Joy To The World.

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Snow Day performed by Mary Long of Marty Suttle Long and Kevin Long

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gingerbread
photo by Veronica McCabe Deschambault

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God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and The First Noel performed by Laurie LaGrone of Foolery and Mac Caywood of the Orland Federated Church Jubilee Bell Choir

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Happy Christmahanukakwanzaakah performed by Leah, the daughter of Louise Gleeson of Late Night Plays

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noteSanta Baby performed by Anne Riotto

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White Winter Hymnal performed by Jenny of Oh Jenny Mae and her daughter Molly.

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merry
photo by Jennifer Gosden

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Petit Papa Noel performed by Oscar and Posey, the children of Bon Stewart of The Theory Blog

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Hanukkah at Christmas performed by Tamar Jacobson of Mined Nuggets

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Interrupting Jingle Bells performed by Dresden Julia Shumaker of Creating Motherhood and her son

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noteSaint Nuit (Silent Night in French) performed Natalie Helene LeBlanc

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jana
photo by Jana Anthoine of Jana’s Thinking Place

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O Holy Night performed by Elizabeth Flora Ross of The Writer Revived

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Oh Come All Ye Faithful performed by Paula Kiger of Green Big Pen

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Rock of Ages performed by Elisa Camahort Page of BlogHer

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I’ll Be Home for Christmas performed by Doreen Oliver

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New York Christmas
photo by Martin Karaffa of Deutschland uber Elvis

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Tom Lehrer’s A Christmas Carol performed by Celeste Lindell of Average Jane

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Dona Nobis Pacem performed by Lori Holden of Lavender Luz and her sisters

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer performed by Jenn Mattern of Jennifer Mattern, her mother Elaine, and her daughters Hattie and Sophie

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noteMaoz Tzur played on the accordian by Sister Becky Swanson

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Ellen and Larry
photo by Ellen Bloom of LA is My Beat

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Christmas in O’Hare performed by Tom Carrozza, music and lyrics by Tom Carrozza and Noel Katz of There’s Gotta Be a Song

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Good King Wenceslas performed by Alejna of Collecting Tokens and her daughter Phoebe

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You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch performed by Karl Erikson of Secondhand Tryptophan

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Joy to the World performed by Elizabeth “Kizz” Robinson of 117 Hudson and friends

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Kathy & Kloe
photo by Kathy Gottbert of SmartLiving365

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We’ve Got Christmas Magic by Danny Miller of Jew Eat Yet and Cinephiled with his kids, Leah and Charlie

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The Twelve Days in Florida performed by Aliza Worthington of The Worthington Post and Shoshana Kohn

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The Latke That Couldn’t Stop Screaming, a Reading by Lisa Rae Page Rosenberg of Smacksy and her son Bob

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Twas the Night Before Christmahanukwanzaakah, a NSFW NOT-family friendly version of the famous poem, written by Adam Avitable of Avitable

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joy
photo by Annette Kiesow

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Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas performed by Elizabeth “Kizz” Robinson of 117 Hudson and Sara of Sara Gardens

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Jingle Bells performed by the children of Deborah Grinter of Bright and Precious

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Jingle Bells performed by The String Bean, age 5, the daughter of Elizabeth Flora Ross of The Writer Revived

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tree
photo by Chrissy Wojdyla of Quirky Chrissy

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Hark the Herald Angels Sing performed by Jenny Gaskell of Tranquila Mama

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Don’t Be Fooled performed by Tara Livesay of Livesay Haiti and the Livesay family

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The Twelve Days of Christmas performed by Michelle Kosboth of Midlyfe Mama and her son Cooper

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O Holy Night performed by The DramaGeek.com team (Kristen Howerton, Austin Rivers, and Andre Goddard)

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Menorah
Photo by Carol Zwick of Buttercup Counts Her Blessings

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Elf… You Better Go Back Home, an original song performed by Linda Roy of Elleroy was Here

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It’s Hanukkah Time in the USA performed by Neil Kramer of Citizen of the Month

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Skating by Vince Guaraldi performed by Angela Reiner Downing of Fluid Pudding

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collage xmas
photo by Karen Delaney Dino of Journey Back to Self

Thank you for another year of online friendship, debate, following, unfollowing, laughs, and tears.

Nine years!  Can you believe it?

Here are the past blockbuster concerts —

2006  2007  2008  2009  2010  2011  2012 2013

PeaceCard
photo by Melissa McLaughlin Tingley

The Ghost of Christmahanukwanzaakah Past

ghost

Oh great, all weekend my Facebook feed was filled with your damn Chrismahanukwanzakah trees and decorations and menorahs, and your obnoxious kids singing in their school choirs, posing as clean-cut, as if we didn’t know they spend the rest of the year Snapchatting photos of themselves to the other kids in junior high.

I hate the holidays, and I don’t understand how any of you can express any joy and hope or celebrate life when we live in a world filled with sexism, racism, agism, genderism, fat shaming, and the death of the political magazine, The New Republic. What’s there to celebrate?

You want to know how I see Chrismahanukwanzakah? I see it as one big DOLLAR SIGN to sell you my overpriced New York City prints of Rockefeller Center that you could probably get on the street in Times Square for five bucks. It’s a time for profit for me, an excuse to build traffic, a drug to feed you so you will avoid worrying about the growing inequality between the salarys of CEOs and you.

But I don’t need to worry — As a straight white men I will one day be the 1%, as ordained by God, controlling the world while the rest of you eat Hot Pockets for dinner. Feminist ally, give me a break. Santa delivers the toys while Mrs. Santa stays at home, keeping the fire warm. That’s the way of the world.

Chrismahanukwanzakah, who needs it?!

I’d rather sit by myself on December, watching old sex tapes of Kim Kardashian than celebrate some fake holiday with some pretentious bloggers who aren’t talented enough to be REAL writers and photographers.

That’s what Chrismahanukwanzakah means to me on December 18, and nothing can ever change my mind. Nothing.

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I was restless last night. The rain and wind beat against the window as if they were my enemies. A ghost appeared. He had wiry white hair and was dragging a tail of clanging chains. He scared the shit out of me.

“Who are you?” I screamed.

“I am the Ghost of Christmahanukwanzaakah Past,” he said. “I hear that you hate all blogging concerts that celebrate the holiday.”

“F*ck blogging. Blogging is dead. It’s a waste of time. Why celebrate it? Better to write for the Huffington Post for exposure. I wish I never started blogging or doing any of this inane social media crap. What have I gained from it? Nothing.”

“I see. But have you thought about the others? Do you dare to see what type of world this would be if you never existed as Neilochka online? How much you would be missed?”

“I would love to see this world.”

“Then let it be so.”

The ghost raised his arm, and after what felt like a brief earthquake, he nodded towards me.

“It is now so. The world is now what it would be if you NEVER started blogging or went online.”

I jumped out of bed and looked out the window. It looked exactly the same as it did before. I grabbed my iPhone and went on Twitter. Everyone was joking and fighting with each other about racism and feminism as if I never existed, and no one seemed to care that I wasn’t putting in my two cents.

“So what exactly is different?” I asked.

Scarlett Johansson entered my bedroom, just wearing her underwear.

“Scarlett Johansson? What are you doing here?!”

“I’m you wife, Neil. You are more famous than I am. You wrote ten bestselling novels because you never wasted all your time on your stupid blog or flirting with married women on Facebook.”

“Oh my God! This is awful to learn how much time I wasted online with my blog! But how is this supposed to make me love blogging more or care about some lame Christmahanukwanzaakah concert? If anything, I hate it all MORE. What type of ghost are you? I want to stay here and live THIS live, where I am writing the novels and bonking Scarlett Johansson at night! Give me ONE good reason for going back in time or participating in some Christmahanukwanzaakah concert, now knowing that blogging totally f*cked up my life!”

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“Let’s make love again,” said Scarlett Johansson. I looked at her. We were in bed. She was naked. She was perfection.

“I want you now,” she said, and climbed on top of me. It was a fantasy come true. I was living the life I would have had if only I had never started my useless blog or wasted time on social media. A poster hung on the wall of last week’s New York Times book section, where all ten of the bestselling books were written by me.

“You know, Scarl,” I said, “I need to get new eyeglasses. What type of glasses should I get?”

“Whatever you want,” she said purring and biting my neck.

“Do you think I should the squarish ones from Warby Parker, or can you see me in round glasses, like Harry Potter?”

“I don’t know. It’s up to you.”

“I’m also thinking of buying new jeans. Do you think I should buy the 501s or the 514s? Have you ever heard of Joe’s Jeans? Are they worth $150?”

“Are we making love or not?”

“I’m just making small talk. You know, like foreplay.”

“It’s not foreplay talking about your glasses and your pants. It’s boring and annoying. Shut up,” she said, as she put her hand over my mouth and shut off the light on the night table.

I should have been happy. I was a best-selling novelist, and Scarlett Johansson couldn’t take her hands off me. But I felt unsettled, as if my life wasn’t complete.

After our amazing lovemaking, with my gorgeous movie star wife sleeping at my side, I tiptoed into the living room and sat in front of my laptop. This was an alternative universe given to me by the Ghost of Christmahanukwanzaakah Past, so I knew that when I logged into Facebook that I would not be a user. I quickly signed up for Facebook.

I proceeded to write my first update.

“Hi there! I’m new here, but I was wondering if you can help me out deciding what type of glasses and jeans I should buy?”

And within seconds, despite me being a completely new user, the answers started rolling in, from strangers, good Samaritans far and near, people who didn’t know me from a bug on the wall but had so much free time that they bothered to care about my glasses and jeans. It was amazing, even thrilling.

“Get the round glasses!”

“Buy the glasses online!”

“I LOVE Joe’s Jeans”

“I wrote a post last week about the best jeans. Here is the link!”

“If you buy the jeans and glasses both at the same time from Amazon, you can save shipping!”

Even those who were somehow bothered by my question, still offered useful bits of advice.

“First World White Dude’s Problem! Get a F**king Life.”

Tears started running down my cheek. So many people caring about me, even in anger, wanting to help me find the important answers to life, or educate me on how I was wrong. Sure, being a bestselling novelist and bonking Scarlet Johansson was nice, but could it ever replace the intimacy and care of the community I could find online?

“Bring me back, Ghost of Christmahanukwanzaakah Past! Bring me back to my old life when I was blogging and on Twitter and Facebook all the time with people who answered my stupid questions. It’s wasn’t as if online friends couldn’t live without me; I can’t life without them! What’s the fun of being a bestselling novelist and bonking Scarlett Johansson every night without bragging about it to my loser online friends, or at least posting a few photos on Instagram? Bring me back, Ghost of Christmahanukwanzaakah Past! I now understand the importance of Christmahanukwanzaakah and all my blogging and social media friends! Bring me back, and I will help make this year’s Ninth Annual Online Christmahanukwanzaakah Concert the best one yet!

And then, the earth shook, and the lights flickered, and the thunder screamed, and suddenly I was back in my bed. Instead of Scarlett Johansson next to me, it was my iPhone. The Ghost of Christmahanukwanzaakah Past had granted me my wish and returned me to my old life. I quickly opened my Facebook app, and praised the Lord that my old account was back, along with my 1000 fake friends.

I noticed that there was a new comment on my last post, an update asking for advice on a new vaccum cleaner.

“First World White Dude’s Problem! Get a F**king Life.” wrote the commenter — G.C.P.

And I laughed, as hearty and joyful as Santa’s ho ho ho. I immediately knew who G.C.P was – the Ghost of Christmahanukwanzaakah Past himself and I thought I heard some thunder in the distance.

“Everyone is on Facebook nowadays,” I thought.

Thank you G.C.P. Thank you for everything you did. I had learned the true meaning of Christmahanukwanzaakah — You can bonk Scarlett Johansson several times a day, but without “community,” no one will ever know.

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The Ninth Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert. December 18th.