Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: January 2017

Women’s March in NYC 1/21/17

Hands Across America

  

I have a friend who is involved with the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Group, which was started in 1966 by the iconic musician and activist Pete Seeger in response to his despair over the pollution of the Hudson River. Today, the organization is still thriving, and during the spring and summer, the schooner Clearwater sails down the Hudson, bringing the message of activism to thousands. On Saturday, my friend was going for a meetup with other crew members of the replica 19th Century sloop, and I was lucky enough to tag along. There was a pot-luck dinner, great conversation, and some old-fashioned folk-singing. I found myself feeling very comfortable, even when events turned hippyish. Who can resist the beat of Native American drumming?

Many at the meetup were preparing to attend the big march in Washington D.C. protesting Trump’s inauguration. A few said that they would be unable to go to Washington for various reasons, but Clearwater cleverly found a way for  everyone to show their support. A large protest banner was laid out on a table, and those who knew they couldn’t attend created a handprint by pressing their ink-painted hand onto the cloth.

This isn’t slacktivism; it’s symbolism. These individuals will be present in Washington, their hand raised high for all to see, even if they aren’t physically marching in the street. Not everyone has the ability to march. Everyone does their part in the way they can.

I’ll be marching in New York. But I know many of you will be marching in Washington and Los Angeles and Chicago and Raleigh and Miami.  When I go on Facebook next week ready to go into Manhattan to march, feel free to post a photo of YOUR HAND in my Facebook comment section, and I will know you are there with me. I will be doing the exact same thing with you, our hands together in friendship, love, vulnerability, and strength.  Let’s watch out for and support each other.

Losing Things

So far, in 2017, I’ve been losing things

I lost the close relationship of a woman.

I lost the comfort of looking up to a President who beamed with decency and intelligence, as a new administration takes shape, in the likeness of a serpent.

Three days ago, I lost my umbrella, leaving it on a bus.

Two days ago, I lost my hat, leaving it on a train.

Yesterday, I lost my identity, or at least my wallet, pickpocketed in the Times Square subway station. In my wallet were my credit cards, my library card, my insurance card, and my driver’s license.  

Today, I took a break to see a matinée of the award-winning film, Moonlight.

Later, I discovered that I lost my second hat of the week, this time leaving it in the movie theater.   When I called the theater’s lost and found office, they said it was gone.  Was I losing my mind?

“There is nothing wrong with me,” I told myself.  “I am distracted.  Between the personal and the political, I feel lost.   I’m not ready for the new year yet, and my mind is rebelling against its existence.   

I grabbed a  strong cup of coffee, then went to the New York Public Library to get a replacement library card.  I glanced around at all the books on the shelves. Thousands of books stood silently, lined up like Napoleon’s soldiers waiting for action. From Knitting for Dummies to A Guide to Authoritarian Governments to the Kama Sutra.  So much to learn, so much to do, so much to fight against, so much to love and protect.

The librarian handed me my new library card. My name was written on it.  It was my first new proof of my identity in 2017 since my wallet was stolen.

I was now ready for the new year.  I had no choice.  With only my library card and twenty bucks in my pocket, I stepped outside into the winter cold to buy a new hat and umbrella.

Sixth Grade Mind

At the end of sixth grade, we all received an autograph album so we can sign our goodbyes to our classmates before we headed off to the great dark and dangerous unknown — junior high.  I found my “autograph album” yesterday  in my closet, and it was fun reading again, especially the page where I listed my favorites.  

I can only imagine my sixth grade mind’s thoughts as I scribbled in my answers.

My Favorite Author: Agatha Christie

“I don’t read children’s books like the other kids. I read adult books like my mom. I read Agatha Christie. She is an adult writer.   I am an adult reader.”

My Favorite Book: Murder on the Orient Express

“My favorite book is “Murder on the Orient Express.” Of course it is. I love trains. I have a train set, and when I am on the subway, I imagine myself on some really fancy train, like the Orient Express. The Orient Express is as fancy as they come. You can sleep on the train and they serve you steak and lobster, like at that fancy restaurant in Long Island where the waitresses dress as pilgrims. The Orient Express goes from Egypt to Europe, and all types of fancy people go on it, Dukes and Duchesses, and millionaires. Hercule Poirot is also on the train.   He  is a famous detective.  He is way smarter than even Columbo. This is his hardest case ever! But he watches, and listens, and puts two plus two together, and he figures it all out. You will never guess whodunit. If you’ve ever played Clue, this is a book you HAVE to read.

The novel is also educational.   It teaches us an important life lesson that I will remember forever. If you think logically, using your little grey cells in your brain like a detective, you will be able to figure out anything. Nothing is too complicated for the human brain to understand if you think hard enough. Life is like math, 2+2=4. I will always remember that. Think hard enough and you can figure out the answer, so everything will always be perfect.”

My Favorite College: Harvard

I have never seen Harvard in real life because I have never been to Boston.   I have only seen Harvard  in that movie that my mom likes where the college students fall in love. But I know that I must attend Harvard for college. It is the best. Even though I am only in sixth grade now, I must prepare myself to get into Harvard now, no matter if I have no fun until then. Because once you get into Harvard, you have everything. The rest of your life is pure happiness. You sit on the lawn and read books with smart guys in glasses and play Frisbee with pretty girls with long hair.  If you go to Harvard, your parents are so proud that they tell all their friends, “My son is in Harvard.”  Over and over again.   And when I come back from Harvard to Queens and go back to my sixth grade class, Sharon will want to be my partner in the dance festival. “Oh, Neil, you are back from Harvard!” she will say. “I would love it if you will be my partner for the dance festival this year. I wish I knew you were going to Harvard in sixth grade, I would have become your partner and we would be married by now. But now we can get married because you went to Harvard.”

My Favorite Profession: Lawyer or Author

I would like to be a lawyer and fight for civil rights and against those who try to ban books and say there is no evolution. I’m always in social studies coming up with a question where the teacher goes, “Good question, Neil.” I can do that in court. I will be logical as a lawyer, like Hercule Poirot as a detective. I will say, “You say blacks and whites should not go to the same schools, but WHY do you believe that? Do you have any proof why it is bad? Aren’t all children just children?  Do you know the words of Martin Luther King?  Don’t we all bleed and laugh and cry and learn? Why shouldn’t we go to the same schools?” And everyone will stand and cheer.

Maybe I’d rather be an author instead of a lawyer.  My uncle is a lawyer and is divorced, and my dad says he drinks too much. I’m not sure I would want to go to court everyday or wear a suit.  I don’t want to get divorced or drink too much.   An author may be better because he sits at home all day and writes stories, like Agatha Christie, and everyone just loves you all the time. And as an author, you can make A LOT OF MONEY!! Girls will want to be with me because I will have so much money.

My favorite motto: Do Onto Others as You Want Others To Do To You

This is my favorite saying. A famous rabbi once said that the entire Torah can be summarized by this saying. You don’t like being beaten up or mugged, so you shouldn’t do it to someone else. If someone is sick, bring them the homework. That is exactly what you want, right? If everyone follows this plan, then everyone is nice and happy. Of course, just to be logical, I might not want to beat you up because I follow my motto, but you might still beat me up, because you don’t follow the motto. Then, I’m not sure what to do. That screws up everything. But I think eventually, as society advances, we all will be good to each other. It is the way of history, like landing on the moon — progress!

How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex and Move On With Your Life

***Written on Christmas Eve.

If you’re in pain, searching Google on the subject of  “How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex and Move On With Your Life,” and you ended up here, at this blog —  tough luck, my friend.

You’ll be getting no advice from me.

Oh sure, I could spout some obvious clichés about seeing friends or focusing on hobbies, which is what you were probably expecting, but c’mon, you already know that shit, right? You don’t need me to repeat it for your benefit.

Believe me, I was once like you, and I don’t mean five years ago.  I mean FIVE MINUTES AGO when I was searching Google for “How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex and Move On With Your Life.”   And what did I find?   Mostly poorly written advice columns that seem to exist solely for internet traffic. Yes, a few of these posts were written by writers once heartbroken themselves, but the trauma was always back years ago, when these individuals were naive and immature, and who now are self-actualized adults able to share their experiences as experts to help others, if you buy that.

Let me say it again, just in case you are still reading this.   I cannot help you.  I am useless for that.  I’m expert-less.   I’m in the same situation as you, and only making things worse by the minute.  I’m writing this on Christmas Eve, which is already a loaded time for melancholy.   I’m sulking, boring my friends, and annoying my ex with too many emails. Everything wrong.  

What I can share with you is that, just a few minutes ago, I was  searching for a post exactly like the one you are reading right now, written by someone who was hurting NOW, as he wrote it, so his words had some urgency.   I wanted to find someone who I could relate to, so I could say to myself, “Look, there is another person feeling like a desperate idiot. Maybe I’m normal after all.”  

Now, I know how the internet works.   You might be reading this ten years from now.  I will probably be completely happy by then, married to a wonderful woman.  But the words that are on this page will exist here forever in pain, in full nakedness, the NOW still alive, in 2026, as vividly as it was on Christmas Eve, 2016.   Feel the anxiety and tears flowing from my fingertips into my laptop into the internet and into your consciousness.   I know how you feel right NOW.    Feel it.  Cry if you need it.  

I have no advice.

You might be a teenager dealing with first love.   Ha Ha, that’s the worst.   I’m not a teenager. I’m a mature man who has been around the block and endured a few breakups, even a divorce.  I’m gonna break it to you now.   You will  make the same mistakes when you are my age.   If you are sixteen, as I once was, you are going to be shocked to learn that at fifty, you’re still going to want love and sex.  You’re never going to be able to completely control your emotions.   That’s right.  Your parents still want to be in love.   Your parents like sex.   A lot.   Live with it.  

I’ve been lucky so far to have avoided the severe post-breakup misery that we see so frequently in movies, plays, and books. My divorce was hard, but there was a long stretch of on-again, off-again separation with us that created more of a slow-burn than an amputation.  With other girlfriends, it was mutual, or the obstacles seemed so overwhelming that we cried, then accepted the inevitable.  There have been friends who I’ve lusted after, and Tinder dates who have rejected me.  I’ve always managed to overcome the disappointment pretty quickly.   I’m good at making sure that logic always takes precedence over emotion.

My current situation is unique.  I’ve never been where I wanted more from a woman, but the other wanted to move on.  It sucks. 

I can’t verbalize exactly why this feels different, but I can feel it in my bones   We were friends for a long time, and constantly chatted and called, several times a day.   Social media is great for instant access, but has its dark side.  When you break-up with someone, you are forced to see the tweets about her new boyfriend.  You have to be a strong and adjusted man to find joy in the romantic happiness of your ex-girlfriend when you are still feeling emotion.  

Again, I can give you no advice. There is no one to blame. I’ve made some mistakes and I’ve been super-hard on myself.   It is Christmas Eve and I imagine everyone is happy except for myself.  What did I do wrong?   Maybe I can change her mind? Maybe I should just call her, as a friend, just to say hello? What if her boyfriend is there? Wouldn’t that be awkward? Maybe I should do it anyway?

This is all crazy.

But it also normal.

Maybe you are doing the same sort of shit.

That’s why I googled “How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex and Move On With Your Life.” I wanted this post.   Not someone trying to sell me an e-book, but to hear another temporary basket-case expressing the exact craziness that I felt.  

What do you do when you lose not only a girlfriend, but someone who has been your best friend? How can she — so quickly — find someone else?  Didn’t “we” have any meaning?

Sorry, suckers. No answers.  I only have the same questions as you. 

Time heals.

OK, so maybe I just did give you some advice there.

Say it again. Out loud. Time heals.   You don’t believe it. I Know you don’t believe it.  I don’t believe it either, and I’m the one fucking writing it. But it is true.  Because I believe in science. And this is science talking.   I believe in climate change.  I believe the earth goes around the sun.   So I have to believe that time truly heals.  

OK, here is another bit of practical advice. Block her on social media. For now. Maybe soon, you can become friends again.   But right  now, it’s going to be so hard to see her words and photos.

I know you are  thinking that it isn’t necessary.   That this is for the weak.  That you aren’t a crybaby pussy. That a real man can endure it.   It’s only Facebook.   Just forget it. You’re not being weak by blocking her on Facebook for awhile. You’re a fucking human.

In the beginning of December, I blocked my very first person on Facebook. It was a Trump supporter. It was a big deal to me because I’ve always taken pride in listening closely to those who I disagree with politically. This guy, however, was getting personally insulting. After much thought, I decided that he crossed a sacred boundary, and I blocked him.

Now, at the end of December, I am blocking my second person,  for a completely different reason. I miss her, and our daily texts and conversations, and it is too painful to see her with someone else.   I’m glad she is happy, but hate it at the same time.   Sorry, the truth.  Emotional truth.  

You should do the same. Block her.   For now.  

As for other advice on “How to Stop Thinking About Your Ex and Move On With Your Life?”

I have nothing.  

Good luck to you.