Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: anxiety (page 1 of 2)

Swimming Past the Sharks


In case someone reads this post two years from now and doesn’t remember the name Diana Nyad — she is an American endurance swimmer, and today, at age 64, she became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without the help of a shark tank.

It was Nyad’s fifth try to complete the approximately 110-mile swim. She tried three times in 2011 and 2012. She had also tried in 1978.

Her last attempt was cut short amid boat trouble, storms, unfavorable currents and jellyfish stings that left her face puffy and swollen.

“I am about to swim my last 2 miles in the ocean,” Nyad told her 35-member team from the water, according to her website. “This is a lifelong dream of mine and I’m very very glad to be with you.”

I learned about her success on Facebook. My timeline was filled with supportive responses to her amazing feat.

“Diana Nyad is my hero.”

“This just proves what I tell my children. If you try hard enough, you can succeed in anything.”

“I hope to be like her when I get older — accomplishing greatness in MY sixties!”


“What do you think of the woman who swam from Cuba to Florida?” I asked my mother at lunch.

My mother wasn’t following the story. She was watching a Labor Day Perry Mason marathon on the Hallmark Channel.

“What woman? I haven’t been following it.”

“Her name is Diana Nyad. And she’s sixty four years old!”

“That’s great. Amazing. Was she trying to escape?”

“Escape? Escape from what?”

“Escape from Cuba for asylum? Is that why she was swimming to Florida?”

“No. She wasn’t swimming to escape. She was swimming because she is a long distance swimmer and this was her lifelong dream! She never gave up.”

“Her lifelong dream was to swim from Cuba to Florida?”


“That’s crazy. Couldn’t she just take a boat?”


3PM, Labor Day

I’m in my bed. Thinking about swimming from Cuba to Florida. There are vibrations going up and down my body, as if a thousand electric toothbrushes are powered up and pressing against my skin at once, shaking my nerves.

There is something about Diana Nyad’s accomplishment — the fact that she never gave up, even for a goal that my own mother saw as rather unnecessary — that has brought me close to a nervous breakdown.


3:30PM, Labor Day

Maybe I was being a little over dramatic before. I’m fine. I can be a bit of a drama queen. Everything’s fine.


4:00PM, Labor Day

I’m sitting at my laptop. I’m feeling better. Not sure what happened before. But let me tell you — during the last couple of weeks, I have been acting very strangely, more so than usual. It’s as if my body is sending my brain a message. Or more likely, the other way around.


4:30PM, Labor Day

In the 1960s, there was a popular therapy technique called “flooding.” It was used on patients with various phobias. A woman scared of elevators, for instance, would be forced into a closed elevator to confront her darkest fears until she would pass out from hypertension, but then, miraculously, from that day on, she would be able to take elevators without a problem. While the method seems primitive and cruel today, it was also quite effective.

During the last two weeks, I have been flooding myself, almost as if I want to fix every leaky valve in my brain before the start of Rosh Hashanah. While none of my personal little goals have been as dramatic as swimming a shark-infested ocean, they have been dangerous to me in that they forced me to swim into the dark waters of myself.

Two weeks ago, I submitted a screenplay that I had been working on for three years.

My thoughts at the time: (Is it any good? What if it isn’t any good? What if he doesn’t like it? What if it was better in that draft from two months ago? Why did I take that friend’s stupid advice of changing the “priest” character when it was way better before? Why am I so weak and compromise so easily?)

Last week, I placed a banner ad in my sidebar of my blog.

My thoughts at the time: (Am I being a hypocrite after everything I’ve ever said against monetization? Is it even worth if for such little money? How will my readers take it? Will they see me as too needy? Did I lose face with myself? Why do I feel nausea when I see the ad on my personal blog? Should I tell everyone to use an ad blocker so they don’t have to see the ad when the read my blog? Why WOULD I tell everyone to use an ad blocker so they don’t see the ad — isn’t that the point?!)

This weekend, while most of my friends enjoyed the last weekend of the summer swimming in lakes or hiking mountains, I stayed home, with an eye on a new prize — putting a few of my instagram photos for sale on my blog as prints.

My thoughts at the time — and now: (How much should I charge? Will I look like I am extorting friends? What if I charge too little and my real photographer friends feel like I am degrading the art of photography? Do I deserve to even make any money on an iphone photo? Who am I fooling? What if someone feels obligated to buy one, and they don’t really want to? What if someone buys one and then in a month they start a Kickstarter campaign for their own project, and I feel obligated to donate to it?)

Today, as a sixty-four year old woman finished achieved greatness in the water, my body, as a reaction to my own thought process over the last two weeks — gave up.

“This is not normal,” I told myself while lying in bed, looking up at the ceiling. “You have anxiety.”

I can hear some of my friends laughing.

“Dude, I could have told you this YEARS ago.”

I hate when people call me “dude.”

Why am I suddenly so obsessed with this idea of “feeling the fear and doing it anyway.” Why am I pushing myself? What am I trying to push myself to do? Would anyone care about Diana Nyad if she failed again, and decided it was time to give up? Why is she a hero? What did she do? Is she a nice person? What do I need to prove to others? To myself? Do I want to be the second person to swim from Cuba to Florida? Wouldn’t it better to just take a boat?

I exhaust myself.

The Dark Side of the Pill

Popular wisdom says a blog must have a niche, or a focused theme, and today I found it — anxiety.  I walked into Walgreen’s, headed straight for the pretty Vietnamese pharmacist with the sour face, and without hesitation or shame, handed her a presciption for Buspar.

“It’s a mild anti-anxiety medication,” I said.

“I know what Buspar is.  I’m a pharmacist,” she replied, sourly.

I know my mother is going to call me in ten minutes and tell me NOT to take this pill.  She is so fearful of pills that she would be booted out of BlogHer today for being a bad mother to me when I was a child. When I had the flu, she would give me less than the suggested dose of any medication.  If it was a fever, she would cut the aspirin and give me half.  If I was coughing endlessly, she would give me a teaspoon of cough medicine.

“Mom, Robitussin says to give me a TABLESPOON, not a TEASPOON. Cough Cough Cough.”

I was an avid reader at an early age, and was fond of reading cereal boxes and cough medicine bottles.

“You don’t need a full tablespoon. You can get HOOKED on this and then you will be in the street, drinking cough syrup.”

“Yuch.  It’s too sweet. It’s like the Manischevitz wine at Passover that no one likes.  Who is going to get hooked on cough syrup?”

“That’s what they ALL say before it starts to become a problem.   Just drink more tea and honey.  That will make you better.”

My mother was like a Jewish version of a Jehovah’s Witness/Scientologist, who didn’t believe in modern pills.  It was always tea and honey.  And chicken soup, the cure-all.  I’m lucky I never broke a leg.

“Here, put some chicken soup on your leg.”

Her anxiety over medications became my anxiety over medications.

And drugs.

Remember when everyone laughed at Bill Clinton when he said he smoked pot, but never inhaled?  I never laughed.  I did that ALL the time when I was thirteen years old, hanging out with Scott and Phillip in Phillip’s room after school, when his mother was still at work.  Phillip would take out his nickel bag hat he bought from his older sister and then crank up Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on his expensive, wood-grained Sherwood stereo that he saved up for by working at his father’s store.

“This album is the fucking best!” announced Scott.

He always said that, just as “Money” started to play.  And yes, Pink Floyd nuts, I realize that “Money” is the first song on the B-side, but Phillip always played the second side first.  That’s how we rolled in Flushing, Queens.

I like Pink Floyd now.  But I didn’t like them at all when I was thirteen.  I found “The Dark Side of the Moon,” one of the best-selling albums ever,  slow and depressing. I secretly listened to the more upbeat, funkier, Commodores back at home, but never mentioned it to anyone else.

“Pink Floyd rocks!” I would say as Phillip would turn the bass up so high that it distorted the sound.

Note:  I made up that last quote where I say, “Pink Floyd rocks!”  Recently, there was a scandal where a blogger was caught making up details about his life, and I feel the need to kowtow to the pressure to be authentic.  I don’t really remember what I said in Phillip’s  during those good ol’ days, but I am positive that peer pressure had an even bigger effect on me back then, which would have forced me to say that I liked this album more than I did. (Albums, ha ha! How quaint! One day, I will talk about how important it was to have the right speakers and stereo system. We used to talk about it like kids talk about smartphones today.)

Money, get away
Get a good job with more pay
And your O.K.

Money, it’s a gas
Grab that cash with both hands
And make a stash

New car, caviar, four star daydream
Think I’ll buy me a football team

Money get back
I’m all right Jack
Keep your hands off my stack

Money, it’s a hit
Don’t give me that
Do goody good bullshit

I’m in the hi-fidelity
First class traveling set
And I think I need a Lear jet

Money, it’s a crime
Share it fairly
But don’t take a slice of my pie

Having just recalled the lyrics to “Money,” it doesn’t surprise me at all that my pot smoking friend ended up working on WALL STREET, rolling in the dough,  while I’m still lulling away the hours, fantasizing about the woman extolled by the Commodores in — (take it Lionel Richie)

She’s a brick—-house
Mighty mighty, just lettin’ it all hang out
She’s a brick—-house
The lady’s stacked and that’s a fact,
ain’t holding nothing back.

If you are a parent, watch what your children listen to when they are thirteen years old. It will determine their future more than what fancy school they attend.

Back to the pot.  I loved the smell of pot.  But I was my mother’s son.  I was afraid of getting lung cancer at age thirteen.  Why risk it just to get high?

“You can’t get lung cancer from pot,” said Phillip.

I researched this in the library, and Phillip was right.  But again, why take the chance?

I was not anti-marijuana.   I laughed when they had that school assembly where they brought in that former drug addict who told us that pot was his “gateway drug” to heroin. The “potheads” that I knew in school seemed way too lazy to go out and buy a needle.

I faked smoking pot with Phillip and Scott.   Of course, sometimes the smoke would get into my lungs.  It took some skill to fake smoking pot, because you were supposed to hold it in for what seemed like ten minutes to get the “full effect.”  At one point, Scott bought a bong, which always seemed to me like a Mr. Coffee for potheads.

Phillip and Scott would get high, grooving to Pink Floyd.  I never could understand how his parents never figured out what we were doing after school.  The entire room smelled of pot.  Perhaps they smoked pot themselves?

It was never much fun being the one friend who wasn’t high.    Phillip and Scott found everything funny, and there is nothing less funny than people who think they are funny.

Phillip: “If you reflect a magnifying glass just right, you can get this rainbow effect like on the album cover.”

Scott: “I love this album cover.”

Phillip: “You going to get the new Kiss album?”

Scott: “Kiss is for faggots.”

Phillip: “Yeah.  Ha Ha Ha.”

Scott: “Imagine kissing Shari Diamond.”

Phillip: “Oh yeah!

Scott: “Call her. Tell her to come over.”

Phillip: “Look at the wall! It’s like vibrating.”

Scott: “Fuck.”

I know I might seem like a wallflower, but I wasn’t.  I would participate in the conversation, too.

Neil: “Do you think the social studies test is going to be hard on Friday?”

Phillip: “What are you talking about, Neil?”

Scott: “Mellow out, Neil. Look at the wall.”

Neil:  “OK.”

Phillip:  “You see it?”

Neil:  “Yeah.  Cool.  (to self) Morons.”

2012, many years later.  Scott is on Facebook.   Phillip is missing.  My musical taste has not improved (see Kelly Clarkson?!)  And sadly, my anxiety remains.  Lately, I haven’t been myself.  I’ve been having trouble dealing with work and money and divorce and whether or not to make new business cards for BlogHer.

“Why don’t you take some Buspar?” said Dr. Fish, my primary care doctor who I went to because I had a pain in my shoulder.  Diagnosis: Tendonitis.

“I don’t need it.”

“Sophia said it might be good for you?”


I remembered that we had the same doctor and Sophia had just gone to Dr. Fish two days earlier for her yearly checkup.  I felt like I was being pushed into something I didn’t want to do.

“I don’t like pills.”

“It’s not a big deal. You take it.  If you don’t like it, you stop.”

“I’m not sure I have “real” anxiety.  It’s just a temporary thing.  I’m not afraid of people.”

“Not all anxieties are the same.”

“Well, come to think of it, I AM afraid of most people.  But I’m not crazy or anything.”


Mom, are you calling me now?

“Don’t take it, Neil.” I can hear her saying.   “Don’t take pills.   Finish this divorce already, and you will be OK.”

But I am an adult.  I need to stop listening to Sophia, Dr. Fish, AND my mother, and do what is best for my mental health.

The package of Buspar is sitting on the desk, next to the computer.  I’m still a little scared of taking one. Will I become a Stepford zombie? Will my penis shrink?

Maybe I should download some Pink Floyd on iTunes so I can create the right mood.

My Favorite Shirt

I’ve been anxious and unproductive lately.  I looked up my symptoms — back tension, worry, sleepiness — and apparently I have now overcome my old ailments of codependency, people-pleasing, and OCD to catch something new from that sneezy cashier at the pizza place — Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or as the hipsters call it, GAD.  Why pay for a therapist when you can do it all yourself?

I’d like to blame BlogHer for all this tension.  Buying a ticket to New York for this year’s conference for women (yeah, I know) has  opened a whole box of muscle tension.  How long should I go?  Do I live in NY or LA?   What’s going on with Vartan?  What will happen with Sophia when events change?

In order to prevent a total breakdown, I needed to take quick action.

What action?

It didn’t matter.   I have noticed that when you are doing something pro-active, it takes your mind off of worry.   Isn’t that what I learned in that meditation class?  I’ve already vastly improved my life by changing my blog template for the first time in five years and creating a new ATM password after using the first name of a schoolmate for decades.

What next?

The red shirt.

This is my favorite shirt.  I bought it in college.  Here I am wearing it on MY HONEYMOON!

The sands of time have not treated this shirt well.  The sleeves are ripped and there are stains in the front from the time I spilled a basket of french fries slathered in ketchup on myself in Portland 2006.  Oh, and it is missing a button.

Has there ever been a man who has NOT heard a woman say to him, “I am NOT LEAVING the house if you are wearing that shirt.  The invitation said the party is FORMAL!”

Action.  Enough with the red shirt from college.  I’ve moved on!

P.S. — For the sake of authenticity, let me admit that I created that last line  — “I’ve moved on!” — for dramatic effect.  In reality, after I took the final photo, I removed the shirt from the garbage bin in the kitchen.   It seemed a cruel way to treat an old friend, like tossing your recently passed-away cat out of the window while driving on the 405 Freeway.

Aha moment!  Why not keep the shirt, and use it to dust the house?

Just like I would do with the dead cat.

P.S.S. —  For the sake of authenticity, I would never do that with a dead cat.

P.S.S.S.  — Also, for the sake of authenticity, I have no intention of ever dusting with this shirt.


I’ve been feeling anxious this week.  Shaky.  Overly-emotional.  Pissed at Sophia.  Unable to work.  Frustrated at everyone on Twitter. Insulting people.

Tonight, I went on YouTube to watch some meditation videos.  I tried my best, but let’s be honest, meditation is just not me. I also found the teacher in the video rather attractive, which was distracting me.

During one of the videos, my mother walked in.  She told me about this winter hat that she saw a vendor selling on the street for five dollars.  I was not interested.

“I’m meditating!” I yelled.

She looked over my shoulder as the meditation video turned red to match the “color of the pelvic chakra.”  An Indian sitar played on the soundtrack.

“What’s going on?” she asked about the video.

“I’m not sure.  I’m trying to meditate!”

“How can you meditate if you don’t know what you’re doing?” she asked, rather logically, but still annoying

“Just leave me alone, please.  I’m trying to be peaceful.”

“Do you want me to buy you that winter hat I saw that guy selling on the street? I noticed that you don’t have a winter hat”

“Don’t buy me a winter hat. Please.”

“It’s only five dollars.  If you don’t like it, don’t wear it.”

“Can I meditate please?!”

“Go look at the hat yourself.  He has all different colors.  Scarves, too.”

After she left the room, I decided to research “meditation” on Google, to learn more about the methods of the ancient art before I watched any more useless videos.   I typed in the word, and pressed enter, and the results were all about pharmaceuticals, which is more of a modern art than ancient art.

I had accidentally typed “medication” instead of “meditation.”

I found that so amusing, that I laughed and laughed, and immediately stopped feeling anxious.

Silent Night

When readers — even Sophia — write comments, saying they liked a post, it puts me in the difficult position of deciding what to do next.  I am familiar with the old Yiddish saying —  a man should never try to strike a hot coal twice, or the embers will burn his toes.

Since the last post was about words, I decided to be playful, and write a post about silence.  Aren’t I a clever fool?  Ha Ha Ha, I love blogging.  I can write any shit and at least one person will read it.


This post idea had me laughing and laughing and laughing, amusing myself to no end, when it occurred to me that I was making a racket with my guffaws and wheezing (allergy season).  Could I even write a post about silence?

Writing about silence is not an easy task for someone like me.  I come from a long line of talky Jews.  I like the noisy city.  Urban life wraps me like a worn, but comfy blanket.   I do my best writing in crowded public locales where traffic is whizzing by, offbeat horns honking in cacophony.   A few years ago, I stayed a month in a small Vermont hamlet, populations mostly cows.  It was so quiet at night that it FREAKED me out!   Every night, I expected a bear, or serial killer, or monstrous cow to jump out at me from each shadow.  I felt naked in the silence.

Silence.  Page One.

I cleared the couch of random papers and iphone chargers, and stretched out, flat on my back.  My goal was to lie quietly, focusing on the nothingness around me, until I could hear the silence.

It was late at night, so there was little traffic outside.  I could hear a car or two pass by, and a police siren in the distance, probably near the liquor store, but Queens had settled in for the night.  I was alone at home.  The computer was off.  The television was off.  The radio was off.  Usually, when I come home, and I am alone, I flick on one of these electronic objects, just so I will have some company sent my way through the cables of Time Warner.

But now I was alone.  Really alone.  I tried to focus on the quiet, but there was a distraction.  There was a buzzing in the background.  I tried to ignore it, but I could not.  I decided to track it down.  I closed my eyes, using my ears as my compass, and felt my way to the sound.  I ended up in front the Kenmore refrigerator.  Of course.  Despite their advertising it as a “quiet cool” in Sears,  this huge appliance was the noisiest monolith in the apartment.

I unplugged the refrigerator.  Yes, I was so motivated to hear the silence, so loyal to my experiment, that I pushed past my comfort zone and took my food source off her respirator.  And this was not an empty refrigerator.  I had recently gone shopping, and it was bursting with food products — turkey slices, peanut butter, even some expensive Butter Pecan ice cream in the freezer!  I was risking it all for my writing.  I was Blogging with Integrity!

I returned to the living room couch and assumed my position.  I closed my eyes, and prepared for the silence.  Any moment, and I would be a Buddhist monk, a Zen Master, a Kabbalist, at one with the nothingness in the world.

But silence does not come easy.  The brain does not fucking stay quiet.

“The ice cream is melting!” said my nagging mind.  “The milk is getting sour.  What if the refrigerator doesn’t turn on again?  What kind of idiot turns off the refrigerator to listen to the silence?”

“Shut up, shut up, shut up!” I screamed.  “I can’t hear the silence.”

But it was hopeless.  I gave a walk of shame into the kitchen, and re-plugged the refrigerator into the wall.  The familiar hum of the Kenmore returned and it relaxed me.   I never had noticed this sound before, but now I considered it a friend, as if we were neighbors gossiping in the kitchen.  I turned on the TV, radio, and computer, opened the window so I could better hear the distant traffic, took some Butter Pecan ice cream, still mostly frozen, and sat down to write this post.

Because I Know

I’m getting a real kick from reading tweets and blog posts about BlogHer.  So many women are anxious about the conference!   Women are worrying about looking fat.   Women worrying about being ignored.   Women worrying about cliques.   Women worrying about standing by themselves while everyone else squeals with joy and dances in a conga line.

What a relief.    I don’t have to worry AT ALL.   I’ve been blogging for almost five years.   I know tons of people in this personal blogging arena.   I am a man at a woman’s conference.   People like me.   They like my blog.   I have been invited to parties.   My biggest problem will be finding the time to talk to all the bloggers who seem to think I am the cat’s meow!    I am feeling so confident and sexy about this event that I laugh at the anxiety at the others.   How silly you are!   What worrywarts!   It’s a stupid blogging conference.   Grow up.

But the laugh is a nervous one.   Because I know.

God help me if I was a blogging newbie.   A Mack truck could not drag me to a blogging conference.   I wouldn’t know what to do there.   I would either bite my tongue or chatter endlessly like my mother does when she gets nervous.   I would latch onto one person and spend the whole weekend talking to that person.    Or, more likely, I would retire to my room early and watch TV.   I would then mock you as a bunch of assholes.

Over the years, I have wimped out of attending many real-life parties and events out of fear of being exposed as unimportant or a loser or not successful enough.   I didn’t go to my high school prom. I was afraid of asking the girl.    I didn’t go to a networking event just LAST WEEK because I was insecure about meeting someone from school who just got a big movie deal.   I am not a brave person.

Of course, I do not want to show you that part of my personality.  I want you to think of me as confident.   And — I’m excited about going to Chicago.   Things will be different there.   Beautiful women, popular women, extremely intelligent women all want to meet ME!   Some newbie is going to ask a friend, “Who is that?” and her friend is going to answer, “That’s Neilochka! I would go say hello to him but he probably doesn’t want to talk to someone like me when Redneck Mommy is practically bowing at his feet like a Canadian Geisha girl.”

I am looking forward to that.

BlogHer is going to be a breeze for me.   Blogging has been good for me because it lets me write my way into your consciousness, allowing me to use my creativity to get into your pants.   This assertive part of me is becoming more and more a part of my real life, but change is slow.    I’d still rather chat on Twitter than go to a bar by myself.

I have never been to an event before where I will be known by so many people — even before I walk into the room.   While I won’t exactly be Tom Hanks of the blogging world, I will at least be the Richard Simmons of the blogosphere, known by name by at least 168 people.   It does not require any bravery on my part to attend BlogHer.   I am way more impressed by the new blogger who walks into this viper’s den without knowing one single person.   You are a better man (or woman) than me.

Good luck to you nervous newbie! Maybe we will get to talk together.   Maybe not.   But I will tell you one thing.   If I see you standing by yourself, biting your nails, drinking a beer and making believe you are enjoying yourself when you aren’t, I suggest that you… well, I don’t know what to suggest.   Do something crazy?   Expose yourself?   Throw a drink in someone’s face?   Whatever.   I know that I won’t be looking down on you and your anxiety.

Because I know.

Anxiety Friday #2


I Won’t Delete This One — Maybe

Note:  This is an example of writing something just for my own benefit.   I know it isn’t very well-written.  I just like TO WRITE, even if it is dumb.  The main theme, kissing, is something that was on my mind today.  I know it isn’t a major issue of the day, but it is what I think about when I sit around at 1AM. 

I’m not writing this note as an apology.  I actually hope to be inspiring.   I think I wimped out earlier by deleting those two other posts.  What’s the big deal if I just left them on?  Do I want this blog to be all about high quality literary posts?  If I do, then maybe I should just write one post a week.

Eh, screw it.  I don’t know what I’m talking about.  I’m feeling all these contradictory emotions about everything, including YOU.  I am confused why strangers would care about me.  At the same time, I hate the fact that when I go on Twitter, life in the world just goes on.  I remember one day, a few weeks ago, there were two main conversations going on in Twitter — one was jokey and the other was about the Democratic primary.  People were chiming in, this way and that, entirely convinced that the world was listening to their views.  And then, another person who didn’t have many followers, wrote, “my grandfather died.”  And everyone just kept on talking, oblivious.

I feel lucky that I have people who read this and seem to care.  But as a “dependent” personality, I need to remember that I don’t need you for validation.  If I write this, the job is already mostly done.   Everything else is dessert.  The act of writing — the words on paper — the fact that I amused myself for a bit — is the important thing…


OK, if this is going to be my life, it’s time to get my ass out of my childhood bedroom and start preparing for battle.  Life is like war, and every soldier needs his comrades, his buddies who will support him NO MATTER WHAT. 

You are those comrades-in-arms. 

Let me put this in a way that YOU can understand, because some of you seem to get lost in my “over-your-head” blog posts.  I am a samurai and you are the sidekicks in Akira Kurosawa’s “The Seven Samarai.”  Or I am Princess Leia, and you are Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca.  Or maybe it’s better to say that I’m Luke Skywalker and you are R2D2 and Obi Won Kenobi.  or I am Frodo and you are Sam and the other Hobbits.  Or I am the Karate Kid and you are my Mr. Miyagi.  Or I am Seabiscuit and you are…Ok, you get the point?

You need to advise me and help me in my goals.

For many months now, I have been — how can I say this politely so as not to offend any Christian mommybloggers? — vaguely insinuating that I was mildly interested in finding and accompanying an intelligent, kind female into my bedroom where we would hopefully partake in an ancient, natural, intense, and completely “eco-green” ritual that would be satisfying and immensely spiritual for both of us — well, at least for one of us.

In the past, this was theoretical.  But the future is looking different.  Can this dream become a reality?  Hell, I’m not ready to be thinking about this.  Shut up, yes you are!   You can’t HELP not thinking about this.  I need to first be comfortable with yourself and figure out what you want to do.  You’re an idiot.   Who gave you such miserable advice? 

OK, if I am going to think reality, I need to start thinking practical. 

Myth — Most women do not jump into the sack with you like they do in the movies.

As much as I would love to have some hot woman come up to me in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and say, “Oh my God, you’re Neilochka from Citizen of the Month.  I’m a beautiful curator at the museum, and graduate of Princeton with an Art History degree.  Let’s have sex in the Temple of Dendur after the museum closes!” it is unlikely that this event will ever occur. 

As for myself, I would feel uncomfortable having sex this way.  I know it is “controversial” for a man to say he wouldn’t take any opportunity for sex, but I would probably turn this woman down.  I’m shy in that way.  It’s taken me three long years to feel OK even HUGGING bloggers, especially those crazy southern bloggers who seem to hug everyone, even the checkout guy at the supermarket who bags their groceries.  Besides my shyness, I’d be afraid of getting caught having sex in the Temple of Dendur.  Or worse — being videotaped and ending up on YouTube.  or even worse — desecrating the temple grounds with our sex act and getting some horrible Egyptian curse bestowed on me where my penis turns to stone, and then slowly wears with time, whithering away into dust.

Oh yeah… yeah, what the hell is this post about?  Am I going to be deleting this nonsense in five minutes, like the two posts from yesterday?  Why don’t I just stop blogging for a week since I clearly have nothing to say? 

But I do have an important topic to discuss.  I read this site that scared the hell out of me.  For all of my talk about sex and penises and doing it upside down on a trapeze, it seems that — IN THE REAL WORLD — if I want to pass GO — I have to first KISS the woman — and get this, DO IT WELL!

It has been theorized that a woman decided within five minutes of meeting a man whether or not she will have sex with him. Possibly true, but there is one catch. Most women I know, myself included, may initially decide we’ll have sex with a guy, but when we find out he’s a bad or a mediocre kisser, we change our minds entirely. We decide we will never have sex with this guy. He won’t even get asked for a nightcap, much less for breakfast the next morning. As our lips part while we stand on the doorstep, we will announce that we have an early-morning meeting or (if you were really awful) that we’re actually already married to someone else.

What we will never, ever say is, “God, you’re a lousy kisser. I was going to have sex with you until just this moment.” This is one of the ways in which men and women differ. If a man is very attracted to a woman but discovers she’s a bad or mediocre kisser, he’ll probably have sex with her anyway if presented with the opportunity. A woman can’t get past a bad kiss.

I’ve been with Sophia for years.  I’m not entirely convinced that I can kiss someone new and just hit it off — 1, 2, 3.  Will I be out of the picture if I don’t “up my game?”  Should I have Sophia write me a note to hand to the woman explaining that I’m not really “hip” to any of the new twenty-first century kissing techniques?  Have any women out there really rejected a guy because of his kissing?  If you are a married man, are you keeping up with your passionate kissing — just in case your marriage falls apart and you need to go back into the dating scene?  Maybe you’re like me, and didn’t realize how serious this kissing thing is to women.

What makes a good or bad kisser?  

Hopefully, if I go to BlogHer, my blog friends will come to my assistance and make out with me.  I will be putting up a sign-up list on my door.  Please tell your husbands and boyfriends that this is completely innocent, and that you are just helping a fellow blogger with his research.

Maybe I’ll delete this later.

Happiness Project, Day 2: Developing a Facebook Application


Self-Help Books


Today, Sophia and I sat in Borders for half the day, reading self-help books. I was determined to find a book that described me and my “problems” in psychological terms. After my two months of therapy, I’m fully convinced I need this help, and I want to understand myself better. I almost feel as if I’ve been blind to parts of my own personality. I am neurotic, but just saying “neurotic” is too vague for me. I want a stronger sense of the problem. I’m envious of you bloggers who have something specific, like ADHD. That is a “sturdy” psychological problem. If I met you for the first time, I could shake your hand and you could look me in the eye and say, “My name is Jack and I have ADHD.” It’s just not the same to answer, “Hi, I’m Neil. I’m neurotic, but I’m not exactly sure what that means or what exactly I’m neurotic about.”

The first book I read at Borders was on procrastination. I certainly procrastinate on my writing, but not with everything. Other times, I am very much on the ball. (Editor’s note: I’d like to see that ball — Sophia) I can’t honestly say that I’m NOT a pure-blooded procrastinator. (Editor’s note: I can.)

I was excited about finding a book on anxiety, especially one that screamed “Millions sold” on the cover. Anxiety is nothing new to me. I HATE making cold calls. I freeze in fear. That is anxiety. In my single days, I could never get enough nerve to talk to women in bars. I was too anxious.

The trouble is that “anxiety” is a term too broad for my taste. I don’t feel anxiety in typical social situations. I love to speak in public. I would have no problem running naked in the woods. I’ve met many who are plenty more anxious than me. Maybe I’m not really “anxious.” (Editor’s note: Yes, you are.)

The book that affected me the most was one about self-esteem. There was much in the book that made sense in the way it related to me– from the way I speak about my own accomplishments to my inability to say “no” to someone — fearing that they wouldn’t like me.

After our visit to Borders, we went to a Bistro-type restaurant for a late brunch. I brought along a 2-1 coupon that I had found in the mail. As some long-time readers of this blog know, giving coupons to waiters is one of these events that makes me ANXIOUS. I need to talk to my therapist about this. I know this makes little sense to you, but it almost feels as if I’m asking the waiter for a favor and imposing on him. I know, it sounds crazy, especially since I always leave a good tip on the full check amount.

As the waiter came over to our table, Sophia nudged me to give him the coupon before we order, as it is stated to do.

“Excuse me, ” I said to the waiter, as I fumbled with the folded coupon. “I have this thing… some sort of a certificate… um… but I’m not even sure if you even take it on weekends…uh?” (Editor’s note: On the coupon, it said, “Use any day.”)

“Oh yeah”, the waiter said, matter-of-factly. “Great. I’ll take it.”

And that was that. Sophia looked at me, laughing at how the episode made me into an incoherent wreck.

I thought to myself, “Think about what you just said to the waiter, and WHY — and you’ll understand YOURSELF a lot more than reading self-help books.”

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Make Me Insecure Friday

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