Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: chat

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 Conversation

Jackie and I were sitting in the Cozy Cafe.

“Have you read “50 Shades of Grey?”  I asked.

“Yes.  It’s so poorly written,” said Jackie, my long-time blogging friend.

“That’s what I heard.”

“And the media is so superficial in discussing it.  They’re acting as women have never enjoyed erotica before. Or had sexual fantasies.”

“You know the media.  They just like to create controversy to get more readers.”

“But maybe it’s good that the fantasies of women are more openly discussed.  That women are finally able to be comfortable talking  about sex, masturbation, vibrators, and their own vaginas.”

What I liked most about Jackie was that we could discuss anything, without fear of embarrassment.

“I wonder if the openness of blogging has helped push this agenda for women.” I mused.

“You might be right,” she said.  “Women can be honest about what they want in their lives sexually.”

“I wonder if blogging even paved the way for a sexually-realistic show like “Girls” on HBO.”

“Interesting,” said Jackie.  “It’s like the time has arrived where women don’t have to sugar coat their sexuality for the patriarchy. We can sleep around. We can have bad sex. We can be fully actualize sexual beings.”

“Blogging has also changed the way men think about sexuality,” I chimed in.

“Yeah?  In what way?”

Jackie, with a masters in Feminist Studies, was always willing to discuss gender issues.

“I think, before blogging, men were mostly attracted to women because of their looks.”

“Yeah, tits and ass.  Men are so simple.”

“But that has all changed.  I know something has happened to me in the last year eight years of blogging. I have spent so much time online, interacting with a person’s creativity and talent, that it has become more important to me than a person’s physical appearance.”

“Maybe that is true for women, but never for men.”

“No, blogging has feminized men.  We fall in love with your writing and photography now, not your bra size!”

Jackie was still skeptical about my theory.

“Bullshit.   Even at BlogHer, I notice how the men act.  They spend the weekend surrounding whoever is the hottest looking momblogger in the room.”

“You are so wrong.  That doesn’t happen anymore.   We might notice a blogger’s cleavage, but we want to talk with the one who makes us laugh on Twitter.”

“I don’t buy it.”

“No, really!” I insisted.   “There is something sensual about talent.  Can I be honest with you — since you are always open with me, telling me about vibrators and stuff?”

“Sure.”

“Remember that great post you wrote last week. About visiting your grandmother in the mountains when you were a teenager.”

“Yes.”

“I loved it. I loved it so much, I thought about the imagery all night. The way you described the mountain air.  It was so beautiful.   And later, when I opened up my computer to read it a third time, I said to myself, “I wish I could fuck this post.”

“What?”!

“I was just so moved by what you wrote that I needed to fuck your words. I had to take my cock out because I was so turned on.”

“Wow.”

“Now, remember, this has nothing to do with the size of you dress or your hair.   It was your mind that turned me on.  I hope this isn’t too weird for me to tell you.”

“I’m speechless.”

“I just figured that since you read “Fifty Shades of Grey” and like “Girls,” you would be comfortable with my own honesty.”

“There is just one big difference.  That other stuff is fiction! It is cool because it isn’t real. But jacking off to my blog post about my late grandmother is f*cking sick!”

“It doesn’t really mean anything, or change our relationship.  I was just trying to tell you how blogging has changed me as a man.  How it has opened me up to new turn-ons.”

“You’re a fucking freak, man.   Pervert.  I never want to hear from you.”

“But I was just being OPEN WITH YOU!”

Jackie grabbed her purse and started leaving the coffee shop, the other customers eavesdropping in.

“Go jack off to your own dead grandmother!” she said as she left.  “I’m blocking you from ever reading my blog again!”

“But not on Facebook, right?” I pleaded, not wanting to lose a follower.

But she was already gone.

 

My First Online Chat

chat1.jpg

In some families, the father brings home the bacon. When I was child, my father brought home the mail. In our apartment building, each family was only given one key to their mailbox slot in the lobby, so my father would bring up the mail as he came home from work. It was always an exciting moment when we heard the jiggle of his key at the front door. We would gather around my father, not to greet him, but to see the mail he brought in.  My father would even play a game with us, hiding the mail behind his back, and sneaking into the bedroom, making us follow and beg.

I’m not sure why the mail was such a big deal in those days. It wasn’t like we were in the Army, waiting to hear from loved ones.  Perhaps mail was more special in the days before email and IM.  Now, having a “pen pal” in Belgium is as easy as emailing V-Grrrl.  Years ago, it was a thrill to get a letter from abroad.  Despite the internet, I still love getting “real” mail.  I was so excited when some bloggers sent me Christmas cards. You can’t hold an email in your hand, but with a greeting card – you know the other person once physically held the same piece of paper.

In my youth, the mail represented the outside world. My father was a bit of an “accidental tourist.” Although he didn’t travel that much, he subscribed to five travel magazines.  I loved to rifle through the pages of the travel magazines he would get in the mail, looking at all the exotic photos.  Once, for my birthday, he got me a subscription to National Geographic, but that magazine was dull compared to the glamorous travel photos in Conde Nast’s Traveler magazine.  I had little interest in seeing ferocious tigers in Africa.  I dreamed more of being in the exclusive African RESORT with the models and fine cuisine.  

Email is clearly today’s “mail.” I love getting emails! In fact, I’ve gotten to know some of you better through reading your emails than reading your blogs. Feel free to email me whenever you want to scold me for making fun of therapists and therapy!

I’m not as keen on IM.  I’m uncomfortable chatting with someone I can’t see or hear.   The pace of IM is always too fast, and I hate writing “u” for “you.”  I also have no skill in having two IM conversations at the same time.  Once, I sent the wrong message to the wrong person.  About a month ago, Charming but Single taught me that I can be “hidden” while on IM.    I’m just saying.   As a little hint.

The first time I chatted online was several years back, when I was still on dial-up. My dial-up service was a small (and cheap) local ISP called LA Freenet. They only covered the LA area. It had so few customers that they listed everyone who was on at the same time; it was usually about twenty people. There wasn’t much to do online in those days. I did nerdy things like read Usenet forums. LA Freenet had a primitive text-based chat system, but I never used it. I didn’t have much interest in interacting with anyone online. It seemed a little creepy to talk to a stranger.

One night, I was reading some boring forum about “movie gossip,” when I got a ping from some other LA Freenet user named ag704, inviting me to chat.

“Hello” said ag704.

“Hello.” I typed. I paused, unsure if I actually sent a message over the internet.

“Did you see what I just wrote?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“OK.  Just checking. I never did this before.”

“You did fine. Just write in that little box and press enter. I just learned how to do it myself.”

“OK.”

Being an avoidant personality even back then, I felt nervous. Who the hell was this person?

“Are you also on LA Freenet?” I asked.

“Of course I am.  I was just chatting with some other members, but all they talked about was Star Trek.  Are you into Star Trek?”

I was a fan of “The Next Generation,” but decided not to say anything about it.

“I’m not a crazy fan or anything.” I wrote.  “I don’t go to conventions.”

“Good.”

Was this person a man or woman? I wanted to ask, but thought it was rude.

“How did you know I was on here?” I asked instead.

“They list everyone who is on LA Freenet. I was looking for someone who didn’t talk about Star Trek to try out this chat thing.”

“So, you found me.”

“It’s Passover tomorrow, so I figured I’ll talk to someone with a Jewish name.”

“Neil Kramer is not necessarily a Jewish name.”

“Are you Jewish?”

“Uh… yes…”

“I thought Neil Kramer sounded Jewish.”

Now I was getting nervous.

“And who are you? What is your name?”

“My name is Sophia. Sophia Lansky”

This was the start of my first online chat.  We never chatted again, but we sent emails to each other for the next two months.  So, maybe my fear of IM has something to do with the fact that I end up marrying the women I chat with.

A Year Ago On Citizen of the Month: Ms. Neilochka

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