Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: gender (page 1 of 2)


There was a story in the Wall Street Journal yesteday about Csanad Szegedi, a Hungarian politican with the extreme far-right Jobbik party, and known for his hate speech, who was forced to resign from his party position when it was discovered that his grandmother was Jewish.

Mr. Szegedi said his grandparents, who both survived Nazi terror in World War II, had chosen to remain silent about their Jewish heritage and he had only found out about his family’s religious background in December 2011.

Szegedi came to prominence as a founding member of the anti-Semitic Hungarian Guard, an organization that wore black uniforms similar to the Arrow Cross, a pro-Nazi party which governed Hungary at the end of World War II and killed thousands of Jews.

Now, Szegedi is apologetic about his former anti-Semitism.

“Had I made any comments in the past years that offended the Jewish community, I ask for forgiveness,” Mr. Szegedi told Rabbi Slomo Koves, according to Nepszabadsag. “Now that I have been faced with my Jewish roots, that I do not regret at all, keeping in touch with the leaders of the Hungarian Jewish community has become especially important for me,” he said.

A few commenters viewed this news story as a postitive story of a man’s redemption and change. I find the story depressing.

Does understanding and compassion only come into play when our own identity is directly involved? Wouldn’t Szegedi have remained an anti-Semite if the information about his grandmother didn’t go public?  This incident begs the question, does our identity come from someplace within, or is it forced on us from the outside, by our heritage and birth?


(note:  the following section has 0% truth quotient)  —

A few months ago, I had lunch with my mother.

“I have something serious to discuss with you,” she said. “Do you remember your Grandma Ida?”

“Of course I do,” I said, even though she passed away when I was young.  I have fond memories of this gentle woman’s  love for “prune compote” and the way her apartment always smelled like home-made Gefilte fish.”

“Well, Grandma Ida wasn’t Jewish. She was a Navajo Indian.”

“A Navajo Indian? That’s crazy. She had a completely Eastern European accent!”

“Oh, she was just faking it to fit in with the rest of her friends in the Bronx. She was born on a reservation in New Mexico.”

I was shocked, and intrigued by this news. If my grandmother was Navajo, that made me part Navajo. And I knew absolutely nothing about my heritage.

I went to the New York Public Library to begin my journey into my new heritage. I read about my history, my food, my storytelling. I took a trip to Colorado in order to experience my land. I learned to fish and hunt, and to make beautiful traditional jewelry and clay pottery.

Yesterday, I was having breakfast. I was wearing a breechcloths made of woven yucca fiber, moccassins, and a cloak of rabbit fur, my latest attempt to embrace my identity.

“I have something serious to discuss with you,” said my mother.

“What now?” I asked.

“I wasn’t wearing my glasses on that day I read Grandma Ida’s birth certificate. She wasn’t a Navajo Indian. She was a Nairobian Tribeswoman.”

I was shocked, and intrigued. I alway wanted to be black.

“Screw the Navajos,” I yelled, as tossed my itchy rabbit fur cloak onto the floor. After breakfast, I went to the New York Public Library to research my new heritage.


Who are we? Do our identities come from within or without? And do we get trapped in our identities, receiving our cues on behavior from the groups we join, or from those in which we are excluded?

I am a straight man.  How much of my behavior is part of my DNA and how much is it cultural?

I am an American. Yay, America. Why was I rooting for America during the Olympics? Do I really care that we received more medals than China?

I am Jewish. What does that mean? I know plenty of Hindus who like bagels.

I feel it necessary to be part of something. To associate with others.   A community.   The city I live in.   Other writers.   People who like coffee.   It helps me create my own identity.

We talk about fluidity in identity, within gender.  We want each generation to have less restriction than the one before, less trapped in their gender roles.

But how far do we want to go?  We applaud little girls who throw away their Barbies and playing with trucks, but how many parents are overjoyed when their young son expresses an interest in wearing mommy’s dress?

At the London Olympics opening ceremony, viewers cried when a youth choir sang a touching rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

But in reality, do we honestly wish for this type of faceless society where there are no countries or religions?  I think we prefer many of the restrictions and rules that separation and division creates.   We want differences in men and women.   We want differences in  countries and cultures.   How would we know who we are without these differences? Twitter rankings, perhaps? Blogging niches?

I’m actually surprised that the blogging world has become so niche-oriented.   If anything, the internet could have been the world that John Lennon visualized.   The potential was there — a world where your religion and country didn’t matter.   Friendships were based on one thing alone — the quality of your cat photos!  The internet was created to be the great equalizer.  But I think we like to retreat to those who are most like ourselves.

It’s taken me several years to feel comfortable with my identity online, simply because I am not a parent, and 98% of my online friends are parentbloggers.   Every time I read a post on a parenting blog, I feel a bit as if I am an outsider, like a Jew taking at a Catholic Mass. I might find the sermon fascinating, but I’m never quite sure if the others want me to stay for coffee and cake.

Of course, parentbloggers have the opposite problem.  Their identity online is defined by their parenting.   What do they do when their kids grow up?  What do they write about?  Do they have an identity — a brand online — outside of the parenting fold?

It is all about Identity.

Are we defined by our jobs?  Our POV?  Our marital status?  Our parenting status?  What we say?   What we do? And what if our perception of self are different than how others see us?  Should we always reveal our true identity, or is it better to create a branded version of it?  And what if we start to believe our own false identity?

Identity is also political.  The outing of the Hungarian politician was based on politics.  The Republican effort to name President Obama as a Muslim during the last campaign was purely political.

In America, sexual orientation is frequently a political statement. When someone “comes out,” the person is announcing that he is not fearful of his true “identity.”   But do we have the right to force people to be authentic in their identity?  Would you go on Twitter and write “Sally Jones said in her last post she lives in Dayton, but I know she really lives in Cleveland!”  Would you confront someone who has “fake Twitter followers?”

Recently, the actress Rashida Jones had to go on Twitter to apologize for an interview in which she discussed John Travolta.

She said: “Like John Travolta? Come out! Come on. How many masseurs have to come forward? Let’s do this.”

She later said it was John Travolta’s personal life was none of her business.

We will always struggle with our concept of identity.  Yes, it is personal, but it is also public.  Think about how much data about ourselves we put out into the world.   Why does the government need to know our marital status or age?    And do these pieces of data define us?  I know they define us according to marketers.  I was completely invisible when I walked through the Expo at BlogHer, because I was not part of the demographic that the advertisers were looking for at a woman’s conference.   But should we allow marketers — or pundits — determine how we view ourselves or live our lives?  Who says a “real mom” has to breastfeed has a child, or a mature woman can’t wear a mini-skirt, or a man can’t take up knitting?  Can we create our own identities?

We will join groups and leave groups, looking to find ourselves.  John Lennon’s world will never exits.   We like our differences too much.  The best we can do is create a world where no one is afraid of differences, or their expression of them.  We should hope for a world where the differences are inclusive, not exclusive; where our identities can be fluid, without pressure from those outside or inside our community.


Yesterday, I changed my Facebook relationship status to “single.” I was slightly embarrassed by this, berating myself for my obsessive need to over share. But t occurred to me that my motivation was not simply oversharing, or need for attention.  It’s not like I haven’t written about my marriage, separation, and divorce.  No, I felt the compulsion to press the button and see words “single” written in print. Not “divorced,” but “single,” as if it was time to embrace the reality, and see myself — identify with — my new status.   My identity.

I Want to Be a Samba Dancer

Lately, I have read some posts where bloggers write about their longing to be “truthful and honest” on their blogs. I think about this issue, too, but I have a difficult time choosing my reality. What is truer — the facts of my daily life, my emotions connected with specific events, or the chaotic mess that goes on inside the head?

Yesterday, we took Sophia’s mother out for mother’s day. We went to a Brazilian restaurant. Sophia wanted me to dress up for her mother, but I brought very little with me from New York, so I hobbled together a look that was a fashion emergency. I wore blue dress slacks, a green shirt, black shoes, a brown belt, and different color socks. Just like the typical guy. In most ways, I am the typical guy. I don’t care what I wear. I would have preferred to wear jeans and sneakers.

In the restaurant, Samba dancers entertained the guests by dancing in the aisles. They were a lot of fun to watch. Did I fantasize about dancing with one of them? No. I fantasized about BEING one of them! For that moment in time, I was enchanted by their costumes. I wanted to be flamboyant like that, wearing feathers on my head, and shaking my goods for adoring fans. Imagine how good a samba dancer feels, knowing that all eyes are on HER!




So what is the real me? The schlumpy guy wearing two different socks or the one wishing he was dancing the Samba as a seductive woman? Can a man ever get the same amount of attention as a female Samba dancer? I doubt it.

If I were a beautiful woman, I would wear the hottest clothes, and strut down the street with my ass shaking. I would be like one of those women in those shampoo commercials where, after I washed my hair to near orgasm, everyone in the street would turn to look at me — the ultimate expression of glamour. I believe those commercials where the product is for a woman. I do NOT believe those Axe commercials where women jump the guy because he is wearing some crappy cologne.

So, what is my reality? Boring guy or closet cross-dresser?

Is this entire post bullshit? By tomorrow, I might think so. But for this moment, while I am typing this, this is my reality — because I am thinking about it. I want to be a female Samba dancer. I also think about threesomes and being an astronaut. So, what is reality?

After returning home from the restaurant, I told Sophia about my fantasy of being a sexy female Samba dancer. I was surprised that she WASN’T surprised.

“You would not be happy as a woman,” she said.

“Why not?” I replied. “I think it would be cool to have both men and women admire me for my beauty, mystery, and sensuality — something you just can’t get as a man.”

Just by chance, Sophia had just downloaded a new photo app to her iPhone, which helped her prove her point.

I would not be a good woman.


Commercial Break

Women of Yesteryear

Women of Today

Men of Yesteryear

Men of Today

I Have a Dick, Just Like the Writers of Techcrunch

My head was spinning from all the posts, and twitters, and comments over the weekend about the BlogHer article  in the Style section of the New York Times.  Most of the discussions were similar:

“Why do male bloggers get into the Business and Technology section while women bloggers are relegated to the Style page?”

There were numerous mentions of the patriarchial society, about how men are taken seriously and how women are belittled as mere mommybloggers.  Some women said that they were proud of their “girl” interests — it enabled them to start online businesses and to be courted by companies.  But — these women naturally wanted to be taken as seriously as the male bloggers who get into the Wall Street Journal.

I agree.  I’m all for an equal playing field.   Yea, women!   Is there any blogger out there who loves women more than me?  But many of the comments that I read — particularly by women — made me depressed.

First of all, I live in this patriarchal society, just like everyone else.  I have to deal with the stereotypes — the fact that technology, business, and politics are considered serious and manly pursuits.  How many self-deprecating jokes did I have to make on Twitter this weekend to hide the fact that I loved “Mamma Mia?”  While mommybloggers set up successful online networks, I have to explain to my male friends what I do as a blogger.  If I didn’t make up some practical reason — “hey, maybe I’ll get laid by one of the hot ones” — they would think I am wasting my time.

“How much money do you make on your blog” asked a friend recently.

“Uh, nothing.”

Weird looks of disdain.   I can’t even say I got even a free wii, like so many of you.

The patriarchal society affects me.

My readership is 90% women.  Why?  Because most men don’t give a crap about what my mother made for dinner last night.  Men read and write blogs about technology and business and politics.  These are the worthy pursuits for men.   To most men — there are the professionals and there are the hobbyists.  This is a clearcut hieararchy as tightly controlled as who gets into Guy Kawasaki’s private party at BlogHer.

What I found surprising this weekend was that so many women seem to think the same way.

Every time I saw a female blogger write the expression “male blogger” this weekend, it was a code name for “tech” or “political” bloggers like Techcrunch or Daily Kos.  It was as if these female bloggers had the exact same viewpoint about male blogging as the New York Times.  While “Female Blogging” represented a wide range of views, from writing about shoes, knitting, to talking politics, “male blogging” was still dressed in a suit and tie.   I read the term “male bloggers” countless times, not once described in a way that includes me.

Come on ladies, I know you are trying to win some power for yourself, but don’t use rhetoric that diminishes me.  Don’t say “male bloggers” when you really mean male tech bloggers or male business bloggers.

I am a male blogger.

Give men the freedom to expand their horizons in the same way you want for yourselves.

I’m Back to Being a Man

I’m sorry I was such an insecure woman yesterday.  I’ll try to be a better woman next year during “Write Like the Opposite Sex Day.”   A woman that will make you proud.  That you will want to befriend.

Next time, maybe I’ll be Janet, a strong-willed female poet, a single mother living in the South. 

“I come from from Mayflower stock, but there are demons in my past.   I live in a great big ‘ol house that my late father owned.  I loved my father and was heart-broken when he died.  I dote on my son, watching him grow up to be a man.  My best poems are about death.”

Another possibility is Kendra, a fashion model living in Paris.

“I’m very flamboyant.  I’m cold to other women   I’m confident, knowing that I’m idolized by everyone.  I’m knock-out gorgeous and my face is on magazine covers. Even though I’m not supposed to,  I eat pastries.   I have two big secrets — I don’t like people.  Or modeling.” 

 I’d probably be most happy as Angie — a playful, small town waitress in Vermont. 

“Some may say I am a child at heart.  On Fall mornings, I run outside, still in my pajamas, and jump into the colorful leaves, much as I did when I was a tomboy at seven.  I’m plain-looking, but don’t worry about it.  I have a “good personality,:” as my mother would say.  I  have three lovers.  I have sex five times a week.   Last night, I was with Tom, the chef from The Tamarick Cafe.  I loved feeling his calloused hands on my ass as I moaned deeply into his strong manly chest.  In the morning, I drank my coffee, rode him again until I came, and then went to play in the leaves.  If I had more money, life would be perfect.”

On Friday, several of you wrote blog posts “written as the opposite sex.”  They were all funny.  But we all made the same mistake — we reached for stereotypes.   I’m curious if we would have had more realistic results if we just wrote our regular blog posts, then changed a few gender-specific words here and there?   

Are we really that different in the way we write?

And seriously — do women really see men as such gruff horn-dogs?! 

For me, Christine’s post came “closest” to being one actually written by a man.   As the winner of my first real “contest” on “Write Like the Opposite Sex Day,” she wins a DVD of  the movie classic, Tootsie!

A Year Ago on Citizen of the MonthGood Humor

Today I Am a Woman

My name is Neilochka.  I am a mother of two living in Los Angeles, who doesn’t really feel like she belongs.  I am insecure being around some of my more successful friends and wish that my husband was more attentive to me.  I like to bake scones, play board games, and kiss by the fire.  I miss my parents back home.  I am size 12 and trying to lose some weight.  I am from Wappinger Falls, NY, a small town upstate New York.  I graduated from SUNY Albany with a degree in Psychology.  I was working in marketing when I met Josh.

I had plans to go see “Sex and the City” with Megan and her friends tonight, but I wasn’t in a Carrie and Miranda mood.  Do I really want to sit through two hours of self-absorbed women negotiating relationships, looking absolutely terrific, AND living in NEW YORK?  As a former hipster gal myself (I lived in New York for six months after college before I moved back home), now mother of two — who now finds herself shopping at Costco! (can you believe it?), I have nothing in common with the Sex and the City gals anymore.  My life has not been “Sex and the City” for a long, long time.  Will someone please buy my book, “Diapers and the Poop?!”  Seriously,  I wouldn’t even have the time to write it with Kyle jumping on the couch every minute, making believe he is Iron Man (although he calls himself “Iron Chef” — hee hee).

Megan and her friends are nice,  and the screening was at the movie studio, but I didn’t feel like fighting the traffic.  I’m also a little insecure around Megan’s friends.    Last week, Erin had a birthday party for her seven year old at — get this — the Pantages Club in Burbank!  A nightclub for a child’s party!  I remember my seventh birthday party — at the Wappinger Falls bowling alley.   We had a Carvel “whale of a time” birthday cake.  Remember, this is LA.  Even Chuck E. Cheese has valet parking.  Now I’m worried about where we should have Kyle’s birthday party.  Josh suggested we rent out the Griffith Observatory.

Sometimes, I wish we had never moved to LA.  Josh says I’m just being silly… or depressed.  He means well.  I mean, I know there are a lot of cool Moms who live in town, who are able to juggle being a Mom and still being hip and trendy, like Rebecca from Girl’s Gone Child and Stephanie from Baby on Bored, but they are superstars compared to me.  I’m just a small town girl at heart. 

I’m thinking of going to synagogue on Saturday for the first time in twenty years.  Josh says he won’t go with me.  He doesn’t believe in any of that.  But I spoke to my sister, and we agree on one thing — I hit the lottery with Josh.  He is a darling.  Today, he sent me flowers from the office.  I think he’s a keeper.  Or he wants sex.  Bad.  Ha Ha.

I know work is everything to Josh, but with the internet, he should be able to write his animated cartoons anywhere he wants, even from upstate New York, near my parents.  I could even go back working with the marketing firm.  I need to look for freelance work.

Well, listen to me.  Blah blah blah.  I know… always complaining when I should be telling you how lucky I am.  I am lucky, knock on wood.  I even lost those extra three pounds this month.  I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and said to myself, “Not bad!”  I hope I win that wii fit on Redhead Momma’s blog.  I have a long way to go before I reach my ideal weight goal.  Soon is high school reunion time… and BlogHer.  Does anyone need a roommate on Saturday night?!

Are you guys going to watch “Lost” tonight?  I know I am.   Sarah B. was so funny on Twitter today. 

“If Sawyer takes his shirt off once more, I’m leaving my husband and marrying him.”

Sorry, Sarah.  He’s already taken.  By ME!

Toots, y’all.  xxxooo — Neilochka

(This is a project of “Write Like the Opposite Sex Day.”  Please comment on this post as if you were of the opposite sex)

Others changing their gender for one day:

Memarie Lane is a man.

Finn is a man.

Anymommy is a man.

Melanie is a man.

Christine is a man.

And check out the amazing haikus written for Haiku Friday  (also here) by women… writing the haikus as if they were men.

Masculin, Féminin

(how I visualize myself as a woman)

I’ve given a lot of thought about masculinity and femininity in the last few days, since I first mentioned this idea for “Write Like the Opposite Sex” Day.  This week — my blog, my therapy, my marriage, and my sex life all converged at a point somewhere in my brain. 

I’ve come to a definite decision about something.  I am a man.  I’m a man despite being pegged as a “female writer” by the Gender Genie (thanks Schmutzie).  That’s right.  I’m a man and I’m proud.   Even when I watch “All My Children,” I watch it like a man.  Sophia and I watch it completely differently.  I pay attention to the ridiculous plot.  Sophia notices that “Kendall is anorexic.” 

I’m honored that so many women choose to read this blog, but I’m not really sure I would ever want to be one of you.  Sure, it would be nice to be allowed to speak at BlogHer, but who the hell needs it?! 

I like being a man.

Men, we’re the lucky ones!  Sure, the women can have babies and be all “nurturing,”  but WE have our penises, and they can’t take that away from us.  I guess they can try to take them away, either physically or emotionally, but when I say penises, I don’t just mean our large and strong c*cks.  I mean the penises in our hearts.  The ones that makes us MEN.  You know what I’m talking about.   The woman NEVER will.

That said, I would make one helluva woman.  Just like the Michael Dorsey character in Tootsie.  If you are a male reader, do you think you would be a good woman?

If I were a woman, I have no doubt that every male reading this right now would be killing himself to get to know me.  You would totally want me.  I would be such a sexy woman.  I would show cleavage, but not too much.  I would know exactly when you are looking at my ass.  I would surprise you with my off-the-cuff remarks.  I would be funnier than you are.  You would say to yourself, “I have never met such a f**king amazing woman in all my entire life.  She’s as cool as a MAN, but he’s a woman!”

Sure, I know I sound like the ideal woman to you.  But don’t waste your time thinking about it.   If I were a woman, I would not go out with any losers like you!   Bloggers – heh.  A waste of my feminine time.  A woman like me deserves better.  I expect better.  I mean,  I can hang out and bullshit, and be one of the guys, but I also want to be treated like a princess.

And don’t try to use any two-for-one dinner coupons at the Olive Garden with me, you cheap assholes.

The plan is still the same for Friday — Write as the Opposite Sex Day.

“Write Like the Opposite Sex Day” – A Question

Note written an hour later after emailing with Jane:  OK – forget this post!  Write Like the Opposite Sex Day will go on like I said in the last post.  But I’ll keep this post up anyway just so you can see how neurotic I am, and how quick I am to change ideas when I hear criticism, although she was completely right on.   But who cares!   Gotta have balls, like a male writer, and stick to my guns!

Jane made an interesting comment on my last post.  I decided to quote it as a separate post. 

Not meaning to critique your idea, my dear Neil, but stereotypical behaviors and expressions are probably not that involved, outside of some comedy, in the true-to-life expressions of most modern male and female characters. . .they just perpetuate the stereotypes. 

Maybe for your next contest, you could consider blind entries — people writing  characters — and then guessing whether the author is male or female.  That would go above stereotyped expressions into who really might understand the opposite sex more.

(Please don’t hate me.  I adore you!  [she said that, not me])

Perhaps she has a point.  If a writer tries to “write” like the opposite sex, won’t the results be characters who are stereotypes?  Sure, it may be funny, but it won’t help us understand the other sex any better, or create strong characters.  After all, not all women think about shoes all the time, like the gals on “Sex and the City.” 

I’m a man, right?  I don’t watch football.  I rarely drink beer.  I watch “All My Children?”  How do I fit in?  I worry that if we try too hard to write like the opposite sex, the results will suck.

If I am going to write like “a woman,” maybe I should avoid thinking of her — first and foremost — as a woman.  She is a human being.   A mother in North Carolina might have more in common with a male Eskimo than another mother down the block.  Maybe the mother and the Eskimo both have phobias about snakes, or both had a controlling father!   I can delve into a female’s character motivation and emotional state without even thinking about her gender.  Wouldn’t this be the best way to make a female character three-dimensional?

When I talk to you on IM, I don’t say to myself “this is a woman.”  OK, sometimes when I look at your photos on Flickr I do, but that’s for another reason.   And it usually sounds like “This IS a WOMAN!” and my mouth is hanging open.  You are a person first, a person with neurotic character flaws — before you are a woman.    Some of you like to cook and some of you play roller derby.  Some of you do both.  And what’s wrong with me watching “All My Children?!”  And most of these external things are just the surface of the real person.

Of course, there are some stereotypes that exist because they are true.  Men and women act differently.  Our brains are different.  And there are differing social constraints.  But real character is internal…. what goes on in the brain.   Honestly — I have this strange feeling that some of you nice mommybloggers who write about knitting and cooking, are way more kinky and perverse in your minds, than any of us guys talking about our “dicks” all the time.

So, what do you think?  Should I continue my contest the same way I outlined it earlier?  Or will we just get stereotyped nonsense without stretching our writing skills?  Or should I change it to Jane’s idea? — you send me a paragraph of something you wrote as yourself, and then something written “as” the opposite sex.  Anything you want.  I will post them without revealing the author’s name.  Others will then vote on each piece — was it written by a man or a woman.   It would be like in the old “To Tell the Truth” game show:  “Will the real man or woman please stand up?”  Later on, I will reveal who wrote each paragraph, with a link to your blog.  The one who fools the most people wins!

I’m all about destroying gender stereotypes!  Would Jane’s idea be a better way of doing this?  What do you think?

And yes, Tootsie DVD will still be given to the winner.

Can Men and Women (Bloggers) Just Be Friends?

I recently wrote a recent post titled, “How to Get Hot Chicks to Read Your Blog.”   It was a response to an email from a male blogger who was in awe of all my female readers.

But there’s a negative side to having a blog that women like to read.   I’m not a woman.  And they are.  And flirting can only go so far.  The big question is, “Can I actually be friends with any of these women?” 

Believe it or not, it can be lonely hanging around blogs that are so heavily geared for women.  Sometimes I wonder if I belong.  I’m even beginning to question my decision to go to BlogHer.  In what way does BlogHer represent anything about me? 

I think the only solution for me is to finally get my cojones — and interact with more men.  What am I afraid of?  I know I’ve mentioned this before in the past, but each time I took the journey into male blogging, I promptly ran back to the soft and ample bosoms of the female bloggers.  Believe me, I’m dragging myself kicking and screaming.  Most men are pretty dull.  I certainly don’t look at THEIR photos on Flickr, in amazement that such gorgeous individuals could actually care about me!  But it is time to expand my horizons. 

I get jealous of the comaraderie of female bloggers.  You act like sisters.   You write blogs for each other.  Mommybloggers, in particular, seem to consider themselves to be born in the image of Good Housekeeping magazine, and even address their readers as “fellow mothers.”  More power to you.  This is about me…. and my identity.  For better or worse, I’m not a parent, so it makes sense that I’m not on the same page as the mommybloggers, or even the daddybloggers, of the world, who clearly have specific interests that are important to them, like celebrity strollers.

I know several female bloggers here in California. It would be cool to be their “friends.”  These female bloggers fall into two groups — those in a steady relationship or married and those who are not.  Both types have built-in obstacles for any real friendship.

Let’s take the married mommyblogger, for example.  How the hell am I ever going to be friends with her?   Let’s use the imaginary BloggerMama, for example.

Imagine I email BloggerMama right now and say, “Hey, BloggerMama, leave the husband and child at home, and let’s go check out the new Keanu Reeves flick together?” 

It’s just not going to work. 

First of all, she would probably want to bring the baby, and I just don’t deal well with babies at the movie theater.  And despite me being the perfect gentleman, sooner or later, if I email her every week, asking her to go to the movies, Mr. BloggerMama is gonna hate my guts.  The only way we could make this work is if we went out as married couples.  And that means, we have two non-bloggers in the group  — Mr. BloggerMama and Ms. Neilochka, which means we have to talk about real life, and BloggerMama and I only know and care about blogging crap.

The situation is even more dangerous with the unattached female blogger.  Right from the beginning, she is going to wonder about my intentions:

“Hmmm… I know things are rocky with Sophia.   Is he really asking me to see that Keanu Reeves film or does he… Hmmm… he’s always writing about his penis.  I wonder if he is a sex-crazed nutcase who just wants to…  Hmmm… I actually like sex-crazed nutcases, but what if we do something, and he blogs about it?  He’s the type of jerk who blogs about anything on his stupid blog.  Hmmm…  he does write about his mother a lot.  He must be a real mama’s boy.  Hmmm… I wonder if he just wants to sleep with a shiksa and then say he can only marry someone Jewish.  Hmmm… I bet you he is!  What an asshole!  What type of slut does he think I am.  F**k him!  I think it is safer that we never meet…”

Ok, make believe we DO go to see this Keanu Reeves movie together.  Just as friends.  We split the bill.  We each buy our own popcorn.   We have a great time.   But trouble is looming.  We’ve all seen “When Harry Meets Sally.”  How long is it going to be before one of us is checking out the other’s ass? 

Let me rephrase that.  How long before I’m checking out her ass? 

Let me rephrase AND answer that.  At what point during our first meeting will I be thinking about her naked?  Answer:  Probably during the first ten minutes.

What can I do?  I’m a man.  I’m sorry.  It’s horrible, I know. 

Can you see how it actually sucks to have so many female readers and so few male readers?  It’s like some bizarre Twilight Zone episode where I am surrounded by hundreds of desirable and intelligent women, but when I reach out to them, they fade into nothingness, and the only place to go for companionship is into the smoky room in the back with the men, along with their smelly cigars, Beer Nuts, and poker chips.


Little Artie

Therapy has had two opposite effects.   It has motivated me to be more productive and organized, hence my post two days ago on how to be better organized.  Thank you!    Therapy has also made me incredibly self-absorbed, which is perfect for procrastination.   I never knew I could be so interesting to myself!   So, rather than working today, I spent most of the day mulling my own existence.  

First, let me ask you something.  I don’t know about your therapist, but my one hour session is really fifty minutes, because “Barbara” needs ten minutes to write her notes.   Does your therapist do the same?  I like Barbara a lot, but this business practice sounds a bit like the plumber charging you labor costs for his time filling out the paperwork.    Maybe I’m just grumpy because fifty minutes is not enough for me.  I’ve even started to skip the pleasantries of talking about the weather for a couple of minutes because I can feel the clock ticking.   When I walk out of therapy after such short sessions, I feel unfulfilled, as if I just went to a beautiful, naked Thai masseuse who rubbed by entire body in sensual oil, then told me to “get the hell out” so she could watch “Oprah.”  After my session today, I was in such a crazed mood to talk… to talk about myself.  Unfortunately, for many of you on my email list, there is the little invention called IM.  Please accept my apologies — all twenty of you — who I IMed with today while you were in the office.  At first, I was polite, meekly saying, “Hi there! How are you?” and then when you answered, I knew I had you trapped. 

“So, I just got back from therapy and it was very interesting.  I’m beginning to realize that I…. and that I… and… is the best for me… and… more sex… more for me… what I want… me…me…me…oh, right, your grandmother is dying… I remember when my grandmother was dying… me… me… and I was fourteen… and there I was, with my penis… me… aren’t I interesting?   What?  You have a job? … when I grow up, I want to be…”

I use Trillian for my IM messages, because the application can work on Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL simultaneously, so I had the entire world covered today.  Is it my imagination — or is everyone  on my IM list “invisible” tonight?   Oh, well, maybe everyone is just watching TV.   I can’t imagine that you would “hide” from me.

Barbara is a traditional therapist and she believes in all that crap about everything stemming from your childhood.   OK, I shouldn’t say “crap.”  I actually believe it too, but I am using humor as a “defense mechanism.”  How do you like them apples?  Defense-mechanism!   Don’t I sound self-actualized?  I know my stuff! 

When I look through my blog, I see themes that are played over and over.   I don’t mean that I use the same stories over and over again.  I do that, too, hoping most of the readers from 2005 have disappeared by now.  I mean that many of my posts have a certain world view that relates to my own neuroses.  One of them has to do with gender issues in my marriage.    Over and over, we’ve seen that Sophia is outwardly the strong one, while I sit at home, listening to ABBA.   Who wants a wimpy husband?  Gender roles affect our home, our family, and our relationship.  

Since these issues didn’t play much of a role in my life until I married Sophia, I saw it as a “marital” problem, but Barbara is helping me realize that you can’t really fix a couple; you can only fix yourself.   The seeds of my behavior were planted in me way before I had met Sophia.  I learned about gender roles and marriage from my own parents.  My confusion over a “man’s role” in society were already bouncing around my head as a child, my brain crowded with images of Clint Eastwood and James Bond battling it out with sweater-wearing Bill Cosby.

When I was at USC Film School, my final thesis film was a broad comedy called “Little Artie.”  It was just a little funny film, but when I mentioned the plot-line to Barbara, she was surprised that the story foreshadowed my relationship with Sophia — and I hadn’t even met her yet.   It feels pretentious analyzing my “work” as if I am Ingmar Bergman, but I’m surprised how unaware I was of the similarities. 

Is this how little I know myself?

Little Artie:

Artie and Elaine are a married couple.  They have a little dog named Little Artie, and they treat him as their child, like many pet-owners do when they don’t have children.

Note:  While it seemed funny at the time, it now seems a bit odd that I named the two characters, Artie and Elaine, since my parents’ REAL names are… Artie and Elaine!  And who would be Little Artie then?

In the story, Artie works as a curator at an art gallery.  He is peace-loving , cultured “liberal.”   Elaine is training to be a black belt in karate.  She is more conservative and believes in self-defense, and is more aggressive in the bedroom.   They get along great, except for differing opinions on how to “raise” their dog, Little Artie.   Artie wants him to be a loving pet, while Elaine wants him to be stronger, able to take care of the family if there is danger.   Later, while they are at work, their home is burglarized and the dog stands there watching all the furniture disappear.  When they come home and see their empty home, Artie and Elaine have a big fight.  Elaine insists that Little Artie go to “guard dog school” to get him into shape, while Artie refuses to allow this.  The argument gets intense and they file for divorce.  The question remains — who gets the dog?  At this point, the dog runs into the dog house in the backyard and refuses to come out for either of them.   The couple goes to court and the judge rules that whoever can get him out of the doghouse first can keep him.  And then there is some crazy comedy!  Well, except for the parts that fell flat.  There’s some new “lovers,” and a karate fight finale (I used a real fight coordinator) between Artie’s two rival women at an art gallery opening.  At the end, Artie and Elaine learn to compromise — Little Artie needs to be both strong AND sensitive.

Anyway, that’s therapy — week seven.

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