Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: IM

20 Minutes on IM #4: With Sarah

You may notice that I start projects here, and then lose interest in them (note: I’m still on day 4 of my gratitude-post-a-day from six months ago),  One of these experimental blog projects was started and abandoned three and a half years ago – I called it “20 Minutes on IM.”    The idea was to IM with a friend on Facebook Messenger for a pre-arranged twenty minutes,  and then post the conversation online.   I was interested in crossing the boundary between public and private, which, even during the Obama administration,  was an outdated  and dangerous concept.    Now, it just seems crazy.

A month ago, I decided to pick up with this interactive experiment where I left off, and have an IM conversation with Sarah Gilbert.  We arranged for a time, and I told her that everything we say was going to be made public.  Everything.  Sarah naively agreed.

In reading over the exchange, one element stands out for me, and it has to do with my own sexism.  Even though Sarah is an avid cyclist, is there any reason for me to mention her “strong thighs” not just once, but twice! In the scheme of things, it is pretty mild, and Sarah took no offense, but this just proves the ramifications of the #metoo movement.   Even men who aren’t predators are starting to look at themselves – and how they treat women – in a new way.

Neil
Hello, Sarah

Sarah Gilbert
Hi Neil! It’s fun to talk to you formally…

Neil
we used to talk all the time on here, remember….

Sarah Gilbert
I remember the days. It’s hard to keep up with my love life without a lot of conversation

Neil
it has been making me feel sad lately that I am losing touch with people back from blogging days because there is nothing holding us together anymore.

Sarah Gilbert
We don’t feel the compulsion to go to the conferences as much anymore…

Neil
it really feels like after you graduated college and you move on

Sarah Gilbert
…and the conversation has shifted.  It’s fun to think about all the ways we have transitioned in storytelling though.

Neil
yep. Also life happens. It is hard to keep up.

Sarah Gilbert
I want to talk about the secret single mom group but… you know the rules. Lots of conversations have had to be forced private.

Neil
Now of everyone I met online, you have probably had the most…. uh adventurous and chaotic last five years….without getting into too many details, there was divorce…. and some trouble there, and then relationship and some trouble there….

Sarah Gilbert
Yes! With the exception of overseas travelers, I’m pretty much tops in rambunctiousness.

Neil
hey, sounds like my life.  but at least you know how to have fun doing it.

Sarah Gilbert
Yes. I won’t get into the details here but let’s just say polyamory has been a wonderful horrible gorgeous painful adventure.

Neil
i am on record as advising you against it.

Sarah Gilbert
And my divorce was pretty much just the horrible painful part. I hear you and probably won’t follow your advice. ??

Neil
but during all this chaos you sort of changed focus from just writing to exploring your love of bicycles…you are so Portland. I think of you whenever I watch Portlandia.

Sarah Gilbert
Right. I’ve been storytelling a lot but found a whole new venue. Offline in the most extreme way. I even now am leading Portlandia tours!

Neil
there was an article lately that was a bit critical of the image of Portland and Oregon, saying that it is also a hotbed for white nationalism….. how do you feel about that…not as super liberal as we think…

Sarah Gilbert
Oh man. There is so much to say there. We’re a hotbed for everything

Neil
first you were working for a tour company? do you even own a car?

Sarah Gilbert
Well… I just bought a vehicle, but it’s for a tour company I’m starting

Neil
you have ridden bikes everyone ever since your kids were little

Sarah Gilbert
I haven’t had a personal vehicle since 2006!

Neil
don’t tell me it is a gas guzzzling SUV

Sarah Gilbert
Yes! My middle kid was a baby then.  No it’s a diesel Mercedes sprinter.  To carry lots of tour guests and their bikes ?? I worked for a bike tour company for three years….

Neil
maybe i will get yelled at for being sexist. but you have the strongest leg and thing muscles in your photos.

Sarah Gilbert
…really early on I started planning how I’d like to do it on my own.  Oh don’t worry about ME yelling at you.  I show off my legs on purpose ??

Neil
i kinda always visualized you as a dorky writier loner type…. do you actually enjoy dealing with the public? i mean customers….

Sarah Gilbert
Yes! I’m kind of an extrovert in some ways.  I love to talk

Neil
I’m doing my first photo shoot for a client and I’m wondering if I will really enjoy dealing with people as much as the photography itself.

Sarah Gilbert
It’s hard sometimes. People are not all ideal.

Neil
so first you worked for a company and now you are deciding to go on your own? I have to admit. You are the epitome of Just Do It. Isn’t Nike in Oregon?

Sarah Gilbert
Yes. I started the business as soon as the divorce finally finished with the asset but.  Haha yes.

Neil
remember when I told you to start a magazine…. and two days later yous started a magazine

Sarah Gilbert
Right outside the city.  I did!

Neil
you wanted to start a bike company so you freaking did it.  do you have competitors in this ?

Sarah Gilbert
I did! Ironically I started working for a driving tour company so I wouldn’t violate my noncompete

Neil
I forget the name. I’m sure it is named after a greek myth of something

Sarah Gilbert
Yep. Several other companies.  It’s called Cordilleran Tours.

Neil
is it a greek myth?

Sarah Gilbert
It’s named after mountain ranges (cordillera in Spanish) and the Cordilleran ice sheet that shaped everything in the Pacific Northwest.

Neil
so how does it work? People come to town, and how the heck do they know you exist?  you have to be an outdoors person to start riding in the mountains

Sarah Gilbert
The idea is that we can start here in portland and the mountains I love and then expand around the cordillera. We’re not going to be biking straight up mountains…

Neil
if i visited could I physically do this? how many miles do you go?  so you supply the bikes….?

Sarah Gilbert
…but the niche is, a little more active than normal.  Yes

Neil
so where do you go? hood river? the falls?

Sarah Gilbert
You’ve got to understand that normal tourists can often not walk up 1/3 of a mile to waterfalls. So this is just a bit more adventurous. 8-12 miles on bikes. 4-8 miles hiking.

Neil
but oregon gets a lot of sports people

Sarah Gilbert
Hiking

Neil
i mean people who enjoy outdoors

Sarah Gilbert
We have a lot who live here…

Neil
not just sitting in museums

Sarah Gilbert
…but tourists are tourists. And yes we will supply bikes

Neil
not saying you are anti-intellectual.

Sarah Gilbert
🙂

Neil
just enjoy strong thighs and good books

Sarah Gilbert
I’m pretty fucking intellectual
😉

Neil
i saw you have a donut tour? i like that one.

Sarah Gilbert
Right! It’s called “beyond voodoo”

Neil
maybe you can do a tour with Powell Books as promotion

Sarah Gilbert
Because egregiously, voodoo Donuts is the most visited tourist attraction in portland

Neil
so first go for donuts and coffee

Sarah Gilbert
I like it. And then books. Well my meditative garden tour is a good example of something that takes a regular tourist attraction and then makes the experience a little deeper.  More spiritual

Neil
do u meditate now?

Sarah Gilbert
I go to the local gardens… Chinese and Japanese… and lead guided meditations

Neil
i think you never get depressed because you are always doing stuff….

Sarah Gilbert
Placing the history of the people and places in context with our own experience of them.  It’s true!

Neil
that’s my problem.

Sarah Gilbert
And yes. I meditate both on my own every night and in the midst of my workday. I take tourists to these beautiful places. And then steal away for five minutes to mediate

Neil
so how are you getting clients, or customers?

Sarah Gilbert
Meditate

Neil
do you have money to advertise yet?

Sarah Gilbert
Well the initial plan is to get listed on TripAdvisor. I really don’t have funds for a lot…

Neil
do they do it for free? i use tripadvisor

Sarah Gilbert
…we’ve found social marketing and relationships are the best

Neil
who is we? you have a partner?

Sarah Gilbert
I guess mostly me ??  Ok this is the complicated part. My boyfriend and I have talked about it for years…

Neil
you realize you have writing material staring at you from your own life….

Sarah Gilbert
…and there was this horrible upheaval in our life.

Neil
are you still talking now?

Sarah Gilbert
Well, he left. Yes.  And he still wants to work for me

Neil
or is this have to be cut out?

Sarah Gilbert
It’s complicated. I don’t know!

Neil
OK, we will talk about this later….

Sarah Gilbert
Ha

Neil
you already know my opinion.

Sarah Gilbert
But anyway, my various beautiful lovely people in my life will contribute in some way

Neil
do you have any time to write? I know that is important to you? maybe by focusing on this you are opening avenues for writing too

Sarah Gilbert
I have a lot of beloved tour guides in my world

Neil
by just defocusing on writing

Sarah Gilbert
I am working on juggling that now. One of my major outlets is these conversations I have with place. Via Instagram posts. I have an ongoing conversation with the Columbia Gorge. I call her Lady Gorge or Ms. Gorge.  Sometimes I am speaking to my lover(s).

Neil
i want to ask you something important before we bring up you new business again because time is running out.

Sarah Gilbert
But sometimes it’s to the divine self. Ok

Neil
you’re not ready for dating again, are you?

Sarah Gilbert
That is important. I don’t know. I’ve never been single this long

Neil
is it possible to find someone more…. conventional.

Sarah Gilbert
Six weeks now.  Haha no.  I’ll likely go more unconventional than ever

Neil
You’ve never done online dating stuff. You always meet in real life, right?

Sarah Gilbert
I have done online dating briefly. But mostly I only date people who already love me

Neil
I don’t even understand that

Sarah Gilbert
Sometimes it’s through social media. People fall in love.  And then I’m here.  It’s magic.  My last three major relationships were that.

Neil
I want to date again locally. but i get too distracted…. so trying to focus on work stuff…. not sure it is working though

Sarah Gilbert
People who knew me in some way and loved me.  so I’m connected to so many people. Like you.  And I’m super open. Like you.

Neil
anyway, time running out on this experiment and I have to be cruel. In case someone is visiting portland and wants to go on a tour…. how can they reach you?

Sarah Gilbert
People know when I’m available and start asking

Neil
cruel in meaning cutting us off.

Sarah Gilbert
Cordillerantours.com. 🙂  And you can reach out to me directly.  I LOVE doing custom tours. One of the reasons I started the business was to do really cool custom tours

Neil
oh crap we have so much we can talk about. we didn’t even bring up Trump. anyway, we can do that privately. Kinda missed talking to you. Sad that I have to do an experiment with you as an excuse.

Sarah Gilbert
Yes. I’m game to changing this frequency ??

Neil
ok maybe i will come next spring and go on tour too

Sarah Gilbert
I missed you too.  Yes!

Neil
what do you do on winter?

Sarah Gilbert
I will make a special Neil tour

Neil
is is still ok to go out?

Sarah Gilbert
Work a little less. But yes

Neil
doesn’t get that cold,does it?

Sarah Gilbert
I probably work 30 hours a week in November.  Compared to 55 in August

Neil
well, listen, best of luck to you, and now I will go offline and scold you about your men.

Sarah Gilbert
With driving tours this summer I racked up crazy miles and hours. And women

Neil
Good bye Sarah!

Sarah Gilbert
I can’t wait.  Goodbye !

Neil
ha ha

20 Minutes on IM #4: With Jana

Tonight, on Facebook messenger, with Jana of Jana’s Thinking Place.

Neil
Ok, you ready?

Jana
Ready ::clears throat::

Neil
Ok, preamble… this will all go on record…. unless you politely tell me to strike something….

Jana
OK.

Neil
We will go on 20 minutes. You don’t have to be interesting.

Jana
pfft

Neil
Very few read this anyway.

Jana
Ha. Do it.

Neil
OK. Let’s start. Hi, Jana.

Jana
Hi, Neil. Thanks for inviting me to talk.

Neil
I know I am supposed to be making believe that I am talking to you without the others listening in, but I should put some context into this — you just started a new job. So now I’m gonna ask, how’s the new job? Oh, crap. Re-do. I didn’t have to break the fourth wall. I could have just said, how is the new job and people would have understood.

Jana
OK, so just erase that?

Neil
No. Just go on. I am nervous doing this with you.

Jana
I did start a new job!  And I’m loving it. Although I gotta tell you, it kinda feels like i’m just sitting around playing on the internet all day and getting paid for it.

Neil
Hey, that’s what I do but I don’t get paid!

Jana
Which technically, I am. But I feel like a social media hooker.

Neil
Hmmm. So, can we follow you in your biz account? Are you on twitter hawking Georgia products?

Jana
But i think the job’s going to be a good fit for me. I mean, i’m not a hooker and never have been. This isn’t what you’re looking for, huh?

Neil
You may be fired from your new job now for calling yourself a hooker because that makes your boss a pimp.

Jana
All the research I’ve been doing, and cooking summer stuff, has led me to a question for YOU.

Neil
Oh, shit. I knew you were going to ask me a question. You have the guts to turn this around and put me in the hot seat. Ok, ask.

Jana
Ok, so I was shucking some corn the other night and thought to myself, knowing I was going to talk to you tonight, “When Neil goes to the grocery store and buys corn on the cob, “Is it already shucked? Or does he have to shuck it himself?”

Neil
Your question is about corn on the cob?

Jana
Because i can’t imagine you shucking corn. Or even that your grocery store in NYC would have corn that needed to be shucked.

Neil
I thought you were going to be about my sex life or something interesting.

Jana
Nope. Corn.

Neil
Actually, the shucking is a pet peeve of mine.

Jana
Why?

Neil
They usually have a garbage bag hanging by the corn in the supermarket, and people peel the corn and kinda throw the shucking all over the place, and it is gross.

Jana
Same here. It is kinda gross. and then all the silk? It’s messy.

Neil
Sometimes I just take the whole corn and do the shucking at home.

Jana
But you pay more when you do that.

Neil
Do you?

Jana
They weigh all the stuff you should shuck off. You’re paying too much!

Neil
I think they usually charge by each individual corn cob.

Jana
SHUCK THE CORN IN THE STORE, NEIL.

Neil
Wow, I have been doing it wrong. I have been a sucker. I do take the stems from tomatoes, though.

Jana
Oh, well, if they do it that way, you’re good. Depends on the time of year for that here. Sometimes it’s weight. Sometimes it’s by the ear.

Neil
Why pay for stem?

Jana
Tomato stems are extra weight too.

Neil
Although I read it keeps the tomato fresher longer.

Jana
Do you always test a grape?

Neil
No. I don’t want to eat chemicals. Needs to be washed first.

Jana
Me neither. I figure if they’re bad, it’s just closer to being wine.

Neil
Sophia did show me how to buy a watermelon by hitting it. One thing I learned in marriage.

Jana
Eh, i’m not worried about chemicals. I used to sit out back under the crop duster and i’m not dead yet. Something’s gonna get me. Knowing how to buy watermelon is a huge life skill to know.

Neil
Let’s get personal.

Jana
Ooh.

Neil
We have chatted on IM about nonsense quit a bit over the last few months, not just tonight. Maybe we are even friends by now — no?

Jana
Sure. I’d say we’re definitely friends. And yes, we have chatted about a lot of nonsense.

Neil
You worried we are going to start gossip?

Jana
I just know my mama’s gonna read it.

Neil
I was just trying to say that the internet is cool because I wonder if we lived in same city whether if we would be running in different circles and never meet.

Jana
Interesting. I don’t know. I mean, maybe we would?

Neil
The internet allows you to interact with people who are seemingly different. Like I learned all about college football and grits and the Waffle House from you, but then you find out that people are basically the same everywhere.

Jana
That’s exactly what i was about to say. We’re so different so i don’t think we would run in the same crowd in person.

Neil
While here, we can cut through the exteriors.

Jana
But now that i know you? We totally would.

Neil
That is different. But then of course it would be weird being real life friends unless I was also friends with your husband. Who sounds pretty cool. Cooler than you.

Jana
He is pretty cool. He used to be a DJ you know?

Neil
Maybe this conversation is going in a weird direction, talking about “can men and women be friends” thing. This whole conversation needs to be edited now doesn’t it? I mean we’re now talking about your husband in a public blog post.

Jana
We’ll work on that.

Neil
First this conversation will get you fired for calling your boss a pimp. Your mother will disown you for talking to me. And then your husband will want a divorce for gossiping about him online. This post is a disaster. Let’s talk about your son next.

Jana
OK.

Neil
And then maybe, your son will run away after reading this, the cherry on top.

Jana
Hahahaha. OK. Go.

Neil
What grade?

Jana
4th grade. And acts like a 13 year old who’s been given an EXTRA large dose of hormones. But he’s a cool kid.

Neil
hmmm…. maybe we might need to strike that too.

Jana
Gah.

Neil
Maybe we should do this over again next week.

Jana
We suck at this. The corn thing is good though. Save it.

Neil
The corn thing was terrible. But maybe I can edit things.

Jana
But this defeats the WHOLE point of the exercise.

Neil
Maybe I can salvage this by putting in… (deleted)… so people will understand

Jana
And then (deleted) would read it and start internet rumors about us

Neil
Oh great, let’s bring her into this so I get in trouble too. Why not ask me about (deleted) too?

Jana
Hey, if i’m going down, you are too, mister. Maybe you can just post the corn conversation. and then cut it off because I had to leave for some redneck emergency.

Neil
I’m not sure what you are talking about. This was my worst conversation. We just already know too much, so it felt phony. We’re just burning bridges with everyone. Hey, why don’t we badmouth Dooce while we are here?

Jana
(deleted)

Neil
Now, I have to delete that too. Ok, we are off record.

Jana
Hahahahaahahah. We’ve been off record, man.

Neil
Ok, time is up. This was terrible.

Jana
OK. we’ll make stuff up to make it better.

Neil
We can’t do that. But thank you, Jana. Let me read it through and see if I can salvage this. What kind of dumb question about corn?

Jana
It’s a good question.

Neil
Ok, later….

Ten Minutes On IM #1: With Kizz

online

This afternoon:

I used to have all these blog gimmick ideas, and then I stopped. I’m not sure this is a good one, but you never know until you test it out. I’ve always been fascinated by interviews and conversations — the rhythm and dialogue — I also think any dialogue could potentially be interesting. I had this blog gimmick idea that will probably fail, but I’d like to try it. It involves the cross-pollination of the public and private. I want to IM someone or maybe a few people, one a week – it doesn’t matter who – for 5 minutes ONLY — with a timer — alone and then I post the entire conversation on my blog. We can ask each other anything and both have the right to refuse. But everything goes down, except I might fix some typos and punctuation. Is that too weird?

Tonight, on Facebook messenger with Kizz of 117 Hudson:

Neil:  you see me?

Kizz:  I do now!

Neil: yay!

Kizz:  OK, so now what?

Neil: OK, this is an experiment….thanks for being guinea pig. In a second I will turn on a timer and then we will just chat, but I will post it on my blog….honestly I have no idea what the experiment is about.

Kizz:  OK, sounds good to me. Anything else you want me to know before you hit go?

Neil: if five minutes is too short will go to seven. nope. just talk normal.

Kizz:  Cool. I’m ready when you are. Heh, it’s nice you think normal is in my repertoire

Neil: ok ready?

Kizz:  Ready!

Neil: hi Elizabeth

Kizz:  Hey Neil

Neil: is that how you like to be called? I usually call you Kizz. What do friends call you? Liz?

Kizz:  Honestly I’m Kizz to most people in my life. It’s not my given name but it’s who I feel I am.

Neil: nickname in school?

Kizz:  Chronologically I was Elizabeth, Beth, Elizabeth, Liz, Lizzie, Kizzie, Kizz.

Neil: schizo then?

Kizz:  Yes!

Neil: i promised i was going to ask you as first question something i said on facebook. when I asked for volunteers you said you would do it, but then you said, maybe I would want someone more interesting. you know that is bad to say.

Kizz:  And yet isn’t that what you would have said if you were in my place?

Neil: no.

Kizz:  Really?!

Neil: i have a million insecurities but I would assume I would be interesting.  Man, looking at ticker.   time is going fast…..might have to extend this conversation…

Kizz:  Heh. OK, if I’d looked at it that way I wouldn’t have qualified.

Neil: and you are actually more interesting than I am…. a singer, into animals….

Kizz:  You know a lot of really interesting people.

Neil: are you feeling the after the “listen to your mother” show blues….i spoke to two people in other cities who are rather depressed after all the activity about their shows.

Kizz:  I guess I think of myself as more weird than interesting — so interesting in a way people find uncomfortable.  I am definitely feeling the loss after the show.

Neil: hmmm…. I suppose i don’t know you that way of being weird. You seem pretty normal.

Kizz:  I’m also not done working with LTYM though. Thanks for reminding me, I have to bring some stuff to Amy tomorrow!

Neil: Did you do your dog training class today?  What work is there still to do? The show is over.

Kizz:  Since we don’t know each other well, it’s kind of a neat checkpoint to hear that you see me as normal!

Neil: Wait a minute…. I am on your facebook page…. you are single? I could have sworn you were married.

Kizz:  My academic dog training classes are over (they were Wed nights) now I’ve got 5 more practical sessions on Sundays. So much to learn!

Neil: Five minutes are up. Let’s go for ten. Are you going to get a certificate or degree?

Kizz:  Re: LTYM, we just have paperwork and mop up stuff to do but it needs to be done so records are complete for next year.

Neil: Did you enjoy doing LTYM?

Kizz:  Ten minutes is good. Single. Never married. Two long relationships. I have a BFA and a 1 year post grad certificate in acting.

Neil: Any gossip about LTYM? Like that you hated Amy or someone and want to say it publicly.  And have you done any online dating? Ha Ha, now this conversation is becoming about me and my dating life…

Kizz:  I love LTYM. I think the movement is incredible. Not being a mother nor wanting to be one that love is not without conflict but I love LTYM.

Neil: Great. I was going to say we should meet for coffee soon, and now we have this whole both being single thing to deal with.  Does not being a mother get you down in this mother obsessed mom blogging world?

Kizz:  Hah! I signed an LTYM non-disclosure agreement so I can’t say much but I hope you believe me when I say that I’d like to be Amy when (if) grow up.

Neil: Sometimes it bugs the hell out of me…. makes me feel alienated…. everything is mom blogger or dad blogger…

Kizz:  I have filled out many an online dating profile but never let them go live. I am terrible at starting relationships, great at sustaining them…which is….problematic.

Neil: you notice that this idea of mine made us chat on IM…. something we never do? It is like we talk to each other on facebook but afraid of one on one….

Kizz:  OK, let’s go on photo walk so we can say that’s our focus and forget about the whole dating aspect..unless it comes up naturally.

Neil: the fact that this is going public…. makes it safer…. I think that might be the core of this blog post experiment….ha ha…. You’re the first I’ve done this with…. and I already have a date….

Kizz:  Yes, totally feel alienated in a world of mommy bloggers but, I assume like you, I really like a lot of bloggers who are moms so…just have to live with uncertainty.

Neil: but from experience…. dating people online is trouble….

Kizz:  OK, repeat that slower. What is the core of the experiment?

Neil: And if it doesn’t work out when dating…

Kizz:  Dating people is trouble. Period. If we’re lucky the trouble is worth it.

Neil: ok, ten minutes is up. no answer to that… thank you for this experiement. This was the dumbest idea ever…

Kizz:  NO answer to the core of the experiment!?!?!?!

Neil: Ten minutes is up

xoxoxo

One aspect of blogging I enjoy is taking some random element and squeezing it until it runs dry.  Such is the case with my web-cam.  So, until I return to reality, let me continue living in a fantasy world until the weekend is over —

Ladies and Gentlemen — the last entry in the Web-cam trilogy:

Today, I chatted with Haley, a female blogger who I haven’t spoken in months.  Haley had moved across the country and had stopped blogging for awhile.

During our chat, we talked about her work and my writing.  She told me that she had been keeping up with my life through the blog.

Haley: “Why did you really buy that web-cam?”

I told her that Otir was using Seesmic (a video blogging app) and had been trying to get me to use it.

Haley: “No, really…?  We’re friends.  You can tell me.”

Neil: “That is the reason.”

The conversation continued on without any more mention of the web-cam.  I had a feeling that she didn’t believe me.

After chatting for a half hour longer, I told her that I had to go.  My mother and I were off to have dinner at the local Dominican diner.

Neil: “Take care.  Speak soon.”

Haley: “Bye!”

Neil: “xoxoxox”

I paused for a second.  That was the first time I had ever written that sign-off — xoxoxo.  I’ve seen others write it, but I’ve never seen a man do it.  It’s OK when woman says that to a man, but… I worried that I looked too forward.  I didn’t want it to seem as if I was hitting on her.  I figured it was time for some damage control wth Haley.

Neil: “That’s the first time I ever wrote xoxoxo.  I’ve seen others use it.  I’m experimenting with it.”

Haley: “LOL.”

Good, she LOL-ed.  She isn’t upset.

Haley: “xo”

xo?  I found that odd.  Why was she giving me an xo rather than the full xxxooo?

Neil: “Why just xo?”

Haley: “Huh?”

Neil: “I gave you xoxoxo, and you just said xo.  Are you mad at me?”

Haley: “No, of course not.  xo and xoxoxo mean the same thing.”

Neil: “I don’t think so.  xo is like a tiny peck on the cheek.  xoxoxox is more intimate — like we’re actually doing it.”

Haley: “Doing it?   You mean… like f**king?”

Neil: “I was just joking.”

Haley: “I don’t think you were.”

Neil: “I was joking.  I was making a literary analogy”

Haley: “I think you want to f**k me.”

Neil: “I don’t want to f**k you.  I don’t really know you.”

Haley: “Oh sure, but that wasn’t going to stop you from taking out your c**k to show me on your web-cam!”

Neil: “I was never going to do that.”

Haley: “Well, that’s because you ended up buying  a cheapo web-cam that doesn’t work.”

Neil: “The only reason I got the web-came was to debate politics with Otir on Seesmic.”

Haley: “So how many times have you shown your c**k to Otir on Seesmic?”

Neil: “She’s a married woman.  A religious woman.”

Haley: “So are you saying religious women can’t be sexy?  I believe in the Lord my Savior Jesus Christ and I’m very very sensual.”

Neil: “Really?”

Haley: “You want to see my tits on my web-cam?”

Neil: “My mother is calling.  We’re going out to the Dominican
Diner.”

Haley: “Your loss.  I have really nice tits.”

Neil: “Maybe later.  xoxoxo”

Haley: “xo”

Neil: “Hey, why just xo…?”

Yahoo Messenger:  Haley is now offline.

And she then blocked me.

Truth Quotient: 31%  (I did IM xoxoxo to Melissa from “the Daily Minute” today and she only returned a xo, Otir did ask me to try out Seesmic)

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

While Sophia Was Away

flirt2.jpg
from Lane Bryant online site

If there’s one question everyone seems to ask me via email lately it’s, “Neilochka, you’re known throughout the blogosphere as a man of strong desires. How in the world are you managing without a woman around?”

The truth is, it’s been extremely difficult. Sure, I’ve flirted with one or two female bloggers in their blog comments, but its all been high school stuff. You know — “Oh, you look so hot in that photo with your kids and your pet hamster!”

Last night, I decided it was time to take things up a notch. I decided to IM with the unattached “BlogGirl X,” hoping for some online action. I wasn’t entirely sure how to initiation the “good times,” but I figured I’d play it by ear.

“Hi there!” I IMed her on Yahoo! Messenger, adding an emoticon that winked. I figured I’d let the emoticons be my “wing-men” in helping me achieve my goal.

“Hey, Neilochka” she replied, “What’s up?!”

“Hee hee,” I thought.

I started my dance of seduction. We spoke about blogging. About her job. About her recent fight with her mother over some sort of vacation plans to Florida. About her recent eye infection from swimming in a neighbor’s pool.

I began scratching my head, wondering if I was approaching this incorrectly. If I wanted to talk about this boring crap, I could have just called up Sophia. Where was the hot action?”

Now I know what you are thinking. What ABOUT Sophia? Isn’t Neil still “married?” Isn’t it a little sleazy of him to be hitting on women online while still being a married man?

I understand where you are coming from. I’ve seen these type of assholes on TV shows like “Grey’s Anatomy.” They may be sexy as hell, but they are basically love-em-and-leave-em jerks, jumping from one extra-marital conquest to the next.

But that is not me. I have two excellent excuses for flirting with “BlogGirl X” last night.

Excuse #1 —

I tried to flirt with Sophia FIRST. Granted there is a three hour time difference between LA and NY — and it was 2AM in New York. But if someone woke me up in the middle of the night wanting some sex talk, I would be overjoyed! And also – once we started talking, the conversation quickly went off-course, Sophia seemed more interested in discussing “what checks came in the mail” than watching me on my new “webcam.”

Excuse # 2 —

Before Sophia left for New York, I explicitly asked her if it was OK for me to “fool around” with other women while she was gone. She answered, “Only if you actually learn something.”

So, I take that as a “yes.”

So, back to BlogGirl X. We are online for fifteen minutes and it is time to get explicit.

Neil:  “So, where are you now?”

BlogGirl X:  “In bed.”

Good. Good.

Neil:  “So, what are you wearing?”

BlogGirl X:  “A bra and matching panties.”

Bing!

Neil:  “Oh, really? What color?”

BlogGirl X:  “Burgundy”

Neil:  “Huh. It’s hard to visualize. Do you have any photos?”

BlogGirl X:  “Hold on…”

Holy shit! It’s actually working! She’s playing along!

BlogGirl X:  “… I bought the bra and panties online. Let me show you the URL…”

She sends me to LaneBryant.com.

This is not exactly what I hoped for.

But still, it is a photo of a curvy woman in a bra and panties. Good enough for me right now.

Neil:  “Nice. That wouldn’t be YOU in the photo, would it?”

BlogGirl X:  “No, silly. I’m not a model. I’m an advertising account executive.”

Sigh.

Neil:  “But you do look something like her, right?… I’m assuming…”

BlogGirl X:  “Sort of. Except I’m a 38D.”

Neil:  “Yes. Hey, that’s what Sophia is, too!”

BlogGirl X:  “Oh, really?

Neil:  “Yes!”

BlogGirl X:  “Cool.  She should buy this bra. It’s the most comfortable one I’ve ever worn. At Lane Bryant.”

Neil:  “I’ve been to Lane Bryant with Sophia. She doesn’t like their clothes.”

BlogGirl X:  “Neither do I. But they have the best bras for buxom women. Just tell her to take the padding out. We certainly don’t need it.”

Neil:  “Right…right…”

I bit my tongue. Something is going wrong here. Too much talk about Sophia. Stay focused, the eye on the prize…

Neil:  “Oh yeah, so, I guess you wouldn’t need the padding… since you are a 38D…”

BlogGirl X:  “Yeah. I also find the padding irritates my nipples. I have very sensitive nipples.”

Neil:  “You do…?”

BlogGirl X:  “Oh, my nipples always give me a problem. Even during sex. It’s like — don’t touch me there right now!”

Neil:  “Huh. So, like, uh, when you’re having sex, I would think most women like, uh…

BlogGirl X:  “Oh, they’re just very sensitive when I’m very sexually aroused. Otherwise, I love when a man plays with my nipples… Oh, check out this bra on the site! I love this one, too. I just bought it and it looks so good with my new black dress.”

She sends me another URL from Lane Bryant, showing another woman in a bra, but I’m feeling a little too dizzy to look at it.

BlogGirl X:  “I could be like a saleswoman for these bras I love them so much. You have to tell Sophia about them.”

Neil:  “Uh…I will.”

BlogGirl X:  “You promise? Because men always forget these things.”

Neil:  “No, I will…so, let’s get back… you were saying, when you get very aroused, your…”

BlogGirl X:  “You want me to send her off an email with the link to Lane Bryant…”

Neil:  “No…no… I’ll do it…”

BlogGirl X:  “Great. Let me go now. I think I’ll undress, take a shower, then relax with my vibrator. I need an orgasm! I had such a long day at work today!”

Neil:  “Uh…OK…”

BlogGirl X:  “Bye, Neilochka. Can’t wait to read your next post! You’re always so funny!”

Neil:  “Bye.”

She ended the conversation with an emoticon that winked.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the MonthQuestions on my Mind

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial