the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: journey

Call to Adventure

For years, I’ve been complaining about the superficial nature of online friendships, my boredom with trading quips about pop culture or the ubiquitous “liking” of each other’s drunken photos on Instagram?

Real friends look at each other. They interrupt each other as they speak. There are moment of silence. There are shared cups of coffee.

But there is a major obstacle to transforming many of favorite virtual friendships into real ones.



In the eighth grade, our class had a substitute English teacher. He was a strange guy, a former hippy and a black belt in karate. Rather than teaching us anything about grammar, he told us about the U.S. military-industrial complex and the importance of “bringing it down.” Most of us had no idea what he was talking about.

One afternoon, at the end of his class, the teacher took me aside.

“I notice you read a lot,” he said.

“Yeah, I like books,” I replied.

“I’m going to give you a book that will BLOW YOU AWAY. It is my favorite book.”


He handed me a hardcover copy of this bizarre fantasy novel that, on first glance, looked rather dumb. It involved imaginary characters in a world called Middle Earth. The book was called “The Hobbit.”

If you are a long-time reader of Citizen of the Month, you now understand why my grammar is stuck in the seventh grade. I never learned grammar in the eighth grade. I spent the year reading “The Lord of the Rings.”

The Hobbit follows Bilbo Baggins as he reluctantly takes a journey from safety into a world of dragons, adventure, war, and treasure.

The book taught me a lesson — everyone must take a journey into the unknown. It is the only way to gain maturity and wisdom. I learned this in the eighth grade, and promptly forgot the advice for decades, preferring to live in safety, like the home-loving Bilbo Baggins.

I fear adventure.  You never know what God has planned for you along the way — a storm, a romance, a shipwreck, or death by eating blowfish a an exotic restaurant. And if you dare raise your fist towards God, angrily shouting, “How could you do this to me?” He will just laugh at you and say, “Sorry, Charlie, but YOU planned your own trip. It was your choice. So get off my back.”

I fear choice.  But I’m trying to change.


Every year, on the New Year, there are celebrations around the world, ringing in the new year, starting with the first time zone, in New Zealand.   New Zealand is the beautiful, mystical country where they filmed The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

Next month, like Bilbo Baggins, I will be making a journey.  I will be travelling to New Zealand to visit my good online friend, Juli, and share a cup of coffee.

So, this year, the Seventh Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert will be broadcast from NEW ZEALAND!

The concert sign-up sheet — later in the week.

Update:  Today, Juli tried to dissuade me from taking my big adventure with this dire warning.

“There are no bagels in New Zealand,” she said.

Ha!  Like that old trick would stop me.   I’m not a sucker.  I have a secret weapon called “Google.”  — Brooklyn Bread and Bagels, Wellington, New Zealand.

Don’t Stop Believing

It is Midnight, the last day of September. My September journey is over. In the beginning of the month, I agreed to blog every day of September, and if I did, a certain female blogger would tell me her bra size. It was a noble cause and I fought hard till the very end.

One of the things I learned on this blogging journey is that you end up writing a lot of bad stuff when you blog every day. But I also learned something else. There is a truth to these bad posts that you don’t always find in polished work. Most of us are filled with anxiety and fear. And this sneaks out, like a sly fox, when we least expect it.

Unfortunately, my journey this month was not a success. I missed two days this month, where I didn’t write. I didn’t know this until I glanced at my archives. I’m not sure how this happened. I screwed up. I will never find out this blogger’s bra size.

But maybe it is better. Lately, I have been feeling down about blogging. But with the Holy Grail still out there, calling my name, I must continue, like the Knight who vowed his unrequited love to Guinevere.

“Don’t Stop Believing,” she says to her loyal Knight.

The Journey remains. Just not every day, cause blogging seven days a week really sucks.

It’s the Journey, Stupid

I will be posting every day for the month of September. Let me warn you ahead of time. Many of these posts will be bad or lazily-written. I will have no time to be clever. I realize that this will be sabotaging my “brand” and my name, but sometimes we have to sacrifice everything for the greater good.

Why will I be posting every day for the month of September? Here is the uplifting tale —

I was kvetching on Twitter, as I frequently do, saying that I had lost my blogging mojo. There were many factors at play, causing this state of mojo-less — personal ones, disenchantment with the blogging world, the trauma of attending BlogHer, and a lack of focus.

After I wrote this “tweet,” some nice woman from one of our fine Southern states, sent me a message that struck me deep, like a Confederate knife into my abdomen. This nice woman was not a long-time reader of my blog or someone I knew that well, just a concerned citizen, but her voice from the darkness was a lifeline of reason and compassion. She said, and I paraphrase, “Shut the f**k up and just blog every day for the month of September.” I’m not sure if she used those exact words, but those are the ones that I heard.

I know some bloggers try to post each day as a writing exercise or as a challenge to themselves. I don’t care about that. The last thing I want to do is clutter my template with one of those “I Did Namblopomo Last Month” (National Blog Posting….). In my opinion, that is not a inspirational goal. Call me old-fashioned, sexist, patriarchal — but I can only visualize one true reason for doing anything:

“If I post every day for the month of September, will you tell me your bra size?” I asked.

She said yes, without a hesitation. Southern women are confident, and don’t play games. I am learning that.

I had my motivation. My muse. I said it was an uplifting tale!

Was it wrong for me to ask for this request? I don’t think so. Great literature, from Homer to Cervantes to Shakespeare, are filled with tales of men going out into the world to achieve an impossible task for the honor of a woman. Why else do the f**king impossible task?! Right?

And yes, I want a pay-off at the end. I am a man. I figured that asking for her bra size was extremely personal, but not outrageous in these modern times when women post about their vibrators, a 2009 equivalent of the thirteenth century knight asking the maiden for a locket of her hair.

Some of my male blogger friends were all, “Dude, you sold yourself short. You should have held out for a topless photo!” These men clearly do not understand what a muse is all about, because they have spent more time reading Penthouse letters than Ovid. Asking for a topless photo would be sleazy and TOO practical, undermining the beauty and poetry of the JOURNEY.

And yes, this is a journey. And yes, there will be a prize at the end, if I can fight the demons and sirens and fight the windmills and battle the Trojans and accomplish all of my tasks. The prize will be a satisfying one, a key to the unlocking of a woman’s deepest and precious mystery, but it is also a pointless one. And THAT is the point. I had lost my blogging mojo because I was in search of a reason – a practical point – for writing this blog, and the answer is — there is none. The journey exists on its own. There should be no prize. But, alas, I still needed one, even an illogical one, because I am a weak man, a soldier without a war, an athlete without a team, a priest without a God. I needed a muse. And soon I will know her bra size.

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