the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: stress

Scientific Study Says Stress is Bad

Every day we are faced with a multitude of decisions which requires an action or goal-orientated response.  Some are simple repeated actions, such as pressing the button for an elevator.  More often than not, our environment is in flux, and these actions demand heavy duty work from the brain.  Modern society is all about “multi-tasking,” which requires several neural responses occurring simultaneously.

A new scientific article written by top California scientists in the July edition of Redondo Beach Science News, reveals that chronic stress – too many times a feature of contemporary life – interferes with the human brain’s switching capacity, by freezing individuals into automatic/habit responses mode.  This discovery of these negative effects of stress have profound implications for all of us: the scientists believe that when an individual lives a calm, relaxed life, with no one dying in the family, proper eating and exercise, and leading a fulfilling sex life, this person is happier, more socially adept, better liked by his colleagues, and able to finish tasks quicker and more successfully.

The research was based on experiments conducted on two male residents of Redondo Beach.  The control subject relaxed by the Pacific Ocean each day in the sun, and got laid each night by a different local bikini model, who cooked him a healthy spinach omelet in the morning before they went surfing together.  The other subject was exposed to chronic stress for several months until he was left on the shower floor, sobbing.  Both the control and the stressed subjects were then assigned a very simple task to perform in their homes: to plug their laptops into the bedroom outlet and type a 140 character message onto the popular online “Twitter” social media application.

The results were quite surprising.  The control subject finished his task easily.  The stressed individual seemed confused and disoriented after receiving the instructions, constantly staring at his naked body in the mirror, asking the scientists, “Do you think I need to do situps?”  The stressed individual, clearly frozen in his automatic response mode, not only failed at his attempt to turn on the computer, but clumsily plugged in the IRON instead of the laptop, in a brazen misjudgment, and almost burned the house to the ground, eliciting nervous screams from his wife.

Clearly, stress is bad for the brain. Science doesn’t lie.

Get Back

If you were flat on your back on the living room couch since yesterday, after the terrible stress of the last few months finally got to you, and your back gave out during gardening, and you were in a lot of pain, dressed only in a t-shirt and underwear, on vicodin, but getting bored and impatient, and the easiest way to entertain yourself while your separated wife and your mother ate breakfast in the dining room, was to go on Twitter to kvetch and gain some sympathy from strangers, until you came across a link from @jewles that took you to a ridiculous photo of a naked woman in a empty field wearing orange boots and leg warmers —

— and as you sat there, looking at that photo, you started to get a boner, because you never know with these things, and at that exact moment, your separated wife and your mother were coming into the living room to give you breakfast, so out of embarassment, you reached for the blanket on the other side of the couch, but you couldn’t reach it, even when stretching, and when you tried to move, the pain shot from you back both down to the leg and up to the brain, so the only alternative was to throw yourself off the couch and onto the floor in desperation, onto your already inflamed back, so you screamed in pain, and then rolled over onto your stomach, smashing the boner against the wood floor, so you screamed in pain a second time, just as your wife and mother rushed in, wondering what was going on, but giving you time to use the distraction to grab the blanket, wrap it around your waist and fall back down on your hurting back, would you post about it?

“My god, can I help you to the couch?” your mother would ask.

“No, just leave me where I am. I’m comfortable,” you would answer.

(written on the iPhone while on my back)

Can I Break My Promise?

We were on the couch, kissing and undressing, when I suggested we go into the bedroom.

“I don’t know.  I’m not sure I feel the same way about you anymore?” she said.

I pulled back, suddenly feeling very alone, like a lonely sailor on a clipper ship on a dark New England shore.

“I need you,” I said, as I reached out to her breasts, the two precious, flickering lighthouses that could save me from my solitude.  “And I thought everything was going so well?”

“It was.” she replied,” her blue eyes showing a restrained affection.   “I once found you so…manly…”

She nervously took out a cigarette from her purse.  I wanted to tell her to quit, just like Schmutzie had done recently, but I didn’t want to make waves.

“And now I’m not “manly” to you anymore?” I asked, my voice trembling.

“It all happened on September 17th.   In the beginning of the month, you promised to blog every day in September, and then, on that infamous day, you said you just couldn’t go on.  You couldn’t handle the pressure.  You broke your promise.”

“I hated blogging every day.  It made me feel so unfunny and self-absorbed and selfish and stupid.  There was even this blogger who sent me an email, complimenting me, saying she wished she could be as productive!  And instead of saying thank you, I sent her a sarcastic email back.  “You want to write every day?  It is easy.  You just ignore all the other bloggers out there, all your friends, and never read their posts, and never comment and act like you are the only voice important in the world, and then you will be able to post every day.”

“That was a bit assholely of you.”

“Yeah, I’ve been a jerk all week.  Sweetney wrote this interesting post that drove me crazy, where she shares her affection for Kanye West after the VMA awards.  She wrote that we must separate the art from the artist, and even said, “I’m a person who has long stated that I would rather be friends with an interesting asshole than a boring nice person.”

“So, do you disagree with that?”

“No, but it got me thinking a few days before the Jewish High Holidays about what is important to me in life.  It made me wonder if I should just be a jerk to the world and only care about myself, because when it comes down to it, people are judging you on your final product and not on how you act in the world.  Theoretically, if I push an old woman down a flight or stairs and then write a fantastic blog post about it, I might even get to win a award for it!”

“You really are losing it.   Just relax.   Blogging is just a silly hobby.  Worry about your REAL work, the stuff that PAYS YOU MONEY, not this shit.  You’re being manipulated by those who ARE making money through blogging to make you think that BLOGGING  is super-important.”

“This is what happens when you blog every day.”

“I still don’t see what the big deal is about blogging every day.  It isn’t nuclear science.  Just put up a video or a photo.”

“Don’t you get it.  No one wants to think about themselves all the time.  And by blogging every day, it is like going into therapy every day.   It is uncomfortable.  It drives you insane.  And then there are distractions all around you, all the time.  Mamatulip wrote a post two days ago where she complained about her inability to get any writing done when her family is around.  Just to cause her more grief, I wrote this nerdy comment on her blog —

I once read this book about being creative and writing — I think it was called The War of Art, but I am not certain, and the thesis was a bit scary — the ones who are going to most frustrate you and hold you back from any creative endeavor are going to be those closest to you – your spouse, your kids, and your best friends, and that you almost had to view them as “the enemy” to get anything done. It made sense because those are the ones who are dependent and love you, and the most fearful of you taking too much time for yourself. I think this author would probably tell you that during those afternoons alone, you need to throw the phone out the window.”

“So are you saying that if you really want to accomplish anything, you have to be an asshole to everyone and ignore your family?” asked the beautiful woman on my couch.

“Have you ever seen a movie about a brilliant musician, artist, or writer who hasn’t cheated on his spouse, ignored his children, chopped off his ear, or committed suicide?”

“No offense, but you are not writing a symphony here.  You are writing a stupid blog about your mother and your penis.  Get over yourself.  No one really cares about you.  No one knows you.”

“You mean Redneck Mommy doesn’t really want to do me?”


“What about you?” I said, with a sly smile.  “I thought that’s why you came over and we were making out?”

“Yeah, I was going to f*ck you, but things changed when you decided to quit blogging every day in September.”

“What’s the difference?  I’m still the same person!”

“Don’t you get it?  For a woman, sexy is in the mind.  You were very sexy when you were blogging every day, like you were a Homeric hero on a journey, just like you described yourself in your first post this month.   But once you quit, eh.”

“I’m not quitting blogging.  Just blogging once a day…”

“I’m sorry.  It’s all in the mind.  It’s like now I visualize you kissing my special spot, and then suddenly getting all bored after you get a hair up your nose, and saying, “Can we move on already?”  I want someone who I know can go the extra mile, not a quitter.”

“Are you saying that if I quit blogging for the entire month of September I will be sending the message to others that I will be lousy in bed?”

“I’m not sure I can ever have an orgasm with a quitter.”


“Yes.  Women are weird.  We think that way.”

“Can’t you just fake it?”

“Sure.  An once you quit blogging every day, all your female blogging friends are going to say, “Oh, Neil, it is fine if you want to quit.  We understand.”  We have a mothering instinct.  We want our sons to try their best, but if they strike out during little league, it doesn’t matter.”

“So, why not the same for me?”

“Because we’re not your mother, asshole.  You already have your mother IN Queens to coddle you.  If you want to be with a real woman, you better be prepared to finish the job!”

“But I will.  I promise I won’t give up!  I’ll never give up.”

She started to close her unbuttoned blouse.


“I’m sorry.  Stop reading the phony crap in Cosmo and let me tell you what REAL-LIVE WOMEN talk about in the locker room.  Rule #1 —

If a Man succeeds, he gets a blowjob like no other
But a Man gets zilch if he quits before Rosh Hashana”

“That doesn’t really rhyme, and it is rather insulting to men… and Rosh Hashana.”

“Woman’s prerogative.”

“What kind of double standard is that?  Why do I have to perform like a solider in the Foreign Legion just to prove my worth, my manhood? Why can’t I quit, or fail, or give up — and still get laid?”

“Ooh, Project Runway is on!” she said, turning on the TV.


I can’t quit doing this — blogging every day in September — can I?


Editor’s note:  This was truly an anxiety-producing post.   I had to go to take a nap immediately after I published it.  I’m not sure why yet.   It’s probably about my own shame I would feel if I quit doing something as unimportant as a month of blog posts.  Why would I react so strongly over something so silly?

Even more troubling — do I feel I am not worthy enough to be in a normal relationship until I prove something?

Fall is a time of introspection.

Shana Tovah to my Jewish friends!   A happy, healthy, and joyous New Year.

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