the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Valentine’s Day (Page 1 of 2)

The Night Out

It was going to be our last Valentine’s Day “date night” as a married couple.  We were going to attend a special film screening.   Sophia’s former boss was unable to make it, so he gave the tickets to us.   The tickets would be waiting at the box-office in his name.

When we arrived at the arts center complex, the parking lot was jammed.  We followed the crowd into the main auditorium building, and waited on the line.  We approached the will-call window at the box office. The hipster attendant was wearing a fedora.

“I’m picking up two tickets.  The name should be for Roger Green,” said Sophia.

The attendent rifled through his tickets.

“I don’t see any tickets for Roger Green,” he said.

“It must be there,” said Sophia. “He left it at the box office under his name. Roger Green.”

The attendent clicked on the keyboard, the computer screen reflecting in his eyes.

“I don’t see any tickets for Roger Green.”

The other patrons on the line were getting antsy.

“Maybe he put it in your name,” I said.

Sophia gave me a glance that meant, “let me handle this.”

The attendant’s manager appeared.  She was an older woman in a business suit.

“Is there a problem?” she asked.

“There are supposed to be two tickets here left by Roger Green,” Sophia repeated.

“Maybe we should call Roger…” I started to say, until Sophia gave me the look again, and I stepped back.

The manager double-checked her list.

“I don’t see any tickets for Roger Green.”

Sophia took out her iPhone.

“OK, I’ll call Roger. But he’s not going to be happy to be bothered.  He’s a big donor to the arts center.”

The manager and the fedora-wearing attendant exchanged nervous looks.

“Listen, I’m sure it is just a computer glitch,” said the manager. “Take these two tickets and enjoy the show.”

She handed us two tickets, the best seats in the house.

Sophia and I entered the auditorium.  We really did have the best seats in the house.  But something seemed odd.  Instead of a movie screen, the stage was set up with furniture, decorated like a suburban living room. I glanced at the pamphlet that we were given by the usher.

We were in the wrong building of the arts center complex, and about to see a play.  The film screening was next door.

“What should we do?” I asked.

“We can’t leave now.” replied Sophia.  “It’s too embarrassing.”

And the play was really good.

And so, this was the last Valentine’s Day of our marriage.  It was much like our own marriage, an experience filled with laughter and confusion, of walking into the wrong theater, and making it work until the show was over.

Tea and Valentines

I was driving with Sophia today down the streets of LA when I noticed a couple, both in their late-sixties, on a street corner.  They were waving flags.   They seemed as comfortable with each other as any long-married couple.   The woman, her hair still as blonde as in her Beach Boys California youth, was draped in an American flag.

“You should take a photo of them for Instagram,” she suggested. Ever since she found out about Instagram, she has been both amused and annoyed at my habit of taking photos in public.

“I’m driving,” I said. “I can’t take a photo.”

“Sure you can. Go slow,” she announced as she grabbed the steering wheel. “I got the wheel.”

“Are you crazy?” I uttered, as the car weaved. “I can get a ticket for this!”

The streetlight turned red, and I pressed on the brake to stop the car.  I reached in my pocket for my iPhone.  The case got caught on my belt, so I removed the phone from the case.   The car windows were grimy with beach dust, so I pressed the button to open the driver’s window.  It whirled down.

Sophia waved to the couple at the corner.

“Hey, over here!” she yelled.

“Don’t call them.” I said. “They might not want their photo taken.”

Sophia laughed.

“They are standing on the corner dressed in American flags and waving flags, and you are worried that they don’t want their photo taken?”

The couple responded to Sophia’s plea, and they waved. The woman’s wave was reminiscent of a beauty pageant, as if she was still Miss West Covina riding a float in the 1969 Rose Bowl Parade.

I politely took their photo.

“Thank you!” I said.

“Who are they?” asked Sophia.

“I have no idea.”

The streetlight went green, and I turned left. As I rounded the corner, I was able to read a handwritten sign previously hidden from view.

Save America.  Join the TEA PARTY!

“Oh my God. I just said “thank you” to members of the TEA PARTY!” I said, speeding away.

If you aren’t familiar with the Tea Party movement in America, you should read —


It is now 9PM. I lost interest in whatever political point I was trying to make.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. A day to think about love.

And as much as I hate to admit it, what could be more romantic than an older couple standing on a street corner together, misusing the American flag for some insane political cause?

How many years have you been together, Tea Party couple?  Forty years?

In a year, my divorce with Sophia will be finalized.  We didn’t make it to forty years.  I’m alright with that, but I still envy the staying power of your love for each other.

More power to you, Crazy Tea Party couple.  Continue loving each other.   May that love soon grow a hundred-fold, even a thousand-fold, changing you from within, until you dream of draping that red, white, and blue blanket of compassion over us all.


Happy Valentine’s Day.


Valentine’s Day, 2010

I’m not in a happy place in my romantic life.

But for some reason, I remain optimistic about the potential of love, even when I am at a low point, like today, sitting in a hotel room a few blocks from my home on Valentine’s Day — and away from my wife. After a traumatic week, I decided I needed to pull away and refresh myself. The tensions surrounding this family, and my sick FIL, have become overwhelming and exhausting.

I stay positive because I am creative, and more importantly, very easily deluded by myself. Writers know that there are always new twists, new characters, and new loves as the plot grows. So, even when things turn sour — it’s no problem; it is not impossible for a bag of gold to fall into your lap the next day, on the way to work.

My interest in telling stories did not grow out of a love for language, but out of the inherent belief in the make-believe. Storytelling is myth, and as cynical as I sound at times, I embrace the bullshit of even the most corny Hollywood story. I believe in happy ending, maybe not the finale you first expected, but some ending that will allow you to leave the theater smiling.

It is Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day to those in love! I’ve always felt bad for those who were alone, or feeling lonely on Valentine’s Day. This was the case even when I was happily in love, being that I am a guilty sort of person. Why shouldn’t everyone be in love? It’s not fair! Money is a limited commodity, but certainly there is enough love for every citizen of the world.

We should remember that love is always right around the corner. We frequently forget that wisdom. That is why it is important to have great artists amongst us who will keep us connected to the great ideas and essential truths about love. Things will work out, and love will find a way, as is so well-documented in one of the most important works of music in the 21st Century —

Loving Neil #8

I just got off the phone with Sophia.

“Tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day. What are you doing?” I asked.

“Nothing. You?”


I noticed that a few writers online were using Valentine’s Day to participate in Hilly’s Happy Self Love Day, which turns the holiday upside down, so that each person focuses on self-acceptance and self-love rather than buying overpriced flowers for others.

I think it is a great idea, but I’m not going to do it. I don’t like to step on the toes of others who might appreciate the romance of the day. And who knows what the future is going to hold? I might be into the holiday next year! One of my female friends is holding an anti-Valentine’s Day. I can bet you a thousand dollars that she becomes a Valentine’s Day maniac once she meets the right guy. The only true anti-Valentiners are those who remain aloof from the stuffed bears who play “Love Me Tender” when you press their tummies and the corny Hallmark cards — both during the lean years AND the fruitful years, relationships be damned, and very few of us have that fortitude. So, I say, go ahead, enjoy Valentine’s Day! Next February 14th, I hope I can join you in spreading the love to others!

Long time readers of this blog will remember the fun we had two years ago, during the Valentine’s Day Emergency Hotline, in which we took turns “standing by” on IM 24/7 in case someone needed some virtual loving. We could probably update the whole concept now, and do it on Twitter. Maybe next year. Hopefully, by then, no one will need it. We all will be in LOVE and perfectly happy.

Every self-help book in the world always gives the same cliched advice — you have to love yourself first. So, maybe Hilly’s Happy Self Love Day is a more fruitful Valentine’s Day exercise than patting the lovelorn on the back and saying that everything will be all right.

Do I love Neil? I suppose I do. I spend a lot of time with him. He doesn’t bore me. He likes the same TV shows that I do. We agree on most things. But what distinguishes this Neil from the countless other Neils out there in the world? Do I love this Neil more than any other?

There is a blogger in Glasgow named Neil, who is also trying to find himself as a Neil.

“I am not althogether comfortable in my own name… Neil doesn’t quite fits with me. I try to embrace it, I acknowledge that I am probably stuck with it, but a part of me can never quite embody it.

Partly this is to do with association. I couldn’t identify with the other person at school who was called Neil (not Neil Spencer, not old Speggy!) and didn’t have any public figure who impressed me much. But maybe that has changed in the last twenty years. So I thought it might be interesting to have a look at Google’s top Neils to see what they say about the name.”

Neil Gaiman, Neil Armstrong, Neil Young, Neil Diamond… and then there I was, one notch above Neil Patrick Harris —

#8 — Neil Kramer – A blogger who, from my cursory examination, seems to be very into blogging for the sake of blogging. Rather like this then.

I was one of the Neils. How did this guy in Glasgow feel about this? Who did he think I was? Did my appearance on his list change his opinion of his Neil name? I don’t know if it helped him, but it certainly made me feel good. How can I not love a Neil… especially the #8 Neil on Google, maybe not a Neil Diamond, but a Neil diamond-in-the-rough? So, thank you, Neil of Glasgow, from Neil of New York. And on Valentine’s Day, I will accept that in lieu of any candy.

I hope those who have romantic stuff planned for tomorrow night, get lucky. Happy Valentine’s Day! And try to love yourself as well.

The Last Few Days

Valentine’s Day has always been tough for us.   The pressure of Valentine’s Day, with all the hullabaloo and candy-giving, makes us question our already unsteady relationship.  How can we ever live up to the romantic images on those Hallmark cards? 

Sophia and I got into a fight on the night before Valentine’s Day.   I went to find somewhere else to sleep.   I felt uncomfortable calling up a friend, so I drove to the nearest Holiday Inn to see if they had any availability.  All the rooms were booked except for the “Honeymoon Suite” with a Jacuzzi for $250 dollars.  See: Irony.  I was too tired to keep on driving, so I went back home and parked my car in the driveway, exactly where I started.  I went into the backseat, curled up, and decided to go to sleep, using my sweater as a pillow.  I had always heard of people sleeping in their car.  Hey, it was almost cool – like I was in a rock band!   I was woken up a few hours later by the metallic sounds of a torrential rain storm pounding on the roof of the car.  I felt like I was stuck in a car wash that had been taken over by HAL from 2001.  It was noisy, the rain and wind shaking the car.  I don’t know how I did it, but I fell asleep again.

In the morning, I woke up.  Have any of you ever opened your eyes in the morning and realized that you were sleeping in the back seat of your car?  If you have, you will understand how I felt.  I stumbled out of the car, my legs all stiff and asleep.  Standing a few feet away was my next door neighbor, a well-dressed attorney in her business suit, heading for her Lexus.  I stuck my head back into the car, moving my hands back and forth, making believe that she just caught me “cleaning out the back seat” of the car.

“Good Morning, Lindsay,” I said.

“Hello, Neil.” she said, sternly. 

I’m not sure I fooled her – at all.

I walked over to Starbucks, where I peed and washed my face, like a homeless man, feeling like Starbucks Inc. owed me for all those overpriced lattes.  A few hours later, I headed to Beverly Hills for a meeting with a Hollywood producer!   The meeting went well.  Maybe he mistook the “fire in my eyes” for my bloodshot look from sleeping in the car.

I’ve been in a hotel since then.  

Why am I telling you all this?  I probably shouldn’t be.  I have all these new, wonderful people coming here to read interviews, so it is a bit uncomfortable airing my dirty laundry, but as every blogger knows, a personal blog is about both the good and bad of life.  We’ve all been there, and I am inspired by the openness of many of you.

I love Sophia.   We have some problems.  Some of you have been reading about us for three years now.  We both attend therapy, but are finding it difficult to fix things.  Maybe living together while “separated” is not the answer.

Who’s at fault here?   Well,  you would hear very different stories depending on who told the tale, but basically we are both responsible for our own marriage. 

Today is Sophia’s birthday.   She’s probably upset.  I hope I get to see her later, but if I don’t, I hope she does something fun to celebrate her special day.  Please wish Sophia a happy birthday.  She’s a big part of this blog and I know many of you care about her.  

Happy birthday, Sophia.

Send a Kiss


With Valentine’s Day coming up, I’d like to talk about kissing.  One of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned about life is this — women like kissing.   I’m not a natural kisser.  I’m have a feeling that most men are not born kissers.  In my younger days, the kissing was just an excuse to set the clock into motion before my hands came out to feel the woman up.   Who wants to be stuck at “first base!”  If you told your friends that you kissed a girl, you got a big yawn in return.  But if you touched her BOOBIES — then you were a hero!    Even now, at night, deep in sleep, when my mind is at the most open and aware, I rarely have a vivid dream about me KISSING a woman, if you get what I mean.  Well, kissing may be involved, but it isn’t the main goal of the exercise, if you get what I mean.

Even after many years of marriage, I’m not the greatest kisser.   Ask Sophia.   This is very difficult for me to admit to the general public, but I think it is important to make other men feel comfortable with themselves and their less than stellar kissing abilities.   If I can admit it, so can you, Mr. Blogging Guy.  Together we can learn to study and improve, and make our women happier.  My biggest problem is that I’ve never perfected the whole kissing and breathing at the same time.  After a bit, I need air.  Maybe if I fix my deviated septum, then I can breathe better through my nose.  It’s sad, really.  I’ve tried to make up for my less-than stellar kissing in many ways, but it always comes back to the kissing.  Is there a class at UCLA?  I have a feeling that my admitting the truth about my kissing may lose me some important female readership, but I think it is important to keep this blog honest. 

Blogging has only made the situation worse.  I’ve IMed with many women, and have heard countless stories of how important a first kiss can be in making your decision to date someone.  Some of you even REJECT a perfectly good man because of a mediocre peck on the cheek.  You can apparently tell tons of information from the locking of lips:  how good he will be in bed, his earning potential, his social security number, and even what your children will look like.

I have one single blogging friend who likes to tell me the intimate details of her dating life.  She IMed me this morning, telling me about this amazing date she went on last night. 

“I had two orgasms.” she said.

‘Wow.  Did you stay over at his place?”

“No, this was outside the movie theater.”

“You had sex outside the movie theater?!”

“No, silly.  We were kissing.”

“You had TWO orgasms by kissing him?!”

“He’s a really good KISSER!”

Jeez.  Even my Penis was depressed hearing this news.  He likes to believe that he is always the main attraction.

I do remember that, as a teenager, I practiced kissing by making out with my arm, sticking my tongue into the pores and slobbering all over the elbows, until my ARM got fed up and threw me off, saying she’d had enough of my wimpy kisses.

Lucky, the digital age offers a new way to kiss a woman — and a place to live and learn.  It is called Facebook.  Over the past few days, I’ve been getting all sorts of messages that women want me to “Kiss Them.”  And who I am to say no?  So, this morning,  I downloaded this “Send a Kiss” application, all ready to give some hot babes a few orgasms through my virtual kisses.


A few hours later, my bad kissing karma remains — even online.  How the f**k do you use this application?  Am I too old, or stupid?  Am I supposed to be sending a kiss or asking for a kiss?  Do I HAVE to send kisses to “twenty of my friends?”   What is the difference between kissme, most kissed, kisslog, kiss fortune cookie, and kiss crushes?  When did kissing become so complicated?

Maybe I need to first practice on my virtual arm.

The Blogosphere’s Valentine’s Day Emergency Hotline

(photo by sudergal, on flickr)

The Valentine’s Day Emergency Hotline at mister_valentinesday (Yahoo IM)

Are you alone on Valentine’s Day? Is the only Valentine’s Day Card you received the one from the supermarket with a discount coupon for Dannon Yogurt? Did you lie to your fraternity brothers, saying you’re not going out on Valentine’s Day because you just HAVE to watch “American Idol” live? Did your husband forget to buy you one of those cutesy stuffed bears from CVS Pharmacy that plays “Love Me Do” when you press his tummy? Did you just find out that your girlfriend is having an affair with her Pilates instructor and you’re going to your pre-paid Valentine’s Day dinner at some fancy restaurant with your mother? Did your father never say “I Love You” enough when you were a child? Have you been going to therapy for more than fifteen years because of “commitment issues?” Are you a perv who just can’t get enough loving? Do you sometimes wish you had two wives, one blond and one brunette? Would you leave your husband for George Clooney… in a New York minute? Do you believe that what the world needs now is love, love, love?

It doesn’t matter if you are single, in a relationship, married, divorced, whatever — you still can yearn for more love. Can anyone have too much love? And Valentine’s Day just adds pressure to us all. You might hate it, but this supposedly romantic day is in your face for half of the month of February, like a red zit. You want to feel that certain glow, that special romantic feel you read about in books, but how? Hallmark Cards are so old-fashioned, and so corny. We live in a fast-paced world, and sometimes we require some care and tenderness NOW — WHEN WE WANT IT.

And now it is a possible… at least on Valentine’s Day. Through the combined efforts of internet technology and the generous time of regular bloggers like you, we are proud to introduce the Valentine’s Day Emergency Hotline. During February 14th, any time you are feeling the need for a little Valentine’s Day boost, just go to mister_valentinesday at Yahoo IM, and a real live Mr. Valentine and Ms. Valentine will give you some love. These are not recorded messages, like the type you would get if you tried to contact Microsoft or Verizon. These are real live people who want to make your Valentine’s Day extra special.

Feeling down because the woman at the next cubicle got a bouquet of 48 red roses, and you have NOTHING on your desk other than paperwork? Are you sad because that sexy English grad student doesn’t want to “be your valentine?” Are you just looking for a little extra romance in your life?

Go to the Valentine’s Day Emergency Hotline at mister_valentinesday (Yahoo IM) on February 14th and FEEL THE LOVE!

Special thanks to Buzzgirl, Hilly, Retropolitan, Mo, Girl and Dog, PocketCT, Teahouseblossom, Ms. Sizzle, Alissa, Atomic Bombshell, Journey to Blissville, and Jurgen Nation.

Hours of operation: Valentine’s Day — 9:00 AM EST/6:00 AM PST to 3:00 AM EST/12:00 MIDNIGHT PST

Anyone who wants to cover Europe, Asia, or any other time zones – E-mail me.

The Ideal Man and Woman

sorry, Fabio, you were voted off.

model for Mr. “Valentine’s Day”

model for Ms. “Valentine’s Day”

OK, we’re on for Valentine’s Day! I’m in the process of emailing out tentative time slots now (read here to learn more).

We will be open for business from 9AM EST until 3AM EST! Anyone who is lonely or needs some Valentine’s Day cheer can IM mister_valentinesday on yahoo IM and get some lovin’ from a real live person. I gave myself the last late night slot, thinking that this will be the time when most single women will be drunk and desperate. Ha Ha –I’m not stupid!

There is one problem left. Yesterday, I was talking with a blogger, and she said, “I like Stacy from Jurgen Nation and all, but I’m not sure I really want to log in and chat with her on Valentine’s Day and have her think that I’m a Valentine’s Day loser.”

Let me make something clear. All the people who are doing this experiment with me are hand-picked exactly because they are as miserable as you in some aspect of their lives. Think about it. What type of NUT would volunteer to participate in this? These are EXACTLY the type of people you want to chat with in order to feel good about yourself on Valentine’s Day.

And remember — you are NOT chatting with some anonymous blogger or Stacy from Jurgen Nation. You will be chatting with the very handsome and romantic Mr. Valentine’s Day or the glamorous Ms. Valentine’s Day, depending on who you want to be YOUR VALENTINE.

But we still need your help. We still need to create these wonderful personas — Mr. Valentine’s Day and Ms. Valentine’s Day. What are their characteristics? Since Valentine’s Day is supposedly about romance, I think these icons should have the traits of the “ideal” man and woman. Your input is essential in helping us “understand” our roles. Like Robert De Niro, we want to BECOME the characters. This means if I am on IM duty and a man shows up, depressed because he didn’t get any Valentine’s Day cards, I should be ready to immediately jump into the role of Ms. Valentine’s Day and “make his day” by telling him he is “my valentine.”

So what are the characteristics of the ideal man AND woman, so we can all better play one on Valentine’s Day? Attractive? Romantic? Honest? Sense of humor? Great ass? We need to hear from both men and women.

Mister Valentine’s Day


A year ago this week, I wrote a post titled, “Today, We Are All Valentine’s Losers.” In it, I made a offer to my readers. If they revealed in the comments that they were a “Valentine’s Day” Loser (meaning the only card they get is from their mother), I (OR Sophia) would send them a personalized Valentine’s Day email on February 14th in order to give them some love.

It was a great success.

Afterwards, a friendly blogger asked me why I chose to spend my time caring for others who may be less fortunate than myself.

Hold onto your seats because this is going to shock you — I have not always been so lucky to have a beautiful woman at my side on Valentine’s Day (that is if she doesn’t kick me out by next week). Yes, I’ve been there in the past. I clearly remember the shame and misery of being alone on Valentine’s Day.

But times have changed for me. Yes, sir! Now, Valentine’s Day is not about sadness and isolation. It is all about STRESS and INSECURITY. Do you know hard it is for me to deal with Valentine’s Day AND Sophia’s Birthday all in the SAME WEEK?! And I’m always doing something to screw things up. I mean really, what’s wrong with getting flowers on February 15th when the prices are 40% less than the day before?!

Still, I would like to do my part and reach out to those who get down on themselves this time of year, even though the unattached should should be celebrating that you DON’T have to go to some overpriced restaurant. But I understand human nature. The grass is always greener.

I was going to send emails again to whoever wanted it, but I changed my mind. I’d like to do things differently this year.

And I need your help.

Although I recently said I hate IM, I think it also has potential for good, so today I registered for the Yahoo IM account mister_valentinesday. It will only be open for one day, Valentine’s Day. On that day, any lovelorn person can come by and get an “I love you” from a REAL LIVE PERSON, sort of the equivalent of “V-day customer service,” or a “suicide hotline for depressed single people on February 14th.”

But I can’t do it alone. I can’t sit on IM all day. What if no one shows up? But being a generous soul, I still think it is worth it, even if it is just ONE person. But I can only give three hours of my time. So, I would like MORE bloggers to volunteer to take three hour shifts that day on mister_valentinesday. That way, ANYONE who gets too depressed at ANY TIME from 8AM-5PM, can come and get some real live love.

Imagine the scenario —

It is February 14th. You are in your cubicle, your eyes bloodshot from crying all night after you heard that your ex-boyfriend is getting married to your former best friend. Meanwhile, all the men in the office are flirting with the blond in the cubicle next to you and giving her Valentine’s Day cards. Several of her suitors have even sent her bouquets of flowers, and even the delivery guy from FTD asks for her phone number. Cute stuffed animals are all over her desk. And what’s on your desk? — paperwork, a diet Coke, some donuts from Krispy Kreme that will put you over your Weight Watchers point level for the next three months, and a photo of your ex-boyfriend who is marrying your former best friend.

You are at your lowest.

You overhear the phone conversation of some male co-worker sitting nearby, talking to his wife, saying, “I love you honeykins, my little muffinhead… I love you more than the whole wide world!”

You decide your life is worthless. You’re never going to find your soul mate. Even your cats have begun to ignore you. You decide to go into the women’s bathroom, tie a bunch of pantyliners together, and hang yourself with them.

But wait — didn’t you read on Citizen of the Month about some IM address that will be available ALL DAY where someone LIVE will say “I love you” to cheer you up? A yahoo IM address of mister_valentinesday?

“I have a reason to live” you yell, standing at attention. “Someone does love me!”

If WE can help just one blogger on Valentine’s Day, our work will be done. Any volunteers who want to donate three hours of their time?

Valentine’s Day Blogger Serenade


Happy Valentine’s Day, Sophia!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Beautiful Bloggers of the Blogosphere

May We All Find True Love and Blog About it!

And now for your listening pleasure, I sing the classic "Love Will Keep Us Together," originally sung by the Captain and Tennille. 

My voice may not be perfect, but my heart is in the right place.

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