the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Night of a Thousand Anxieties


After a very nice week at Sophia’s (which all began because of my kitchen sink fiasco), I finally came home to my apartment tonight.  Why?  Simple.  Because we had a fight.  

I would love to describe it to you, but I just don’t know how to explain it in words without it sounding absolutely ridiculous.  The argument mostly revolved around me buying some Thai Fish Soup at a Thai Restaurant rather than a Hot and Sour Soup from a Chinese Restaurant.  But, of course, that’s not really what the argument was all about.

In December, I wrote a post about the difficulty of writing about domestic argumentsMelissa wrote a very intelligent comment that I’ve read over several times since:

People fight when they are emotional about something. It’s more intimate than sex because you are far more vulnerable in a fight. Your SO knows you inside and out, and they are the one that knows all your buttons – and exactly how to press them.

To write about fighting you have to write about feeling unheard or under appreciated or taken for granted or just plain unloved. Loving is showing your underbelly and fighting with someone you love leaves a lot of room for damage.

I wouldn’t want to show the world all my weaknesses.

Sometimes, when I’m arguing with Sophia about something, I’m able to disassociate myself  and watch it from the distance, almost as if I’m floating above.   I know that the argument is idiotic, but I’m helpless from stopping it.  I’m not the type of person who believes one of us is right or wrong.   The argument just takes on a life of its own.  When we start arguing about something, it’s more like a car going off the cliff and the best you can hope for is that you both survive — and the next day, forget all about it.

Sophia might kill me for writing about our argument without me asking her first, but I don’t think there’s anything to be embarrassed about.  Everyone argues, especially when you’re living together.  For instance, in her blog, Michele of Voix Michele writes about her constant battles with her ex-partner, Rachel.  She even turns to God for advice:

I just couldn’t get it, God. It doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible "Thou shalt not be messy in thine bedroom, lest thee piss off thine girlfriend." Where did she get off thinking her rules are more important than mine?

I never ask God these questions.  It’s pretty clear to me why there’s no Mrs. God.  Even God is afraid of getting into a serious relationship and sharing his great condo up in heaven. 

Mrs. God:  "God, there’s no way we’re keeping this old couch!  Sunday we’re going shopping at "Crate and Barrel.""

God:  "But the Mets are playing Chicago." (note:  God is a Mets fan)

Mrs. God:  "God!  Are we really going to have this argument again?"

God:  OK…OK… I’ll go with you.  But who’s going to watch over the Middle East while we’re out shopping?

Mrs. God:  Now you’re worried?  What have you been doing all day?  Playing solitare on the compuer again?  Maybe they’ll finally be better off without you watching over them!

I left Sophia’s place feeling pretty anxious.   It didn’t help that when I got home, the kitchen was a mess because Mario, the maintenance guy, emptied out everything from the under the sink when he unclogged the pipes.  I decided to take my mind off of things by relaxing with some type of distraction.  And I certainly had a lot of distractions to choose from.  I had DVDs of Crash and Brokeback Mountain, neither which I had yet seen.  I had the last two "Lost" episodes still on my Tivo.  I had the unopened Sunday Los Angeles and New York Times.  I had a half unfinished book by David Sedaris. 

But when I’m anxious, I’m terrible at making decisions.  I start developing "Information Overload."  What to read?  What to watch first?  Too many decisions.

I knew the answer — Blogging.

I looked over all my blogging friends on my blogroll — and for the first time since starting to blog, I got anxious over blogging.  Too much information.  Too many people.  Too many lives.   People getting surgery.  People with crappy boyfriends.  People with bad jobs.   I started getting anxious over my online relationships.

"Oh, my god — I haven’t read Ms. Sizzle all week.  She’s gonna be pissed at me and never read my blog again!  Maybe if I just click on her, it’ll look like I read her in the stats.  That’ll hold her off for a few more days.  Or will it?  She’s gonna hate me.  She’s gonna tell everyone that I’m a jerk and everyone’s gonna hate me…"

Usually reading through my blogroll gives me so much joy — except tonight.

So, what do you do when you don’t want to read, watch a movie, watch TV, or blog? 

Exactly. I decided to play with myself. 

Since it was after midnight, I turned on Cinemax, hoping to see one of those mediocre direct-to-video R-rated soft-porn movies with some actress named Tawny or Ashley. 

Luckily, one of them was on.  Some fake-boobed actress was playing a sex therapist who need to do some exploring herself… or something like that  (plot not important). 

I began to watch the movie — but it just made me more anxious.  I watched three boring badly-edited sex scenes.  Each proceeded exactly the same way:

1.  Man undresses woman, kisses breasts.  (you know there’s a lot of plastic surgery involved when a woman lays on her back and her tits point straight at the ceiling)

2.  Woman gives man oral sex.  (although the position of her head makes it look like she’s sucking his right thigh)

3.  Man gives woman oral sex.   (music kicks in)

4.  Missionary-style sex.

5.  Sex with man from behind.

6.  Woman on top.

7.  Man and woman orgasm as the exact same time.  Man scrunches face.  Woman throws her head back as if she getting ready for a shampoo at Supercuts.

I began to worry, as only I can:

"Am I having sex incorrectly?"

It seemed like a normal question to me.  After all, this woman just made love with three different men — and each time used the exact same lovemaking sequence — from #1 to #7.  Obviously a lot of people watch this movie and no one ever questions that.  Maybe I was the oddball, not knowing the rules of engagement. 

"Perhaps there’s some sort of sex "sequence" that I’m unaware of —  that somehow these are "marks" that had to be hit, much like a figure skater has to do a certain set of jumps and twirls in order to get a high score?"

As usual, I blamed my parents.

"Jeez, you know my father never really had that "birds and bees" talk with me.  Maybe I’ve been having sex wrong all these years?  Does everyone else follow these steps in this exact sequence?  Is it considered "weird" to do number 6 before number 4, or not to even do number 5 at all?  You know, I’ve never really spoken about this to anyone.  You’d think Sophia would have mentioned it, but then again — she didn’t even tell me I was wearing tighty-whiteys all these years like a momma’s boy!   Oh, no!  Maybe if I skip number 5 from the sex sequence, that means you’re a momma’s boy also?  Have women been laughing at me?   What are the six steps again?"

I couldn’t remember.  More information overload.  More anxiety.  I turned off the TV.


"Let me write some dumb blog post and then go to sleep."


  1. Miz Liz

    Neil:Put away the anxieties about the correct sequence of events. The “right” way is the way that makes both of you feel good and satisfied. I want to share something I read last week by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, a very wise man who has a lot to offer to those of us who find ourselves embroiled in the minutae….he writes about the importance of letting your partner know when you are angry with him or her but doing so in a peaceful, supportive manner….”I suffer and I want you to know it. I am doing my best, I’m not trying to blame anyone else, including you. Since we are close and have made a commitment to each other, I feel that I need your support and help to get out of this state of anger.” Ultimately, the way that you handle anger will inspire confidence and respect in the other person and in yourself. Most importantly, though, when you are angry and suffering, he encourages you to return and “inspect deeply the content, nature of your perceptions. If you are capable of removing the wrong perceptions, peace and happiness can be restored within you.” The bottom line? Stop beating yourself up and start practicing mindfulness. Just as Melissa wrote, often, it’s the seed of anger or discontent in each of us is what fuels our suffering.

  2. Wendy

    My head often implodes from anxiety too so I sooooo understood this post – I don’t have any real words of advice except that being true to yourself, writing about it, getting it out…all good steps to emotional realization – i think you are an honest, real man and I applaud your sharing it with the world..

  3. Scarlet

    You ever see that episode of Friends when Monica and Rachel teach Chandler about sex? Just remember, “seven! seven! seven! seven!”

  4. M.A.

    Oh Neil. You’re great just the way you are.

  5. ans

    Neil I think you just wrote the Complete Dummies Guide to Choreographing a Porn Scene. Congratulations!

  6. AWE

    Aint that “Skin-O-Max” grand? You can always count on them for some fake D’s.

  7. sara lee

    Don’t try and remember the list it probably will just cause anxiety…just remember it’s all about enjoying each other…Skin-o-max is really only good for viewing fake boobs! 🙂

  8. Neil

    Is it really known as Skin-o-max?

    And thank god I don’t have to remember the sequence in the right order. I wrote a “cheat sheet” on my palm, but I’d like to wash my hands before the next time I end up in bed with someone.

  9. Serena

    Wow…I think I got a little anxious myself just reading your post! I had the dreaded butterflies with you when you talked about arguing (conflict makes me physically ill) and was laughing moments later at you questioning your ability to ‘perform’. Thanks for sharing and taking us on the emotional rollercoaster with you ; )

  10. Elisabeth

    I felt anxious reading your post because I, too, hate conflict, and actually decide not to mention something that is bugging me a bit to my boyfriend this morning (to avoid possible conflict.) I know that I will feel bad about that until I talk to him on the phone this evening.

  11. Neil

    Serena and Elizabeth — Sorry if I made you feel anxious. I’m in a happy mood today after eating breakfast at IHOP.

  12. Wendy

    Did you have the Rooty Tooty Fresh N’ Fruity breakfast?

  13. Neil

    Nah. I’m a simple man who believes in old traditional values. Pancakes + maple syrup. None of that newfangled “blueberry” syrup or “girly” fruit topics. I never feel anxiety in IHOP because I always know exactly what I want.

  14. anne arkham

    Blasphemer. God is a Cubs fan.

  15. mernitman

    You should’ve gone straight for the pancakes.

    But then we would’ve been denied this most excellent post. Isn’t it nice, though, to know we thrive on your suffering? Perhaps Citizen’s slogan should be: He blogs for your sins.

  16. Tanya

    I just want to clarify that there is no f’ing way god is a Mets fan.

  17. Neil

    God’s Miracles Throughout History —

    Stopping Abraham from Sacrificing Isaac
    The Parting of the Red Sea
    The 1969 Mets
    The 1986 Mets

    2006 — The Miracle Happens Again

  18. ms. sizzle

    over sushi with alissa, sandra, jacynth and elliot i told them all you were a big ol’ jerk and they should hate you.

    they were unconvinced.

    oh neil, i will love you still. . . even if you cheat and just click on my blog but don’t read it. last week wasn’t one of my best weeks anyhow. 😉


    p.s. favorite line of this post: “Woman throws her head back as if she getting ready for a shampoo at Supercuts.” Followed closely by: (note: God is a Mets fan)

  19. laurie

    Hi! I followed a link from my comments over here to your blog, and how lucky I discovered your website on masturbatory talk day! Maybe later today I can work the word “porn” in during the team meeting here at White Guys In Ties, Inc.

    I blame my parents for everything, too. They like it … makes them feel useful.

    Now I feel weird for mentioning porn and parents in the same post. Sorry.

  20. Mel

    Sometimes you just have to sit through the agida. There isn’t always a solution and that restless feeling needs to ebb on its own.

  21. sara lee

    Good thought but, I think washing your hands will actually help you end up in bed with someone! 😉

    And yes it is commonly known as Skin-o-max…and with their programming…how could it not be? (although can you imagine those programming meetings…um we need more soft porn at night…do you guys think we should buy that movie were the woman had fake tits and does everyone she comes in contact with?) lol!

  22. Neil

    Uh, Laurie, nice to meet you. I’m not really like this all the time. My other blog friends will back me up. I do have other things on my mind besides Sophia and playing with myself. Like… like… uh… the Mets.

    Mel — Agida = tsuris? Italian/Yiddish

    Sara Lee — Thanks for the advice, and the funny line I stole from you.

  23. Carly

    You are way in your own head. Of course, if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be a writer.

  24. sara lee

    My pleasure!

  25. claire

    If my bummed out anxiety driven post that you read this weekend contributed to your anxiety, then I apologize. I’m feeling better now too.

    Arguments suck, but I’m glad your sink is finally fixed.

  26. Nance

    I’m still stuck on the Thai Fish Soup vs. Chinese Hot and Sour Soup part. Yuck. Thank God you came to your senses and ate pancakes at some juncture because my stomach was starting to hurt.

  27. neil

    writing on cellphone from jerry’s deli. with sophia. made up. sort of.

  28. Jacynth

    I love that God is a Mets fan. I can vouch for what Ms. Sizzle said…she might of called you a pooh head for not visiting. Ok, I’m embellishing. I think that fights with the people you love are accelerated thirteen year old maturity moments. You’ll get anxious, you’ll get angsty, but then in the end, you realize what is really important to you and learn from the fight. So, let me ask you, when will you and Sophia get back together? We’re waiting…..

  29. Sandra

    I firmly believe that we (as in, everyone) pretty much never graduate from emotional elementary school. Seriously, how nice would it be if we could still pass notes — through friends, at that — with “check yes or no” boxes at the bottom, instead of actually dealing with things. I, for one, would sign up for that sort of thing.

  30. Danny

    Your reconciliation won’t last long at Jerry’s. Next time go to Factor’s, Junior’s, or even Canter’s. I’ve never been in Jerry’s and NOT gotten into a fight with my loved ones. It’s the fake Jewish food.

    P.S. Agree about God and the Cubs. God never even heard of the Mets. Yankees yes, Mets no.

  31. Neil

    Danny — And 15 dollars for a pastrami sandwich! My father would have walked out.

  32. Rabbit

    I have anxiety attacks over the fact that my boyfriend and I pretty much NEVER fight.

    (That can’t be normal, right?)

    You see? You can’t win.

  33. Mel

    No idea what tsuris is, but agida is that feeling of being anxious. Your muscles are usually tense and there’s a million things on your mind and you just can’t do anything until you sort it out. A feeling of unease with your world.

  34. Brooke

    1. Did you write about playing with yourself because I said I like to watch guys play with themselves? I guess I’m not such a pervert after all huh.

    2. I don’t know anyone who can turn a post about fighting with his wife into soft-core porn better than you. You are a true talent.

    3. I heard you were a jerk. I hate you.

  35. Tatyana

    You call this anxiety?
    Ask Sophia to translate for you these 3 posts from LJ by one Viki Nani (director of the hostel for mentally disabled relgious women, Bnei-Brak, Israel)
    …usefull, too – as an excuse to patch up differences…

    One of the commenters, Dr from the institution, exclaims: is that me or the spring makes them all twice as nuts?

  36. Michele

    I love being quoted. Neil, it just might work out between us after all.

  37. nooooo

    it will never work out between you because he loves SOPHIA

  38. danielle

    You think God is a METS fan?!?

  39. Dagny

    I was starting to feel anxious after reading the post but then I saw your comment about IHOP. It is raining and I am too lazy to go out but I can make pancakes at home — and boysenberry is the correct syrup choice.

    Also, Skin-o-max — hehehe. Haven’t heard that term in years.

  40. modigli

    OMG, Neil! How’d you get Brokeback on DVD already?!

    BTW, I can relate to anxiety. I can get anxious over just about anything. But the worst is the anxiety that comes from having conflict with a loved one. Hope you guys are back to the lovey dovey stuff soon! 🙂

  41. Lynn

    Just don’t skip #3. #3 is very important.

    And then there’s #8, but I’m not telling you what that is.

  42. Fitèna

    I love it best when you write circumstancila/situational posts!!! You’re just right the way you are!!!


  43. ChickyBabe

    I always thought God would play Minesweeper!

  44. The Retropolitan

    I think you should write more posts that combine masturbation and plumbing.

  45. Bre

    Does God win all the time when he plays solitaire? Because, there must be some perks, right?

  46. cruisin-mom

    Nothing says “sexy” like a highly anxious man

  47. Lucinda

    I guess with all those steps, they figure there’s something for almost everyone there. Except for the Plushies. There’s nothing for the Plushies.

  48. mariemm3

    God is not, will never be, could not be a Yankees’ fan. ‘Cause we all know that the Yankees is Satan’s team.

    Neil you got it half right. God is responsible for the:

    1957 Milwaukee Braves
    1969 New York Mets
    1991 Minnesota Twins
    1995 Atlanta Braves
    2004 Boston Red Sox
    2005 Chicago White Sox
    2006 Chicago Cubs

  49. Hyperion

    I try to be supportive when I read other people’s work (knowing what it’s like to be criticized), but I’m rarely ever impressed. This post, however, impressed me. Very well written, and with a nuance and flow that gets better the more one thinks about it. Good job.

  50. DawnKelly

    “Maybe if I just click on her, it’ll look like I read her in the stats. ”

    I knew I wasn’t just being paranoid!


  51. Neil

    Hyperion — Thank you. It’s nice to meet a kind reader. I’m so used to dealing with paranoid bloggers like Dawn Kelly.

  52. amanda

    hilarious. women are laughing at you, but for the right reasons. not “some dumb blog post”…superb. 🙂

  53. bettyonthebeach

    Fantastic solution Neil! When in doubt, play with thyself! Love it!

  54. ashbloem

    What a fantastic post, Neil. Sorry I was so busy this week and missed it when you wrote it.

    a.) I also play with myself when I don’t want to decide what else to do.

    b.) If you’d like, I could draw you some flashcards so you can remember the required steps 1-7?

  55. Janet

    You hit the nail on the head about how hard it is to blog about domestic arguments. I did that once.

    I also vowed to never do it again.

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