the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Little Artie

Therapy has had two opposite effects.   It has motivated me to be more productive and organized, hence my post two days ago on how to be better organized.  Thank you!    Therapy has also made me incredibly self-absorbed, which is perfect for procrastination.   I never knew I could be so interesting to myself!   So, rather than working today, I spent most of the day mulling my own existence.  

First, let me ask you something.  I don’t know about your therapist, but my one hour session is really fifty minutes, because “Barbara” needs ten minutes to write her notes.   Does your therapist do the same?  I like Barbara a lot, but this business practice sounds a bit like the plumber charging you labor costs for his time filling out the paperwork.    Maybe I’m just grumpy because fifty minutes is not enough for me.  I’ve even started to skip the pleasantries of talking about the weather for a couple of minutes because I can feel the clock ticking.   When I walk out of therapy after such short sessions, I feel unfulfilled, as if I just went to a beautiful, naked Thai masseuse who rubbed by entire body in sensual oil, then told me to “get the hell out” so she could watch “Oprah.”  After my session today, I was in such a crazed mood to talk… to talk about myself.  Unfortunately, for many of you on my email list, there is the little invention called IM.  Please accept my apologies — all twenty of you — who I IMed with today while you were in the office.  At first, I was polite, meekly saying, “Hi there! How are you?” and then when you answered, I knew I had you trapped. 

“So, I just got back from therapy and it was very interesting.  I’m beginning to realize that I…. and that I… and… is the best for me… and… more sex… more for me… what I want… me…me…me…oh, right, your grandmother is dying… I remember when my grandmother was dying… me… me… and I was fourteen… and there I was, with my penis… me… aren’t I interesting?   What?  You have a job? … when I grow up, I want to be…”

I use Trillian for my IM messages, because the application can work on Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL simultaneously, so I had the entire world covered today.  Is it my imagination — or is everyone  on my IM list “invisible” tonight?   Oh, well, maybe everyone is just watching TV.   I can’t imagine that you would “hide” from me.

Barbara is a traditional therapist and she believes in all that crap about everything stemming from your childhood.   OK, I shouldn’t say “crap.”  I actually believe it too, but I am using humor as a “defense mechanism.”  How do you like them apples?  Defense-mechanism!   Don’t I sound self-actualized?  I know my stuff! 

When I look through my blog, I see themes that are played over and over.   I don’t mean that I use the same stories over and over again.  I do that, too, hoping most of the readers from 2005 have disappeared by now.  I mean that many of my posts have a certain world view that relates to my own neuroses.  One of them has to do with gender issues in my marriage.    Over and over, we’ve seen that Sophia is outwardly the strong one, while I sit at home, listening to ABBA.   Who wants a wimpy husband?  Gender roles affect our home, our family, and our relationship.  

Since these issues didn’t play much of a role in my life until I married Sophia, I saw it as a “marital” problem, but Barbara is helping me realize that you can’t really fix a couple; you can only fix yourself.   The seeds of my behavior were planted in me way before I had met Sophia.  I learned about gender roles and marriage from my own parents.  My confusion over a “man’s role” in society were already bouncing around my head as a child, my brain crowded with images of Clint Eastwood and James Bond battling it out with sweater-wearing Bill Cosby.

When I was at USC Film School, my final thesis film was a broad comedy called “Little Artie.”  It was just a little funny film, but when I mentioned the plot-line to Barbara, she was surprised that the story foreshadowed my relationship with Sophia — and I hadn’t even met her yet.   It feels pretentious analyzing my “work” as if I am Ingmar Bergman, but I’m surprised how unaware I was of the similarities. 

Is this how little I know myself?

Little Artie:

Artie and Elaine are a married couple.  They have a little dog named Little Artie, and they treat him as their child, like many pet-owners do when they don’t have children.

Note:  While it seemed funny at the time, it now seems a bit odd that I named the two characters, Artie and Elaine, since my parents’ REAL names are… Artie and Elaine!  And who would be Little Artie then?

In the story, Artie works as a curator at an art gallery.  He is peace-loving , cultured “liberal.”   Elaine is training to be a black belt in karate.  She is more conservative and believes in self-defense, and is more aggressive in the bedroom.   They get along great, except for differing opinions on how to “raise” their dog, Little Artie.   Artie wants him to be a loving pet, while Elaine wants him to be stronger, able to take care of the family if there is danger.   Later, while they are at work, their home is burglarized and the dog stands there watching all the furniture disappear.  When they come home and see their empty home, Artie and Elaine have a big fight.  Elaine insists that Little Artie go to “guard dog school” to get him into shape, while Artie refuses to allow this.  The argument gets intense and they file for divorce.  The question remains — who gets the dog?  At this point, the dog runs into the dog house in the backyard and refuses to come out for either of them.   The couple goes to court and the judge rules that whoever can get him out of the doghouse first can keep him.  And then there is some crazy comedy!  Well, except for the parts that fell flat.  There’s some new “lovers,” and a karate fight finale (I used a real fight coordinator) between Artie’s two rival women at an art gallery opening.  At the end, Artie and Elaine learn to compromise — Little Artie needs to be both strong AND sensitive.

Anyway, that’s therapy — week seven.


  1. sassy

    I think therapy is really helping you put things in perspective in a more ‘realistic’ way. Keep it up !

  2. better safe than sorry

    i don’t have a therapist, so i’m not sure how the time/money thing works, but if you’re not happy about a 50 minute hour, i’d ask her about it. and i’m a big believer in the it’s all about me, as a mom, it’s something that has been displaced because of my kids, and i’d love to get it back.

  3. Guilty Secret

    Very interesting. I think Barbara is spot on: you can’t fix a couple, you can only fix yourself. Yeah, we get 50-55 mins too… it never feels like enough at the time, but I think it’s a good amount. It leaves me with enough to think about!

  4. Ash

    Oh Neil. I don’t have much to say about gender-roles because mine are all fucked up too.

  5. Dagny

    You didn’t know that the 50 minute hour is standard for therapists? Because it is.

  6. Rhea

    Yeah, the 50-minute hour stinks. Unfair.

  7. mrsatroxi

    Now I wish I’d written more fiction when I was younger so I’d know how my life is going to turn out.

    (That’s totally sincere by-the-way, I’m not snarky at all.)

    I’m also starting to feel that I’m even more screwed up than I thought. My therapist usually spends an hour and a half with me…I’m always the last appt of her day, maybe that has something to do with it. ??

  8. wendy

    Artie and the art dealer..clever??

    Just teasing..Babs is getting it right..just the same themes revisited..til we figure em out…

    So human..just like the rest of us…

  9. nabbalicious

    A friend of mine is an occupational therapist, and she meets with her kids for 45 minutes at a time, because the remaining 15 minutes is called the “administrative time.” Whatever. What I want to know is, why doesn’t this extend to other professions? For example, the time I sit in my car commuting to work should be counted as hours spent working.

    I’m starting therapy next week, and while I know my issues and what’s behind them, how do you, I don’t know, STOP IT? That’s the tricky part.

  10. Not Fainthearted

    Neil, I loved this post. I love that you’re going through the “me me me” phase of therapy. Yup. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s standard.

    And the gender role thing? try it from the strong female point of view. Sucks on this side, too.

  11. Finn

    Is EVERYONE in therapy or just your readers?

    No judgement; I’m in therapy too!

  12. churlita

    So, I’m not sure if this post makes me want to start therapy or not?

  13. brettdl

    To heck with all your inner problems: I WANT TO SEE THE MOVIE! IT SOUNDS HILARIOUS!

  14. lotus07

    My concept of therapy is hiking a mountain. Lasts longer, costs less, and I have interesting conversations with myself. I used to have Trillian, but stopped IM-ing all together, when to many folks started using ME for therapy. The older I get, the more I have to put up limits.

  15. kat!

    this is why i have a cat; as soon as i’ve deluded myself into thinking i can train him to do anything, i know it’s time to see a therapist.

  16. OMSH

    Mr. OMSH is a Psychologist – and yea, 50 minute hours are industry standard. I never got it either.

    The movie sounds hysterical – better than what I’ve been seeing at the theater lately.

    And? So take this the right way. TAKE CHARGE. You think funny women are sexy, well I gotta tell you, “take charge” men are sexy. Annoying at times, but oh my, so very body tingling sexy.

  17. Neil

    OMSH — The personality of a “take-charge” individual does not usually equal that of one blogging every day in November.

  18. You can call me, 'Sir'

    Fascinating…that’ll be $150. I’d prefer a cashier’s check.

  19. di

    I wouldn’t have blocked you on IM (if I knew what that was) I would have listened to see how to apply your stuff to myself …

    Could work.
    The Movable ‘Me’ or some such thing.

  20. di

    Ummm and doesn’t Erica Jong cover the 50 minute hour in her books?

    Maybe not but I knew about that somehow.

  21. Mr. Fabulous

    I didn’t get much out of therapy. They would always forget something and I would have to remind them. I don’t know what they were using that 10 minutes for, but it wasn’t for notes. Maybe it was for a bathroom break.

  22. mckay

    -you have a great knack for getting to the crux of the matter with humor and style.

    -good thing your doc doesn’t charge you for reading your blog.

    -amazing so many people can IM at work. my place blocks everything, even linkedin.

  23. plain jane

    Now you’re getting somewhere!

    You aren’t paying for an hour, you are paying for 50 minutes. Personally, I don’t want my therapist to meet with me w/out a break between crazy clients.

    Also, 50 minutes forces you to get to the point. But then, my therapist usually gives me more like 70 minutes. And if I feel like I need more time, I ask if I can schedule a longer appt.

  24. teahouseblossom

    My psychiatrist never took notes. He just REMEMBERED everything. It was friggin’ unbelievable. I think in our first session, he jotted down some stuff on one page of a legal pad, and after that I never saw him with a pen in his hand again. He said it made it easier for privilege and liability purposes. Here was a psychiatrist dear to my heart, who understood the legal stuff.

  25. Liz

    I agree with your concern over the ’50 minutes ain’t an hour’ therapy sessions. You’re not charging Babs for the drive time to get to her office, are you? She shouldn’t charge you for her note writing time.

    Ask Barbara what her parents did to her to make her believe she has the right to dick you over. You’re getting screwed to the tune of a nearly a full session every month. That can’t be good for your self-esteem!

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