the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Feeling a Little Blue

Sophia, Flushing

I enjoy getting comments which read “Oh, Neil, that was so funny. You made me morning.” I like them so much, I hate bringing up times when I’m feeling a little down. I’ve only been in New York for one day, and while I should be absolutely joyous, I’m feeling sort of blue. I’m not sure if it is the bleak sky, the cold, or just missing therapy this week. Even seeing my Mom and eating the perfect bagels hasn’t broken me out of the rut.

Bagels, Flushing

My screenplay pitch is still on the backburner while the writer’s strike continues. It is hard convincing yourself that you have the “greatest comedy story ever written” for more than a month before you start having doubts. There are a couple of big expense concerns coming up, and thinking about money makes me anxious.

On Monday, at LAX, we had a hour to kill before our flight, so I watched travelers running around, catching fights. It is big world out there, with so many countries and cities I want to see. Will I get to visit everywhere I want? Will I have the time? The money? Today, I found my old stamp collection in my closet. I had organized all of my international stamps into little envelopes titled France, India, Madagascar, etc. I must have been around ten years old. Some of the countries on the list, mostly African ones, don’t even exist anymore! I’m sure I dreamed of traveling to all of these places one day. Now, I’m less sure of myself. Maybe I won’t ever get to Madagascar after all! And that would be sad. Time is moving too fast.

Time also plays games with the mind. Although my mother had done a great job in redecorating the apartment in the last year, the memory of my father is still strong. Everywhere you look, there is a part of him, from his collection of slides he took in the army or massive collection of ties. His essence is here. While it is nice that his presence is felt, it is sad that he is not here in person.

A familiar view from my old room while lying on the bed

I’m glad Sophia came along to New York. She’s always fun (except for the traveling by plane part where she brings too much luggage). Still, we are theoretically moving closer to the date when I will move out of the house. We both think it would be good to take a break and have some alone time. My therapist didn’t even think it was a good idea to travel to New York together, but what fun would it be without her? Sophia is sleeping right now, and I’m feeling all sorts of emotional ups and downs about our future.


The confusion over our relationship has created problems for my sex life and my dreams are becoming more anxiety-ridden by the day. Last night, I combined all my fears about writing, Hollywood, and sex in to one big stew of bizarre dreaming:

In the dream, I had just spoken to this movie producer on the phone. The writer’s guild strike was still going on, so my pitch was postponed again. I needed to quickly make more money, so I looked in the newspaper. I ended up getting a job with a CSI crime unit. I was hired to be a special “closer.” My daily assignment: I would go down on a female suspect, and from her taste, I would learn all these facts about her. “She’s 32, runs two miles a day, and loves Cheerios,” I would say to the police captain as I lifted my head up from between her thighs. “She’s a graduate of Princeton with a B.A. in Religion and she is lying about hitting her husband over the head with that baseball bat.” My authority was never questioned and this Princeton religious studies graduate was thrown in jail for committing murder. Rather than feeling good about myself, I fretted about my “interrogation.” I had the nagging feeling that I tasted her incorrectly and put the wrong woman behind bars.

After this dream, I woke up with a terrible headache. And now there’s two more weeks without therapy! God help us all.

Tomorrow, we’re going to MOCA, and maybe meeting Tamar of Mining Nuggets for coffee (that is if she’s not afraid of me after hearing about my dream). Email me if you live in New York and know of some cool things going on or restaurants that you love.


  1. bethany actually

    I’m sorry you’re missing your dad, and are feeling blue. I hope you enjoy the rest of the visit after an initial blue spell. Eat a bagel for me, will ya?

  2. Dagny

    That “greatest comedy story ever written” line? Somehow in my mind it was delivered in Carl Reiner’s voice. So that must mean it’s really great.

    And Sophia’s luggage? She’s a woman and needs to have lots of fashion options. (Hmmm. I must remember to ask my cousin, the psychologist, if perhaps there is deeper meaning to this whole thing.)

    And yes, I understand your anxiety about your relationship. But sometimes people need time apart. And I can’t help but think that a man who carries packets of honey with him — just in case — will not win out in the end. Because that’s one of those very sweet and thoughtful gestures that can make or break or relationship.

    Now if Sophia doesn’t have the right footwear for the weather, then all bets are off. 😉

  3. Kyra

    I’m sorry things are tough right now Nei. 🙁

    All those places that you wanted to go when you were a kid? I did too. But I realize now that what they really represented was pure possibilities, not necessarily destinations. You just need a new kind of “stamp collection” so you can see how many millions of possibilities are before you right this very moment. No, it doesn’t make everything all spring sunshine and daisies, but it might make you feel less like you are boxed in.

    But I know that box myself, so in the end all I can really offer is a virtual *hug*.

  4. You can call me, 'Sir'

    That dream is comedy gold.

  5. Elisabeth

    Change in one’s life is always rough – and I am sorry to read that blue is to color of your life these days, because of your anticipation of some changes. The change coming to your life (moving away from Sophia for a while) may not be permanent, though. It will be a moment of reassessment, and I agree with Dagny’s take on the outcome.

    The passage about the memory of your father lingering in the apartment was very moving. My relationship with my father was not good when he passed away, but I was floored, a few weeks ago, when my boyfriend made duck with olive sauce, because I had told him that it was one of the favorite dishes that my father (who was a chef) used to make. It brought back all sorts of very positive nostalgia.

    Maybe, by the way, you are blue because, being in New York, you are steeped in nostalgia.

    As far as the dream is concerned. Damn, it was priceless.

  6. Alissa

    I love those pictures of Sophia. I’m sorry you’re feeling blue. This has to be a really hard time for you and your family on top of everything else. You’re in my thoughts!

  7. Not Fainthearted

    Oh Neil, this is such a sweet mixedup post. From the grief (and stress) over your dad and your marriage to that laugh-out-loud dream you had.

    I think this time of year is hard on everybody and that’s not making it any easier either.

    hugs and good thoughts go with you
    (and I’ll wait to send treats until you’re back in LA…since I don’t know your mom’s address…)

    peace. NFH

  8. Rhea

    The anxiety you feel — about your relationship, money concerns, your writing career — is rough. And how time is rushing by. I feel your pain.

  9. Caitlinator

    There is karaoke going down on December 27 (Thursday) at the Ready Penny Inn in Jackson Heights if you’re up for it. I will be singing “The Wind Beneath My Wings” to my fiancee, which should be worth the Metrocard purchase, I reckon. Maybe it will help lift your spirits a bit, too?

    P.S. I miss my dad this time of year, too, and I don’t even have any of his belongings hanging around to remind me of him. They find ways to stick around, let you know they’re still here for you.

  10. Alice

    i bet that stamp collection is worth a lot of money now. maybe you can trade in the stamps for tickets to all those countries on the stamps? 🙂

  11. Eileen

    Love the dream story. May the blue period end and the new year bring you a new direction. And maybe a nice trip too.

  12. Jennifer

    Going home always brings feelings of doubt and insecurity to the surface for me. At least initially, and I’m hard pressed to explain why that is.

    You’re going through a significant bit of emotional turmoil, and that you still have your wits about you is a blessing to all of us. The least we can do is offer you up a shoulder of support to lean upon. I’m glad you let us in enough so that we have the chance to do so.

  13. sizzle

    it’s a difficult time of year. i feel blue sometimes too. even when i go “home” to visit, that feeling creeps up on me. you have a lot going on in your life so please be gentle with yourself.

    big hugs.

  14. stepping over the junk

    Neil, there’s alot going on in there. May you go through it with patience, peace and grace. Happy Holidays. Stepping.

  15. mrsatroxi


  16. V-Grrrl

    It’s not “the most wonderful time of the year” after all.

    Let’s sue the songwriter.

    (Visit my blog and check out the link in today’s post to a great new song, an anthem that will lift your sagging spirits.)

  17. V-Grrrl

    P.S. If the song doesn’t do it, I’ll split my Zoloft with you. XO

  18. Atomic Bombshell

    Sophia is the cutest eskimo ever!

  19. psychomom

    “Still, we are theoretically moving closer to the date when I will move out of the house.”

    How will you know that date? What is it going to take for you to finally make the move? Is that what you want?

    I ask myself these questions too.

  20. Finn

    Sweetie, is there anything that you don’t worry about?

    Sometimes you just have to roll with things. Go enjoy New York. Everything will be there when you get back. xo

  21. LVGurl

    I think that is so cool that you can return to your childhood home. How comforting! My parents and I moved around so much, I don’t have that.

    But I imagine that the comfort of home really does make you miss your father even more.

    You’re feeling blue, and I feel bad hearing that 🙁 But that picture of Sophia and the phone booth is fantastic.

  22. Ash

    Neil, I’m blue too. But I don’t look as good in blue as Sophia…

  23. churlita

    Aw. Thanks for making me your blog crush. All that inner work is hard, but hopefully, it will be worth it in the end.

  24. Foo

    Sounds like you have a lot swirling around in your head. Does your therapist do phone sessions or IM sessions? I know lots who do. You should try to connect with them so you feel some balance. Hang in there and I get blue over losing my husband at the holidays too. So many memories surround, it’s hard not to go there. Take care and cherish your Sophia and family time.

  25. Rattling The Kettle

    I know just the thing to make you feel better: bringing back a bag of those bagels for me! I’ll take 2 each plain, sesame, egg, and poppy, and 4 everything.

  26. 180/360

    I half expected you to say you woke up with a bad taste in your mouth. 😉

    I’m sorry things are so complicated. I wish I could do what you do for so many other people- cleverly write some funny post that makes you smile and takes away some of your sadness.

    Going home, whether you’ve lost someone or not, is always bittersweet. Try to savor the sweetness as much as you can. You are blessed in many ways and things will fall into place soon.

  27. OMSH

    Humor is your outlet, is it not? Even your anxiety is riddled with it.

    I would agree that going “home” is often bittersweet. Colors, textures and smells can invoke any number of memories or emotions.

    You are strong – whether you consider that a virtue of yours or not.

    I hope you make your decisions, as opposed to having them made for you by others. Love is hard and takes a lot of work and I have a tendency to distrust most therapist’s takes on how to handle it and what to do with it when it doesn’t fit in a nice and easy mold.

  28. OMSH

    oops – “evoke” – not “invoke”

  29. Laurel

    Sorry you’re feeling down, blah blah blah, things will be better soon, blah blah blah, the sun’ll come out tomorrow, blah blah blah… take, like, 30 minutes to wallow (or split it up into convenient 5 minute chunks every day), and then try and have some fun in NY! (156 E. 2nd St.): awesome Italian food (373 W. 46th St.): a bit of everything, family-owned/run, comfy, yummy

  30. Otir

    I live in NY but upstate, that doesn’t do any good to people with the blues, let me tell you, I can’t wait for the time when days are longer.

    I heard a conference about the jewish marriage that was so interesting I thought of you, you are going to hate me it is in French so I can’t even link to it. If I was a really good and nice bloggerfriend I would write a note and translate it only for you, but I am not.

    Just dropping like all of us here an easy comment to make you feel less alone, until you get your eyes from the screen. But value those seconds and I hope you can relive them upon command to cheer yourself up, that’s what I do as much as I can, does not work wonders all the time, but most of the time, it does.

  31. Geeky Tai-Tai

    Neil, I’m sorry that you’re feeling blue too. This is a tough time of year. *hugs*

  32. cookiebitch

    Wait a minute … I had a dream I was thrown in jail after having oral sex with a guy who said I tasted like cheerios. And he tasted like BAGELS! What does it all mean?

  33. Bre

    There’s something about winter and holidays and family that has this amazing ability to send us all into emotional fits.

    Here’s hoping you’ll feel better soon!

  34. Noel

    I’ve no regret I haven’t yet visited those countries from my international stamp collection. What I regret is not getting that CSI job as a special closer

  35. Caron

    I made some guerilla art for you yesterday. You will be getting good thoughts from central MN every time someone runs into a piece.

  36. Danny

    Moving post. I enjoy serious, contemplative Neil as much as I enjoy funny, clinically insane Neil. Those bagels look like the real thing, why can’t they make a true New York bagel in southern California? I had a stamp collection, too, when I was little and had a ton of stamps from Madagascar. Why is that? Remember that in the Nazis’ very early plans, they considered shipping all the Jews off to Madagascar? Too bad they didn’t go with that plan, we’d all have a lot more relatives. (Oy, is this my way of cheering someone up–invoking the Final Solution?)

  37. Nichelle

    This post is perfect for one of those Modern Love essays in the Sunday New York Times. Then it can be either optioned for a film or you can get a book deal. It’s really that easy. BTW,Blue Iris is the color of the year.

  38. Joe C

    ((This post was in a tab in my browser for two days before I read it.))

    Great, bittersweet, true post. I know from separation and marital difficulty, and if you guys can have fun on a trip it feels like better than even odds there’s a lot of hope possible there, whatever you decide, take care of yourself Neil. You deserve it.

  39. Neil

    Thanks for the guerilla art, Caron!

  40. Loralee

    That dream made me spray Diet Coke all over the screen of my new laptop.

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