the writing and photography of Neil Kramer


Another lazy night. I was on the phone for two hours today about a project I am working on. I hope it doesn’t fall through.

I didn’t feel like cooking. I’m in the Dominican Diner down the block, writing this in longhand in one of those Mead Composition notebooks from grade school. Who needs anything fancier? They’re the best. I’m not in the mood for adventurous eating tonight, like they specialty – oxtail stew. I ordered a veggie burger (deluxe!) with fries, and a cup of coffee. Some people don’t enjoy eating out by themselves. I do. Although I usually bring a Mead Composition notebook along to amuse myself, like right now, where I am writing this stream of consciousness post to annoy you.

When I look out the window onto Kissena Boulevard, I can see that there is still snow on the ground, although it is now mostly slush. The diner is half empty and the staff is watching American Idol on the big-screen TV hanging on the far wall, to the right of the entrance to the kitchen. Usually, there is international soccer playing on the TV, but tonight is apparently American Idol night. Everyone on the staff seems to love American Idol. They are laughing hysterically at some nasty comment by Simon.

I just switched to the other side of my booth, just in case I decide to watch American Idol later on Tivo. I was getting distracted by the TV, and I didn’t want to learn who was being thrown out of the Kodak Theater, their dreams crushed, and returned to their miserable lives as checkout girls. Why does Ryan Seacrest call it the “legendary Kodak Theater?” It was only built a few years ago! The Chinese Theater, as disappointing as it is to every tourist who comes to see Humphrey Bogart’s footprint, is somewhat “legendary.” The Kodak Theater is in a new mall. Everyone in LA knows that.

Anyway, I’m in New York now. Stop talking about LA.

I am more comfortable having turned my back to the TV and American Idol. I cannot hear what is going on with the judges anyway, because the owners also have a CD of Dominican music blasting, and the speaker is near my table. I am not complaining. I love this music. I come here for the music. I find it beautiful and comforting. The owner must be a romantic guy, or Dominicans must be a sentimental nation, because all of their songs seem to be love. How do I know this? Even though I cannot understand most of the lyrics, despite years of high school Spanish, every song lyric contains the word “corazon,” which I know means “heart.” I’m glad the songs are in Spanish. If I could understand the lyrics fully, I would probably dismiss the songs as pap, like a corny love country music love ballad, but since I can only decipher the “corazon” part of the lyrics, I imagine the content to be extremely emotional, like a Shakespeare love sonnet. I feel like each song cuts right through all the bullshit, and hits the mark, like Cupid’s arrow, right where it counts — in the corazon! I think this is why foreign movies seem so much classier to pseudo-cultured New Yorkers than Hollywood nonsense. You don’t hear the lame dialogue, so it seems more poetic. Someone French, who goes to see a French movie and understand what everyone is speaking, knows that the film is just as crappy as any American one.

I’m now eating my veggie burger. The waitress is very pretty. I do not know her name. I should ask. The veggie burger is homemade, not frozen. I like that. The one thing I don’t like about the veggie burger is the bun. When I pile the lettuce and tomato and ketchup on top of the veggie burger (the lettuce and tomato come with the Deluxe!), the weak bun cannot withstand the pressure because of some structural deficiency, and the burger always falls out of the bun, like Lindsay Lohan having a nipple slip.

Why am I eating a veggie burger rather than a regular burger? Good question. It is because I had a slice of pizza earlier, and I want to be good to my corazon (high cholesterol). But I do have good news. My cholesterol, the bad DL (the HDL?) went all the way down, thanks to my friendly cholesterol pills. That is why I rushed and had that slice of pizza before it went up again.

My blood test to find out about my cholesterol was on Monday afternoon at my mother’s doctor. My mother was bugging me to see if the cholesterol pills were working, even though the visit would cost me money, because my coverage is still with an HMO back in California. In order to get an accurate reading, the doctor’s assistant told me that I shouldn’t eat for 24 hours before the test. You would think he could have given me a morning appointment. But no. I had to sit around until 4PM starving, like it was Yom Kippur, all for a measly two-second stab in the arm with a needle. Around 1PM, I was feeling lethargic from the lack of food, and I couldn’t concentrate on writing or even wasting time on Twitter. My blood sugar has plummeted. I decided to take a one hour nap. I turned the alarm on my iphone, and went to bed.

As I curled up, the wind and snow blowing against he window, my mind drifted from thoughts of food – pizza, bagels, ice cream, tuna melts – to a dream I had the previous night, when I was in a threesome with two of the waitresses from the Dominican Diner.

“Te amo,” said one of the girls, whispering in my ear.

“Mi Corazon,” said the other as she climbed on top of me.

Dominican music played in the bedroom. I started to do what came naturally to any man daydreaming about a threesome with two Dominican waitresses. The bed start to rotate and rock.

(Hold on. The waitress who is riding me in the fantasy is now pouring me another cup of coffee. I thank her, very politely. OK, I am now back –)

— as I caress her perfect breasts and kiss the second waitress and the first waitress sighs with pleasure and an old Linda Ronstadt song now plays, the Mariachi music —

(Wait a second. I’m screwing up. I need to constant remind myself that I am not in LA. There are no mariachis here. These are Dominican women who are taking me, intense women with powerful thighs, rich and fertile as the Cibao valley and as sweet tasting as the sugar from Llano Costero del Caribe.)

— and there I was, as hard and proud and tall as the pine forests of La Pelona, my heart beating faster, like a drum in a fast paced merengue. My corazon.

And then I remembered my corazon — my blood test! Back to reality, to the daydreaming man in bed alone. If I couldn’t eat for twenty four hours to get an accurate account of my cholesterol, does this mean I can’t do OTHER things that may cause any changes to the chemical structure of my body? Will my readings come out all wrong?

Will my mother’s doctor call me the next day and say, “Your blood test for your cholesterol was inconsistent. I thought my assistant told you not to eat for 24 hours.”

“I didn’t eat.”

“Well, something caused this chemical reaction in your body about a hour or so before the appointment that ruined the cholestrol test. Did you drink anything? Juice? Water?”


“Well, the only thing I can think is — did you have sex?”

“Uh, not exactly.”

“Don’t you know that you are NOT supposed to do that right before a blood test!”

“Actually, I didn’t know that.”

“It affects the cholesterol levels. I called your mother and told her that we will have to re-schedule the blood test. I’ll have to charge you again.”

“You called my mother?”

“Well, she’s actually my patient, not you.”

“And what did you tell her?”

“I told her the truth. I’m a medical doctor. I told her I didn’t know for certain, but chances are that an hour or so before the blood test, you were blah blah blahing in the apartment like a crazed monkey.”

“I wasn’t like a crazed monkey. And hey, that doesn’t sound like something a REAL medical professional would say. In fact, this who conversation sounds like total bullshit.”

“That’s because your veggie burger is falling apart in your hands as you are trying to write this, and you are not very good at mult-tasking. And let’s be honest, Neil. I wasn’t the one who stopped what he was doing because he was worried that it MIGHT affect his blood test!”

“What are you doing, Doctor? You’re screwing up the conversation by having an inconsistent literary “voice.” You’re making this post too complicated and hard to follow. Let’s return to the story.”


“So, anyway, DOCTOR, when can I reschedule?”

“I can see you next Wednesday at 5PM. Do not eat for 24 hours. And definitely do not do any blah blah blahing like a sex fiend. There is more to life than thinking about pussy. Don’t you care about your heart? Your corazon?”

“Mi corazon. Just like they sing about in Dominican songs. I do care about mi corazon. Mi corazon yearns for someone who truly understands mi corazon.”

“Ah yes, corazon. Love. There is nothing more to life than that”

OK, veggie burger is done. I’m done. No dessert. I’ll leave a good good tip for the waitress.


  1. anna

    You know what goes well with veggie burgers from dominican diners (WTF is that?) and coffee? lime popsicles.

    Dude, I comment on your blog all the time you big whiner. 🙂

  2. maggie, dammit

    I just finished a book that made me think of four people I thought would enjoy it as much as I did, and you are one of the four. It’s called “Youth in Revolt” by C.D. Payne.

    I realize this has nothing to do with your post, except that your writing style (and the reference to Mead notebooks) got me thinking about the book again.

    For real, you should go get it.


  3. nyc

    I love this part: intense women with powerful thighs, rich and fertile as the Cibao valley and as sweet tasting as the sugar from Llano Costero del Caribe.)…very nicely put! reminds me of something my boyfriend says to me when i worry about my hips…

  4. Twenty Four At Heart

    There’s more to life than pussy? I’ll have to tell my husband.

  5. mommyknows

    No wonder you like to eat alone!

  6. Annie

    Wow. Really that is all I have to say, except that I HATE American Idol. I only watched it for a few minutes when I was visiting my mom and I thought they were really mean to the people singing, people actually find this funny? I found it very sad.

  7. AnnieH

    …ahhhhh, the afterglow. It’s difficult though to take a drag from a cigarette and type at the same time.
    Congrats on the fasting lipid panel, and yes, it is the HDL you want lower and the LDL you want higher. You can also eat a lot of olive oil and take fish oil capsules, but then you’re left with the aftertaste that only Good ‘n Plenty seem to abate. There’s probably something lethal in those cute little pink and white candies.

  8. Nancy

    Posts like this is why I keep coming back … I can’t wait for your book Neil.

    Could have easily been titled “Corazon On” [giggle]

  9. threeboys1mommy

    Ay Corazon, me encanto!

  10. Danny

    Excellent post! But what do you mean tourists are disappointed when they visit Grauman’s Chinese Theatre? If they are, they are idiots, it’s the most magnificent movie theatre in the country and the forecourt is all that it’s cracked up to be. But I agree that the Kodak Theatre is as “legendary” as yesterday’s ham sandwich. And you can keep the rest of Hollywood & Highland, but Grauman’s, the most authentic part of Old Hollywood, does not deserve your scorn!

    P.S. Isn’t it funny how mentioning Dominicans automatically makes a story scream New York? Is there a single Dominican person in all of Los Angeles?

  11. Diane Mandy

    And people wonder why I took up Latin dancing after I separated from my husband!

  12. Gramps

    “There is more to life than thinking about pussy.”


    And I, too, enjoy eating out alone.

  13. Akaky

    Neil, thank you for the voicegram and yes, I am feeling much better now, thank you again, but being the blogcrush of the day is a bit unnerving. Blogcrushes, at leat in my humble opinion, ought to be limited to bloggers of the opposite sex. I realize that this shows me to be a prisoner of an outdated patriarchal mindset but then again, I am not the most up to the minute kind of guy.

  14. kimberlee

    I actually adore random streams of consciousness. I’m a little hot and almost bothered.

  15. kimberlee

    I actually adore random streams of consciousness. I’m a little hot and almost bothered.

  16. Poppy Buxom

    Neilochka, you are a genius. I say that from mi corazon.

  17. SciFi Dad

    So wait… if whacking off before a cholesterol blood test makes the number higher, abstinence makes the number lower.

    Therefore, if a man stops having sex of any kind, he will have perfect cholesterol.

    Therefore, in order to lower their cholesterol, the human race stops reproducing.

    Therefore, the campaign to watch one’s cholesterol must be a plan hatched by an alien race that has used up all the natural resources on their planet and want to colonize ours, but they don’t have weapons, so they use this “cholesterol myth”.

    Bastards. I’m going to go masturbate with a pound of bacon, just to spite them.

  18. Dragon

    Oh my, my. Am I the only one who is a little turned on? Be still mi corazon.

  19. kenju

    Are you sure they didn’t say 12 hours? That’s what they always tell me.

  20. teahouseblossom

    I agree with your observation about how music sounds so much more romantic when it’s not in your language. It’s why people love opera!

    Also, I love that your writing shows the influence of the Latin American magical realism.

  21. flutter

    this is clearly about the influence of American Idol.

  22. Noel

    You say there’s no mariachis here, and yet I heard a group on the subway today. One place I’ve never had a chance encounter with mariachis: Los Angeles.

  23. vodkamom

    Did you actually say the word pussy? PUSSY???

    jesus, i can’t go anywhere these days without hearing that damn word.

  24. vodkamom

    great post. p.s.

  25. better safe than sorry

    wow, you’re all over the place today.
    a bowl of oatmeal every morning will help bring your cholesterol down naturally.

  26. sunny

    Fantasy is incredibly free in you

  27. Uncle Miltie

    Greetings from the beyond. Artie and I would love to go to the Dominican diner again. It was during your childhood you were first exposed to Dominican culture. You may not remember, but when I lived in Brooklyn in the 1960’s we always had lots of Dom diplomats over and danced the merengue all night long. Lots of fun. Gorgeous babes. Maybe you repressed these things and all that remains is an attachment and indefinable longing for the Dominican diner. We really miss having good delis and good Chinese here. Thinking of you. Be of good cheer. Miltie and Artie

  28. unfinished rambler

    I did read your post, but I was stuck back on the Mead Composition book. I use them all the time and I think that when I write in them, my blog posts are somehow better. I think it’s true for you as well, not that you don’t already write wonderful blog posts.

  29. katie

    And now the Mead Compostion Book is blessedly full.

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