the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

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.


  1. dk

    We love you too Neil,and tomorrow I will fix a door as a valentine’s present, teach my grandson about volunyeerism, enjoy some scrabbling with the ladies I adore and indulge in a food fest with a whack of chums who fill my life with love and laughter. May not be romantic but is love plus 😉

  2. threeboys1mommy

    You’re my favorite Neil… behind Diamond, and Simon, and Rebonowitz my friend from AZ 😉

    Have a Happy Valentines day Neil.

  3. Neil

    Yeah, what happened to Neil Simon, probably the most successful playwright after Shakespeare? Is he so out of fashion?

  4. LVGurl

    Andrew’s birthday is on February 14th, so V-tines sorta takes a backseat (thank goodness — the holiday has always stressed me out!)

  5. Neil

    LVgurl — that must make for some confusion since it is his special day, and supposedly your special day…

  6. Jane

    You’ve fallen to #9 already, which you totally deserve for this happy-snappy, head-in-the-clouds, next-year-we’ll-all-be-in-LOVE post. What the hell is wrong with being alone and single? What’s wrong with saying SCREW the lacy Valentines and the fuzzy-wuzzy bears and the forced romantic obligations? What’s wrong with eating a can of soup over the kitchen sink in our torn underwear and thanking god we don’t have to go through any of that love crap? It’s not like it makes us frikkin’ bitter or anything.

    I’m going to

  7. Jane

    I’m going to, as I was saying, go write a post for SINGLES. Because we still count for something, even on V-Day.

  8. flutter


  9. Neil

    Jane, if you weren’t so into women, I would so ask you out on a date. I think we have chemistry.

  10. Jane

    Misery & Company. That’s our chemistry, Neilochka.

  11. Maura

    I’m a little aggrieved by the rabid anti-Valentine’s Day vibe I’m seeing everywhere but here. I may be in the minority, but I’m glad that you posted this.

    I’m single but I’m not mad about it being a day about love, even if everyone who’s against it rails about how it’s just a phony, commercial holiday.

    What is wrong with setting a aside a day to take time to tell someone you love them? It doesn’t have to be a lover.

    Whether you decide to love yourself, love someone else or just look forward to love, those are positive things. How we manage to turn that upside down and make it negative is beyond me.

    Happy Valentine’s Day, Neil. I hope you have a lovely day, no matter how you spend it.

  12. Neil

    So, thank you, Neil of Glasgow, from Neil of New York.

    You’re most welcome, Neil.

  13. better safe than sorry

    i met my husband on valentines day, many years ago, so it holds something even more special for me.
    happy love day neil.

  14. Hilly

    Self-Love Day isn’t really ANTI Valentine’s Day at all. In fact, I love the fact that others enjoy this day and get all into the pink hearts and chocolate candies. It’s more about learning to love yourself because you can’t love someone else until you truly love yourself.

    I’m not one of those people to whom Maura seems to be referring. I did not start Self-Love Day out of hatred or anger….I started it to be a GOOD thing.

    It doesn’t always have to be one way or the other AND for those people that are lonely and sad today? It offers an alternative to THAT emotion.

  15. Long Story Longer

    I remember the hotline. I say, bring it back!
    Happy VD, Neil.

  16. 180/360

    “Google’s Top Neil’s” will make me smile all day.

    Happy Valentines, my friend. May you find all kinds of love today. XOXO

  17. Annie

    You are my favorite Neil, ever. Happy Valentine’s Day! I have no date, but I am having dinner for all my dateless male friends, seemed like a fun idea…
    Wish you could be here.

  18. Melinda

    I miss that old IM Happy Valentine’s that we did. We should just do that again.

  19. sizzle

    I almost forgot about the hotline! That was fun.

    Damn, I’ve known you a long time.

  20. ingrid

    When I think if SelfLove I really don’t leap to self-acceptance… but ok. In that case, for women V-day would means something else entirely.


    Have a wonderful valentine’s day Neil. You are one in a million in all the best possible ways.


  21. maggie, dammit

    I love you more than any other Neil.

    Even Diamond. (And that’s a big, big love, my friend.)

  22. Beth

    Just saw the movie ‘Namesake’; you should watch and then think about your name.

  23. AnnieH

    “Happy Self Love Day????” It must simply be the sad and sick hospital humor in me, but I am not going anywhere near that line:>)
    Happy Saturday the 14th to you, dear Neilochka. You deserve some happiness today.
    As for Neils…Neil Armstrong is a hero around these parts. How can you not love a man whose birthplace has the musical name of Wapakaneta?? xxxxxooooo

  24. vodkamom

    So are we celebrating it or not? I’m confused.

  25. Neil

    Vodkamom — I say celebrate everything. What is there to lose? More wine and chocolate for everyone, on me!

  26. anymommy

    You’re in my top five Neils, definitely. Glad you had a good vibe about the day.

    I went out with my husband, but had to come home when the sitter got sick. So, now, here we are, with each other and all our little loves.

    Awwww. The rest of you can be sick now.

  27. Diane Mandy

    Ooooh Neil Diamond. It’s a tough call, but I def love you more than him.

  28. nikki

    I used to hate Valentine’s Day but suddenly it just seemed so bitter. So now I try to be thoughtful on that day to my dad (who just turned up in my life after a long absence–it sucks getting old and realizing you’ve really pissed off your kids and now you’re alone and you better try and make them like you again) and my friends and my first love from high school and anyone else who wanders in view and send out lots of gorgeous Valentine’s Day cards. Is that sappy?

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