the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: March 2010

Codependency Test

I found this on Wikipedia, under “codependent” —

Codependents Anonymous offers these patterns and characteristics as a tool to aid in self-evaluation.

Here are my answers.

Denial Patterns:

* I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.

Not really. I am pretty self-aware about my own emotions.

* I minimize, alter or deny how I truly feel.

Not usually.

* I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well being of others.

Oh, my god. It can be painful to worry about others.

Low Self Esteem Patterns:

* I have difficulty making decisions.

Fuck yeah. FUCK YEAH. But I have gotten much better over the years.

* I judge everything I think, say or do harshly, as never “good enough.”

In writing, yes. In life, no. OK, I lied. Yes.

* I am embarrassed to receive recognition and praise or gifts.

I think I have overcome this issue over the years.

* I do not ask others to meet my needs or desires.

Sad, but true. Getting better.

* I value others’ approval of my thinking, feelings and behavior over my own.


* I do not perceive myself as a lovable or worthwhile person.

I am lovable and worthwhile. To myself. Not as confident when I’m with you.

Compliance Patterns:

* I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or others’ anger.


* I am very sensitive to how others are feeling and feel the same.


* I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.

Jumping off a bridge.

* I value others’ opinions and feelings more than my own and am afraid to express differing opinions and feelings of my own.

Not at all. I can actually be quite combative and argumentative.

* I put aside my own interests and hobbies in order to do what others want.


* I accept sex when I want love.

I wish.

Control Patterns:

* I believe most other people are incapable of taking care of themselves.

I worry about that. It is an annoying trait.

* I attempt to convince others of what they “should” think and how they “truly” feel.

I’ll let Sophia answer this.

* I become resentful when others will not let me help them.


* I freely offer others advice and directions without being asked.

Isn’t this good?

* I lavish gifts and favors on those I care about.

Nah. I should do that more.

* I use sex to gain approval and acceptance.

Striking out on sex questions.

* I have to be “needed” in order to have a relationship with others.


(on a second reading, I’m wondering if I am going down the wrong track)

Cheeseburgers in Hospitals

Thanks to everyone who inquired or sent messages and prayers about my in-laws being in the hospital at the same time. It was a very odd and tiring experience. They are both home now. That doesn’t mean that health rules the day for them, just that they aren’t at the hospital.

My FIL is still being attended by a live-in aide.

If you’ve been on Twitter during the last few weeks, you might have heard me praising the cheeseburgers at the Cedars-Sinai cafeteria, recommending that locals even go there for the culinary experience.

I just received my lab results for my yearly check-up. My cholesterol is high DESPITE already taking cholesterol medication. Hmmm… how did that happen?

I better get start controlling my stress better. Now that I know what hospitals are like, I never want to spend time there as a patient.

The Two Towers

On Thursday, I was sleeping at my friend’s house (that is another story, one in which I will avoid discussing at the moment), when I received the Bat signal.


I programmed Sophia’s ringtone as the 1960’s Batman song, because lately her calls mean someone is in trouble.

“Vartan is back in the hospital,” she said.

I wouldn’t say that I was surprised.  Even though we hired an aide, caring for my father-in-law has been difficult, especially as his decline continues.   My mother-in-law, looking ragged from the stress, still refused to place her beloved husband into a nursing home, despite the advice of doctors.

By Saturday, my mother in law was so exhausted, she was unable to visit her husband in the hospital.  I volunteered to watch over my father-in-law during the day.

It was freezing in the room.  They keep these rooms cool to prevent infection.  I wrapped an extra blanket around my shoulders.  My father-in-law was completely out of it, drugged up many times over.

I sat there, bored with listening to the whoosh of oxygen in tubes.   I went on Twitter, chatting with whoever showed up at the time.

That’s when I received the bat signal.   I answered the phone.   It was Sophia.   An ambulance was whisking her mother to the hospital.   She was having trouble breathing.

Husband and wife, both at the same hospital.   This is not that uncommon; I later learned this from one of the nurses.  For the next two hours on Saturday, I ran back and forth between the emergency room and my father-in-law’s room.

I think my mother-in-law will be OK after a few days in the hospital.   In fact, the first thing she said to Sophia when she arrived was to point at me and say something in Russian.   I assumed that she was touting me as a wonderful caretaker.

“What did she say?” I asked Sophia.

“She says you need to comb your hair.  You look like a homeless person!”

That night, I went to sleep at 7PM.

Today is Monday.  I’m currently in the Cedars Sinai Hospital cafeteria eating lunch.  My father in law is on the fifth floor of the North Tower.   My mother-in-law is on the fifth floor of the South Tower.   My father-in-law does not know his wife is so close.    It is probably better that way.

After Birthday Check-Up

Every year, on the day after my birthday, I like to take stock of my life to make sure that everything is running as smoothly as a Swiss watch.

That’s why I made an appointment for this morning to see Doctor Teitelbaum, my family doctor.

“How’s it going with you and Sophia?” he asked as he took my blood pressure.

“Not good at all.”

“I know. I know.”

“How do you know?”

“Sophia already told me when she came in for her checkup two weeks ago.”

“She did?”

Dr. Teitelbaum received a telephone call.

“I’ll be back.” he said, and Emily, Dr. Teitelbaum’s nurse, came in to take my blood.

“And how’s everything, Neil?” Emily asked as she stabbed the needle in my arm. “Any health problems I need to put on the chart?”


“You sure? Any lack of sexual desire?  Difficulty with erections?  Premature ejaculation?   Crying after sex?  Inability to find the clitoris?  Lack of affection?   Bad kissing technique?”

“Uh, no. Everything is fine.  Why?  What did you hear?”

“Just part of the yearly check-up.”

She bandaged me up.

“Thanks, Neil. Regards to Sophia!” she said, as she exited.  “Please tell her to call me when you return to New York.   We wanted to check out that new club in Manhattan Beach!”

Dr. Teitelbaum returned, reading a chart.

“OK, I’m back.   Hmmm….”  he murmered with a worried look on his face.

“Is there a problem.”

“Just reading your blog’s chart. How’s the blog this year? How’s your readership?”

“Oh, it’s great. My readers are terrific.”

“I’m not quite sure about your demographic.”

“What do you see?”

He handed me my blog’s chart.

“Well, according to Quantcast, the professional web tool used to quantify the size and characteristics of those engaged with your digital media. most of your readership consists of poor middle-aged Asian men who make 0-30K year.”

“It is?  It thought most of my readers were MILFs!?”

“No, Neil.  You are imagining that.   Why would they want to read you when they can read Bossy or the Bloggess?  Maybe it is time that you start writing more posts about poor middle-aged Asian men.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“No. Doctor’s orders.”

“OK, OK.”

Dr, Teiltelbaum pulled over his chair and patted me on the knee in a fatherly manner.

“So, Neil. Anything else? Anything else you want to tell me about?”

“I’m feeling pretty good. Solid. Looking forward to my new year of life with a positive attitude.”

“I see. That’s great. But what about the incident with your father-in-law’s dentures?”

“What?!” I shouted. “How did you know about that?”

“The pretty brunette who saw you in the car — just happens to be my patient. The minute she described the scenario, I knew it was you.”

“It was nothing. Really nothing.”

“That’s NOT what she thought. Or her friend who was walking with her.”

“It’s just… been very chaotic lately, with me rushing back and forth between home and my father-in-law’s. When I took those tupperwear containers back home from their home, I didn’t realize that his dentures was in one of the containers. So when Sophia called up, her mother screaming in the background, thinking they were lost, the whole situation made me jumpy. I rushed out of the supermarket, where I was buying milk and orange juice, and ran to the car parked outside, just to make sure I still had the dentures in the car. I was so relived to find them in the glove compartment, but because of my anxiety, I dropped the container out of the open passenger’s side door, the container flipped open on the surface of the parking lot,  and the dentures rolled under the car. I immediately slid under the car to retrieve them, banging my head on the car door.  Then, I sat inside the car again to clean them off using a bottle of water I found in the back seat. I was worrying about his dentures, not the water splashing on the front of my pants.”

“So, are you saying that she and her friend  were MISTAKEN about you giving yourself a blowjob with a pair of dentures and THEN coming in your pants.  They thought you were a pervert!”

“Of course they were wrong. That’s ridiculous.  Sick!”

Dr. Teitelbaum stood, closing my file.

“OK, Neil, everything seems to be the same with you this year. You are in good health. Just one thing….”

Dr. Teitelbaum reached over to grab a bag full of pill samples.

“I am recommending you take these. Every day.  Sometimes twice a day.”

As he handed them over to me —

“Happy Birthday,” he said.

Truth Quotient — 56% – 67% depending on the reading

P.S. — Thanks for all the birthday greetings yesterday!

Fifth Year Blogiversary of Citizen of the Month

Today is my birthday. It is also the fifth anniversary of my blog, as I started Citizen of the Month on March 7, 2005.

While I enjoy my writing here, my greatest achievement with this blog is — getting to know you. I am proud of the weird assortment of people that have found their way here — essayists and photographers, geeks and knitters, religious Jews and Christian daddybloggers, somber artists and humorists, college professors and the unemployed, health fanatics and the heavily medicated, serious businesswomen and women who color their pubic hair blue, the popular and the not popular.

My lack of a niche IS my niche.

My writing was a bit off this year. I’ve had better years. But then again, you didn’t pay me much.

I am hoping for great things during my sixth of blogging… and in my new year of life. Things have been a little dark lately, and I would like to see more sunshine. In fact, I just found this amazing video that is opening my mind to new and exciting ways to further my blog success. I hope you enjoy it as well —

Thanks! xoxo

Dunbar’s Number

If the idea behind this Dunbar’s number is correct, what does this say about the way most of us deal with blogging, social media, community, social status, and online friendship?

(via Wikipedia –)

Dunbar’s number is a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is, and how each person relates to every other person. Proponents assert that numbers larger than this generally require more restrictive rules, laws, and enforced norms to maintain a stable, cohesive group. No precise value has been proposed for Dunbar’s number, but a commonly cited approximation is 150.

Dunbar’s number was first proposed by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who theorized that “this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size … the limit imposed by neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a stable inter-personal relationship can be maintained.” On the periphery, the number also includes past colleagues such as high school friends with whom a person would want to reacquaint themselves if they met again.

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