the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Good Year

The year, 2010, started out promising, like the Goodyear blimp rising over the city, a whirring airship ascending slowly and elegantly, graceful in appearance, like a modern dancer.

“Happy New Year,” I screamed at midnight on December 31, drunk on champagne at the party at Joyce’s apartment on the Upper East Side.  It would be a good year!

It is now May.  Hmm… what happened?

I’ve always loved the Goodyear blimp.  “The Spirit of America” is stationed near my home in Redondo Beach, and on weekends, it flies over our home as it heads for the beach or some sports event in Pasadena.   If you are in the bedroom at the right moment, and glance out the bedroom window, you can see the shadow of the blimp covering the outside patio, like a huge umbrella giving shade.

What a joy it must be to pilot such a majestic blimp!   What an aerial view it must be from inside — not cold and distant like the view from a run-of-the-mill commercial airliner, miles above the ground — but close and intimate, only a few helium bursts away,  looking down at the houses below, like toys for the playing.

I started 2010 like a pilot in command of a Goodyear Blimp.   It was going to be a very good year.

But even a good year can be darkened by murky clouds, few pinpoints of light cutting through the gray mist.

It’s been five months since I returned to Los Angeles.  A broken hip of my father-in-law, Vartan, has morphed into one problem after another.  Despite the advice his doctors, his wife, Fanya, refused to put Vartan into an assisted living home.   And who can blame her?  She loves her husband.  But it hasn’t been easy.  Caring is a full time job.

Vartan is in the hospital again, with pneumonia and an infection.   Sophia and her mother are fighting with each other after Fanya fired the full-time aide.   Caring for my FIL has opened old wounds that can’t be fixed at a hospital.

And I’m… well, I’m still around.

Everyone is exhausted.

Today I took Sophia into bed.  Actually, I grabbed her and told her to GET INTO BED.   I told her we both needed to shut up — not talk about anything — and hug.  We hugged and slept for seven hours.

It was nice.  But I could hear the Goodyear blimp flying overhead, still hidden in the clouds.


  1. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    I’ve had years when the shadow stayed on my house and the dimness permeated everything. The only way to escape was to rise above it, but I was tethered. Eventually the grayness drifted away.

    I hope things brighten for you soon…

  2. Heather

    Sometimes a hug can cover a multitude of sins…

  3. Blaiser

    Brother Neil —

    You’re a good man. And I write this even though you put “majestic” and “blimp” in the same sentence.

    Hang tough, and the smog of 2010 will burn off eventually.

  4. Danny

    Nice. I liked your Walter Findlay moment. “MAUDE: SIT!” But if it adds any perspective, I’ve never seen the Goodyear blimp without thinking of the Hindenburg, the Nazi airship that exploded as it tried to dock in New Jersey in 1937. Just sayin.

  5. Vicki

    Nature abhors a vacuum, and nature abhors too much pressure. In any given situation with too much pressure, one of the variables causing pressure somehow goes away, and equilibrium is restored.

  6. Finn

    Things will change, they always do.

  7. Kim @ Beautiful Wreck

    I have asked myself many times what “makes a good year” and it is often the years that were the most trying, the hardest, the saddest that have taught me the most, lead me to greener pastures, and healed something inside of me. The fact that you are in bed with Sophia, embracing one another, sleeping – well – that could be what makes this a good year.

  8. Jack

    2009 was among the worst years I have ever experienced. 2010 seems to be better- hang in there.

  9. Lisa

    Neil…what you did for Sophia is SO SWEET!! Kudos to you!

  10. amanda

    I have no wisdom other than I am glad that in this telling you are pulling close and not pushing away.

  11. Juli Ryan

    I wasn’t going to mention it, but like Danny, I thought of the Hindenburg.

  12. 180|360

    I don’t know exactly where you are headed in this “blimp” ride, but I do agree with Kim @ Beautiful Wreck — the tough years are the ones that make you better, stronger, wiser. And I love the image of you and Sophia quietly snuggled up together. You both need more moments like those.

  13. teahouseblossom

    Sometimes a hug is all you need.

  14. Chris

    I really liked this post, Neil. I hope life softens for you, Sophia and her parents soon. Grab rest [and Sophia] as you’re able.

  15. C...

    That’s rough … but a hug sometimes helps you hang on a bit more.

  16. Nance

    And I’m… well, I’m still around.

    Everyone is exhausted.

    I am hopefully assuming that these two things are unrelated. 😉

    Take care, Neil.

  17. Pumpkin

    Sounds like you are living your life. 🙂 Life isn’t about perfection or reaching all our dreams (or any of them). It is about enjoying the little beautiful moments with the people that matter the most to us that really make it seem perfect at times.

  18. Pumpkin

    BTW, I love your posts.

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