the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

My Favorite Shirt

I’ve been anxious and unproductive lately.  I looked up my symptoms — back tension, worry, sleepiness — and apparently I have now overcome my old ailments of codependency, people-pleasing, and OCD to catch something new from that sneezy cashier at the pizza place — Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or as the hipsters call it, GAD.  Why pay for a therapist when you can do it all yourself?

I’d like to blame BlogHer for all this tension.  Buying a ticket to New York for this year’s conference for women (yeah, I know) has  opened a whole box of muscle tension.  How long should I go?  Do I live in NY or LA?   What’s going on with Vartan?  What will happen with Sophia when events change?

In order to prevent a total breakdown, I needed to take quick action.

What action?

It didn’t matter.   I have noticed that when you are doing something pro-active, it takes your mind off of worry.   Isn’t that what I learned in that meditation class?  I’ve already vastly improved my life by changing my blog template for the first time in five years and creating a new ATM password after using the first name of a schoolmate for decades.

What next?

The red shirt.

This is my favorite shirt.  I bought it in college.  Here I am wearing it on MY HONEYMOON!

The sands of time have not treated this shirt well.  The sleeves are ripped and there are stains in the front from the time I spilled a basket of french fries slathered in ketchup on myself in Portland 2006.  Oh, and it is missing a button.

Has there ever been a man who has NOT heard a woman say to him, “I am NOT LEAVING the house if you are wearing that shirt.  The invitation said the party is FORMAL!”

Action.  Enough with the red shirt from college.  I’ve moved on!

P.S. — For the sake of authenticity, let me admit that I created that last line  — “I’ve moved on!” — for dramatic effect.  In reality, after I took the final photo, I removed the shirt from the garbage bin in the kitchen.   It seemed a cruel way to treat an old friend, like tossing your recently passed-away cat out of the window while driving on the 405 Freeway.

Aha moment!  Why not keep the shirt, and use it to dust the house?

Just like I would do with the dead cat.

P.S.S. –  For the sake of authenticity, I would never do that with a dead cat.

P.S.S.S.  — Also, for the sake of authenticity, I have no intention of ever dusting with this shirt.


  1. gorillabuns

    donate it. this is what i do with things i can’t make the decision to get rid of because i feel guilty.

    • Neil

      Bitch. Not the answer I was looking for, Shana. You were supposed to say, “You must never throw out that shirt.”

  2. foolery

    Perhaps a less congested freeway, for cat or shirt?

  3. NeCole

    Sew all the openings shut, fill it with poly-fil and turn it into a pillow. Voila!

    • Neil

      That would be one ugly pillow.

  4. wendy

    you looked happy on your honeymoon.

    ditch the shirt. It’s just a thing. Keep the feelings.

  5. Di

    Jesus, don’t throw it out. If it’s not something you want to do, then don’t do it. Okay?

    Keep it, I wouldn’t mind being seen with you outside the house in it. Perhaps you’re actually a casual-dressing New Zealander.

  6. thordora

    I only just threw my clothes from high school out last year. I understand completely.

  7. pia

    You can’t donate a stained shirt. The most liberating feeling in the world is throwing stained things out. My mother was the most immaculate person I have ever known. However she was blind in her last years. My sister and I threw things down the garbage bin. For once we didn’t worry about being green, giving things away, anything but purging. For the first and last time in a long time we laughed ourselves silly

    If you love it so much and it reminds you of college, great times with Sofia and more, cut a piece off and frame it–maybe with other clothes. Or frame the whole thing–dye it if you want, dye part of it–be creative–go wild!!!

  8. Lisa Rae @ smacksy


  9. Loukia

    You have to believe me when I say: I was going to tell you to cut it up and dust with it! That is exactly what my grandmother does!!! One time I found out she had cut up my most favourite pillowcase to use to dust with. Still makes me sad. 🙁
    Anyway… keep the shirt, then. It doesn’t take up that much room!
    Also, I have GAD for sure, too. My mom told me so. And she knows about these things because she has free flowing anxiety all the time too.

  10. drlori71

    Did you see Toy Story 3? Your shirt is like the toys. Andy outgrew the toys like you’ve outgrown the shirt. The toys got a new owner…do the same for your shirt – donate the shirt to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Then go treat yourself to a new shirt.
    Or you could just tell me to STFU 🙂

  11. amanda

    I once read in a trashy magazine you ought to keep things you love with stains and simply say, “Darn it, I just stained this on my way out today.”

  12. Sybil Law

    I think you should keep it. It’s a woman’s job to quietly and sneakily throw that shit out.

  13. Megan

    Toss it. It will make space for a new, more fabulous red shirt to arrive in your life. Maybe an even more perfect shirt. (I sound exactly like my New Age mom. Sorry. But, as is the case with most moms, even New Age ones, she is often right, even while being annoying. ) New red shirt for BlogHer!

  14. Jack

    Keep the shirt- some things are worth holding onto.

  15. kenju

    Donate it.

    BTW: I love the photo of you two on your honeymoon. You both look so happy! And how pretty Sophia is!

  16. Colleen - Mommy Always Wins

    I say keep the darned thing until it falls apart. But maybe I’m just an enabler that way. 😉

  17. sizzle

    Portland circa 2006, eh? That wouldn’t be the TequilaCon trip would it?

    How about you cut it up and keep a small piece. 😉

  18. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    It matches your pajama pants. I think you should sleep in it. That’s what I do with my stretched out/faded stuff.

    BTW, I love henley shirts. Love, love, love them. I often buy them three at a time. I hardly wear anything else. You can get yourself a new, fabulous, good-quality henley through LL Bean or Eddie Bauer. Their cottons are super soft and their shirts have minimal shrinkage and fading even over the long haul.

  19. alejna

    I also think you should save it as a pajama top, or to wear when you are doing messy projects. Or make rags out of it. No sense in donating it, as I understand that stained and worn items are either thrown away by the organizations that get them, or otherwise scrapped.

    I enjoyed the bit about the dead cat. (Wait, that came out wrong…)

  20. Shelli

    Time for the shirt to go. Not in the garbage though. Maybe the back of the closet.

  21. Dana

    At first I thought you had stuffed yourself in the trash. I was worried.

  22. Jody

    I have a windbreaker from college I can’t throw out or give away. Needless to say I have a few such items. I would never cut them up and make dust rags from these items. I don’t dust. I would never wear these items either – either they don’t fit, are not the style anymore or they just plan look like they are 20+ years old. So what do I do? I hang them in the hall closet so I can see them every once in awhile, and after I have died my relatives can figure out what to do with it all.

    Just so you know, I did save a pocket from an absolutely favorite robe that I had to throw away because it was beyond being much of a robe anymore. But I have the pocket! :>)

  23. edpilolla

    what a great blog you have here. been reading through it. i have a shirt like that too. it disintegrated from getting worn too often.

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