the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: September 2010

Happy Birthday, Tanis!

It’s a story as old as Adam and Eve. A man and woman accidentally bump into each other in a garden. They have no idea who the other is. She calls him a douche. He calls her a “retard.” She lectures him for weeks for being an ignorant asshole. He accuses her of using her “tits” for attention, and insists that Schmutzie should have won as the Best Canadian Blogger, not her. She says he is a “momma’s boy” who needs to get laid, even though she assumes his “dick” is the size of a thimble. He says she is a “small-town girl” who uses a tractor as her main source of transportation. She again insults the size of his dick, and broadcasts it on Twitter. He questions her authenticity, calling her online persona a “fake brand.” She promises to attend his session on writing at BlogHer, but attends the one with the Bloggess instead. He dubs her as the “manipulative popular sob story writer from the boonies who can’t even color her own pubic hair correctly.” She says he is a needy neurotic suck-up to women online. He calls her a flirt, using men’s attention to mask her insecurity.

And then something happens. The man wakes up one day and realizes that this woman he hated the most in the world, his ultimate nemesis, — well, he didn’t really hate her at all. In fact, he LOVED HER! She was real and intelligent and funny and talented and caring, and he “related” to her outlook on life.

I have no idea how it happened, but I have turned to Tanis, the Redneck Mommy, more times this year than I would have hoped, and she was always there with her special humor and wisdom. And I don’t think I’ve ever met a more dedicated mother, wife and friend to others… ever. Just don’t cross her.

Sure, blogging is about writing. And sometimes you get 30,000 views in one day when you write about breastfeeding. But as you can see, it never lasts very long.

It is the people you meet along the way that really matter.

Happy Birthday, Tanis.

By the way, I already saw that Avitable wrote you a birthday post, too. I’m sure Backpacking Dad is next.


The Gratuity

The last time I was in New York City, I went upstate with my two friends, John and Eric, for the sole reason of having dinner at a famous culinary institute.

It was my idea.   John and Eric are self-proclaimed “foodies,” guys who consider going to Zabar’s or Trader Joe’s a “night out on the town.” Whenever I come to New York, we always meet one night and they take me to some hot new restaurant.  This usually means an establishment where the portions are small and the prices are exorbitant.  I’m not much of a drinker, but they are, so by the end of the night, it is not uncommon for two bottles of wine to be consumed, and two bottles of wine at these pricey New York restaurants can cost as much as 1,375 pancakes at IHOP (don’t bother to check. I worked it on the iphone’s calculator.)

This well-known culinary institute is located two hours north of the city. The graduates of the school go on to work in the restaurant, catering, and hospitality fields.  In order to give the students some real life restaurant experience, there are three fine dining establishments right on the school premises – a French restaurant, an Italian restaurant, and an American restaurant.  Each can be very popular at different times of the year, and it is very difficult to get reservations to your first choice of restaurant.  We were lucky enough to get a seating at the French restaurant.

Each of the school’s restaurants is overseen by professional chefs, but the students work in various roles.  A round robin method of teaching ensures that to every student gets a taste of what it is like to work in a restaurant.  One day, a student can be in the kitchen, and the next day he can be a waiter or a busboy.  Because these restaurants are part of a teaching environment, the price for a fine meal here is much less than a comparable restaurant in the city.  It is not inexpensive, but that you can hopefully manage to leave the premises with it costing more than $100 a person.

John drove us upstate in a rented car.   As we pulled up to the culinary institute campus, we quickly noted that the school looked like any other east coast college. There were ivy-covered academic buildings and dorms for the students. The main center where the restaurants were located looked like a student union.   Inside this main building were long hallways and photo displays of famous alumni.  The hallways split into branches, leading to the different restaurants.  From the hallway, everything seemed very “collegiate,” but once you walked through the door to one of the restaurant, and saw the elegant seating, the wine cellar, and the formal maître de, you were transported to a five star restaurant.

Our table was ready at the French restaurant.  There was only one seating per evening. Jackets and ties were required.  I forgot to bring a sports jacket from LA, so I borrowed one of Eric’s tight, ill-fitting tweed jacket, which made me feeling like a very preppy sausage.

Our meal consisted of several courses.  The food was rich, very French, and very good, but to be honest, I have no recollection of what I ordered or ate during the meal.  The truly memorable part of the meal was the service. It was at a level that I had never experienced. Our doting waiter was Carlos, a senior at the school. There were at also three assistants at our beck and call, all wearing black pants and white shirts, who hovered around us like helicopter parents. I’m sure each of these assistant’s positions had a specific name, but I recall them as “the guy who constantly refilled our glasses,” “the guy who brushed the crumbs off of the white tablecloth in between courses,” and “the girl who exchanged our silverware at least seven times.”

We also had a sommelier, who looked all of twenty-one years old, but spoke in that affected, pompous tone of a mini-Tim Gunn.  After the sommelier suggested the best bottle of wine to complement our dishes, we asked him how he learned about wine at an age when most kids are drinking Miller Light.  He replied that he was always fascinated by wine, but doesn’t drink much of it when he goes home. He preferred a “good martini.” I thought this young sommelier was an asshole.

As we enjoyed our meal, John and Eric congratulated me on my excellent idea of coming to this restaurant.  We were getting a lot of food and drink for our buck.  We could eat well, but not be bankrupt for the rest of the month.  When Carlos brought us bottles of the culinary institute’s own “pure well water” when we asked for glasses of water, we politely refused, and requested tap water instead.  I noticed the tinge of disappointment at that moment on Carlos’s face, as if we didn’t deserve to be served by him.

I didn’t feel quite at home in this restaurant.  Although the staff worked hard, the constant attention and attitude was anxiety-producing.  Who were all these young Top Chef-wannabees? Were the students being brainwashed by the school into looking down at their own patrons? Or was this just youthful enthusiasm, much like I sneered at my parents when I was newly-minted freshman in college and, during my Christmas break home, learned that they had never read Plato’s Symposium, or even cared to.

One of the busboys, probably the most down to earth one of the staff,  told us that this was the last meal of the semester, and that they were being graded by their teacher as they served the meal.  We learned that the stern, white haired maître de was also the class teacher.   He carefully watched his class from his position in front of the room, making notes on a tiny notepad. The girl who constantly changed our silverware went from bubbly to pale and frightened as the teacher marked something in his book.  Did she bend over on the wrong side as she exchanged our forks – to the right of each guest, rather than the left? Despite the elegance of the décor and the excellent food, being a guinea pig in a five star culinary laboratory was about as restful as a chaotic Passover Seder at my aunt’s home.

Finally, the bill arrived. As Carlos handed us the billfold containing the bill, he gave a small disclaimer.

“On the bill, there is a 20% gratuity added. It is purely voluntary,” he said.   “The gratuity is not for me, but for our school’s scholarship fund to help other students in need.  If you would rather not leave this gratuity, please tell me, and I will bring the maître de over to take it off the bill.  As for the service, especially my role in your meal, I hope it was all exemplary.”

As Carlos walked away, John, Eric, and I discussed the situation.

“What you think he meant by that statement — “I hope my service was exemplary,” asked Eric.

“I think he wants a tip.” said John.

“A tip for the scholarship fun AND a tip for him?!  We’re not going to give TWO TIPS!” I muttered, my cheapness showing its colors. After all, the whole reason we drove two hours upstate was to save money!

“Neil’s right,” said Eric. “Let’s not give the gratuity to the scholarship fund.”

“I agree,” said John. “You tell him, Neil.”

“Me?!” I shouted, startling the well-heeled couple at the next table. “Me?” I said again, this time in a persistent whisper.

I imagined the entire scenario of what would happen.  I would tell Carlos that we didn’t want to leave a gratuity to the scholarship fund. He would sneer at me and head to the front to fetch the maître de . Heads would turn as the eagle-eyed maître de would leave his perch and strut over to our table.

“Can I help you?” he would ask.

I would be forced to repeat my statement about not wanting to leave a gratuity to the scholarship fund for needy students. An evil grin would form on Carlos’ face as he enjoyed my humiliation. The maitre de would take the billfold and head back to the front to take off the charge. As he walked, he would hold the check in the air, attracting the attention of each patron at every table he passed.  They would all turn towards me, knowing EXACTLY what had just happened.  They would shake their heads in pity and disgust, as if they had just seen me urinate in my wine glass.

“I’m not telling Carlos,” I told my friends. “I get nervous just handing a two-for-one coupon to a server at the Olive Garden. You do it, John.”

John paused for a second and then refused.

“I’m not going to have the maître de walk all the way here in front of everyone to take off the gratuity.”

Clearly, John’s vision of the scenario was similar to my own horrific one.

We all sighed.  We would give the “voluntary” gratuity for the scholarship fund.

“What about Carlos?” asked Eric.

We looked towards the kitchen door.  Carlos was standing there like a statue, his hands folded, waiting, clad in black pants and perfectly ironed white shirt, his chin held high, dreaming of a time when he would own his own restaurant, a day when he could stop acting nice and could openly torment his staff and his customers like an American-born Gordon Ramsey.  As a senior at the culinary institute, this would be the last time serving a meal as a student.  Now he was on his way into the real world.   Would he be a sous chef on Park Avenue or a server at Burger King in Bayonne, New Jersey?  Who knew?

“We have to give him a tip,” said John.  “What kind of message would we be giving him about his future career if we stiffed him on his last meal?”

Eric agreed.   I was the only hold-out.

“He’s a student!” I protested. “This is part of his learning. It’s a school.  Did anyone ever tip you for turning in a well-written English Lit paper on Charles Dickens?”

I was outvoted.

Next week, I’m going to be in New York.  I’m sure I’ll meet up with John and Eric.  We’ll have  dinner at some fancy new restaurant that was written about in the New York Times. I’m sure it will be expensive.  But I doubt it will be half as expensive as our last outing — to the culinary institute two hours away, considering the car rental, the gas, the meal, and the 45% tip.

All Jews, Christians, and Muslims Like to Sing

After a long history of being treated like crap around the world, it is nice that Jews finally feel so comfortable in America.  I can even write about Yom Kippur on Twitter and get knowledgeable responses about fasting from non-Jews in Oklahoma!

Because of this, it was sad to me to read in the newspaper that Muslims don’t feel at “home” in America, even those born in this country. After all, how can you feel safe when you have idiots like that pastor in Florida wanting to burn your holy book?

A little aside: I actually lean more conservative than most of my liberal friends in matters involving the “threat of Islamic extremism.”  It’s probably one of the few areas where I disagree with my progressive friends, a few who would rather blame George W. Bush for 9/11 than religious extremists. I’m sure my commitment to Israel colors my view of the Muslim world. You don’t hear much support for Israel from the Muslim world, or even much of an outcry over the blatant Antisemitism in the Arab media.  Have you ever seen some of the stuff printed in Arab newspapers? While most of us were furious over the Florida pastor, I hardly saw any of my friends make a mention the Seattle cartoonist, Molly Norris, who had to go into hiding over threats to her life after a cartoon of Mohammad. 

I don’t trust extremism in any religion, including my own, and it is condescending to excuse it in other religions.

However, this is America, and I’d like to consider this a special place, a giant newer country where the old country hatreds fade into the background as we all become true Americans — which means sitting around at home watching American Idol on TV and getting fat on processed foods.  We don’t burn holy books in America.  That’s being an asshole. And there’s no reason a group shouldn’t be able to build a house of worship wherever they deem fit.

My grandparents came to this country to escape repression and to be part of a melting pot.   And for the most part, that dream has come true.  I think we should all work towards helping Muslims feel at home in America.  Most foreign-born Muslims came here for the same reason anyone does — to escape repression in their own countries, or to make a better life for their families.

We frequently hear the term Judaeo–Christian tradition, but the concept of “monotheism” — the belief in one God in the Abrahamic religions –  is a triad of religions — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  Islam, one of the most important and powerful religions in the world, deserves the right to be included on this podium.

That said, I want to take a step towards religious unity here in America, doing it the only way I know how to — through laughter, song, and entertainment!

For the last four years, I have been the impresario of the Annual Blogger Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert!  During this December online concert, bloggers like you present videos, audio recordings, and photographs of holiday cheer — including Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs.  It has been a fun way for Christian and Jewish (and atheist!) bloggers to end the year on a festive note.

Things are going to slightly change this year.  The Fifth Annual concert will see a growth in concept, because I noticed on the calendar that on December 7, 2010  it is Al-Hijra, the Islamic New Year!

The Islamic New Year is a cultural event which Muslims observe on the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar. Many Muslims use the day to remember the significance of this month, and the Hijra, or migration, Islamic prophet Muhammad made it to the city now known as Medina. Recently, in many areas of Muslim population, people have begun exchanging cards and gifts on this day.

Although it is a minor holiday in Islam, let’s be honest — so is Hanukkah in Judaism — but that never stopped American Jews from making it a bigger deal to offset the mega-holiday of Christmas.  And just think how this will bring more money in to the Hallmark company with newly minted Al-Hijira cards!

So, this year, the fifth annual concert will be renamed –  The 2010 Blogger Christmalhijrahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert.

I realize that there is a dearth of good Islamic Al-Hijra songs, but then again, how many good Hanukkah songs are there?  All the smart Jewish songwriters wrote Christmas songs because that’s where the money is!  Luckily, Faiqa is already on board and knows of at least one good Islamic song for the concert.

Now where else are you going to hear Islamic new year songs, the Driedel song, and Silent Night, Holy Night all in one place?

More information — and the sign up sheet — in November.

Note: My apologies to non-Monotheist religions. We still love you, but you will need to create your own concert.

The Inconsiderate Breastfeeding Woman

I’m writing this as a quick post in a local coffee shop because I’ve always wanted to get involved in one of those “breastfeeding in public” blogging debates, but I never felt qualified. I’m not a woman, and I rarely encounter women who I don’t know breastfeeding. But RIGHT NOW, at this very instance, as I type these words, there is a woman breastfeeding her baby in the coffee shop, no more than two feet from me. I am facing her. If I peer over the top of the laptop, this mother and child are right there… in my face. The mother is using some sort of paisley shawl covering her breast-feeding baby, but I think I got a teeny-tiny glimpse of something — not sure if it is her full breast or a white coffee mug.

Now, the question remains — as a full-blooded man — how am I dealing with this situation? Can I concentrate on my work? Am I distracted by this PDOBF (public display of breastfeeding)?

If I can be honest, I am finding this experience extremely unsettling, and I cannot look away. The problem is less the baby or the breast, but the bagel and cream cheese sitting on the woman’s table. Feeding the baby seems to require both of her hands — one to hold the baby and the other the shawl. Because breast-feeding is a two-hand operation, she is unable to eat her own bagel! So her bagel sits on a white plate, on the table, just waiting.

I stare at that bagel and cream cheese. I ogle it. Will she ever get a chance to eat it? She’s been feeding her baby for ten minutes already. How much does this baby need? The bagel is an “everything” bagel – the last one left at the front counter. I probably could swipe that bagel and run, and she would be unable to stop me, seeing that she is stuck with a baby at her breast. And hopefully, she would have postpartum depression, so she would be too depressed to chase me down the block.

This is all very uncomfortable. Please, women. If you ARE going to breastfeed in public, do not order your bagels with cream cheese until you’re FINISHED feeding your baby. I understand you have “rights” to do what you want, but when I think about those two round, juicy mounds of goodness, I can’t control myself. I want them in my mouth NOW! I’m sorry to sound crude, but bagels with cream cheese are meant to be eaten and enjoyed, not displayed for everyone to see, tempting the weak. Be considerate!

Now I’m stuck having to order a plain bagel.


About two weeks ago, I wrote a post, and as the cursor hovered over the publish button, I decided against pressing it.   Instead, I picked five bloggers out of the proverbial hat, individuals who I thought could relate to the sentiments in the writing, and emailed them the post.  It was if I wrote a blog post for an audience of five.  They all emailed me back with “comments.”

It was nice.

I’ve been thinking about this today.  Writing to five people, and getting their undivided attention was in many ways MORE satisfying (and also more scary) than publishing online.  Question to self:  “If I was able to blog in this manner every day, emailing to five people you trust, could I comfortably close down my blog, stop ranting on Twitter all day, delete Facebook, and avoid Flickr?”  And my answer was surprisingly — yes.

But don’t worry.  It ain’t happening.  This is all theoretical.

Still, my answer disturbs me.  As a writer, I supposedly to want to communicate my ideas and feelings — and my words — to as large an audience as possible.  Isn’t this what ambition dictates?

I appreciate my readers, and love getting attention from others, so maybe I’m just bullshitting myself.  It was fun to go to BlogHer and be recognized because of my avatar.   I do link my posts on Twitter and Facebook so I can get readers.  I do get pissy when no one comments on a post that I like.  So why should five people reading my work feel as satisfying as ten thousand people?  Or is it?  Am I talking about two different things?  Relationships vs. audience?

Perhaps this is the importance of becoming — that hated expression I seem to be obsessed with — a “brand.”  Being a brand means you separate yourself from your work, so your writing can be a product, the equivalent of dish detergent being sold on the shelves of the supermarket.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  In some ways, it is essential to making money or having a career with writing.  You don’t go into business to make friends.  Your goal is to push your product to as many as possible, so you can show something tangible for all your work.

And besides, I’m sure these five bloggers would start getting annoyed — even send me a restraining order — if I sent them a personal email every single day.

My African-American Friend


“Derrick?  This is Neil.”

“Well, this is a surprise.”

“Listen, I know we haven’t spoken in a long time.”

“I’m not apologizing.”

“I know.  I know.  It was my fault.  It’s OK that you went to Jennifer’s party and didn’t tell me about it.  I don’t want to lose your friendship over something stupid.”

“Well, thank you.  I’m glad to hear that our friendship means something to you.”

“It does.  I’m a firm believer in diversity and whenever I have a heated conversation about race relations, I like to say that “some of my best friends are African-American.” And yesterday, I was online arguing with this woman about the lack of diversity in the parenting blogging community, and I was about to say, “Some of my best friends…” when I realized that YOU were my ONLY best friend who was black, and since we weren’t talking, I couldn’t honestly say that “some of my best friends are African-American” anymore because I am all about authenticity. And that hurt.  It also makes me look bad not have a black best friend.

“So, are you saying that you want to become friends again, so you can tell others that “some of your best friends are African-American?”

“Well, it’s not the only reason.  But the main one.  Is there a problem with that?”

“That is disgusting.  Is this what the entire civil rights movement means to you?  Just so you can prove your liberal credentials to your lily-white ass friends by trotting me out like… some… some… accordian playing monkey?”

“I would never call you a monkey.  That would be racist.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I mean that your roots are in Africa.”


“So, I mean you have some sort of psychic connection to the jungle.”

“I’m from Queens.  I’ve never been hiking.  Who wants to go to the f*cking jungle?  How would you like if I called you a kike?”

“Are you calling me a kike?”

“Yeah, maybe I am!”

“What exactly is a kike?”

“I have no idea.”

“When I first heard that word, I thought it was “kite.”  Which was odd.  Why would you call a Jew a kite?   You rarely see Jews flying kites.”

“That’s not true.  Remember we flew kites once at Jones Beach.”

“That’s true.”

“We were terrible.  We had to ask that old guy to show us how to fly a kite.”

“So, are we friends again?”

“I don’t know.”

“You need me.  As much as I need you.  Without me, you can’t say that “some of your best friends are Jewish.”

“That’s not true.  Half of my friends are Jewish.”

“They are?”

“I work at school in the Upper West Side!”

“I forgot.”

“Am I really your only black friend?”

“Well, right now you are.  No, wait.  There is this black guy in Redondo Beach.  But I don’t really like him that much.  He’s a little boring.  Always talking about his car.”

“What type of car?”

“1965 Mustang.”


“You wouldn’t like him though.  He doesn’t like the Simpsons.”

“No?  Nah.  I probably wouldn’t like him.”

“Even though he’s black?”

“Even though he’s black.”

“OK.  So where do we stand…?”


“I take that as a yes.”

“OK.  We’re friends again.  You can go tell your white friends that you have a black friend again.”

“Thank you, Derrick!  Nice to have you back, African-American friend!”

Note:  Sigh!  I hate saying this, but just to protect the innocent from overly-literal readers:   Truth Quotient:  4%

Rosh Hashanah 5771

I cast my sins in the guise of bread, something so simple, so fundamental to life.

Bread.   I like that.

As it says in the Bible, “Within every bagel, there are too many carbs.  Within every good person there is sin.”

Let the birds fly away.  May 5777 be a year when the sun sparkles in the Pacific each and every day.

The Tashlich Prayer

Who is a G-d like You,
who pardons iniquity
and forgives transgression
for the remnant of His heritage?
He does not maintain His wrath forever,
for He desires [to do] kindness.
He will again show us mercy,
He will suppress our iniquities;
and You will cast all their sins
into the depths of the sea.
Show faithfulness to Jacob,
kindness to Abraham,
which You have sworn to our fathers
from the days of yore.

More about Rosh Hashanah (from 2007)

The Three Rungs of the Step Ladder

I’ve noticed quite a few of those I follow on Twitter talking about this new book by Chris Guillebeau titled “The Art of Non-Conformity.”  He is an accomplished writer who runs a very popular website dealing with personal development and life planning.

The Art of Non-Conformity (AONC) project chronicles my writing on how to change the world by achieving significant, personal goals while helping others at the same time. In the battle against conventional beliefs, we focus on three areas: Life, Work, and Travel.

The key theme that links each of these topics is nonconformity. I define non-conformity as “a lack of orthodoxy in thoughts or beliefs” or “the refusal to accept established customs, attitudes, or ideas.”

I was curious, so I checked out his blog.

Note: I have not read his book.  I only read a few of his blog posts. But something was already stirring in my head as I read my very first blog post of his, so I thought I would write about it.  It has little bearing on the actual content of this writer’s work.  If you go on Amazon, the book gets fantastic reviews.  I do intent to check it out because so many of my friends are excited by it.

What started my brain cells moving was this post, “The Decision to Be Remarkable,” specifically the opening paragraphs —

re•mark•able [adjective]: worthy of being noticed, especially as being uncommon or extraordinary


If you want to break out of the mold of average, the first thing you need to do is to make a decision to be radically different. Most remarkable people are people of action, and for a good reason: if you don’t take decisive action, nothing will ever change.

But this first step is entirely mental. It calls for a clear decision to rise above the culture of mediocrity. And then, of course, it calls for action.

Right off the bat, I was getting an insight into the mind of the writer.  He was presenting a world of two levels:  average and remarkable.  Imagine a step ladder with two rungs.  On the bottom is the average, stuck in a “culture of mediocrity.”  One step above this is the second rung — those who broke free and are now “radically different.”  These are the ones unchained from the shackles of orthodoxy.

This is not a new approach to selling an idea.  Throughout history, philosophers from Plato to Nietzsche have presented a hierarchical world of blind idiots stuck in the mud and visionaries who broke free after buying some sort of book.   I’ve always wondered why nobody gets insulted from this thesis.  In some ways, the writer/thinker is calling YOU — the potential buyer of the book — a boring, average, loser, schmuck, a monkey stuck in a suburban home with 2 kids and a dog, who can never be original until you follow someone else’s idea.  Perhaps that is what boring people need — to be told that they are mediocre — sort of a tough love to help yahoos to move out of their dull, unimaginative life.

“What the f*ck is neilochka ranting about now?” you might ask.  “This post is terrible.”

I’ll tell you.

I read that passage about conformity and being remarkable several times, and it just wasn’t speaking to me.  And it was bothering me that this popular, inspirational author was causing me to draw a blank.

And then it occurred to me.  He wasn’t writing his blog for me.  This blog was geared for those who considered themselves stuck in the middle, trying to move to another, higher rung in the world.   The vision presented in this scenario was not my own.  His was a two step world of mediocre and remarkable.   Who would want to live in such a world?  Wouldn’t all the remarkable people feel lonely living in a world where 95% of their co-inhabitants are mediocre?  Who cares about “world domination” if you rule over a bunch of morons?

My world view would be more like this — a step ladder with three rungs.

Let’s keep “Remarkable” at the top rung.  Clearly there are some who are born leaders or have a brilliance that makes them exceptional:  Beethoven, George Gershwin, Lou Gehrig, Oprah…”

I wouldn’t be so crude to badmouth the middle rung as “mediocre.”  I would call this rung “normal.”  Hard-working parents who raise happy children have accomplished a wonderful achievement.  It might not get them into People Magazine, but would you really call this “the culture of mediocrity?”  Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur or artist, so why set up a false hierarchy just to make those who read the book feel superior?

I would place myself on the lowest rung.  I’m having trouble giving it a name, so let’s go with “Visionary/Insecure/Weird.” This category is absent in the two rung remarkable/mediocre world.

I don’t consider myself mediocre at all.  I am fascinating.  I love being with myself, even though I am a kvetch.  However, sometimes I WISH I lived a more normal, traditional life, and my mind just relaxed.  I’m a bit of an oddball.  I live in my head.  I don’t need to free my creativity.  My creativity RULES me.  It will one day bring me to my knees or cause me to a nervous breakdown.  It is this insecurity and lack of confidence that puts me in the third rung.

Now many of you will not want to join me on this bottom rung, thinking it the equivalent of living with the homeless.  But those who are in the bottom rung usually have no choice.  If you are on this third rung, you know it.  And you are not ashamed of it.  You see it as a badge of honor.   You are so creative, that reality doesn’t stop us.   You simply turn the world upside down, so the bottom rung is now at the TOP of the step ladder, and the remarkable ones are on the bottom, living silly lives, stuck in a world without whimsy.

The problem is that you are only remarkable in your own mind.  It is hard to get out there and tell the world.  You are not like those on the first rung, shouting out your own name during sex.

I don’t thrive to be remarkable.  I am already remarkable.  The main difference between me and the guy on the top rung is that I’m insecure and uncomfortable with the ways of the world.  Those on the top rung climb mountains.  Those on the bottom rung dream of the mountains, in Technicolor.  Those in the middle rung, the responsible ones, are essential to both.  They buy the books of those on the top rung and assist those on the bottom rung when they are in debt, in jail, or in rehab.

Those on the bottom rung need help refraining their creativity, molding it — so they can better survive in the real world.

What I — and others like me — need is a self-help book for those on the bottom rung.  We want to embrace our unique, bottom-rung remarkableness that is inherent to our souls, powerful, but flighty, even debilitating at times.

We need a book to be more normal, somewhat closer to the second rung, while at the same time maintaining our uniqueness.  I don’t want to “break the rules.”  I want to learn the rules of how things are done.  How do I make a decent living doing what I’m doing?  Who are the people I should be meeting? How do I juggle relationships and work?  How do I love without falling apart?

I need a little more normal.   Not to climb mountains.   I already climb mountains every day in my head.

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