the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: change

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.


You might not think it is a big deal that I changed my template today, but those who know me, know the truth. I am neurotic about stuff like this. I created my last template and header on March 7, 2005, my first day of blogging, and it has remained the same ever since. I know this design isn’t the greatest, and I might fiddle with it some more, or even change it completely. But I acted. I am very slow to change, to take action.

I was on my back for three days. Stress had knocked me out. Today was turning into another lousy day. My iphone died. Sophia’s laptop got a virus. The aide staying with Sophia’s FIL is quitting (our second!), leaving us having to find another person we can trust. When I finally stood up from the bed and stretched my back, I felt a lot better, but creaky, like the Tin Man. But no Wizard of Oz for me. I wanted to take action, on my own. I wasn’t sure in what way. I thought of deleting Twitter. But that would be a cop-out — a negative action, not one about change, tinged with the flames of creativity, dusted with the grains of confidence.

“I’m gonna fucking change my blog template today after five years of looking at that same header!” I said.

Now onto the next thing.

Chase Manhattan


I’m back in New York.    Wow.    Blank page.    Wait, I didn’t mean that as a metaphor for my life.   I meant an actual blank page that I am writing on.  You see, I’m not ready yet to write anything.   But a great man once said, “Just start writing something and the rest will flow.”  He was an asshole, but others accepted his thought as wisdom, so why not? — I am putting on my writer’s cloak, made in the finest shop in London, and will attempt to write something.

My lack of focus with this post is amusing because earlier today, I was on the phone with Amy about our storytelling session at BlogHer, discussing the agenda, particularly what makes a “good” story.  After typing out an outline about  the  fundamental, engraved-in-stone rules of an effective narrative, handed down by storytelling gurus from campfire to campfire, Irish bar to Irish bar, I now sit down and write this piece of crap, which follows none of the precepts of storytelling.  “Where is the drama?” I ask you.   Or you should be asking me.  You’re the dumb one reading this.

The drama is here, of course, but it is internal.   It is locked away in a safety deposit box, behind a steel gate, in the main branch of the Chase Manhattan of my mind.  You’ll notice how I just wrote, “Chase Manhattan.”  That bank is now gone.  It is now repackaged as “Chase,” and it is a conglomerate of several banks that went under during the past year.    Is there anyone who hasn’t had their bank change hands at least three times in the last ten years?

Even though the marketers have renamed the bank Chase, I still call it Chase Manhattan, because I am used to it, and I am stubborn.  It is comforting to grab onto something from the past and keep it from leaving your consciousness, even if it is a struggle at times, like the tugging of the rope to prevents a colorful hot air balloon from taking off from you backyard, while travelers are inside the basket, hoping to make a journey over the Napa Valley, cursing at you and throwing apples and baguettes from their picnic baskets at your head for delaying their trip, thinking you the most selfish individual in the universe.

You want, you need, to keep the status quo, your history, from flying away.  You yearn for it so badly that you ignore the pain, the feeling of the muscles in your biceps ripping apart as you reach for an unobtainable victory in this one-sided  tug-of-war with the elements.  The future is pushing forward, the balloon is taking off, the heat and fire are burning you scalp, but you want one more taste of the past, a cookie that your mother baked, some comfort food.

Chase Manhattan may be long gone, but fuck it; you’re still going to use the old name, just to be spiteful.  Screw you, name changing bitches and harlots of the world.  And you know what, suckers? — even after Pic-N-Save became Big Lots, I still called it Pic-N-Save.  Until this day, I still say Pic-N-Save, whenever I go into the store to buy cheap energy saving light bulbs to brighten my office with off-color light, stubbornly holding onto a disappearing world like the elderly Brooklyn Dodger fan still blabbing about Ebbets Field.  I hate the name Big Lots.  It sounds repulsive.    Like huge pieces of shit.  “I just made a couple of big lots!”  What kind of name is that for a store?  Pic-N-Save was pure elegance!

I know I am sounding like a grouch, but I don’t care.  At some point, every man has to stomp his sneaker onto the ground and say, that’s enough.  Some things are not going to change, and if they are for everyone else, I will just follow my own army into battle, even if it is a useless, bloody war.

But don’t worry about me.  All of my emotions are locked up in the safe in Chase Manhattan.  I’m mellow as yellow, well-read and well-fed.    These dangerous feelings, unsteady emotions with no place to go, will not come out like a stumbling, hungry Yeti to bother you.  They are in a box, behind a metal gate.

How We Are Doing

Many of you have emailed lately asking, “How are you and Sophia doing being apart?”   I am so glad that you asked.   Although being apart is difficult, it also gives us the opportunity for change — so both of us jumped on the express train to personal transformation.

Sophia has decided to go “LA” blond.

I have decided to become a “NY” raving lunatic who drools all over himself in the subway.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial