the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: emotion


A medical degree is not essential.  Just a steady hand and nerves stronger than a mighty oak tree.  Mentally fit as as a steel plank.  But gentle as a whispering dandelion.

Hello, my name is Neil, and these are my ailments —

A butterfly in my stomach, water on the knees, a broken heart, a Charlie horse, and a very funny bone.

Will you be my Specialist?   Pick a card and heal me.   If you can avoid the shock of the electricity, I will kiss you forever.

Sent from my iPhone


I’m overly-emotional today. I wrote four posts, and none of them felt right, so I trashed them. And I’m having one of those “what the f*ck am I doing online?” days that we all have at least once a month.

Here are two photos of me singing karaoke on Saturday night. While I was singing, a woman I didn’t know jumped up and started bumping and grinding against me. You can see the fear in my eyes.

(photos courtesy of Yvonne)



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.

Feeling a Little Blue

Sophia, Flushing

I enjoy getting comments which read “Oh, Neil, that was so funny. You made me morning.” I like them so much, I hate bringing up times when I’m feeling a little down. I’ve only been in New York for one day, and while I should be absolutely joyous, I’m feeling sort of blue. I’m not sure if it is the bleak sky, the cold, or just missing therapy this week. Even seeing my Mom and eating the perfect bagels hasn’t broken me out of the rut.

Bagels, Flushing

My screenplay pitch is still on the backburner while the writer’s strike continues. It is hard convincing yourself that you have the “greatest comedy story ever written” for more than a month before you start having doubts. There are a couple of big expense concerns coming up, and thinking about money makes me anxious.

On Monday, at LAX, we had a hour to kill before our flight, so I watched travelers running around, catching fights. It is big world out there, with so many countries and cities I want to see. Will I get to visit everywhere I want? Will I have the time? The money? Today, I found my old stamp collection in my closet. I had organized all of my international stamps into little envelopes titled France, India, Madagascar, etc. I must have been around ten years old. Some of the countries on the list, mostly African ones, don’t even exist anymore! I’m sure I dreamed of traveling to all of these places one day. Now, I’m less sure of myself. Maybe I won’t ever get to Madagascar after all! And that would be sad. Time is moving too fast.

Time also plays games with the mind. Although my mother had done a great job in redecorating the apartment in the last year, the memory of my father is still strong. Everywhere you look, there is a part of him, from his collection of slides he took in the army or massive collection of ties. His essence is here. While it is nice that his presence is felt, it is sad that he is not here in person.

A familiar view from my old room while lying on the bed

I’m glad Sophia came along to New York. She’s always fun (except for the traveling by plane part where she brings too much luggage). Still, we are theoretically moving closer to the date when I will move out of the house. We both think it would be good to take a break and have some alone time. My therapist didn’t even think it was a good idea to travel to New York together, but what fun would it be without her? Sophia is sleeping right now, and I’m feeling all sorts of emotional ups and downs about our future.


The confusion over our relationship has created problems for my sex life and my dreams are becoming more anxiety-ridden by the day. Last night, I combined all my fears about writing, Hollywood, and sex in to one big stew of bizarre dreaming:

In the dream, I had just spoken to this movie producer on the phone. The writer’s guild strike was still going on, so my pitch was postponed again. I needed to quickly make more money, so I looked in the newspaper. I ended up getting a job with a CSI crime unit. I was hired to be a special “closer.” My daily assignment: I would go down on a female suspect, and from her taste, I would learn all these facts about her. “She’s 32, runs two miles a day, and loves Cheerios,” I would say to the police captain as I lifted my head up from between her thighs. “She’s a graduate of Princeton with a B.A. in Religion and she is lying about hitting her husband over the head with that baseball bat.” My authority was never questioned and this Princeton religious studies graduate was thrown in jail for committing murder. Rather than feeling good about myself, I fretted about my “interrogation.” I had the nagging feeling that I tasted her incorrectly and put the wrong woman behind bars.

After this dream, I woke up with a terrible headache. And now there’s two more weeks without therapy! God help us all.

Tomorrow, we’re going to MOCA, and maybe meeting Tamar of Mining Nuggets for coffee (that is if she’s not afraid of me after hearing about my dream). Email me if you live in New York and know of some cool things going on or restaurants that you love.

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