the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: insecurity (Page 1 of 2)

Trucker Bob from Nashville

I had pre-booked my American Airlines seat for the aisle seat, row 17, seat D.  When I arrived at it, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was seated next to an attractive woman in her thirties in middle seat E. She was reading a fashion magazine, and dressed in a funky blue and white striped cotton dress. I imagined her to be a model travelling to Nashville to star in a country music video.

“I should strike up a conversation with her,” I thought.

This was surely a bright spot in what was the worst scheduled flight of my life – leaving LAX at 11PM, a stopover in Nashville at 4AM, and arriving at LGA at 9AM. American AAdvantage Frequent Flier Program, what has become of you? Was this the only available flight that I can take on the most travelled route in your system, Los Angeles to New York? Did you give away too many free miles, and now, after years of excess, are you punishing your own customers?

I glanced over to see if the woman in seat E was wearing a ring. She was not.

The window seat to her left, seat F, was for now, empty.   Across the center aisle, there were another three seats in the row.  In window seat A was a young college male college student.  In middle seat B, was his girlfriend.   In aisle seat C, directly across from mine, sat a gentleman with a grey beard.

The center aisle was busy with boarding passengers.  An older woman with dyed-red hair appeared from nowhere.

“Are you here alone?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“My husband and I were split up into different rows,” she sputtered, pointing to the bearded gentleman across the center aisle. “There were no seats together,”

The bearded man smiled at me, shyly.

“I have an aisle seat a few rows backs,” continued the wife. “Would you mind if we switched so I can be closer to my husband?  It’s another aisle seat.  It shouldn’t make any difference to you.”

I glanced over at the beautiful woman to my left.  She was reading some article in her fashion magazine about “Pleasing Your Man in Bed.” I did NOT want to move my seat. No, not at all.

The wife hovered over me and I started to cave.

“Let’s be honest,” I thought. “You’re never going to talk to this beautiful woman sitting next to you. What does it really matter where you sit?”

“Fine,” I told the wife. “I’ll switch with you.”

“Thank you so much! You’re so nice!” she said.

I grabbed my black Everlast carry-on bag from overhead, took one more quick glance at the beautiful woman, and retreated to the back of the plane, passing the restless, angry, bitter, sleepy coach travelers, all vainly struggling to shove their too-large carry-ons into the too-small overhead compartments.

It wasn’t until I reached my new seat that I understand my horrible, terrible mistake. I had just traded in my perfect aisle seat next to the hottest woman on the flight for an aisle seat in the back, one row in front of the bathroom. My seatmate was a sweaty, overweight man, barely able to contain his hefty body in his narrow seat.

“How ya doin’?” he asked in a Southern accent. His arm completely extended over the common arm rest and his elbow practically poked me in the ribs.

“I’m Bob!” he said.

Let me be perfectly clear. I don’t believe that larger-sized people should be penalized for their weight, or be forced to pay for two seats on an airplane. No, the villain is the airline industry. Airline seats are designed to fit twelve year old Japanese girls, forcing Americans to buy business class. I’m thin, and I can hardly fit comfortably in my coach seat. And God help me if the person in front of me slides his seat back. Flying coach today is reminiscent of how my poor European immigrant family came to this country by ship in 1917.

Bob was not only a big man. He was a garrulous Southerner, way too friendly for my East Coast self.

“You flying home?” he asked, eating some peanuts he had hidden in his pocket. Bob was about fifty, with thinning black hair and a tiny nose like a rabbit.

“Yeah,” I said, limiting myself to one syllable.

“Me too,” he said. “Just came to LA to attend my Grandma’s birthday party at the nursing home by my sister’s house in Reseda. Of course, my sister said it wasn’t necessary for me to come. But I told her, this is my beloved grandma too! I’m coming faster than a Navy private in a hooker’s hooch!”

I reached into my lime green khakis and took out my iPhone. I made believe that I was sending important messages back to my office. In truth, I was on Twitter, asking for advice on how to survive this flight.

I stood up to stretch, and looked over at my old God-given seat, the one that I had reserved weeks earlier, and was now occupied by the red-haired woman.

There was now a passenger in row 17, seat A, the window seat next to the beautiful woman with the fashion magazine. He was a strong-jawed man with a cowboy hat. He was confidently chatting it up with her. I could hear her laughing.

“I see you’re using one of those new phones,” said Bob, jolting me out of my thoughts. “You should save the battery until the flight.”

“I’ll be OK,” I said.

“Are you sure?” he replied. “I work as a trucker. So recently, I’m driving with my buddy, Duke, who is always playing these games on his phone. One day, he’s playing so much that his battery runs out. And it just happens that on that day, his wife calls him and can’t reach him, so she gets all freaked out, thinking the truck crashed and he got killed. So when we get back home, his wife is waiting for him, and whoa, did she kick his ass that night!”

“Uh, yeah, those mobile games are pretty popular,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“You play these games on the phone?” he asked.

“Not really. I mostly read stuff on the phone.”

“Yeah. I like reading. You ever read “In Cold Blood?”

“No, but I know what it is. I saw the movie.”

“Read the book.”

“I’ll check it out,” I said, hoping that this conversation was reaching the end.

I closed my eyes, and faked that I was asleep. The plane departed LAX.  Bob really fell asleep, his head resting on my shoulder.

“Why am I such a sucker?” I asked myself as we flew over Nevada. “Why did I switch my perfectly good seat for this awful one? Sure, I was being nice. But “nice” is now the biggest insult in the word, according to some article I recently read, worse being called an asshole. At least an asshole “knows what he wants.  Soon, the beautiful woman and the cowboy will be sneaking off back here, into the bathroom together, having mile high sex, and I’ll be hearing it all from my seat!  And if I wasn’t such a fool, that could have been ME!  Instead, I am stuck with… Bob.”

Bob woke up from his nap, drooling on my shirt. He saw that I was awake, and was in a talkative mood.

“Hey, where in Nashville do you live?”

“I live in New York. I’m just stopping over in Nashville.”

“Oh. New York. New York. If you can’t make it there, you can’t make it anywhere. Except it is a bad place to drive a truck.”

I closed my eyes and faked sleeping for a second time.

We landed in Nashville. The moment the light flashed green, I was up, the seatbelt flying open. I grabbed my black Everlast carry-on bag from the overhead compartment.

“See ya, “ I told Bob, and ran like hell, pushing aside old and pregnant women to exit first.

I had ninety minutes to kill in the Nashville airport, so I did a little exploring. It was a nice airport, making LGA look like a Greyhound terminal. It was clean, bright, and country music stars like Randy Travis greeted you on the loudspeaker, suggesting you visit the local tourist spots, like the zoo.

I thought about my experience with Bob on the plane, and how I frequently sabotage my own potential. I was about to attend a blogging conference in a few days. I promised myself not to make the same mistake that I just did on the plane when I attended this conference. I needed to focus on networking with the right people, those who can get me work, success, or advancement, the beautiful and talented artists and entrepreneurs of the world — not the Trucker Bobs of the world, those who offer me nothing but useless conversation, wasting my precious time.   If the beautiful woman on the plane symbolized success and power, Trucker Bob represented despair.

There was an announcement on the speaker system, interrupting Shania Twain talking about Nashville’s famous music clubs. It was a voice from American Airlines.

“Would the passenger who just flew in from Los Angeles, flight 17, and who has the black Everlast carry-on bag, please come to Gate 2. You have the wrong bag.”

I looked down at my bag. This WAS my bag. Or at least I thought so, until I opened it. Inside, I found an assortment of XL tank-tops, dirty crew socks, a razor, and a copy of “In Cold Blood.”

When I arrived at Gate 2, I saw Bob standing with an American Airlines attendant. I handed him his bag.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, blushing, worried that Bob would think I stole his bag. “Who would guess that we would have identical carry-on bags?”

“No problem,” he laughed, smiling goofily. “Honest mistake.”

The attendant said my bag was already in the lost and found. I should wait there while she retrieved my bag. Bob remained behind, standing at my side.

“You don’t have to wait for me,” I told Bob.

“No problem,” he said. “I just want to make sure you get your bag, like I got mine.”

“Thank you,” I replied.

“It’s such a weird mistake,” I said, trying to be friendly.

“Yeah, like one of those Alfred Hitchcock films where there are switched suitcases, and one of them is from a spy.”

“Exactly!” I laughed, surprised that Bob knew that reference. “Do you like Hitchcock films?”

“Of course,” he said, and told me his favorites. “Rear Window. Strangers on a Train. Psycho.”

“Which is the movie with the mixed up suitcases?” I asked, not remembering.

“North by Northwest?” he asked.

“No, definitely not,” I said. “I’m not even sure it happened in a Hitchcock film. Maybe we are thinking of Charade, which wasn’t by Hitchcock.”


I glanced at the overhead clock to make sure I was doing OK with time. I still had 45 minutes.

“Hey, you want to grab a cup of coffee and apple fritter before you take off for New York?” asked Bob. “I know a good place in the terminal.”


Bob and I went to have a cup of coffee and apple fritter.

“Why’d you take such a bad flight to New York? Nashville at 4AM?” he asked, munching on his treat.

“Stupid American Airlines frequent flier program. This was the only flight I can get.”

He understood. It was the same reason he was taking the flight.

“I can’t believe how bad American Airlines has become,” said Bob. “They used to be the best!”

“The reason I still fly American is that my father would ONLY take American Airlines when he flew. He thought they were a class act.”

“Mine too!”

“We’re American Airlines…. Doing what we do best.”

We both sang the long-running commercial jingle from American Airlines. We laughed. We bonded by mocking American Airlines, and how far they’ve fallen, suggesting that their only hope was to be bought by some Chinese airline. We talked about our fathers. I learned that Bob was divorced in 2000. I promised him that I would read “In Cold Blood.” I showed him how to use Twitter.

It was the best forty-five minutes I’ve ever had in the Nashville airport.

Anxiety Friday – It’s Your Turn!

Off to Las Vegas for the weekend, so my Friday post is early. I’m meeting some bloggers, which always causes me some anxiety. But why should I be the one always talking about my insecurity and self-esteem problems? I’m curious to learn about your main anxieties about being a blogger. Pick the one neurotic obsession that best fits you — the statement that best explains why blogging is an unhappy place for you at times, rather than a joy. Have fun, suckers!

1) My writing is not as good as other bloggers.

2) I don’t get as many comments as other people.

3) I am not included in the name-dropping and lists of all the “cool” bloggers who everyone seems to know.

4) I really like and respect the work of some blogger, and comment all the time on her blog, and this person doesn’t give a shit about me.

5) It is important that I network only with the cool people, even though I feel guilty about ignoring the bloggers who “don’t matter” as much.

6) All my new friends online ARE cool, but my old unpopular friends still bug me, thinking I still want to hang out with them, which I don’t.

7) I never get invited to go on any free cruises, and feel bad that everyone blogs about their great time.

8.) I never get invited to write on any paying sites or Kirtsy books, even those who do are frequently crappy writers.

9) No one ever recommends me on Twitter’s “FollowFriday.”

10) Neilochka has never asked to see me wearing only a bra and glasses.

11) Everyone forms cliques and ignores me.

12) Everyone thinks of me as a mommyblogger, and nothing more substantial.

13) No one thinks of me a true mommyblogger.

14) I can’t be totally honest online about my personal life, because I don’t want my family to read it, so I feel like a fraud.

15) I’m afraid of expressing my feelings about certain subjects on line because I will upset some big blogger, and fear being ostracized by her friends.

16) Trolls.

17) Fear of coming to the conclusion that I am an untalented loser.

Dear Vivian

Dear Vivian,

I have never done this before — written to a blogger who I don’t know personally — but I must tell you how much your last few posts, your series on “Love and Happiness,” has meant to me.   Your words express ideas that have been in my heart for a long time, but have had no tunnel in which to escape and fly away, like a butterfly into the air.  You have shown me that path.  I have always been cynical, but now I realize that if I approach others with love, I will receive love back tenfold!

I loved what you wrote on Tuesday’s post, “Each Face is Beautiful,” — “Whenever I meet someone, hear someone, or read the writing of another individual, it is as if a piece of their wonderful, vibrant soul has surrounded me with a glowing light, and wrapped me warmly like a childhood blanket, and all I want to do is say “Thank You for being YOU and sharing YOU with ME.  I love.  I give love.  I receive love.”

Just beautiful.   As you are as a person.

Sincerely, Neil

Dear Vivian,

As usual, your latest post, “Seeing the World with the Third Eye,” has touched me beyond belief.  From this point on, I will also view the world “with my third eye.”  I will expunge all racism, sexism, and ageism from my life, and love everyone equally.  You are not only a writer, but a teacher.    In my tradition, we call that person a rabbi.

As you can tell from the link on the bottom of the email, I write a blog myself titled “Dispatch from Brooklyn.”   While the quality of my work is a far cry from your profundity, it would be a great honor if you would stop by just once and read my latest post, “Changing My Life.”  You were the muse for these brand-new insights.   I think you will get a big kick out of  reading it!

Sincerely, Neil

Dear Vivian,

Hello from New York City, also known as the Big Apple!   A few days ago, I mentioned that I wrote a post titled “Changing My Life,” which I completely based on the beautiful ideas expressed on your blog.  You are an inspiration.  You are the first blog I read in the morning, and as you must notice, I LOVE to comment on your blog every day.

I know you must be very busy, and I am sure you get emails like this every day from your many fans, but I was hoping that you might read that post I mentioned, or even comment on it.    Have you been trying, and facing some sort of  technical issue with my blog?   I hope there isn’t a problem with any of the new plug-ins.   I recently updated my WordPress template,  and you know how it goes when you update — sometimes it goes all crazy.   I apologize if that is the case.  I’m not the most tech-savvy person in the world.   If you’re having any problems commenting, please email me and I will fix it immediately.   Thanks.

Sincerely, Neil

Dear Vivian,

Hi, there.  Remember me?   How are you doing?  I’m still working on adding some plug-ins to my blog.   Recently, I added a few stats programs.  Do you use one too?   I know looking at your stats too much can drive you crazy, but I figured if I installed Google Analytics, Woompra, Site Meter, Site Counter, WordPress Stats, and StatsForever, I could get a pretty good overview of my readership.  Not that I have a big readership, like YOU, but just for fun!

I’m just curious — you still live in North Carolina, right?  I hear it is beautiful there, in that part of the country.   Hopefully, one day, if I am ever in town, we can go have a cup of coffee and gossip about blogging!

Sincerely, Neil

P.S. – so far, I haven’t seen anyone from North Carolina show up in any of my six stats programs.  Don’t be shy!!

Dear Vivian,

By now, I am sure you have seen my latest post, titled “Vivian is a Hypocritical Bitch.” I hope you realize that this is not a personal attack on your character, but random thoughts on a subject that I find fascinating — blog personality vs. real-life personality.  I consider my blog a fairly accurate representation of who I am in real life.   I do not know you, so I don’t know if you are a nice person or not.  You certainly SEEM super-nice on your blog, where you talk about “the little guy,” “those in need,” and all about love and caring and community.   I was even one of the first to go on Amazon and order your new book “Love and Caring and Community,” but sometimes I wonder if all this “loving” stuff isn’t just… well, a cheap gimmick to sell a book.

Let me ask you a personal question.   Have you ever read my blog?

I DON’T think so.

Again, I know you are busy with the book and all, but you certainly have enough time to read Oprah’s blog.    How do I know this?   Because I’ve seen you on it.  And, surprise, surprise.  Your book is going to be featured on Oprah’s show?  Of course!   That’s why you read her blog, and not the guy who has read your blog every day for the last two years and sent you cookies and that YouTube video of him juggling five oranges on your birthday!   So, that is how it works.  If it helps to sell your book, then you are all OPEN ARMS and ready to french kiss the person.  But if someone is a regular JOE,  then you say, “FUCK YOU.”   OK, I accept that.   I just wish you had been honest with me, or wrote that on your blog header,  so I would have been aware of your narcissistic game plan.   Believe me, I am not the only one who thinks  of you in this way.  You’re a fraud.  A fucking fraud!   And a bitch!”

Sincerely, Neil

Dear Vivian,

Holy shit!  I just got off all six of my stats programs, and my stats are through the roof!  Thank you SOOOO much for mentioning me on Oprah as “that crazy lunatic from Brooklyn.”  Once my blog address was outed on Facebook, I have been swamped with attention.  I even got a call from your literary agent!  I can’t believe my blog is finally getting some attention.  Like they say, the cream does rise to the top if you focus on your writing and perfect it!

Sincerely, Neil

Dear Vivian,

I have not had so much fun in all my life as I did with you during that session at Blogher on “Blogging with Authenticity.”  You can see the recap on my blog!  Everyone loved us!   Did you see what Guy Kawasaki said about us on Twitter?  He called us the “Woodward and Bernstein of Personal Blogging!”  I can’t wait to see you again at the SXSW.

And thank you so much for writing that touching blurb for my book.  “That Crazy Lunatic From Brooklyn” is already selling like hotcakes on Amazon.

You are a true friend.  When I started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing.  I was just writing little posts, navel-gazing self-therapy.  Never in a million years, did I ever expect to connect in such a powerful and intimate way with a peer as brilliant and awe-inspiring as you.    I love you, my dear friend.

Sincerely, Neil


I signed up for his application that emails you when someone “unfollows” you on Twitter.  This means that you immediately learn when a person has decided to refuse to see your brilliant 140-character “tweets” on their timeline, so they will never know how good your roast beef sandwich was at lunch.   In internet terms, it is considered a “diss.”  Like most people on this silly Twitter application, I get followed and unfollowed everyday.  Usually, I am unfollowed by people I don’t “know,” like marketers, sex chat sites, or bloggers who mistakenly thought I was a bigshot and then dumped me immediately when they discovered the truth.  

Yesterday, I received a notification that Gorillabuns “unfollowed” me as a friend on Twitter.  For the life of me,  could not understand why.  Did she quit using Twitter?  No.  I knew that she was seven months pregnant.  Perhaps she has gotten so emotional and irrational, as women tend to do in stressful situations, that she was striking out at random targets.  Believe me, I know how women can get. 

Or was there something else going on?!  I did just write a post about my “date” with Astrogirl this weekend.  Perhaps Gorillabuns was insanely jealous?  Was there some sort of blogosphere “Fatal Attraction” going on?  Has Gorillabuns been harboring a secret love for me all these years?  Can my writing be such an aphrodisiac?  I mean, it isn’t that surprising.  I make myself horny with some of my posts.  And she does live in Oklahoma.  She is probably envious of my glamorous life in New York, while she is stuck there, having her husband drive her to the OBGYN in the old family surrey with the fringe on top.  (dear reader:  if you don’t get this reference, you don’t deserve to be reading this blog).

Anyway, what is the point of this post?  Is he writing about blogging and Twitter again?  Doesn’t this dude have a REAL life?

Well, actually — no.    But I am finding that the virtual world is helping me overcome some issues that will hopefully transfer into the real world.  Like how I deal with social situations like this.

Normally, I would have sulked for an hour after someone like Gorillabuns “unfollowed” me.  I would assume that I did something wrong.  But in this case — it made no sense.  I’ve never had an unpleasant word with her.  I even told her she looked “hot” as a pregant woman, and all pregnant women love to hear that!

So, I emailed her.  I asked her why she unfollowed me.  I told her that I was just curious, so maybe I could make amends.

But there is a twist to this saga.  Within minutes of sending the message to Gorillabuns, I received a whole rash of emails from this Twitter “unfollow” application.  Fifty other bloggers had just unfollowed me, including some “friends.”  What the hell was going on?  Had Sophia started up a “revenge” blog, telling the world about her nickname for me, “the  Twenty-Three Second Man.”  Had X been sending around that “photo” I made on that lonely, lonely night to all her blog friends?  Or was it worse — were others under the impression that I was voting for McCain? 

Eventually, I figured out that this “unfollow” application had gone as crazy as HAL in “2001” and was just sending me random and WRONG information.  I quickly dumped the application and apologized to Gorillabuns for accusing her of treason (although now she really thinks I’m unstable and has sent me a restraining order from getting 100 feet from her home).    But at least she is still following me on Twitter!

Even though the whole event was a mistake, I think I deserve some kudos.  Do you know how brave of me it was to email Gorillabuns?  I would have never done that before.  I would have been too afraid of losing face… or learning the truth.

In the real world, has a friend or aquaintance ever thrown a party and NOT invited you?  What do you usually do?  Do you keep it to yourself and feel left out?  Or do you ask your friend, “Hey, what’s up?”  Maybe there is an issue that you don’t know about, or a conflict between you and another friend.

If I ever unfollow you, or don’t respond to a comment, or do something that confuses you — don’t be shy about asking me.   If the farmer and the cowman can be friends, why shouldn’t we communicate honestly?  (now do you get the reference?)

Note:  My latest green post is up on Filter for Good:  A Tree Should Grow in Queens

A One Day Break From Arrogance

I miss Brenda, my friendly therapist in Los Angeles, the one with the nice legs. During our last meeting, I told her I was going to New York for a few month. I was embarrassed to tell her this, fearing that she would consider it a cop-out, that I was running away from my problems rather than solving it. Instead, she surprised me and said it showed great progress.

“You’re taking action. It doesn’t matter what action. It could be an action that backfires. But it is better than doing nothing.”

My last two posts have been all about action. The purpose? I have no idea! The concept of publicly announcing my blog as the greatest blog ever created was so outlandish to me — almost sinful — that I became tremendously horny after publishing it. I’ve always hated those obnoxious blatantly-promotional blog badges, so placing one my blog was the equivalent of bungie jumping off of of Mount Rushmore, and I felt the adrenaline rush in the most obvious of places.

That said, I am a little worried that I am boring you. I seem to be writing a lot about blogging rather than real life. But let me assure you, if you read between the lines, this has anything to do with blogging. It is just easier to take action in the virtual world before attempting the same in the real world.

So, I took some action. I said my blog was the best blog ever created. I didn’t die from my hubris. The world is not all black and white, where every decision is monumental and forever. Recently, I even mentioned the word “divorce” with Sophia. But I said it in a clever, loving way. I said, “What is the worst thing that can happen? If we wanted to get married again, we could! Didn’t Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton get married and divorced eleven times?!” By presenting it in this manner, it defused some of the tension. We haven’t done anything, and it isn’t on the agenda right now, but it felt good to take some “action.”

OK, enough with real life. Back to blogging. I never liked guest posts. Two months ago, I had some guest posters write on my blog, randomly picked. They were terrific and I survived giving up some control. I never wanted to write for another blog. I started writing for another blog, for money — one that is corporate sponsored. Two days ago, I displayed a badge for a blogging contest, even later adding the actual link, after a blogger called me out for being a wimp.

But my biggest online nemesis remains: yes, advertising. That is my dragon. For years. I’ve written so much about this issue that other bloggers have started to make fun of me, like Rattling the Kettle.

I told Jennifer from Thursday Drive my plan.

“What’s the big deal? I can try advertising for one month and if I don’t like it, I can dump it.”

“Sounds good.” she said.

“It’s no big deal. I used to be against it for symbolic reasons. Bloggers would say they “deserve” to get paid for entertaining their readers. That statement made me sick. We’re all entertaining each other, like a barter system. If anything, I should be paying YOU for coming here and enhancing my blog posts with your comments. But enough. I’m done with this hang-up. It is time to take some action!”

At that point, Jennifer fell asleep on the other end, tried of me always IM-ing her and talking endlessly about myself. But it didn’t matter. I was ready for Healthy Arrogance, Day 3: Advertising and Money!

But then my brain started playing games. I felt a pain in my side and I had to lie down. I felt dizzy. My arrogance was slipping away. I know it is ridiculous. I know this all my seem very silly to most decent citizens. Whatever I decide, I don’t want the fear — and psychological angst — to make the decision for me. I want to decide myself — and take action one way or another, like I want to do with other things in my life. New York or Los Angeles? Married or not? Crest or Colgate? Advertising or not? It’s time to make a stand and overcome this. And not be so wishy-washy about the reasons.

Uh, I’m not ready yet for this decision. I need one more day.

A Sh***y Post

For the first time in a very long time, I spent a good hour just looking at a blank screen.  I was thinking about why you come here to this blog.  I figure you come here because you like something about the writing.  Maybe I commented on your blog at some time, and then you commented on mine, and before you know it, we assumed we knew each other. 

There is a dark side to this.  If I start writing boring stuff, you will probably go away.  After a whole bunch of tedious posts — say, about my fingernails — only my mother would be left reading this blog.  My mother would not abandon me.  She would keep reading the blog no matter what.  That’s what mothers do. 

Sometimes, I’m afraid of writing something shitty.  I’m worried that you will drop me like a hot potato.  After all, there are plenty of other blogs out there.

It would be cool to write something really shitty.  I think I would enjoy writing something really shitty once a week.  Should I tell you in the tags or beforehand, so you know when I KNOW the post is conceived as shitty, opposed to when it just comes out shitty by poor planning or distraction?

For instance, this is a pretty shitty post.  I know it.  It is not an accident.  I enjoyed writing this shitty post.  I’m writing it on Notepad.  I can delete it or I can copy it and publish it on my blog so you can read it.  The question remains:  Why would you want to read it? 

I have no idea. 

No, that’s a lie.  I actually do.  I think I would enjoy reading it if YOU wrote it.  But I’m odd in that way.

A few days ago, some blogger wrote a comment where she said, “I love you, Neil.”  I took this nice comment as meaning that the person liked the current post, or that something in my writing connected with that person.  I know the person doesn’t REALLY love me. I’ve had this lovin’ feeling myself at times.  On my last count, I have been in serious love with seven female bloggers over the years, and three male bloggers.  These are bloggers who I have grown attached to in the most unhealthy of ways — caring about them way beyond normality, crying when they write about being miserable, laughing when they are happy, worried when they don’t blog, mad when they didn’t comment. 

I usually fall in love with a blogger because of her writing.   And then she writes something shitty, and the magic is gone. 

But gradually, I learn to respect her in a healthier manner, as I see that her writing that shitty post was important for her to write.  It reminded her that her writing is her own — and not others — and that if she wants to write something shitty, she should do it, confident that even if everyone thought she sucked, her mother would still read her blog.

Beyonce in The Coffee Bean

Beyonce Says: Call me, Neilochka!

You’re not going to believe this. Remember a few days ago, I wrote a post saying how insecure women were, and I said that since I am a male, I’m more confident than you. I gave you the example of how I was watching Beyonce on the Grammy Awards, and saying to myself that if the circumstances were right, I could totally woo her.

You’re not going to believe this, but RIGHT NOW I’m sitting in a Coffee Bean on Sunset Boulevard, and Beyonce (note: accept this as a fact at your own risk) just walked in!

She is more beautiful in person than on TV or the movies.

She is by herself, dressed in lavender velvety pants and a light leather jacket. She is sitting at the table next to me. She is carry a paperback copy of “Eat, Pray, Love.”

She just looked at me! She smiled at me. This is my chance. How many more opportunities am I going to get to woo Beyonce?

I’m playing solitare now, trying to come up with perfect opening line.

There are some completed interviews that I haven’t added to the list yet. Let me do that first, then say hello to Beyonce. I don’t want to seem rude to people online.

As you probably have figured out by now, I’m probably going to be moving out of Redondo Beach soon. Sophia and I have both been under too much stress. I think it is the best thing for both of us. If anyone has any leads on rentals here in LA, send me an email.

I probably should be looking for a place rather than sitting here at the Coffee Bean, even if I have lucked out by sitting next to Beyonce.

I wonder if I could live with Beyonce? I bet she has a nice place. I could be her friend/roommate/lover/personal blogger.

I’m on Wikipedia, looking up Beyonce. It says she is from Houston. I bet you she’s been to the Nasa Space Center in Houston on a school trip.

What if I accidentally drop my coffee on the floor and then say laughing, “Houston, we have a problem.” She’ll laugh, too, thinking me very witty and a “soul mate.” And then we’ll start talking about the Johnson Space Center, and I then I can tell her about this science report I once did about Skylab. She’ll find that interesting… coming from Houston.

Doesn’t that big Chinese guy play for Houston?

Sophia’s calling. The toilet won’t flush. Damn, I gotta go fix it!

I could have totally wooed Beyonce.

Next time.

Truth Quotient for gullible Ms. Sizzle: 32% — actually in Coffee Bean, played solitaire, spilled coffee, looked up Beyonce in Wikipedia, did report on Skylab, moving out, toilet won’t flush (actual Beyonce not included)

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Live-Blogging the 1987 Academy Awards

A Little Anorexia is Hot


I’m beginning to think that magazines intentionally choose articles to make their readers feel insecure, buy their magazine, and eat up the products advertised in the current issue. (I’m sure some blogs do the same thing)

A few days ago, I mentioned the Details magazine article which theorized that man’s happiness is directly related to the size of his member.  Of course, since most of us never reach that nine inch status, we need to compensate by buying Axe cologne or a sports car.

It’s all pretty ridiculous.  First of all, most men keep their private parts hidden in their pants until the third date, so no women really knows what’s up (other than in the Middle Ages – Renaissance when men tried to fool everyone with codpieces).  In modern times, men use this “dating” process for their own purposes, suckering the always emotional woman into overlooking any other issues with the male body, as they “fall” for you.

Joking, uh… ha ha.

Women have it tougher than men.  Men do judge women by how they look.  But — I’m not sure they do as much as you think.  Different men like all different types of women.   Some like all women!  Despite what men talk about when they are drinking beer in Hooters, a woman with a good sense of humor is much sexier than a pair of fake boobs.  Not that men don’t like boobs.  That is a given.  I just think that women’s magazines go overboard in setting up a feminine “ideal” that is not essential to being attractive to men.   Perhaps women are forced into all this more from peer pressure of other women!  And unlike men’s magazines, women’s magazines don’t give a woman an out– our culture doesn’t say that a woman owning a sportscar can ever compensate for a woman’s physical “faults.”    Instead women have to buy, buy, buy beauty supplies and diet, diet, diet. 

I’m pretty insecure about myself, but I’m surprised how confident I sound when I IM with some of my female blogging friends!  I’m about as dorky as they come, but even I don’t think it impossible for me to be with any woman I wanted to — if the situation was right.  When I was watching the Grammy Awards last week, I was thinking about this exact thing when Beyonce was singing.  Now that is one beautiful, talented successful woman!  And I was sitting there thinking — “You know what.  If circumstances were different, and we were in the same social circle, and I had a little more money, and if we had something to talk about, I bet you I could woo Beyonce.”  Do you find that crazy?  I think most men wouldn’t.  This is why some men come off as cocky — because even I — the most insecure person you’ll meet — have this insane, unrealistic male ego.  Do I think I will ever date Beyonce?  Of course not.  But in my mind… it is possible.

Do women think they could be dating Brad Pitt if things were different?  I think it is harder for women to have these crazy thoughts, because the media is harder on your psyche.  Our culture makes you feel that you aren’t worthy of being considered attractive if your body shape isn’t a certain type.  This is not a new discussion, either on blogs or on Citizen of the Month. 

I can hear the thoughts already.  “Brad Pitt would never want me because I’m a size 12!  Maybe if I lost weight.  I really should go to the gym… today.” 

You would think that women’s magazines would be “with the times,” advocating the sexiness of real women, like in those Dove ads.   You can be sexy being thin and athletic.  You can be sexy being full-figured with a squeezeable ass.  So, I was surprised to hear about this article in March’s Elle magazine, written by Amanda Fortini, which touts the idea that “men prefer anorexic women.”  Huh?  Is that really true?  Is this the same research company that came up with the results that Hung = Happiness?  Or is this written in the magazine solely to make women feel insecure and renew their subscription to Elle?

From the article (via Jezebel):

“Many men, I quickly learned, really do like frighteningly lean women, whatever they may claim to the controversy. As an average, medium-size young woman, I was unremarkable, innocuous. As a skinny slip of a thing, I was something of a sensation. In restaurants and at parties, men flirted at me extravagantly.” Men in media and literary circles hit on her frequently and audaciously, (one of them with the awesome line, “You remind me of a heroine from a Joan Didion novel.” (You know, “all bones and big eyes.”) “As a male friend once put it to me, semifacetiously,” she writes, ‘A little anorexia is hot.'” 

P.S. — Let’s keep an anorexia count on for tonight’s Oscars!  At least it will make the always boring show interesting…

More on the Last Post


Therapy was very emotional this week.  I didn’t cry, but I almost did. We weren’t even talking about anything significant.  I was explaining to her about some writing project.  I was having some trouble with the plot. It was difficult to concentrate in the therapist’s office.  She was wearing a pretty dress, and she had sexy legs, and I felt almost too comfortable sitting calmly with a centered human being who was listening to me and was saying that it was OK for me to feel anxious about certain things.  It all felt very intimate and spiritual, and I had quick glimpses in my mind of taking the therapist on the couch, but in a nice, loving way, to thank her for being so kind.  I know I write these sex thoughts too much on this blog, but I’m only trying to be honest here.  These were not sordid thoughts.  These were nice and innocent thoughts.

I took a breath and almost cried.

“What are you thinking?”

“I just feel emotional.”

“Emotional, in what way?”

“I can’t explain it. I feel something overwhelming, but I don’t know what it is.  But it also makes me laugh, because I’m sitting in a therapist’s office, and I’ve seen this movie so many times, and I’m stepping away from myself and watching this scene, knowing that if this was a bad movie, I would break down now and remember how my mother used to hit me with metal hangers.”

“Did something ever happen with your mother?”

I laughed.

“Nah.  Those metal hangers were precious in our house for hanging up clothes.  But I had my mother on the phone before as I was driving to the supermarket, and I said I would call her back in two minutes, and that was four hours ago.  I need to remember to call her back.”

(sorry, Mom. I’ll call you tomorrow)

QUICK CUT to new topic:

I had no intention to write about therapy.  I wanted to discuss my last post.  I read it over and it seemed too jokey.  There was a reason for posting it, which has nothing to do with Blog Awards, even though I titled it Blog Awards.  It has to do with insecurity, something we all have in differing degrees.

The seeds to the post grew from an email I received a month ago.  I never responded to it, because I wasn’t sure how to answer, but I kept the message on a notepad on my desktop, waiting for a inspirational way to reply.

Here it is.   I hope the author doesn’t mind.

Good morning! Neil!

How are you?

I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for the past year – and I was delighted that you had my link on your blogroll…. but suddenly it’s not there anymore? Is there some reason why?

I had your link a while ago… and then moved it to another category. After I realized I was replaced by other fancier blogs on your blogroll… I guess I was jealous and removed yours as well… I want to apologize for acting so juvenile. I would greatly appreciate a critique of how my blog had failed to engage you. Please be gentle.

It would be easy to chuckle at the silliness of this writer’s email, but, in all honesty, I find this person brave for sending it to me.   At first I did laugh.  A critique?  Fancier blogs?  Does this writer actually think that I have a game plan here on Citizen of the Month?

Surprisingly, the email moved me.  It makes me feel emotional, much as I did in the therapist’s office — except for the sexy legs part, of course. We’re all so insecure about so many unimportant things. I know I can be.   Maybe not so much about blogging, but certainly with other parts of my life.

I’ll try to be more thoughtful of the feelings of others.



Sophia and I went to a party in Malibu, where we met this woman who was telling us how her husband had just bought his seventh car. Sophia asked if he traded in his car every year, thinking that he was on his seventh car since moving to Los Angeles. No — this was his SEVENTH CAR.   I felt a little uncomfortable the rest of the night as they talked about real estate and their trip to Norway.  You didn’t have to be a psychic to know that the four of us probably wouldn’t be hanging out too much together, simply because of the differences in wealth.

We’re not poor, but we’re not rich, and for some reason, I’ve always noticed that it is difficult to hang out in social circles where others are very richer or poorer than you, just because your lifestyles tend to be different. This is something none of us dare talk about — that money can separate us more than color or religion or age.

Yesterday, I made fun of the categories that the blogosphere puts us in — mommybloggers, etc. But if all the mommybloggers met in a room together, they would less separate into groups of color or age than groups based on income, where the wealthy group would chat about the hippest new stroller and getting their child into the “right” pre-school while the middle-class group would complain about health care.

That’s just life.

I don’t begrudge the guy from Malibu for having his seven cars. It’s actually pretty cool, and I’m sure he worked hard to get where he is. Even though I felt a little insecure talking with him, I can’t say that he was “better” than me. After all, I run a successful blog and he doesn’t. Still, it made me sad to think that our friendship had barriers to it based on money. Growing up, I understood the importance of money in enjoying life, but I never quite realized how much of a role it has in determining your social interactions. Is this just a Los Angeles/New York thing?

As I read your blogs, I notice that some of you go on exotic vacations seemingly every week. Some of you are working two jobs, although I suspect most bloggers are doing well enough to waste their time… uh, blogging.. I find it all interesting. I love that ONLINE there is freedom to walk in different social circles. I’m hoping that race, religion, etc. is never a factor in online friendship.

But, let’s be honest, do you think differences in MONEY would hinder many of us from becoming friends in real life?

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Blogger’s Fashion Emergency

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