the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: therapy (Page 1 of 5)

Veronica’s Letters


Most people don’t know they are crazy until they sit down for an intervention with themselves.

My friend, Veronica is a artsy-craftsy woman. She creates gorgeous birthday cards using ink and collage. On Facebook, she is a member of a group named, “Save the Post Office,” which advocates for old-school letter writing by hand. For those who might not know what that means, it includes licking stamps, sticking them on store-bought envelopes, then sending the letter, non-electronically, person to person, like Ben Franklin might have once done, through the United States Post Office, something many of us haven’t done since 1992.

Veronica and I met in 2005, during the early days of personal blogging. She stopped writing her blog a few years ago, but recently she said that she missed sharing her personal stories. Social media just didn’t do it for her. She had an idea. She would write personal letters to her friends, scribed by hand, as if she was sent back in a time machine to her teenage years. One of those friends turned out to be me.

I did not know Veronica had included me in this experiment, but I certainly wasn’t surprised when I received her letter in the mail. She enjoys pushing herself creatively, someone who will take the time to write you a personal letter rather than take the easy route of pushing a button on Facebook Messenger.

I opened the mailbox that day at noon. Inside the box were the usual suspects — bills, a New Yorker magazine, and a coupon from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Stuck in between the pages of the magazine was Veronica’s letter, my name hand-written on the envelope in a non-perfect cursive; it made me smile. I had a phone call to make, so I decided to open the letter in the evening, when I could give it my attention.

At 8PM I went to my desk and picked up the letter. It was time to read it. But when I tried to open it, I froze. Something was preventing me from opening the envelope, by why? What was there to fear? To avoid the discomfort, I opened Facebook on my laptop, but when I saw the glowing green light of Veronica in Messenger, I worried that she would ask me about the letter, so I shut off the computer. I grabbed the envelope and took it with me to bed, but when I started to tear it open, my mind filled with movie images from the past.

There was the Army messenger handing over the grim letter to the young woman, now a widow, at her front door. The lover awakening to a goodbye letter on the bed, signifying the end of a relationship. The suburban man’s suicide letter left after being fired from the company, being too ashamed to face his family.

Why did these melodramatic scenes pop into my head? Did I know they bore no connection to Veronica’s letter? Of course I did.

I waited until the next morning to open the envelope, when I had a renewed sense of reality. Veronica’s letter was personal, but contained nothing she couldn’t write publicly about on Facebook. She said her kids were growing up, getting married and going to college, and this was creating changes in her life as well. Nothing scandalous or scary.

That day, another letter arrived. Veronica’s letter-writing experiment was going to continue all week.

I found it easier to open the second handwritten letter. When I unfolded it, I immediately noticed that Veronica did some editing, crossing out a sentence with her pen, then scribbling her new thought sideways, in the margin. This raised the stakes in her letter-writing. The imperfections of the second letter was reminiscent of the notes you might pass in homeroom during elementary school. And again, I froze, for a different reason that the day before. Seeing Veronica’s edits, and touching the same paper that she once held in her hand was too visceral, like I could feel her pen still vibrating on the page. It felt too intimate, like I had walked into the bathroom while she was there, and I froze in a combination of curiosity and shame.

Yes. I know what you are thinking. Crazy. I was beginning to think so myself.

My letter reading improved as the week went on, until I received the seventh and last letter, which I couldn’t open for another four days.

Let me make sure you understand all this. None of these letters were intense or extremely personal. These letter were not sent to torment me, but as a creative exercise for herself. I know this because after reading the last letter, I finally called her on the phone.

“Veronica, I want to talk to you. It’s a little weird and personal….” I said, telling her my tale of the five handwritten letters. And as I proceeded, I gained the ability to step away and analyze my craziness. Maybe this is the true power of storytelling. You begin to understand yourself.

My hangup was about intimacy. Intimacy and anxiety in the digital age. For eleven years, a large bulk of my socializing has been mediated through electronic means — laptops, tablets, and phones, blogging, Facebook, instagram — to the point where I never hold a hand-written letter in my hands or speak to a friend on the telephone. My conversations are on IM or email, outlets without physical contact. Even Skype is a two-dimensional representation of reality. Since my divorce, I’ve had two romantic relationships, both based online, but the major background to our romantic tales doesn’t primarily take place in romantic cities like New York or Paris, but behind the lighted screens of our laptops, hundreds and thousands of miles apart.

Yes, I meet friends and lovers in person, but I wonder if my online existence has become so habitual that I have grown uncomfortable with the intimacy of something as innocent as a handwritten letter. I have grown so comfortable chatting with a thousand people at a time on social media, that sitting with a personal letter written just for me freaks me out. That is crazy. The truth is I felt myself unable to handle the intimacy of reading the letters, the lack of control. Would I have to write back? What if I connect too deeply? What if I don’t know what to say, or she says something that makes me cry? What if she is telling me that she is getting a divorce or has some mysterious disease? Can I just press the like button? Have I forgotten what it’s like to have a real friend? And what does this say about my relationships with others? Romantic ones.

“Maybe I shouldn’t write you again,” she said at the end of our conversation, laughing. “I didn’t realize it would affect you so much!”

But I hope she does. Or even better — maybe I should write back.

The Password

I sat in an upscale coffee bar on Fifth Avenue, drinking a cup of coffee, killing some time before my therapy appointment. I noticed on my iPhone that the establishment had wi-fi, but it required a password. I looked up towards the front counter, where the bearded barista was creating a little foam heart in a latte, and saw a little sign tacked onto the front counter that read “password on receipt.” Ten minutes earlier, when I went to add some milk to my coffee, I tossed my receipt into the swinging door of the metallic garbage receptacle.

The hipster barista had a friendly face, even a nicely-trimmed beard, and he was only a few feet away. The cafe wasn’t crowded, with only two giggly private school girls on line, probably playing hooky during the afternoon. All I had to do was stand up from my plastic chair, go over to the barista at the front counter, smile at him, and say, “Oh, I threw away my receipt. Can I have the password?”

But my mind started playing tricks on me. In quick succession, these are my actual thoughts, “Oh, he seems busy. Nah, why bother. I can just use data rather than wi-fi. I have unlimited data so it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to bother him. Maybe he will have to print out another receipt, and then everyone will have to wait longer for their orders. Maybe the password WASN’T on my receipt, and only given to those who order a pastry or a sandwich, and the barista will have to say — in front of everyone — “I’m sorry, Sir. You only had a cup of coffee. And not even a fancy cup of coffee, just a regular American cup of coffee. You don’t DESERVE the password to the wi-fi.”

I never asked for the password, and I got so pissed at myself for how my thoughts took something incredibly unimportant and escalated it into a battle of wills.

I will be posting something on this blog each day, for the entire month of March.

Defense Mechanism

“Our last meeting was so impactful, that I wrote something about it on my blog,” I told Dr. Nesmith.

“Really? What about?”

“It was about my trip home from our last session. You see, when I was coming to you last time on the train, I noticed this rusty mark on one of the seats. It didn’t mean much to me until I went home, after therapy, and I saw the mark again on the train going back to Queens. I instantly knew that I was in the exact same train, the same subway car even. What are the chances of that? It felt like a Twilight Zone moment, so I wrote a piece connecting what happened in the train with that stuff you were telling me about how therapy helps you see the patterns, and that’s how you begin to change.”

“Interesting,” he said. “Anything else happen this week?”

“Yes!” I replied, taking out a piece of paper from my pocket. “I wrote something down that I wanted to discuss with you.”

“Go ahead.”

“On New Year’s Day, I finally finished watching The Sopranos. It was a big deal to me because I’ve been watching the show for six months now, and I really got into it. Remember, I even decided to go into therapy because of the subplot about Tony Soprano and his therapist.”

“Yes, you told me that story at our first session.”

“Anyway…” I continued, “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the show, but in the second to last episode, Tony’s therapist, played by Lorraine Bracco, is being pressured by HER therapist, played by Peter Bogdonavich, to give up on Tony Soprano’s six years of therapy, because he doesn’t believe that sociopaths are helped through talk therapy.  He thinks they just use it to rationalize their continued sociopathic behavior. At first, Tony’s therapist is angry at him for suggesting this, because she’s a true believer in talk therapy, but at the end of the episode, she finally accepts that Tony will always be a brutal gangster and never change his ways. She tells him to leave, kicking him out of therapy.”

“I remember that episode.”

“Well, is that a real thing about sociopaths and talk therapy, based on real research, or did the writers just make it up for the show?”

“I’m not sure. I’ve never had a sociopath as a patient.”

“But make believe you did. Would you continue to give talk therapy to this guy, or would you say to him, “You will never change. Even if you are beginning to see the patterns, you will just hide behind your understanding of the patterns, and never change”

“I probably would not kick this person out. I would continue on with therapy, hoping that eventually he would be able to use what we talk about to better his life.  Sociopath or not.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“This is all interesting, but you’re not a mobster, or a sociopath, are you?”


“And you realize that the Sopranos is a TV show.”


“Yet you choose to spend your time in therapy talking about a TV show rather than yourself, even writing yourself a note to remember to discuss it with me today.”

“Well, that’s not all I’ve discussed with you.   I did tell you about that story I wrote last week about seeing the patterns on the trains.”

“True.  But you never said anything about what I was expecting from the story — some insights into your own patterns.  Did the noticing of the patterns on the train make you think about yourself?  Everything you mentioned about the patterns was more like general interest, mere fodder for a generic story, than a way for personal growth. Can you tell me anything about your personal patterns — the ones you say are so important to notice?”

“Uh, well. Uh, not really. I mean, I can’t find the right words to describe them yet.”

“But you ARE able to talk a lot about patterns of a character on a TV show. You even spent your first day of your New Year wondering if talk therapy could help a fictional sociopath on TV.”

“You think I’m avoiding stuff…. like a defense mechanism?”

“At least Tony Soprano is a well-defined character. In your story, it sounds like the main thing missing… is you.”

“Are you going to kick me out of therapy now?”

The Rusty Shit


The color scheme of the E train — baby blue seats and shiny chrome handles — has always seemed more appropriate for the monorail at Disneyland than for a gritty source of transportation between Queens and Manhattan.

I was on the E train the way to see my therapist on 54th Street, in the aging building over Hooters. My subway car was crowded, except for a section which contained a brownish stain on the seat. A teenage boy was about to sit on it when he was scolded by him mother, a stout woman carrying a Macy’s shopping bag.

“Don’t you dare sit there, Jason. For all you know that’s some homeless guy’s leftover shit!” she said.

Jason grimaced, his nose turned sideways, and he flew back to the comfort of his mother.

I assumed it wasn’t shit, but some rust, but like everyone else, I was too afraid to test my hypothesis.

My therapy session was more intense than usual. For the first time since becoming his patient, I confronted Dr. Nesmith about his “talk therapy.”

“How do we know if it is accomplishing anything?” I asked. “Wouldn’t it be better to have a straight-forward plan on how to change your life?”

“There is no plan for changing your life,” he answered.

Cliches, I thought to myself. And it makes therapy seem just hopeless. From what I understand about human development, your personal makeup is 75% DNA, and 25% cemented the moment you hear your parents arguing on the way home from the hospital. No amount of talking will ever dent this internal armor.

I was thinking about this shit when when I returned to the subway platform to catch the E train back home to Queens. The train was delayed, so I strolled down the platform. I admired the brown leather briefcase of a businessman. I took an Instagram photo of a young woman in tight jeans. I laughed at this group of tourists from Italy struggling with a map of the city. I glanced at the tabloid magazines at the newspaper store. Three of the magazines had cover stories about a member of the Kardashian family.

The E train arrived and I entered it. It was fairly empty, not yet rush hour. I sat down on the baby blue bench and there, across from me, I noticed it — the spot of the seat rusted with that shit-stain. Not only was I back in the same E train going home, but I was seated in the exact same subway car. What are the chances of that?

I’ve always been fond of statistics, so I worked on the numbers in my head. Let’s say there are FIVE E trains running through the MTA at any one time, with each train having about THIRTY different cars. Statistically, the chances of this event occurring — hitting the same subway car coming and going — are about 1/150, which while high, is certainly not unforseeable.

What struck me as far more fascinating was the human element. As you may recall, I strolled down the platform before entering the train. I didn’t knowingly get on and off the train at the identical spot, or plan this conflagrance of circumstances. And if this was such a common occurance, why has it never happened to me before? Today felt different, as if something — or someone — wanted me to find myself back in the same subway car today.

I’m not a religious man, but I did attend Hebrew school as a child, and have an attraction to the idea of the spiritual, the seeing of signs, miracles, and messages from God, much like Jacob did when he had his famous dream in the Bible.

If I was brought back to this subway car, what could be the reason? Was I destined to meet my future wife, like a plot line from some romantic novel? I took a quick glance around the subway car. Most of the women in the car seemed sullen, or retired.

A soldier entered the subway, dressed in fatigues. Was he home for the Holidays, on leave? He glanced at the rusty shit spot on the bench, and sat elsewhere. My mind drifted to thoughts of… violence. Perhaps there was going to be a terrorist strike, right here in this subway car, and God is sending me a message to get off the train, wanting to save my life.

I was about to leave the train, when I looked over at the dusty boots of the young solider and felt like a damn coward. Was I really going to change trains because I had a momentary thought that I was being warned of danger? If I left the subway car out of misplaced fear, and nothing happened, I would feel like a total wimp and so ashamed of myself that I would be attending therapy for the rest of my life. No, I would not leave the train out of fear or superstition.

I was acting like a child. My mind was wondering, worrying, going places that were emotional, and not logical. Nothing of any real value was happening in this subway car. It was all in my brain. I noticed the same rusty shit mark on the bench, which reminded me that I was in the same subway car. That’s all. No big deal.

But it was a big deal. The moment was important, and it wasn’t because I was in the same subway car. It was because I noticed it. Who know how many other times I have been in the same subway car, and didn’t see it, being that my head in the clouds, or in a book?

In therapy, I asked Dr. Nesmith for a plan to live life. He said there was no plan. I asked him how anyone can change if they have no plan. He insisted that talk therapy was more important than a plan, because through talk you begin to see the patterns of your life, and by finally seeing them, you start to change.

Maybe everyone is on the same train, the same subway car, every day, going through the same motions, never seeing the rusty shit on their brain. I looked at my fellow passengers, most who wake up the same time each morning and go home the same time each night, who go through life eating the same meals, picking the wrong men and women to date, getting angry or abusive for the same reasons, or accepting too little too late, always reliving the patterns from childhood.

Tomorrow is a new year, 2014, and as much as everyone drunkingly yells and cheers in Times Square as the ball drops, they end up going home in the same subway car as they did the year before. The best they can do, right now, is to notice it.

See you in 2014.

Therapy, NYC: The First Two Contacts

Therapist’s Office Over Manhattan’s Only Hooters.

First Contact

“Hello,” I said as I answered my iPhone.

“Hello. This is Steve Goldman. You left me a message.”

“Oh hello. Thanks for calling. Yes. I was recommended to you and I was interested in making an appointment.”

“Of course. May I ask who recommended me to you?”

“Yes. Oh. Uh, wait. Can you hold on for a second? I’ve put you on the speakerphone of my iPhone for a second while I go to Facebook. This is embarrassing. You see, I’ve known the person who recommended you for six years, but I never knew her real name, only her online name, NewYorkMamaS. You know how it is online. But I knew you would be asking for her name, so she messaged me yesterday on Facebook with her real name, but now I’ve completely forgot it. It’s something that starts with a “S.” I know she needs to remain anonymous because of her work, but she told me her real name anyway, which was nice of her — although I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone else other than you.”

“It doesn’t really matter.”

“No, no, I’ll get it. One more second. I’m on Facebook. It’s just slow. It’s this new update to the Facebook app that’s slowing it down. All the advertisements. It slows things down. Everything has to be ruined with advertisements and monetization. Whatever happened to REAL talking with a friend, one on one? Maybe that’s what intrigues me about therapy. Of course, even in therapy, I would be paying you, so that is monetization too. But that’s different. I suppose it’s the world we live in. Aha, here it is –Shana Danbury is her name! So funny, knowing so much about a person via online life — about her family, her dreams, even the brand of vibrator that she uses, but not her real name! By the way, you do know Shana Danbury, right? She was your patient? Is she normal? I don’t really know her. Ha Ha! That’s only a joke.”

On my iPhone, I could hear him scribbling notes.

Second Contact

“I’ve always wanted to go into therapy. I mean, I did once go to a therapist with my ex-wife, but it was HER therapist, and it didn’t exactly work out the way I hoped, because we ended up just fighting over who the therapist liked better, so that was a bust. But now I’m taking action on my own, which is a big deal, because I sometimes have a problem taking action.”

“And what made you finally take the step to call a therapist on your own?” asked my new therapist.

“You want to know the truth? Of course you want to know the truth,” I continued. “That’s why I’m here.”


“Well, you know how everyone is catching up on old TV series on Netflix and places like that? So, I’ve been watching the Sopranos over the last two months. I’m now on Season Five. It’s a pretty intense experience. And there’s this big subplot where Tony Soprano goes to this female therapist –”

“Yes, I’ve seen the show.”

“Anyway, it’s like I relate to Tony Soprano in many ways. Like if only I was Italian instead of Jewish, lived in New Jersey instead of Queens, and grew up in a mobster family instead of whatever the hell my parents did. Frankly, my father would be a terrible mobster. Just too nice and not aggressive enough. I’d probably be a bad mobster, too. Maybe my mother could be a mobster’s wife, but it would probably make her too anxious if she knew he was out there beating up people. But back to the point. I noticed that Tony Soprano made a lot of changes in his life by going into therapy, so I figured if it was good for him, why not me?”

“You do realize that the Sopranos is a fictional TV show?”

“Of course. But I also write a lot. And I’ve always believed that there is a fine line between the fictional and the real. And to be honest, my final two choices as therapist was between you and a female therapist, but I decided to go with you because you’re a man, and I didn’t want to be like Tony Soprano, thinking what it would be like to fuck his female therapist so much because that would be a waste of my therapy time, since we only have an hour. Or fifty minutes. Why do therapist only give you fifty minutes, anyway? Shouldn’t it be an actual hour? It’s a bit of a rip-off if I might be so brave to say.”

My therapist didn’t answer, but he certainly took a lot of notes.

Speech Therapy

Thank you to everyone on Facebook who recommended a good therapist in New York. You’re nice people  (and apparently rather troubled).   I promise to look into it this week.

Today I went to my family doctor for a check-up.   After the nurse took my blood, Doctor R enter the examining room and sat across from me.

“I hear you wanted to ask me something, Neil.”

“Yes, I wanted some recommendations on seeing two other professionals.”


“First, I’ve been feeling congested lately and I want to see an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor.”

“Fine.  Let me send you to Doctor Grossman at NYU.  He’s very good.”

“And then, I was wondering if you know… because I was thinking of going to…. well, like a therapist.”

“Is that rotator cuff still bothering you.  I can send you to that physical therapist in Flushing.”

“No, not a physical therapist.”

I noticed Doctor R checking out my shoulder.  I pointed my finger upwards towards my face to help him understand what type of therapy I was discussing.

“Oh, I know someone very good at Queens College,” said Doctor R.   “She’s the chairman of the speech therapy department.”

“Speech therapy?”

“She’s a speech therapist.”

“Why would you send me to a speech therapist?” I blurted out.

“I thought that’s what you wanted.”

“Is there something wrong with the way I speak?  Jesus, now I’m really paranoid.  No, I’m talking about…”

I pointed my finger upwards again, this time directly at my head, as if I was about to shoot myself with my index finger.   The doctor’s “speech therapy” comment made me so anxious, I couldn’t think straight or come up with the right word.

“…I’m talking about… what do you call it.  I can’t think today.  A head therapist.   A brain therapist.”

“A psychiatrist?” he asked.

“Yes!  Well, no.  A psychiatrist sounds too serious.  I just probably need a regular therapist.  Not anyone with a fancy medical degree.  To talk to about things.  Someone’s who relatively cheap.  But still good.”

“I see.  An inexpensive therapist who’s still good.”

“Yes,” I said.

“I know of one person.   But would you mind seeing a therapist who shares his office with an auto body shop on Queens Boulevard?”

Note:  The previous was mostly true, except for the last line, which was thrown in at the last moment for humorous effect.



Woman: “You really enjoy a woman’s body?”

Neil: “Is there anything better in God’s world?”

Woman: “How do my breasts taste to you?”

Neil: “Like milk and honey. Like the Holy Land described in the Bible. I still remember that from Hebrew School. A land of milk and honey.”

Woman: “Put your fingers inside me again. It felt so good before.”

Neil: “You know, I wonder if all of my problems in life are because my mother never breast-fed me. Maybe all those annoying lactivists online are right. Doctor Spock and Gerber fucked up an entire generation. Every issue with Sophia and Juli all come down to my using baby formula.”

Woman: “I love when you touch my pussy like that.”

Neil: “If you think about, it’s truly amazing that a baby can come out of a woman’s vagina. I never had a child so I’ve never seen a woman give birth. And I usually hide my eyes when they have those scenes in documentaries on PBS.”

Woman: “Oh my god. Harder.”

Neil: “But clearly, the vagina is one the eight wonders of the world! You think my mother still remembers giving birth to me? I owe her a lot, don’t I? She gave birth to me, for godsake! I’m glad I’m going to Paris with her for her birthday.”

Woman: “I want your cock in me now.”

Neil: “Have you ever been to Paris? Maybe you will know the answer. Should we bring Euros with us from the States, or get them over there?”

A VOICE comes from BELOW!

Penis: “Jesus Christ. This dialogue sucks.”

Neil: “Huh? Who said that?”

Penis: “Ha Ha, it’s me, Neil. Sorry to interrupt your little fantasy here, but your dialogue was putting me to sleep faster than when you were taking those 40mg of Prozac.”

Neil: “I’m sorry to disappoint you.”

Penis: “Stop talking to her so much and fuck her already. It’s a fantasy. You don’t have to talk to her so much in your own fantasy.”

Neil: “This is my fantasy, Penis. Not yours.”

Penis: “Who is this fantasy chick in your bed anyway?”

Neil: “It’s none of your business. And we’re not in my bed. We’re on her couch.”

Penis: “Won’t Juli be upset that you’re shagging some other woman in your fantasy?”

Neil: “Can we change the subject, Penis?”

Penis: “OK. So, are you still excited about your trip to Paris… with your mom?”

Neil: “Yes.”

Penis: “Any plans to go to New Zealand?”

Neil: “Not yet. It’s complicated.”

Penis: “I see. Still watching the Sopranos every night… with your mom?”

Neil: “Yes. We’re almost at Season Three. How do you know all this about my life?”

Penis: “I follow you on Facebook.”

Neil: “You’re on Facebook?”

Penis: “Who isn’t on Facebook nowadays? You should “like” my Facebook page.”

Neil: “You have a Facebook page?”

Penis: “Don’t you?”

Neil: “No. And I’m not “liking” the Facebook page of my Penis.”

Penis: “By the way, I saw your last status update. Boo-hoo. Your usual weepy stuff to get the mombloggers to care about you. “I’m thinking of looking for a therapist in NYC…””

Neil: “Stop it. Don’t read it — out loud.”

Penis: ““I’m thinking of looking for a therapist in NYC. Why? Because – well why did I feel the need to tell Facebook that I was thinking of looking for a therapist in NYC? How can I be an open and good friend to you, and listen to your stories, if I’m always so obsessed with my own stuff. I need to find someone who takes my insurance. At the same time, I wonder if therapy is just a waste of time, and I can just work out everything on my own by crowdsourcing my life with you. Veronica, please call me in two weeks and make sure I really put some effort into this. Action over talk.””

Neil: “Jesus.”

Penis: “You start looking for a therapist yet?”

Neil: “Not yet.”

Penis: “Why the need for a therapist — all of a sudden?”

Neil: “You know. Issues.”

Penis: “WAIT A MINUTE. Isn’t there a female therapist in the Sopranos that Tony Soprano goes to? The one with the nice legs and great ass?”

Neil: “Yeah. So what?

Penis: “You start watching this show with your mother… and suddenly you’re thinking about going to a therapist? OH, MAN. Why didn’t I see this at once — that fantasy women you’re fucking on the couch — is your imaginary new therapist?! You haven’t even found one yet, and you’re already doing her in your head — one who looks like Lorraine Bracco!”

Neil: “No, I’m not.”

Penis: “And then while you’re talking about your so-called “issues”, she’ll be sucking me off with her wet therapist’s lips.”

Neil: “That’s disgusting. You’re a male pig! I don’t WANT to know you!”

Penis: You don’t want to know me?

Neil: I read a quote on Pinterest that said “You are only as good as your friends. Embrace positive-oriented friends.” And YOU are never positive-oriented.”

Penis: “I’m a fucking COCK! I’m true to who I am. YOU’RE never positive-oriented. You’re the phony one.”

Neil: “I’m not a phony.”

Penis: “Oh no? And why did you go to BlogHer again this year? How many women did you imagine sucking your cock there?”

Neil: “I went to BlogHer to learn from my peers! To grow as a blogger!”

Penis: “That wasn’t the only thing growing during the fashion show.”

Neil: “Listen. I respect you that you have a point of view. I’m learning to listen to all voices, no matter how diverse. But let’s face it. You’re a Penis. I’m a man. I’m the one with the brain. Do you know what I got on my verbal and math SAT scores? I was in the top 4% of all seniors in the United States of America! I don’t need to listen to you.”

Penis: “You’r afraid. I get it. You’re afraid of real relationships, afraid of intimacy, afraid of everything. So you play it safe. You flirt with married women. You have a relationship with a woman a million miles away. You start fantasizing about shagging some female therapist on her couch rather than going for some real help!”

Neil: “You’re crazy. You’re insane! I won’t stand for this. I’m leaving!”

Penis: “Where are you going to go? Where are you going to hide? I’m always going to be with you?”

Neil: “No, you’re not! Not if I use this new steak knife my mother got at Bed Bath and Beyond with that 20% off coupon!”

Penis: “You want to cut me off? Go for it. Do it! I dare you!”

Neil: “I will! I will! Don’t tempt me!”

Penis: “Listen, you miserable piece of shit. I’m the only one who really knows you. Cares for you. Sympathizes with you. This is real therapy here. Tough love therapy. We’re a team, Neil. If I’m happy, you’re happy. If your happy, I’m happy. I’m tired of getting blowjobs in your imagination. You need to face reality, Neil. That’s your first step in recovery. Admit to me that you were fantasizing about some imaginary female therapist.”

Neil: “I’m not one of those guys.”

Penis: “Yeah, yeah, a progressive liberal white dude who would respect his female therapist, and never think about her naked.”

Neil: “I don’t even have a female therapist. This is all hypothetical.”

Penis: You’re missing HER. Aren’t you?

Neil: Of course I do. I miss our conversations. Our dinners together.

Penis: And what else? Why are you fantasizing about this therapist?

Neil: Shut up.

Penis: “You need to do this, Neil. You are weak, Neil. You are weak. You need to do this for HER. For you mother. For everyone on the internet. Tell me the truth. Tell yourself the truth. Tell me about this imaginary therapist. Tell me you wanted to fuck her. Say it. Say it!

Neil: “Yes, Yes, Yes. I was imagining fucking this imaginary female therapist. She was just so nice and compassionate and listened to me and so smart and she kept one button open on her soft blouse, and I could imagine her breasts in my mouth, and… I’m sick. I’m a sick and terrible person. I am immoral. I am self-absorbed. I am sexist and racist and homophobic and I don’t even like Indian food, even though I always say I love it when I go out to dinner with my college friends from Columbia, just so they can’t accuse me of being overtly Eurocentric. I’m the worst. I’m a shell of a man. God should strike me down with a thunder bolt right now and I will deserve it.”

Penis: “Time’s up. That will be $150.”

Neil: “Do you accept United Healthcare as insurance.”

Penis: “No.”

Truth Quotient: 100% True

My Visit to the Bachmann’s Therapy Office

I’ve been feeling a little depressed lately, so last week, I decided to go see a therapist.  I read about a new therapy office that recently opened, and it was getting a lot of publicity, so I decided to take the bus over there for a meet-and-greet.

The waiting room was well-appointed, although the magazine selection was rather odd – Highlights for Homeschooled Christian Children, Modern Church Decor, Good Housekeeping, and issues of Playboys from 1968.

After a brief wait, I was called in, where I sat in a hard leather chair across from the therapist, a dapper young gentleman in his early thirties.  His name was Dr. Josephs. We exchanged a few pleasantries.

Now, I should tell you that at the time of this visit, I didn’t know much about this “Bachmann & Associates” clinic (read more here), other than it being a therapy office owned by presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann and her husband Marcus.  I hadn’t been listening to the news much, too busy trying to decipher the new Google+ social media app.  But it didn’t take me long to realize that this clinic had a unique method of therapy —

“So, tell me, Neil,” said the kind-faced Dr. Josephs, “What seems to be bothering you?”

“I feel out of lately.” I replied, rather sadly. “Like I’m not my true self.  I can’t motivate myself.  I just want to sit in bed all day, mope, and eat Doritos.”

“You realize that God created our eyes so we can enjoy the bodies of beautiful women.”

“Huh?  Well, uh, yeah.  I guess so.  Anyway, I’m very confused about the direction of my life…”

“I assume you like women and their bodies, no?  Like in photographs of beautiful women?”

“Wait a minute.  Have you been looking at my instagram photos?”

“I see.  Do you also like taking photos of men?”

“Sometimes.  But anyway, I like to say I am a “writer,” but what does that really mean if I don’t feel successful…”

“Perhaps your feelings of depression come from your inner self’s own disgust at your abomination with your photographs.”

“Oh man, not again. I’m not going to ask for permission every time I take every photo!”

“Have you read the Bible? The Christian Bible?”

I’ve read the Bible. But I’m not really sure what this has to do with my depression. And I’m Jewish.  Maybe that has something to do with the guilty feelings about my marriage…”

“You’re Jewish?! And you take photos of men masturbating!”

“What are you talking about? I never said I take pictures of men masturbating.  I’m talking about my marriage and the anxiety over my future…”

“But you do think about men when you masturbate? Right? Young. hunky men, with hairless chests and arms of steel?”

“Is this what they call cognitive therapy?”

“Do you find any men attractive?”

“Well, I don’t know.  I used to think Denzel Washington was attractive.  And Mel Gibson, before… you know, he turned out to be a jerk.”

“Attractive as in you would love to feel their bodies next to yours?”

“Nah.  Just that they were in good shape.  Made me want to do push-ups.”

“Have you ever slept with a black man?”

“I’ve never slept with any man.”


“OK, once in college, I shared a bed in Las Vegas with a friend because there were five of us in the room and it was disgusting because he farted all night.”

“Homosexuality is a crime against nature. You must stop being gay. You must be cured. Stop it! Stop it! Stop being gay!”

“I’m not gay!”

“Praise the Lord. My therapy worked. That will be $300. Please pay on the way out. Thank you.”

It is a week later. While the methods of therapy at this clinic were untraditional, I do feel a lot more happier, so I can definitely recommend Bachmann and Associates for all of your therapy needs.

Truth Quotient to Avoid Lawsuit:  5% (the instagram and the need for therapy)

Crowdsourcing Therapy #1

When you walk into a room — a party, a new office, an interview, a meeting, a dinner with friends — do you tend to (the majority of times):

1)  feel “better” than the others  (I’m smarter, saner, better-looking, richer, have better behaved kids, have more followers on Twitter),

2)  feel “less” than others (they’re smarter, richer, better-looking, better writers, have Dooce’s phone number, skinnier, have bigger penises)

3)  or feel that since everyone is different, you have a unique set of values and talents to offer, which makes you as interesting and sexy as everyone else, and if others don’t see it, there isn’t much you can do, and besides, we all drop dead eventually anyway, so at least we all have that in common?

I know many of us think #3.  But does anyone really FEEL #3?  And are #1 and #2 basically the two sides of the same coin?

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