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WHAT KEEPS YOU AWAKE AT NIGHT?

“Horror fiction, horror literature, and also horror fantasy are a genre of literature, which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten, scare, or startle its readers by inducing feelings of horror and terror.”—Wikipedia

Do you know what I’ve discovered this week? Halloween is scaring the crap out of me this year. The horror level of this once benign celebration has been jacked up one hundredfold since I was a kid. Gone are the days when Halloween was represented by a few jack-o-lanterns lined along a home’s walkway accompanied by a cutout of a witch and a ghost bumping boots on a porch banister. Now it is full-out horror. Today, I saw a decorated Halloween house on the news that was so full of gore I could barely breathe. I had to keep looking over my shoulder as I ran on the treadmill to make sure no one was behind me in the dark corner of the basement. Between the dozen or so severed heads hanging from the property’s trees, the caged fake babies waiting to be eaten by some monster emerging from the deep, and the blood spurting out of the chopped off limbs of innocent victims (I saw a uniformed arm of a mailman and FedEx delivery man), I almost lost last night’s dinner while watching this all unfold on the Today Show.

Halloween Horror Top

(In the midst of my exercise routine, my husband (WW) joined me in the basement to exercise on his reclining stationary bike which is about six feet to the left of my treadmill in a rather dim corner of the basement. As is sometimes the norm in the morning, it takes WW a while to get moving [not the real talkative type] while I am a motor mouth from the time I rise until the time I close my eyes in the evening. And when I’ve had two cups of French Press coffee on top of my natural energy, I am a force to be reckoned with. I talk as if I’m afraid the world will stop on its axis before I can express all my thoughts to anyone who will listen and whose life might surely depend upon my vociferous “revelations.” I didn’t wait for WW’s greeting [he seemed to be having a hard time getting going] before launching into a diatribe about the morning news, as if he weren’t watching the same television which was about 18 feet in front of us both.)

ME: Hey Darlin’, you got here just in time to see the tail end of the Today Show hosts going through an over-the-top Halloween display in New Jersey. It’s called the Brighton Asylum and it is considered the scariest haunted house in America. The Today Show hosts screamed so much from the terror that Tamron (Hall) and Natalie (Morales) are hoarse.

Oh, my Gawd, did you hear what they just said? Tamron Hall was in such pain after the event that Al Roker thought she had a burst appendix. She had to be admitted into the hospital. But it wasn’t appendicitis! She screamed so much from the terror of being in that damn haunted house that she had a deep-tissue tear in her abdomen. Isn’t that amazing?

WW: Uh, huh . . .

ME: I’m telling you, I just don’t get the fascination with horror. I know you like horror movies—you have all your life. I’ll never forget the time you tricked me into seeing A Nightmare on Elm Street—a kid’s movie my ass. I dreamt about Freddy Krueger for years. See I have this theory that . . .

Werewolf Feel Safe Meme

Please excuse the misspelling in this meme. Apparently, monsters can’t spell.

WW: Hum . . .

ME:   Only people who have never had to suffer horror in real life can enjoy horror movies. I mean, no disrespect to you Babe, but you’re a privileged white male, and you know nothing about suffering, chil’. Umph, umph, umph, I wrote the book on suffering, my man. Now I can tell you a thing or two about real-life horror—I sure ‘nuff can. My childhood was one serial horror story after another. Freddy Krueger probably lived under my bed before he made his screen debut. Hee, hee, hee! Whew, Lord Jesus—preach it, girl!

WW: Oooooh . . .

ME:  I know, I know. You think that horror movies and Halloween haunted houses are just fake with actors plastered in red-dye corn syrup blood and oatmeal standing in for brains so the zombie actors can realistically scoop them up and eat them with their skeletal fingers. It’s all in good fun, you think. I’ve been married to you long enough to know that what you really consider horror is all the bad news I consume as a blogger—just to stay informed. If I’m being honest with myself, the media hysterics can get a bit much—if I do say so myself. Between the ISIS beheadings and the 4,500 dead African bodies from Ebola that we keep hearing will overrun America, I have to admit it can get a little bit terrorizing.

News Horrors Patrick Chappatte The International New York Times

Used by Permission: Patrick Chappatte, The International New York Times

WW: A-CHOO!

ME:     God bless you! I hope you’re not coming down with a cold. I knew leaving that window open last night was a big mistake. First of all, there was a full moon, and I know it sounds silly, but I find it difficult to sleep with my bedroom windows open on nights like that. I mean anything can crawl through an open window on a full-moon night. Next thing you know, you’re chopped liver for some zombie, and there you have it. I grew up going to see horror movies about the Wolf Man and Frankenstein and even though I know they aren’t real, it still gives me the creeps. Everybody knows that when there is a full moon—goodnight, Irene! Speaking of those old make-believe monsters, do you think they’d find the events of our time too scary to make an appearance? I mean, how could the fear of a bite from Dracula hold up against the scare of ISIS, Ebola, and Fox News? Talk about horror stories. A-N-Y-HOO . . .

Real World to Scary for Vampire Olle Johansson Sweden

Used by permission: Olle Johansson, Sweden

WW: BRRRIIP!

ME: Oh, my God, did you just fart? Euuuew, Babe. That is sooooo gross. I still have twenty minutes to go on the treadmill. and I can barely breathe now. Thanks a lot. Smells like something died over there on that bike.

WW: Euuuew . . .

ME:   Oh, you agree, huh?  You’re such a crack-up. I told you not to eat that extra helping of fava beans. Anyway, where was I? Oh, the media. Have you noticed how they purposely write the lead ins or the headlines with a question to hook the listener and scare the shit out of us? You can be going along minding your own business without a care in the world when you hear a commercial for the 6 O’clock News:

“Exotic, highly poisonous, yellow snake escaped his illegal captivity and is popping up in toilets across the city. Could your toilet be next and are your family’s asses in jeopardy? Tune in later to watch News4 at 6 for more harrowing details.”

ME: And don’t get me started on Fox News or the Rush Limbaughs of the world—they are the worst fear mongers on the planet:

“Obama letting in Ebola as payback for slavery. Is any ‘True American’ safe from this Imperialist President? Will we all have to die before he gets his lazy ass off the golf course and does his job?”

ME: I mean Americans don’t need Halloween monsters to scare us, all we need is our run-amok media to cause us to lose control of our bowels.

Ebola Fear Cam Cardow Cagle Cartoons

Used by permission: Cam Cardow, Cagle Cartoons

ME: So, where was I? Oh yeah, your penchant for horror movies. Do you remember when you took me to see George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead when we were dating? Oh my God that was the scariest movie. The best thing about that movie was that a black man had the lead and was the hero. That was really somethin’ in that day. Raised quite a fuss if I remember. What was his character’s name? Ben, I think. Oh, but the worst was when you whispered that line in my ear from the movie as we were walking along a dark street. I think you did it to get me to lean in closer so you could put your arm around me, you ol’ sly dog.  It was the line the brother said to his sister in the cemetery that foreshadowed the appearance of the zombies. It made me pee my pants. What did he say, exactly?

(At that exact moment, I heard my husband shout from upstairs in the kitchen: “Who are you talking to, Cutie? I just woke up, and I’m going to fix myself some breakfast. Do you want any?” I looked over at the empty reclining stationary bike, and my heart stopped as I felt an unrecognizable presence lean into the back of my neck [breath so hot it singed the hair off the nape of my neck] and whisper into my left ear:

THEY’RE COMING TO GET YOU, BARBARA! HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, AAAHH-HA, HA, HA, HA!”)

Scary Face imgarcade dot com darqd

Google Image/ Scary Face imgarcade.com

P.S. The author is not really as silly as she has presented herself to be in this Halloween tall tale. If she were, life would have imitated art, and her very intelligent, very no-nonsense, and otherwise very sweet husband would have conjured up monsters long ago to kill her in her sleep on some dark Halloween night when the full moon was in full bloom.

***

“I love horror. I love ‘The Shining,’ ‘Friday the 13th,’ ‘Halloween,’ all those kinds of things. I love zombies, especially ’28 Days Later’ and ’28 Weeks Later,’ where the zombies are going faster than the George Romero ones. I love being scared; there’s something that’s awesome about your heart rate going up like that.”Ricky Schroder

“What scares me is what scares you. We’re all afraid of the same things. That’s why horror is such a powerful genre. All you have to do is ask yourself what frightens you and you’ll know what frightens me.”—John Carpenter

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Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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NEWS JUNKIE REHAB

Do you know what I discovered this week? I just got back from news junkie rehab, and it was quite the journey! When we last spoke, I was committed to chilling out in my end-of-summer garden, abstaining from all news outlets for an extended period of time, and regaining my peace of mind that had been brutally shredded by the bombardment of too many sources of information in order to stay “au courant” as a blogger. Having recently been diagnosed with “The Sugar” (partially caused by stress), I had become a teetotaler vegan who planned to master a fartless lotus position while I meditated myself into a Zen-like state of catatonia. But somewhere in the midst of it all, I “fell off the wagon” and my husband (WW) had to stage an intervention. I don’t know how it happened. All I remember is going to the salon to get a mani-pedi, mindlessly browsing through a couple of copies of OK! Magazine and promptly falling asleep in the pedicure chair while I feverishly murmured: “I can’t believe Mariah and Nick are getting a divorce; I didn’t know Jordan Sparks and Jason Derulo had split after he took her virginity (that bastard!); and what is this world coming to now that Pat and Gina Neeley of ‘Down Home with the Neeleys’ are getting divorced after twenty years of marriage and fabulous recipes? not to mention that Tyler Perry’s having a baby (I always thought he was gay) ….”

OK Cover Mariah and Nick Split

I dreamt that my husband (WW) came to the mani-pedi salon to rescue me at the behest of my manicurist. In my haze I could hear Suchi mumble something about getting me some help, and my husband responding that he was staging an intervention that very day, and that he knew just where to take me to do it: Vancouver, Canada.

SUCHI:  Who’s in Vancouver, Mr. John?

WW: Not who, Suchi, what! A cruise ship. Once we get to Canada, after several days of decompression, we’ll set sail on a cruise to Hawaii, starting with five days at sea and no Internet access that is worth the cost—I’ve seen to that. I’ve planned the entire itinerary: sea-day upon sea-day, day-long hikes upon docking at several islands, helicopter rides in the morning, dancing in the evenings, fine dining, and entertainment. There will be absolutely no way on God’s green Earth that my wife will have time for gathering bad news from anywhere. By the time she gets finished with the itinerary I’ve planned for her each day, the only thing she’ll be able to do is fall into bed and go to sleep. When we return in fourteen days, she will be a changed woman. You’ll see.

SUCHI: Well, if you say so, my friend. She’s pretty far gone from “newsites” overload—the worst I’ve ever seen in my customers. I wish you smooth sailing, Mr. John. Bon Voyage!

Vancouver JTomczyk Photo credit

Vancouver Harbor||Photo Credit: E. Tomczyk

From what I can remember, Vancouver was lovely but rainy. But WW insisted that we bundle up and walk the sea wall, Gastown, and China Town. (After six hours of walking in the rain with my ass truly dragging, we stopped for a delicious lunch at The Flying Pig.) I must admit that I began to feel clear-headed for the first time in months. Of course, it might have been the Three Pea-Split Soup and the Seared Chili-Rubbed Skirt Steak. The restaurant was really lovely, but the TV in the hotel room didn’t seem to work when we got back for me to catch up on the daily news. I could feel the energy of news happening all around the world, and I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I developed a nervous tic. I tried to check out Huff Post, CNN, or the NYTimes on my phone while WW was in the bathroom, but almost immediately I got a message from my carrier telling me that I was dangerously approaching my expanded data limit, and I needed to call them ASAP!

CELL CARRIER:   Mrs. Tomczyk, you have already spent ten times your original data allowance and you’ve only been traveling 24 hours, according to what you’ve just told me. I’ll adjust your bill and take off these charges, but I’m warning you: shut off your phone on the ship. Turn it to airplane mode. I cannot save you from the ship’s charges. They are their own government. At the rate you’re going, you’ll owe thousands of dollars in roaming charges by the time you return just because you want to stay “connected.” Once you are three miles away from the ship at each port, you can turn your phone on. Is that clear? I’ve been very gracious to you, but if you turn your phone on at sea, you are on your own.

ME: But, but . . . what about the news? How will I know what’s going on? What if the world ends?

CELL CARRIER: Seriously, Ma’am? And you could stop the world from ending, how? You have a choice, Mrs. Tomczyk. It’s up to you: either pay us the thousands of dollars needed to facilitate your data gathering or forget about the world for 12 days. Besides if zombies attack or we enter WWIII, the Captain will let you know.

ME: [mumbled after hanging up] Smart ass—everybody’s a critic.

Map Hawaii Cruise

Google Image

The ship was exquisite, our room expansive and gorgeous, the food was outstanding, but no one told me that the Alaska current from the Bering Sea could or would mingle with the subarctic current on our way west and then south to Hawaii (I had assumed the ship would follow the coast line of California and Mexico and then scoot over). At 6:00 a.m. the first day at sea, waves that some say were 18 – 25 ft. high (they felt like they were 60 ft. high) attacked the ship while I was on a treadmill determined to keep off the weight I had lost before the cruise, crashing against the vessel (one of them being a rogue wave), and sending me flying. At the time, I was attempting to read the tiny news scroll from CNN, Fox News (yes, I was so desperate for news, I had stooped to “Faux News”), and MSNBC on the treadmill.  All that reading, while riding the waves from Hell on an inclined treadmill, must have tripped my stomach into what I called the Great Bering Sea rock-and-roll upchuck—six times. By the time I got to the infirmary along with the rest of the ship, my brown skin was as green as a farmer’s market cucumber. Taking one look at me, the Doc wasted no time: “Nurse, give the patient two shots in the bum.” I was ordered to close my eyes and go to sleep (not that I had much choice—the drug could have dropped an elephant in its tracks), and try and live to see another day. I couldn’t read anything without getting nauseous—not a book and certainly not my iPhone.

By God’s grace I was back on my feet by dinner and able to enjoy a wonderful meal and keep it down. Many of the passengers could not do so for days, so I considered myself lucky. I obeyed my cell carrier (I’m convinced WW paid him off) and didn’t try to turn on my phone but simply relished in the wonderful moments of being at sea with the love of my life (my man, not my iPhone).

On the sixth day, heaven appeared, and I promptly forgot about being in the know about the troubles of this world. (Have I ever told you that God was having a really good day when he made Hawaii?)

Oaho Movie Sites Photo Credit JTomczyk

Oahu ranch used for movie making||Setting for the filming of: Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates, Lost, and Jurassic Park||Photo Credit: JTomczyk

Helicopter Ride Photo Credit JTomczyk

Blogger and Main Squeeze getting ready to helicopter around Oahu||Photo Credit: ETomczyk

Hawaiian Cruise 071

Diamond Head from helicopter||Photo Credit: JTomczyk

Volcano on Hawaii ETomczyk Photo Credit

Helicopter view of active volcano in Hawaii (the big island) ||Photo Credit: ETomczyk

Luau Photo Credit ETomczyk

Proverbial Luau—Maui||Photo Credit: ETomczyk

We had a TV in our room but it only featured a couple news outlets and they kept losing their satellite feed. At one point toward the end of the cruise, the server went down and by the time it came back up signals had crossed, and Musette’s Waltz from La Bohème was blaring over the newscaster’s report. I could only half-way make out that there was a revolution happening in Hong Kong that had something to do with umbrellas and that someone had come to the United States carrying the Ebola virus, while the prostitute, Musette, robustly sang in Italian: “When I walk alone in the street, people stop and stare at me.”  Puccini won over CNN International. (Somehow, I think WW paid some technician off to make that channel mash-up happen in our cabin because no one else on the ship had a clue about it when I explained the Puccini take-over. You’d be amazed at what my man is capable of doing once he sets his mind to it.)

Ebola and Hong Kong John Cole The Scranton Times Tribune

Used by Permission: John Cole, The Scranton Times, Tribune

***

I am discovering that I had temporarily lost my way, and the bombardment of so many nefarious messages from people with mixed motives, hateful hearts, and gossipy tongues had almost taken control of my spirit. I had been especially manipulated by the haters of our President who wish him ill (have you heard that the spread of Ebola is his fault?*), as if keeping informed and getting incensed over their defamations would keep President Obama from being hurt or assassinated. I had forgotten that I don’t have control over much, including the success of our first black president, but I do have control over my own peace of mind. I had forgotten about letting go of issues and negative attitudes, actively forgiving, not judging others, and trusting that God will make all things right if I just trust in him. I had forgotten that it is my responsibility to keep my heart free of fear, and that my perspective will need cleaning up from time to time—much like scouring a cruddy skillet spotless with a spiritual Brillo pad.

Thanks “My Captain! My Captain” for whisking me away to Paradise and giving me a refreshed perspective on life—for restoring my peace of mind.

Rain Forest Hike Mauii JTomczyk photo credit

Hiking in a Hawaiian rain forest on Maui with “My Captain”—as close to total peace of mind as I can get!

***

“We are bombarded on all sides by a vast number of messages we don’t want or need. More information is generated in a single day than we can absorb in a lifetime. To fully enjoy life, all of us must find our own breathing space and peace of mind.”James E. Faust

“I am thankful the most important key in history was invented. It’s not the key to your house, your car, your boat, your safety deposit box, your bike lock or your private community. It’s the key to order, sanity, and peace of mind. The key is ‘Delete.’”Elayne Boosler

“I never will have peace of mind. I’m not constructed that way. Some things in life can be horrible.”—Julie Christie

WANT TO READ THE AUTHOR’S BOOK, “MONSTERS’ THROWDOWN”? EXCELLENT REVIEWS!

BUY NOW AT AMAZON.COM

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR? CHECK OUT www.eleanortomczyk.com

frontcover

REFERENCES

http://www.bostonherald.com/inside_track/celebrity_news/2014/10/hot_hollywood_jordin_sparks_and_jason_derulos_shocking_split

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-posnanski/nine-things-i-hated-about_b_5945006.html

*http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/07/opinion/granderson-ebola-obama/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/10/dont-call-hong-kongs-protests-an-umbrella-revolution/381231/ 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO!

Do you know what I’ve discovered recently? I need to practice what I preach. Last week I revealed that I had been diagnosed with a chronic disease, and one of the things needed to manage that disease is to tone down the stress and take a break from all the bad news. I was dragging my feet on taking a little time off (maybe I was exaggerating the news’ crippling effect on me?) when I read that my good friend Sarah Palin (wink, wink) and her entire family had allegedly been involved in a drunken brawl recently. It was right then and there that I knew it was time to exit stage left for a season of news withdrawal.  (I mean if Sarah, et al, doesn’t have enough integrity to control her temper as a Christian family-values champion, then surely I must be teetering on the edge as a bloody Christian liberal.)

So I plan to stop reading the news for a season, stop posting on my blog for a couple weeks, and go stretch out on a park bench and watch the leaves change as I listen to the new duets CD (“Partners”) by Babs (Barbra Streisand) coming out on iTunes on Tuesday (how’s that for product placement?). (I think I’ll even start doing this pull-back every eight weeks or so to foster better mental health.) I shall not return to blogging until I’ve memorized every new Streisand duet, written six more chapters for my second book, and brought my blood pressure down to normal. BUT before I go . . .

Relax and take a break

Google Memegenerator

. . . I thought I’d relate a conversation I overheard between an alien husband and wife (not from south of the border but from outer space) as I took one of the first of my many naps (sans CNN) in my hammock in the garden. I could have sworn it was real—but maybe not. Judge for yourself.

***

ALIEN WIFE: So where would you like to go on vacation this year, Dear?

ALIEN HUSBAND: Not really sure, Snookums. We’ve been just about everywhere, as it is.

ALIEN WIFE: Yeah, I know. My favorite was the space ship tour of the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy. Wasn’t that awesome?

ALIEN HUSBAND: Oh, I don’t know. The trip was so God-awful long. If I recall correctly, it took us 20,000 light years to complete the tour. The dance band sucked, and I missed playing golf for what seemed like an eternity. I’m never staying away from a golf ball for that long ever again.

ALIEN WIFE: Well, at least (according to Trans-universe Wikipedia) we got to visit it before it gets completely sucked into the Milky Way. Speaking of the Milky Way, how about visiting that pretty blue ball that was formed four and a half billion years ago in that galaxy? You know, the one that has billions of humanoids and so many species that I can’t even begin to keep count of them.

ALIEN HUSBAND: Yeah, you mentioned visiting Earth before. They always seem to be at war, though. How would we know where to land and what people to chat up? If we’re going to travel that far, I want to stay in human homes—no cold, sterile hotels like on that other planet, whose name we dare not mention lest we break out in hives from the horror of it all.

ALIEN WIFE: Ugh, the giant roach motel—never again!  Well, since we both enjoy being around creatures with integrity, why don’t we dip down into Earth’s Internet, pull out names of people from their recent news cycle who claim to model integrity, and we’ll give them a call and see if they would be open to hosting a couple of alien travelers for a bit.

ALIEN HUSBAND: Okay, let’s see what we can pull up on the Universal Wide Web.  Hold on a second, it’s buffering (damn Galactic Cable).  Okay, here we go.  It says here that a “Mr. NFL” and a “Commissioner Goodell” are trending this week. When I enter the word “integrity,” Mr. NFL’s mission statement pops up. Look-a-here: Integrity is number one of Mr. NFL’s seven core values, and Commissioner Goodell has signed off on the values as well. Wooooo-hooo!

ALIEN WIFE: Excellent! What does it say about their commitment to integrity? Someone who models integrity should be a marvelous representation of their planet and a good vacation fit for us.

ALIEN HUSBAND: I’ll read it to you verbatim from Mr. NFL’s website:

INTEGRITY

“We safeguard the integrity of the game.

We are ethical in all of our dealings with fans, clubs, business partners, and each other.

We follow through on our words with action. We are honest and direct.

We create an environment that inspires trust and confidence.”*

Rice Steve Sack The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Used by Permission Steve Sack The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

ALIEN WIFE: Oh, isn’t that lovely! Sounds like our kind of beings. And their leader is Commissioner Goodell, you say? He must be full of integrity and honesty. Given that mission statement, I bet he is a great leader. What about his family? Anything about them?

ALIEN HUSBAND: Nothing about his immediate family, but he has scores of young men who are part of 32 clubs that he is responsible for, and they play something called “football” for billions of their currency. It is a very lucrative sport that only the country called the United States plays. From first blush, it looks alarmingly brutal. They are trained to slam their bodies into each other, trained to crush their opponents, trained to maim and almost kill each other just to capture a ball that is the shape of a prolate spheroid while millions of fans go insane with apoplectic glee and buckets of something called beer and Buffalo wings.

ALIEN WIFE: Are you serious? Why would I want to visit people like that—people who make wings out of Buffalos and then eat them?  Eeeuw!  Not to mention that they sound as if all the gentleness and sweetness has been beaten out of them once they learn to play this ball of the foot. What if they can’t turn that violence off, and they beat the ca-ca out of us like they do their opponents?

ALIEN HUSBAND: You have a point. Maybe they have a switch that can turn them from violent to docile. What if they can pulverize their opponents on the field within a game, but become as gentle as doves when they go home? Would that be acceptable?

ALIEN WIFE:  I don’t know, Babe . . .

ALIEN HUSBAND: Look, I’ll keep searching for information on that possibility because I really am intrigued by this national pastime called NFL football and drinks with suds, and edible wings of buffalos.  Besides, I hear they have great golf courses, and I can’t imagine a golfer not having the utmost integrity.

Violence Schizophrenia John Cole The Scranton Times Tribune

Used by permission: John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune

ALIEN WIFE: Mksrock, that is so disgusting.  Sometimes you can lapse into such a Neanderthal.  Look on the Mr. NFL website again and see if they address the violence potential off stage, so to speak. Does it say anything about them considering the long-term consequence of such violent behavior just to snatch a ball from one another and run around a piece of ground while other humans cheer their brutality? This is very, very upsetting to me. I don’t want to visit these NFL Earthlings, Mksrock darling, if I will be beaten to a pulp because of their worship of violence in order to win a game. I’m a woman. How will they treat me? They sound absolutely horrid. I won’t go, I tell you! I won’t!

ALIEN HUSBAND: Now Ezricka, dear, please calm down. I won’t make you stay with an NFL player if you don’t want to. But if it helps you get a better picture of these guys, their third core value has a line that shows they do understand and support the consideration of long-term consequences of internalizing violence. Surely, they don’t take this aggression off the field. And it is clear that Commissioner Goodell makes it an important part of their character development that they treat other humans with respect and kindness as they go about their everyday lives. We should be just fine. Here, read this:

TRADITION AND INNOVATION

“We recognize that the NFL’s traditions are an asset, but we also embrace change. . .

. . . We are thoughtful and deliberate in our thinking, and always consider the long-term consequences of our decisions.”*

Rice II Bob Englehart The Hartford Courant

Used by Permission: Bob Englehart, The Hartford Courant

ALIEN WIFE: You must think I was born yesterday Mksrock instead of billions of years ago. We come from a very civilized corner of the universe, and I don’t plan to spend my old age being humiliated by this Mr. NFL or his commissioner. Pick someone else (not in the NFL) that claims to have integrity who will treat me with respect as a woman.

ALIEN HUSBAND: As you wish, dear. (I wonder if Earthling wives make it this hard for their husbands to plan a vacation?)  Let’s see here: how about a politician—an ex-governor? Bob McDonnell of Virginia. He’s been trending on Twitter. It says here on the Universal Wide Web that he has so much integrity he ran for office as the family values husband, father, and leader, and was on the short list of vice-presidential candidates when a Mr. Romney ran for the Office of President of the United States. Let’s stay with ex-Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Maureen. How lacking in integrity could they be having been a Christian governor and a lovely Christian wife?

Gov McDonald Bill Day Cagle Cartoons

Used by permission: Bill Day, Cagle Cartoons

***

I am discovering our country will probably never be destroyed from “without,” but most certainly will collapse from “within” if we don’t change our moral compass.   I do not fear an ISIS takeover, a Muslim jihad, or the threat of a dust-up with Russia. I do, however, shake in my boots when I see a preacher (Eddie Long), a politician (Scott DesJarlais), a businessman (Bernie Madoff), a beloved coach (Joe Paterno), a revered assistant coach (Jerry Sandusky), another family values governor (Mark Sanford), a stellar golfer (Tiger Woods)—the list is endless—saluting righteous core values in public, but doing just the opposite behind closed doors. It makes me very afraid for the future of our country—it makes me very afraid for the salvation of our world which is why I need to go and rest now. I’ll see you in a couple of weeks! Be kind to one another, and remember to do the right thing by each other. Who knows—maybe aliens are watching!

Alien visit

For the love of God, show us some integrity!

“Don’t walk through life just playing football. Don’t walk through life just being an athlete. Athletics will fade. Character and integrity and really making an impact on someone’s life, that’s the ultimate vision, that’s the ultimate goal – bottom line.”—Ray Lewis

“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.”—Oprah Winfrey

“Men of integrity, by their very existence, rekindle the belief that as a people we can live above the level of moral squalor. We need that belief; a cynical community is a corrupt community.”—John W. Gardner

WANT TO READ THE AUTHOR’S BOOK, “MONSTERS’ THROWDOWN”? IT’S FABULOUS!

BUY NOW AT AMAZON.COM

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR? CHECK OUT www.eleanortomczyk.com

frontcover

REFERENCES

* http://www.nfl.com/careers/values

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/nfls-elaborate-security-network-is-supposed-to-protect-league-from-trouble/2014/09/13/795949aa-3b4a-11e4-8601-97ba88884ffd_story.html?hpid=z1

http://www.salon.com/2014/09/13/football_violence_and_americas_cultural_divide/

http://www.thewire.com/politics/2014/08/mistress-and-abortion-loving-rep-scott-desjarlais-is-up-by-33-primary-votes/375785/

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/09/10/ray_rice_domestic_violence_janay_rice_is_standing_by_her_man_but_the_nfl.html

http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2014/09/terrell_suggs_domestic_violence_like_his_teammate_ray_rice_the_ravens_linebacker.html

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
21 Comments

Posted by on September 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Bad News Just Keeps On Coming

Do you know what I discovered this week about my sorry-ass body? It’s falling apart! I suppose I should have expected it since it seems to happen to everybody if they don’t die young. But here’s a news flash for you: It is a terrible thing to get old. (WARNING: don’t do it—don’t ever do it!) The worst part of the aging process is that stress seems to accelerate the wear and tear on the body costume, both inside and out. And in case you haven’t noticed, stress is everywhere in the world—it’s totally unavoidable. You can’t go anywhere without hearing about some imminent disaster, some caustic disease rolling your way, some major terrorist plot, or some public humiliation. (Naked pictures hacked from the iCloud . . . really? Seriously? Oh, my God, I just had a horrible thought: TSA, what have you done with my orgasmatron airport security pictures throughout the years—the ones I know you’ve been laughing about behind my back? Don’t you even think about uploading my chunky-little ass into The Cloud, or I’ll call your mothers and tell on you!)

TSA RJ Matson

Used by permission: TSA, RJ Matson

My job as a blogger is to keep up on the news (I read twelve online news sources a day plus Time Magazine via the mail), and I think all this bad news is really taking a toll on me. By the time I had my annual physical last month, my doctor was apoplectic over my weight gain (I tend to nosh when stressed), blood pressure elevation, cholesterol numbers, and glucose levels. She was so pissed at me that she threatened to fire me as a patient if I didn’t straighten up and fly right. She gave me one month.

Stress Test Maxine

Feeling rather blue, I plunked down some hard-earned cash to get myself a massage to see if it would relieve some of my stress and promptly did what I always do when someone is working their magic on my epidermis: I fell asleep and dreamt about my organs, digestive apparatus, chromaphil and cortical systems, et al, holding court and trying to decide if they were going to abdicate my body in protest of the way I had been taking care of it over the past 66 years.

***

BRAIN: Hear ye, hear ye, this meeting will now come to order. Mouth, sit down and shut up. You can talk all you want after the meeting is adjourned. We have exactly 90 minutes before our host wakes up. On trial is the author of Monsters’ Throwdown and the blogger Eleanor Tomczyk for gross negligence of her temple—mainly due to severe stress. I’ve called this meeting to see if we should just give up on her or give Ms. ET one more chance to get her shit together.

BLADDER: Ooh, ooh, ooh, can I go to the bathroom before the meeting starts?

SMALL AND LARGE INTESTINE: Bladder, you’re such a wuss! The older you get; the leakier you become.

BRAIN: Stop it you two. Sometimes I think you don’t have the brains you were born with. Absolutely no eliminating while our host is on the massage table! While the author is asleep we have a full agenda to get done in a limited amount of time. So behave—all of you.

BLADDER: Can I help it if she’s getting old and slightly incontinent? I wasn’t built to last forever, you know.

THE KIDNEYS: You think you’re worn out. Word on the street is that she’s got what Black folks call “the sugah.”

LIVER: What the fuck is that?

BRAIN:  Type II Diabetes. Just got the diagnosis a month ago. The good news is that it was a wake-up call. She’s already changing her ways (says she’s eaten enough gourmet meals and drunk enough wine to last a lifetime). After a last supper of the best wine her money could buy, the best steak she could find, and the finest chocolate cake to be had, she became a dark leafy-green veggie, bean eating, sugar denying, dairy scorning, pasta/rice eschewing queen, and it is working! Consequently, her glucose numbers are almost down to normal, and she’s even shaved off a few pounds.  I say let’s give our girl a round of applause.

ALL ET’S INNARDS: Hip, hip, hurrah! Hip, hip, hurrah!

L&S INTESTINES: Yeah, we know. More beans have passed through us in a month’s time than she has eaten in her entire lifetime. What a gas! Get it? What a gas . . . .

LIVER: [groan] Don’t quit your day job, Intestines.

PANCREAS: Not so fast, y’all. Half of me is only producing insulin. Our girl becoming a vegan now is like locking the barn door once the horses have escaped. Tried to send her distress signals of tingly hands and feet and an onslaught of dizziness as a warning that I was shutting down, but did she listen? No! Kept on trippin’ the light fantastic, so to speak. Sometimes she can be so obtuse.

GALL BLADDER: Oh, come on now; don’t be so hard on our girl, Pancreas. This is mostly hereditary. It’s part of her DNA. Did you know African-Americans, Native-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans Asian Indian, and Pacific Islanders are at the highest risk of getting diabetes? Need I remind you that she is ¼ Cherokee Indian and ¾’s African-American?  Need I also remind you that she was born into one of the worst ghettos in America in the Jim Crow era and still bears the heartache and the scars which took a toll on her body before she even knew what was happening?  Twenty years of poverty can give you such a body ache! Just the racism she has had to endure in her lifetime would send a body into tilt eventually. Just be happy she doesn’t have cancer. You read her book, Monsters’ Throwdown. Haven’t all you organs suffered in some way due to the abuse in her life?

ALL ET’S INNARDS: Does a bear shit in the woods? Of course we’ve suffered from being her black person innards in America. And every time I hear some well-meaning white person yearning to turn back the clock to the “good ol’ days” in America (i.e., the 50s), I want to send them back in time as an African-American and immerse them in a saturated pool of slavery DNA, Jim Crow terrorization, and debilitating systematic poverty. Then we’d check out their vitals and see if they still longed for the “good ol’ days.”

John Stewart on Racism

BRAIN: Which is why I’ve called you all here for this meeting. Conquering the diet is not the primary issue with this one; it is her daily stress level. We have to help her lower it.

HEART: Don’t I know it! I get it that she has to keep up on the news to stay informed so as not to come off as an idiot in her blog, but can’t the sistah cut me some slack? I am stressed all the time because of the news she consumes! If it isn’t the story about the Chinese chef who was making cobra soup with the body of the snake whose detached head bit and killed him, then it is the nine-year-old girl who was allowed to shoot an Uzi and accidentally killed her instructor. I’ve got to tell you that just sent ET over the edge. I thought I was going to succumb to a “me attack” at the NRA’s chilling announcement two days after that horrid abuse against that poor child’s mind. Did you all hear about it? The NRA released an article on “7 Ways Children Can Have Fun at the Shooting Range.” WTF! Did you hear our author/mother/human being screams? And don’t even get me started on Ferguson, Missouri.

EYEBALLS:  Well, I don’t know if I can take any more news articles, period. You’ve got your Ukraine, Ebola, Gaza, Afghanistan, and now your ISIS. Not one more decapitation can I witness. God, my eyes, my eyes . . .   Chaos, murder, and mayhem is everywhere for my orbs to feast upon. Evil has always been here—it will always be until the end of time. I say ears, mouth, and me should make a pact: hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.

LUNGS: Seriously, Eyeballs? There have always been bad times (there will always be bad times)—there just wasn’t any cable news or the Internet to overwhelm the senses with the revelation of them all 24/7. The best we can do is: Stay calm and carry on.

EARS: The best thing we can do is teach her an empowerment song against all the evil forces assailing her psyche that she can use as a mantra: “Let it go, let it go. . .”

BRAIN: No . . . I swear to the God who created us, Vocal Chords, if I hear you sing that song one more time, I’ll rip you out by the throat and flush you downstream through the bowels. Do you hear me?

World Falling Apart Steve Sack The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Used by permission: World Falling Apart, Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

VOCAL CHORDS: Fine! Then you come up with a better idea of calming her down because I just heard from Mr. TV News that NASA’s “Near Earth Object Program” estimates there are thousands of asteroids that could threaten Earth. Wait until our blogger finds out about that. She’s already on the edge—she’ll flip out. She doesn’t even know that one of them passed by the Earth on Sunday, and that in 2013 a 60-foot-wide meteor flung itself into our atmosphere and exploded over a city in Russia with the strength of 30 nuclear bombs. It injured 1,500 people! You know the first thing she’s going to think? When will it hit the United States—specifically, when will it hit where her children and grandchild live so she can take them to Europe for an extended holiday and out of harm’s way?

EARS: VC, you made that shit up.  Who did you hear that from? Nasty-ass Spleen?

SPLEEN:  Hey, hey, hey, there’s no need for name calling!

VOCAL CHORDS: Amanda Barnett from CNN (“Newly found asteroid to pass close to Earth on Sunday”). Nanni-nanni-booh-booh! Take that and stuff it in your ear canal.

BRAIN: Shut up, everybody! She’s waking up. The last thing she needs to hear is all her organs and whatnots kibitzing. She’d truly have a heart attack then. Back to your stations, and may the force be with her!

Nine Year Old Guns Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

Used by permission: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

I am discovering (again and again) that bad news just keeps on coming. It does so because, for the most part, we are human, and we have free will to choose between good and evil. Even if you could get half the planet to “do the right thing,” the other half would probably reject the coercion of the “do right” group and scream bloody murder: “Fuck you—you’re not the boss of me!”

Then there are the things none of us can control like tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, asteroids, auto-immune diseases, and cancers that come along and kick our asses when we’re on our way doing something else.

If bad news will keep on coming, how do we live without debilitating fear? How do we find a modicum of peace from the terror of the unknown? I’m beginning to think that we can do so by recognizing life for what it is instead of as the fairy tale we’ve been taught as Americans that we can control our lives:

Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”—Scott Peck

Then all that is left is a trust and belief in a power higher than ourselves who can help us through the damaging effects of a difficult life and give us the grace to endure—hoping that it all sums up to equal strong character that can influence a better society. Of course, one should be free to not believe in God (no one should ever be coerced), but as for me, I can’t imagine my innards being able to survive the onslaught of the stress of living on this planet without a holy presence infusing my being with courage and grace.

sales-quotes-mlm-direct-selling-amway-herbalife4-830x466

Nelson Mandela reflecting from his prison cell of 27 years

***

“Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.”Jane Wagner

“If you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days.”Kris Carr

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”― Amit Ray, Om

“Chanting and Meditation I was a little excited but mostly blorft. ‘Blorft’ is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine and reacting to the stress with the torpor of a possum.’ I have been blorft every day for the past seven years.”― Tina Fey, Bossypants

WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE AUTHOR? Check out www.eleanortomczyk.com

WANT TO READ AUTHOR’S BOOK, MONSTERS’ THROWDOWN? BUY NOW AT Amazon.com

REFERENCES

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/03/decapitated-snake-bite-man-dies_n_5755416.html

http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/04/tech/innovation/asteroid-flying-close-to-earth/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/27/nra-children-gun-range_n_5725674.html

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
31 Comments

Posted by on September 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Back to School

Do you know what I discovered this week along with the rest of the country? Ferguson, Missouri. I never heard of this town before, but like any decent human being, I am in pain for it and the family who lost their son. Even though my gut tells me that there is a racial component to this shooting (I am praying for peace and grace to envelope all the citizens in Ferguson), I am cautious as to the use of my limited platform to rile up my readers until I’ve heard all the facts. I am disinclined to believe all the details I’ve read thus far being promoted by the extremes of the media on both the right and the left side of the fence. I will not add insult to injury until the whole truth and nothing but the truth is revealed and confirmed. I owe the victim (Matthew Brown) as well as the police officer (Darren Wilson) that respect as human beings.

Consequently, I’ve decided to write on something completely innocuous this week that is a common denominator amongst most if not all Americans: going back to school. (I’m hoping a little levity might bring joy in the midst of these trying times as I connect the dots that show our commonality.) We all either have kids that we need to rip out of the throes of summer fun into the discipline of formalized school days, or we’re teachers, or we have grandkids, sisters and brothers, nieces, nephews, or cousins who are filing into classrooms all over the nation within the next two weeks with varying degrees of angst.

Summers over Nate Beeler The Columbus Dispatch

Used by permission: Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

I have been on all three sides of the “back to school” triangle as a teacher, a parent, and a student. If some well-meaning teacher asked me to do written assignments about my reentry into school throughout the years as all three of these actors, my essays would all be comedy pieces, because going back to school is a set-up for Saturday Night Live skits no matter what role you’re fulfilling in response to the brick and mortar places that shape one’s mind and destiny. Below are three essays (all true) as experienced by me in the roles of teacher, parent, and young student.

Back to School Rick McKee The Augusta Chronicle

Used by permission: Rick McKee, The Augusta Chronicle

***

WRITING ASSIGMENT: BACK TO SCHOOL STORY AS A TEACHER

I was a music teacher for a few years in a private school and the worst class I ever had was made up of six 5th grade boys who would have preferred a year-long trip into Hell over participating in the learning of music theory. Even though this was a Christian school, I knew that I had my hands full the first week when the pastor’s son led four of the boys to try and get the sixth boy to drink his urine out of a soda bottle. After threatening to string them all up by their ears, I finally got them to settle down and start to learn an ascending and descending minor scale when urine boy (UB) raised his hand:

UB:        Mrs. Tomczyk, I hate this. My pop-pop says I don’t need to learn no music theory ‘cause I’m a farmer’s boy, and learnin’ funny notes never harvested no plants. Pop-pop says I ain’t never gonna need this stuff in life.

TEACHER: Randy, Randy, Randy, where do I even begin: the use of the word “ain’t,” “stuff,” or your refusal to have your mind expanded. What if you’re meant to be a country music star? Don’t you think a little music theory might help? Think of notes as a farmer’s musical fruits—waiting to be plucked.

UB:        My pop-pop says I can’t carry a tune, so yo’ class is a waste of time. Pop-pop says my talents are better suited for other things.

At that moment, in a closet-like interior classroom with no windows, six boys coordinated their farts to explode at the same time—continuously—for at least five minutes. (I swear it sounded as if they were farting in harmony, and the smell was as noxious as a sulfur plant.) Urine Boy had brought in containers of baked beans from his farm for each of the boys, and they concocted a plan to stuff themselves with the beans at the end of their lunch hour which was right before my class. As their little asses exploded over and over again, I had to evacuate the class and take them outside to finish the lesson. Of course, they were uncontrollable because every time I tried to seriously talk about half notes as nature’s musical fruits, they fell over in gales of laughter. Although two of them did grow up to be quasi-musicians, one became a juvenile delinquent, and two of them became leaders of a cult. I wonder if my lack of musical connection to their hearts had anything to do with their life choices—yet again, I was a very young, immature teacher, and I may have prayed a curse on their little asses for the year of Hell they put me through. (Just sayin’!)

***

I’m not going to lie—I was always glad when school started. I was never Miss Sesame Street as a mother. Don’t get me wrong, I love my children more than life itself, but I could never have home-schooled them, of which they are eternally grateful. They knew my limitations as much as I did.  They barely survived me as an ex-teacher/helicopter mom, as it was.

One of my children had trouble focusing when she was in middle school, and I was very concerned that she wouldn’t catch on to all the details of the various subjects being thrown at her. Her social studies teacher would complain that when my kid should have been concentrating on what was being lectured, as the teacher passed by my child’s desk on any given day, my urchin would whisper-shout something to the effect of:

“Psst, hey Mrs. Poindexter, how YOU doin’?”

[Or if my darling child was feeling especially talkative]

“I like your dress—Is that new? You’re lookin’ good today, with your bad self.”

This particular child was quickly getting on Mrs. Poindexter’s nerves and rising to the top of her shit list. So when a major social studies assignment was sent home (worth ¼ of my kid’s grade), I figured this would be the perfect opportunity for my very smart, albeit, chatty-Cathy kid to redeem herself with just a “tiny bit of help” from her ex-school-teacher mom.

Middle-School Homework Assignment

10 page report on Capitalism vs. Communism

Assignment turned in by kid with helicopter mom’s proud help: “The Integration and Rule of the Bolsheviks vs. the Robber Barons as Compared to the Bonobo Monkey Colonies . . .”

Teacher’s Grade and Comment: B+++++++++. “To the mother of my pupil, I have given you a B-plus times nine. One more ‘plus’ would have gotten you an ‘A’ if you had included a comparison to the government utilized on the Star Trek Enterprise.”

Helicopter Mom’s chagrined “sotto voce” reply: “Bitch!”

First Day of School John Darkow Columbia Daily Tribune Missouri

Used by permission: John Darkow, Columbia Daily-Tribune Missouri 

***

WRITING ASSIGNMENT: BACK TO SCHOOL STORY AS A STUDENT (A HUNDRED YEARS AGO)

I loved school. I counted the days until I could return to school in order to escape the Hell I lived in as a child that is highlighted in my memoir Monsters’ Throwdown.

My kids had to be dragged back to school kicking and screaming.

I learned to love Shakespeare, Dickens, and the Harlem Renaissance writers, to name a few.

My kids learned how to take tests about Hamlet, David Copperfield, and Langston Hughes, to name a few.

I learned how to problem solve and strategically think in an inner-city school in the 60s.

My kids learned how to take tests in one of the best suburban schools in the nation and promptly forget what they learned while studying for the next set of tests. Memorize, test, and dump, memorize, test, and dump was their high school chant.

I learned how to absorb history and have it make an imprint on my psyche. I love history and I remember most of what I learned even though it was over fifty years ago. It is one of the reasons I was able to contextualize my memoir, Monsters’ Throwdown, into the timeline of the exciting history of the 60s and 70s without too much effort.

My kids learned to ignore anything about history that didn’t enable them to ace their AP History courses. They were considered honor-roll students by their school. I blame their teachers for teaching to the tests. I blame our Board of Education for putting that pressure on our teachers. My kids were taught to test well—not to learn. As an ex-teacher, I am in mourning for their lack of sustained knowledge.

Testing Daryl Cagle CagleCartoons com

Used by permission: Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com

I am discovering that, besides love, a solid education is the greatest gift a person can be given. (It’s how I got out of the ghetto.*) Without it, one is a virtual slave, but with it, one can do almost anything the heart desires. Fear of this empowerment is why slaves were forbidden an education in our country, why women and girls are thwarted from attending school in barbaric countries, and why there is such a growing economic divide in America today. The arguments over whether the President’s “Commoncore” educational assessment is a communist plot, or President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” is a failure, or whether charter schools are the end all and be all, are pointless if none of these “systems” grant us quality teachers and our kids excellent educations as they march back to school this year and in the years ahead. Maybe we should spend a lot less on political campaigns and a lot more on our teachers’ salaries, quality classrooms, and excellent source materials. Maybe we should stop the bi-partisan bullshit and join together to build the best public school education in the world. I bet we could do it if we tried, and if we thought of each kid in America as our own—no matter what race, creed, or color. Oh, and it would be great if our kids could be taught critical and strategic thinking—I’m just sayin’!

Testing Mike Keefe Cagle Cartoons

Used by permission: Mike Keefe, Cagle Cartoons

***

“He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”Victor Hugo

“Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.”John W. Gardner

“The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn.”Alvin Toffler

 

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR? Check out: www.eleanortomczyk.com

*BUY NOW: Monsters’ Throwdown

BACK TO SCHOOL MONKEY

My worst nightmare as a student

REFERENCES

http://www.longislandpress.com/2014/04/07/thousands-of-long-islanders-opt-out-of-common-core-testing/

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/15/health/avoid-school-germs/index.html?hpt=hp_bn13

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/06/business/a-rich-childs-edge-in-public-education.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-uprising/the-myth-behind-public-school-failure

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
24 Comments

Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Do you know what I’ve discovered this week about taking a vacation? I can’t figure out a place to go on the planet where there aren’t any people. I’m sick of people. If you scan the globe much of the brutality that is happening around the world is caused by bullies. Bullies are everywhere. No matter where you go—from your workplace to the Middle East to Congress to your place of worship—there’s always a bully trying to mess with you.

If the world were the audience of the old Oprah Winfrey show, you could almost hear her proclaiming: “WELCOME W-OOOOOO-R-L-D! Have I got a surprise for you: YOU get your ass kicked by a bully today, and YOU get your ass kicked by a bully tomorrow—go anywhere in the world, and you’ll get your ass kicked by a BUUUULLLY!

World in Chaos Gary McCoy Cagle Cartoons

Used by Permission: World in Chaos by Gary McCoy, Cagle Cartoons

In my disgruntled state of mind, I ran across an article on the “It Gets Better” Project by Dan Savage who birthed this campaign to try and encourage teens who were being bullied. I’ve supported it through my blog in the past and initially thought it was very good. But recently, I realized that as thoughtful as that project was, I don’t think it does get better. Can kids learn not to bully when the adults in the world own the franchise on fucking with people who they deem weaker or less than? Every religion has a major component of compassion within its ethos, yet history has proven that religious people can be some of the worst bullies. It got me to thinking that maybe we are all just six degrees of separation from a bully tango, even in situations that should be considered safe (houses of worship, marriage, friendships, the grocery store).

But what if we had the ability to call bullshit on the bully within ourselves and others? What if an Anti-Bully App were invented (adults only) that would sound an alarm when we or others stepped over the line of compassion no matter how right or empowered we thought we were in the situation? The more I thought about this, the more I wanted to explore the germination of bullying in adults. So I asked my alter ego, the “Dalai Mama” (sees all, knows all) to query her advice column readers for weird, quirky stories of bullying in which my proposed app would have been a handy aid. Below are some of those stories and the Dalai Mama’s response.

(Please note that even though the Dalai Mama is imaginary, the stories are all true. Only the names and the locations have been changed to protect the innocent.)

***

Dear Dalai Mama:

I used to attend a church where the pastor’s wife and two of her ladies in waiting had a three-way conference call with me and told me I should not leave home without a full coat of makeup. The pastor’s wife said I was being unkind to the neighbors. I have laughed about that for years, but it did affect me deeply. It is only in the last year that I can let people see me with no makeup. And when they do see me, no one has killed themselves. Go figure! I sure could have used your Anti-Bully App—if only I had realized I was being bullied. (Would it surprise you to know that the wife, who considered herself a “prophetess,” sold “Fancy Me Lovely” makeup?)—signed: Jezebel from Tennessee, age 63

Dear “Jezebel”:

I checked out this sorry-ass woman’s Facebook page—thinkin’ she must be all that and a bag of chips to say somethin’ like that to you. Guess what? She is no Halle Berry; she is what my mama used to call havin’ a face only a mother could love. Does yo’ man like how you look? Then that is all you have to worry about. Go on and strut yo’ stuff with or without makeup and act like you own the world, girl, because you only have this one life to live. Also, next time you see “Miss Thang,” tell her that I said, God don’t like ugly—hearts, that is.

Hey Dalai:

Zuckerberg + Facebook = bullying!  I avoided “the Book of Face” for years and only signed up to promote my book, Monsters’ Throwdown. My kids made me do it. They said if I didn’t, no one would buy my book. They said it would be fun. Well, they lied! The Facebook is not fun. People came out of the woodwork wanting to “friend” me that I didn’t remember. I barely could tolerate them if I did know them in the past, and could have cared less about chatting with them in my old age. If I thought they were stupid before my encounter with them on the “Book of Face,” they became verifiably ignorant after reading their inner-most desires and thoughts on their page. As quickly as some of them “friended” me, they “unfriended” me during the presidential election and left attack-dog Tea Party messages on my “liberal” page—“just tryin’ to set you straight.” When I changed my privacy settings, I’m told by Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times* that Zuckerberg kept changing them to less privacy without my knowledge. The Zuck kept demanding to know my business (how old I am, what schools I went to, what type of relationship I am in), and when I wasn’t forthcoming, he kept on and is keeping on demanding I cough up the goods. (I changed my birthday three times to protect myself from identity theft since Facebook insists on broadcasting to the entire freakin’ world that I am an old fart, and Zuckerberg had the nerve to indicate that he would only allow me to change it a total of three times, and then I would be stuck with the last age chosen. I am currently 85 years old according to Facebook.) Now I hear that Zuckerberg tried to categorize and study my responses by manipulating the news feed on my page to make me sad.* When I sent him a nasty note about messin’ with my mind, he said I gave him permission when I agreed to his data use policy. (It is 9,123 god-damn words—I never read all that crap!) I need an anti-bullying gun with Zuckerberg and all my ex-trolls (ex-“friends”) engraved on it, and I’m calling for a rumble on the Facebook campus in the fall.—signed, “So Over the ‘Book of Face'” from Somewhere USA, age 50, 71, or 85

Dear “So Over the Book of Face”:

You sound familiar. Is that you, Eleanor the blogger? Girl, go away. This is a conflict of interest. Plus, I only have one thing to say to your clueless behind: “Whoever writes the contract, gets the gold.” Or another way of putting it is “Whoever gets a free online service will get all her shit exploited—so deal with it.”

Bullies Types David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Used by Permission: David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star 

Dear Dalai Mama:

I know a couple that fought like cats and dogs and took home the first place trophy for bullying each other. To meet them as individuals was to love them, but together they were like two rabid demons from Hell. If they were invited to your house for dinner, before the soup course was served the woman would cut her man down for how he talked, how he chewed, how stupid he was, what a piss-poor man of God he was, and what a poor provider he had been. He would volley with how fat she’d gotten in recent years, what a bitch she had become, and how she got on his every last fucking nerve. In the past, she threw a pan of hot grits in his face, and he retaliated by slashing her craft room into shreds with his chain saw. The man died of a heart attack over a year ago, and the strangest thing happened. The woman was inconsolable. She threw herself over his coffin—weeping and wailing as if she had lost the love of her life. I had to leave the room when she and her pastor tried to raise the man from the dead through prayer and the laying on of hands as she screamed: “Rupert, come back, don’t leave me . . . I need you, baby!” Last month, the woman died. She left behind a daughter. Why is it that somehow I think the woman and the man are still trying to kill each other in eternity? There isn’t an anti-bullying app that could ever be made that would have cut through all their loveless crap. Some people are beyond the pale.—signed, “The Daughter, a.k.a, I’m Never Getting Married” from Honolulu, age 30 

Dear “I’m Never Getting Married”:

I don’t even know what to say, Baby-girl except I’m so sorry. I’m so very sorry. Some people will never change.

Israelis vs Palestinians Daryl Cagle CagleCartoons com

Used by permission: Israelis vs Palestinians, Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com

I am discovering that if rearing kids has taught me anything, it’s that “what monkey sees, monkey will definitely do.” If we want our kids not to become bullies, we have to be on guard against the slightest trait of this within ourselves and model that behavior.

When I first started blogging, I was trying to find my voice, and I did a humorous puff piece on flesh-colored tights being worn as leotards with sort tops, thus causing major ass display whenever the wearer bent over. I found a picture on the Web of the back of a very obese cashier exemplifying exactly why this was a fashion no-no as her seemingly naked ass was causing people to cover their eyes and flee in horror every time her shirt hiked up. Some stranger had taken her picture without the young woman’s knowledge or consent and uploaded it on the Web. It had a million clicks as people laughed at her over and over again. I used the picture in my blog. Two years later a troll left a comment about my “ass-holy-ness” as a Christian towards this girl. I never answered the troll, but I did repent for my momentary bullying and deleted the post because the troll was right. I called bullshit on myself. We are all just six degrees of separation from becoming a bully, and the children are watching.

Bullies et al Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

Used by permission: Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

“A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.”Abraham Joshua Heschel

“For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?”Bell hooks

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”Dalai Lama

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.” ― Michael J. Fox

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR? CHECK OUT: www.eleanortomczyk.com

REFERENCES

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/07/18/are-you-raising-nice-kids-a-harvard-psychologist-gives-5-ways-to-raise-them-to-be-kind/?tid=pm_lifestyle_pop

*http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-facebooks-user-20140630-column.html#page=1

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 
21 Comments

Posted by on August 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Everybody Hurts

Do you know what I discovered this week? I could get in touch with Santa Claus (formerly known as “Sandy Claws” in my neighborhood) in July. You see, I need a little Christmas in the middle of summer. Why? Because the people on our planet seem to have collectively lost their ever-lovin’ minds (yeah, I’m talkin’ about you—all you Satan’s little helpers who are instigating murder, mayhem, and chaos from the Middle East to Chicago). Have you (the rest of us who are sane and loving) read the news lately? Can you read it without fainting from horror and fear? Even if mayhem is not happening in your neighborhood, how long before it seeps in and grabs you by the throat? Did you know the Ebola virus is on the loose, and Boko Haram, Putin, and ISIS have their own hashtag: #FUWorld?

I live in a suburban town that is unusually peaceful and bucolic. I earned the ability to live in this spot, in what Time Magazine calls one of the ten best places to live, because WW and I worked our asses off to get here! I was born a poor black child, and I finally crawled up out of the sewer into a comfortable life accompanied by the assist of helping hands. But after reading the news all week while sitting in my lovely hibiscus garden and sipping mimosas, I think I have survivor’s guilt—feeling real bad that others are suffering, and knowing there is nothing much I can do about it except pray. Maybe it was mimosa number two or three, but I had a brain fart that I thought would bring some clarity. I made a call to “Sandy Claws” (located him in Vienna) to see if he could make a mid-year visit to my area to provide a personalized pick-me-up.

Hot Christmas Wishes from Vienna Marian Kemensky Slovakia

Used by Permission: Marian Kemensky Slovakia

The connection wasn’t an easy one. Apparently, Claus goes AWOL from January through November and goes full throttle on the Keebler addiction. I put the word out on the street amongst all the hardcore cookie dealers that I needed “a little Christmas” and would appreciate it if the fat man would make an appearance to help me out. Yesterday, I got a call from a muffled voice that identified himself as Claus’ assistant, MJ.

MJ:        Yo, you ET?

ET:         Yeah, you bet your fat ass I am.

MJ:        I’m not the one with the corpulent ass ma’am—that would be my boss. You were sent a packet with some security information in it. We’re pretty sure we know you’re you, but these days we can’t be too careful with our protective services. Claus has had several robbery attempts in the past as well as countless identity thefts. Would you please tell me the alias we assigned to you?

ET:         Auntie Mame.

MJ:        Password song line: (cut time, one-and-a-two).

ET:         “For—we—need a little Christmas, right this very minute . . .”

MJ:        Excellent. Hold please while I connect you with Santa Claus.

I’m not gonna lie, I was nervous as all get out. This would be my first time meeting the great Mr. Claus. Santa had never made an appearance in my poor Cleveland neighborhood when I was a child—ever. Trust me, if he had touched down (white man, bright red suit, sleigh full of goodies in the middle of the night) the Cleveland Plain Dealer would have led with the most salacious headline of its history the following day: “Santa Claus robbed and stripped of red suit by swarm of Coloreds; sleigh stolen, reindeer carried off (the police suspect hungry residents have eaten the sleigh pullers), and Claus left unconscious and naked while clutching a red nose of a reindeer in his hand and whimpering, ‘I’m getting too old for this shit.’” As I was thinking about the juxtaposition of my life then and now, I heard Sandy Claws’ voice on the line.

SC:         Hello ET, long time no see. Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho!

ET:         Very funny Sandy Claws . . . I mean, Santa Claus. How you doin’ with your chubby-ass self?

SC:         Well, give or take a few years, since I’m 1,744 years old, I can’t complain. But I hear you’ve got a few complaints that you think a visit from me might help. I’m more than willing to drop by in July if you think I might be able to lift your mood. Having skipped your entire childhood, I feel I really owe you this request. So sorry for the no-shows in the past—it was complicated. Deal?

ET:         Deal.   What you got in that giant red tote bag that will take away the fear and anguish of the troubles of this world, Santa Baby?

SC:         Well, the pickings are really slim this time of year, but I set aside a few gifts that might distract you from the terrifying news of the world. How about an advance copy of the movie 50 Shades of Grey—complete with the commemorative boxed book set?

ET:         Sandy, you so nasty!   I never knew that about you. Does Mrs. Claus know how nasty you are? First of all, I’m way too old to be teaching my husband this woman’s weird porno fantasies—WW would faint dead away, if the truth be known. Second, what little I’ve read of this trilogy, I think the writing is really piss poor, and there are still too many good books to read and movies to see without me wasting my time. Besides, torture—be it sexual or intelligence gathering—by any other name is still antithetical to love. What else do you have in that bag?

SC:         Well, I’ve got this new book on the market about a poor little black kid born in the ghetto who faced the monsters of her past and lived to tell the story. How about that book to take your mind off your troubles?

frontcover

Buy now: Amazon.com 

ET:         Seriously, Sandy Claws—you didn’t know I wrote that book?

SC:         Ho, ho, ho, ho—just checking to see if you were paying attention.   (By the way, Mrs. Claus turned me on to 50 Shades of Grey—so stick that in your pipe and smoke it!) I bet I have just the item in my bag of goodies to engage your mind on happier thoughts—to lose you in the realm of amazing possibilities of things that mean so much to so many: the Kim Kardashian: Hollywood game! It is all the rage this summer. It’s the top App in the Apple App Store with tens of thousands of 5 Star reviews about ways to advance up through the levels by “striking a pose,” “putting on makeup,” “getting a drink,” or “dazzling the crowd.” If you don’t believe me, check out Jessica Winter’s review: “The Kim Kardashian Game Is So Good I Had to Stop Playing It!” Mrs. Claus and I are only halfway through the game so we don’t know if one of the game requirements is to produce your own sex tape and have it inadvertently “slipped” to the public or not.

ET:         That’s it? That’s all you’ve got? No offense, Sandy baby, but these gifts are pathetic (except for my book, of course). No wonder you never showed up in my neighborhood. There is nothing you could have given me that I could have used against the demons trying to destroy my life. I don’t want this shit in your bag. I’m worried about real terrors, dude—here, there, and everywhere. I want the gift of security. I want insurance that none of this murderous mayhem will affect me and those I love. Do you understand what I’m trying to get across to you old man?

SC:         Not in my pay grade, kiddo. You can certainly bump your request for uninterrupted security to my boss, but I doubt he’ll grant it. Can’t see him answering your prayers for that one. There is no adventure without risk, and no strength of character without suffering. I’ve got one more gift in the bottom of my bag that might help. It’s a bottle of Calamine Lotion.

ET:         What on Earth do I need a bottle of Calamine Lotion for?

SC:         You’re going to need it because in about 10 minutes you will get a call from your daughter who will inform you that your five-year-old grandson has contracted the Coxsackie virus at summer camp—commonly known as the foot, hand, and mouth disease. There has been an outbreak amongst the five and six year olds in their town. He is covered from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet with oozing blisters, and he is highly contagious. You do remember he’s coming to visit you in a few days, correct?  Welcome to planet Earth!

Santa Gift of Grownups in Congress David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

I am discovering that there is no totally secure place on Earth. If my poverty-ridden upbringing in Cleveland taught me anything, it taught me that. But I don’t want to believe it. I am an American, and I think I can “insure” my way into supernatural security against everything that could harm me and mine. Provide me with enough insurance for safety and prevention, and I can control what affects my peace on Earth—so I desperately hope.

The other day I attended the funeral of a close colleague’s only child. He was twenty-five years old, and he lost control of his car coming around a curve, hit a tree, and died after several days in a coma. It was a fluke accident, and it shouldn’t have happened. He was a beautiful boy with a lovely girlfriend. He was brilliant, and by all accounts he was a joy and a delight to all who knew him. I can’t wrap my brain around this tragedy. As I looked into the destroyed eyes of his mother as she whispered to me, “we’re never supposed to bury our children, Eleanor”), I kept retracing the storyline to see if there could have been some insurable way her only son could have survived the curve on a road he’d driven a hundred times in his short life. I wanted to roll back the time, and let him take that drive again with the knowledge of what to do right before that moment came into play. But I can’t because I don’t have that power—none of us do. I can only pray for grace through the valley of tears for this young man’s parents and his girl. I can “show up” with the power of compassion and the healing balm of grace as a mother who mourns with them. And when I get those intermittent moments of peace on Earth in my garden, I can embrace them with gratitude and thanksgiving while using my circle of influence to finance, vote for, and work with agents of change in the areas that have been decimated by evil. In the meantime, I will continue to pray for peace in the Middle East, around the globe, and in my own back yard.

Middle East Peace Talks Patrick Chappatte

Middle East Peace Talks: Cartoonist Patrick Chappatte, International NY Times

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”—Helen Keller

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,

Love like you’ll never be hurt,

Sing like there’s nobody listening,

And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

― William W. Purkey

“Pain is a pesky part of being human, I’ve learned it feels like a stab wound to the heart, something I wish we could all do without, in our lives here. Pain is a sudden hurt that can’t be escaped. But then I have also learned that because of pain, I can feel the beauty, tenderness, and freedom of healing.”― C. JoyBell C.

 

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR? CHECK ME OUT AT www.eleanortomczyk.com

REFERENCES

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/07/24/kim_kardashian_hollywood_it_s_so_good_i_had_to_stop_playing_it.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/history/42-the-answer-to-life-the-universe-and-everything-2205734.html

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 
14 Comments

Posted by on July 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

 
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