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HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!

I recently had a dream that I received a double-sided invitation to a birthday party of great significance for a very important entity who was dying (apparently, all Americans were invited).  The invitation was sent by “America’s Moral Fiber” and addressed to me as “One of America’s Citizens since Birth.”  The front side of the invitation announced that the lady would turn 243 years old on July 4th this year.  The invite stated that when she was born, she had been birthed in a magnificent family of fine ideas, but unfortunately, had failed to live up to those ideas, which were causing her very life to be in danger.  The invitation went on to instruct that the birthday party would take place anywhere, anytime on the day of July 4th, and that the menu would consist of picnic food and fireworks.  Attire: comfortable summer wear.

CARTOON USED BY PERMISSION: 212595_600 Bob Englehart, Middletown, CT

 When I flipped the invite over, I noticed the following statement:

PLEASE BRING PRESENTS!  Even though the Lady has everything under the sun (mountains, valleys, rivers, great plains, magnificent cities, bucolic countrysides, tropical islands, a beautiful bouquet of people from every color and gender spectrum, just to name a few), she has lost her way and is in need of specific presents from her guests if she is to recover from the diseases that are consuming her.

Below is the list of presents from which to choose and their definitions in case there is any confusion:

GIFT OF COMPASSION

In my view, the best of humanity is in our exercise of empathy and compassion. It’s when we challenge ourselves to walk in the shoes of someone whose pain or plight might seem so different than yours that it’s almost incomprehensible.—Sarah McBride

CARTOON USED BY PERMISSION: 226955_600 Christopher Weyant, The Boston Globe, MA

GIFT OF BROTHERLY LOVE

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.—Martin Luther King, Jr.

CARTOON USED BY PERMISSION: 211084_600 David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star Tucson AZ

GIFT OF MERCY

Teach me to feel another’s woe, to hide the fault I see, that mercy I to others show, that mercy show to me.—Alexander Pope

CARTOON USED BY PERMISSION: 225381_600 David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star Tucson AZ

GIFT OF EMPATHY

It’s hunger. It’s homelessness, often. It’s underfunded, under-resourced schools. It’s abuse beyond the chilling. It’s having overwhelmed parents and caregivers. Those are the things that young people are struggling with beyond our view.—Susan L. Taylor

CARTOON USED BY PERMISSION: 186592_600 Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune UT

GIFT OF GODLY CHARACTER

I don’t believe a champion is the biggest, baddest, meanest dude in the world. I think the champion is like a warrior; it’s like the head knight or lead samurai: humble men of integrity, respect, and honor that treat people kindly.—Jon Jones

CARTOON USED BY PERMISSION: 226873_600 David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star Tucson AZ

GIFT OF TRUTH

The trouble with lying and deceiving is that their efficiency depends entirely upon a clear notion of the truth that the liar and deceiver wishes to hide.Hannah Arendt

CARTOON USED BY PERMISSION: 225742_600 Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch, OH

GIFT OF INTELLIGENCE

We should all feel confident in our intelligence. By the way, intelligence to me isn’t just being book-smart or having a college degree; it’s trusting your gut instincts, being intuitive, thinking outside the box, and sometimes just realizing that things need to change and being smart enough to change it.—Tabatha Coffey

CARTOON USED BY PERMISSION: 224424_600 Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, MN

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When I awoke from my dream, I was reminded of the high ideals that had once graced the hearts of America’s founding fathers that seduced all the immigrants who had ever come to America in search of a better life.  That wondrous dream and promise that even quickened the hearts of the Africans (my ancestors) who had been stolen from their own countries to build this nation by the sweat of their brows and the brokenness of their blood-whipped backs, who eventually came to believe in the dream—that their children, too, could live in the majestic promise that all men are created equal. I decided that I would attend our nation’s birthday party this July 4th and that I’d bring the “Gift of Hope” wrapped in the birthday paper of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness….”

CARTOON USED BY PERMISSION: 197362_600 Dave Granlund, Minnesota

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WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR?  Check out her website at www.eleanortomczyk.com

THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOKS:  Monsters’ Throwdown, Fleeing Oz, The Fetus Chronicles on sale now at Amazon!

All quotes are courtesy of www.brainyquote.com

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 June 30, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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YOU’VE BEEN EXPEDITED!

Well, I’m back!  Back from a cruise on a big ol’ fancy ship to Northern Spain, Portugal, the Island of Majorca, Gibraltar, and Rome.  Went to celebrate 40 years of marriage with my man, “WW” (White and Wonderful) and my birthday of 71 years.  I had a blast ‘cause my man knows how to treat his woman—Oh yes, Jesus, he does!  He had been organizing this trip for two years, and it was outstanding—first class all the way!

Photo Credit: Eleanor Tomczyk/Bilboa, Spain

Talk about acting like a “balla”—for two weeks I was a committed hedonist.  (For the uninitiated, a “balla” [baller] is someone like a successful basketball or football player who lives like she is queen of everything—a Serena Williams or Beyoncé with so much money to burn that one’s lavish and outlandish lifestyle is de rigueur.) The way I acted over the course of those two weeks onboard the cruise, you would have never guessed that I was born a poor-Black-child in the inner-city of Cleveland because I took to being pampered like a pig to slop or a Trump. 

Everything was just perfect, and I can see why people prefer being rich rather than poor.  For me, this lifestyle was temporary, but if I could have stayed on an eternal cruise on this particular ship, you bet your sweet tuckus, I would have. That’s because humans—especially Americans—are prone to the seductive life of getting our own way when everything is how you want it, when you want it, and where you want it—a.k.a. easy.  In other words, my “idealized persona” (what Carl Jung calls our mask, and what the author Mateo Sol of Loner Wolf describes as “…what we would like to be and how we wish to be seen by the world”) was livin’ the dream on this floating luxury resort.  That is…until I boarded the plane in Rome to return home, and I got into a rip-roaring fight with my “shadow self” which is still whimpering today as I try to wean myself from all that rich food and pampering.

What is a “shadow self,” you might ask?  First of all, we all have one.  Mateo Sol* describes the “shadow self” as “an archetype that forms part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, instincts, impulses, weaknesses, desires, perversions and embarrassing fears.”  Carl Jung furthers Sol’s definition from his book: On the Psychology of the Unconscious:

It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses—and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. The individual seldom knows anything of this; to him, as an individual, it is incredible that he should ever in any circumstances go beyond himself. But let these harmless creatures form a mass, and there emerges a raging monster.

Spoiled Brat meme/Sylvester me.me

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BELOW IS THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE FIGHT WITH MY SHADOW SELF WHO HAD STOWED AWAY UNDERNEATH MY SOUL AND STAYED HIDDEN AND SILENT UNTIL MID-WAY DURING THE TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHT HOME AFTER THE CRUISE.

SHADOW SELF:  Psst!  Wake up!  Wake up, Fool!! Why the fuck are we in coach?  This is not what I signed up for.

MY PERSONA:  Oh, my God—where did you come from?  I thought I left you locked in the closet at home.

SHADOW SELF:  As if!  Where you go, I go.  Do you hear that nasty-ass old man hacking up loogies sitting just three seats from you?  He’s been doing it all night. We’re going to catch “p-new-moania” from this dude and be bedridden for weeks.  We’re almost 71 years old.  We can’t be putting ourselves in this kind of danger.  Now, on the other hand, do you hear anyone coughing and sneezing in First Class?  Did you notice their lovely hot meals (three choices—each with hot soup options) served on linen table clothes along with champagne and copious wine and hot fudge sundaes on trays in front of their lay-down beds and massive TV screens that tilt for maximum viewing? It’s a different world up there — a world where we definitely belong.  A world where people have been “expedited.”

What did we have for dinner?  A freezer-burned gluten-free cardboard chicken piece in a tin (half cooked) with unseasoned veggies (also freezer burned).  We are in a seat with a TV screen on the back of the seat in front of us which is the size of a postage stamp.  I tried to pee an hour or so ago and there were at least 250 people lined up to use the toilet.

MY PERSONA:  Listen, SS, we discussed this before I left.  We used all our Benjamins for the cruise and all our frequent flyer points for the flight to London.  You’ll survive this return flight from Rome. I know it’s like being in a can of sardines flying in coach, but unless you are Trump or a televangelist with a fleet of private planes, you’ll just have to suck it up.  Besides, this is why I thought I left you home.  I don’t want to hear any whining after such a fabulous vacation.

Used by permission: 212692_600 Jeff Koterba, Omaha World Herald, NE

SHADOW SELF:  There is always room for improvement, Chickadee.  The cruise line showed you the blueprint.  I keep dreaming of that ship and how this is the first time you’ve really treated me as I truly deserve.  The cruise ship had me at “hello!”  Remember the entry-way to the ship when one of the stewards looked at your ticket and said, “Oh, you don’t belong in THIS LINE, Mr. and Mrs. Tomczyk.  Come with me to the VIP line because “you’ve been expedited!”  God, I love the sound of those words:  “YOU’VE BEEN EXPEDITED!”  We were swiftly escorted onto the ship with not another person ahead of us which meant no lines and no waiting.  (Bitch, you know how I hate waiting in lines!)  Then, before I could say, “Let’s locate the martini bar,” a waitress gave us our choice between straight champagne or mimosas as we toured the ship — champagne in hand.  Didn’t even have to pick up the keys to our suite…just told to go to our lodging at our leisure where we’d find the keys in our mail slot. 

MY PERSONA:  I must say that was nice.  So easy. So expedient. Kind of makes you wish all of life was like that, especially the DMV.

SHADOW SELF:  Exactly.  See…now you’re thinkin’ like me.  That cabin was just to die for, wasn’t it?  A bathroom that was big enough to throw a party in with a bathtub the size of a six-person Jacuzzi.  And remember what was waiting for you when you opened the door?  MORE CHAMPAGNE! And not the cheap-ass stuff either.  Slap me some Moët, Baby…Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary to me, Sister-Friend! 

Photo Credit: Eleanor Tomczyk

MY PERSONA:  Ummm…and the delicious chocolate-covered strawberries—so sweet, they made my toes curl.  And the flowers…weren’t they precious?

SHADOW SELF:  Yep, if only everyday could be like that, right?  Now my favorite was when we heard the knock on the door and in walks our own private butler.  Lawd, have mercy, I almost fainted!  I thought to myself: This po-black-chil’ done hit the lottery!  Remember what he said to you:  “Welcome Madam.  Do you find everything to your liking? I’m sorry that I didn’t have a chance to sprinkle the rose petals on the bed, but I can bring them later, if you’d like.  I’m on-call to serve you 24/7.  Also, would you like to be addressed as Mrs. Tomczyk, Eleanor, or Madam?” Sweet Jesus, I just knew we had died and gone to Heaven.  I was hoping you’d choose to be called “Madam” so I could pretend we were in an episode of Downton Abbey.  This would be the only time in my life that my Black-ass would be called “Madam” by a White butler.  BUT NOOOO…you went all egalitarian and shit on me, and said he could address you as “Eleanor.”  But I forgive you, because the butler was so hot.  Him with his silver-fox hair and Ukrainian accent—looking like a bleached Denzel Washington.  I knew right there, he would be just perfect for all my needs.

Stock Photo: Butler similar to one on cruise

MY PERSONA:  Would you cut that shit out, SS.  Did you forget I’m married?  I did not perceive the butler like that.  He was nice and attentive.  That’s all I noticed.  That and the fact he offered to do my laundry anytime I needed it done—for free.  I would have taken him home just for that.  Anyway, enough of this.  You know that the downside of any wonderful experience or gift is the sin of ingratitude. The worst part of the cruise were all the habitual cruisers (people who cruise every three months or so) who brought along their shadow selves and bitched and complained about everything under the sun (“it’s too hot, it’s too cold, this isn’t as nice as the other cruise, I don’t like the entertainment, why did they change the private bar area, why is the elevator so slow, where in hell did my butler go…”).  Get yourself together because if you think today is bad, wait until I get us back home and put us on a diet to take off all the pounds we gained over the past two weeks with a butler who would bring us any food and drink anytime we wanted it.

SHADOW SELF:  I loved that the first activity you did on the ship was get an 80 minute massage. I liked that almost as much as sampling the six different specialty restaurants with chocolate desserts that would make a grown man weep, and the premium drink package that could stock a neighborhood bar.  I figured if we started drinking at breakfast and kept going straight on to dawn, maybe we’d be able to use up all that drink package, but you wouldn’t even give it a try.  I kept nudging you to “go for it,” but after a while you kept choosing hot tea instead of pina coladas.  Where’s the fun in that, Girlfriend?

Photo Credit: Eleanor Tomczyk

MY PERSONA:  Because after the third day, my body was saturated.  I can only take so much rich food and alcoholic drinks.  Pretty soon the mojitos and creamed lobster artfully placed on a Sriracha aioli and partitioned by figs and fried marigold flowers have to be replaced by a juice cleanse and salad or I would have rolled back into town weighing 300 pounds. Besides, I wasn’t touring Spain, Portugal, and the like to just eat and drink.  I loved seeing the history of the towns (especially Sintra, Portugal).  I loved discovering their Jewish quarter and learning about Aristides de Sousa Mendes do Amaral e Abranches, a Portuguese man who issued thousands of visas for Jews to escape Nazi Germany against the wishes of his own king.  It was fascinating to learn how a large group of Jews appeared to assimilate into the Portuguese culture, pretending to be Christians (hidden in plain sight), and even inventing a sausage as proof of their conversion.  What the authorities didn’t know was that the sausage was made of cooked chicken, bread, spices, and tomatoes to give it a “bloody” look, but it was strictly kosher.  The sausage is still one of Portugal’s most sumptuous delicacies. 

And to top it all off, when I turned a corner after leaving the Old Jewish Quarter, I thought I saw Barack Obama waving to me from an apartment window as he stood with Chinese President Xi Jinping.  I almost fainted at the shock!  For a minute he looked eerily real, and another American tourist, an Australian and I teared up and waved back.  The White American from New Jersey said out loud to the other nationalities longingly gazing at the picture in the window: “We’re sorry we couldn’t give you another Barack Obama.  It’s not personally my fault, but we’re working on fixing it.  Please, please don’t give up on America. Ignore the clown masquerading as our President in the White House.”  That’s when I knew, this cruise was only a momentary fun event and brief respite; once I got back home, it was back to the grind of reality and into the resistance movement I had signed up for to help undo the national nightmare that had engulfed our country.

Photo Credit: Eleanor Tomczyk in Sintra, Portugal

SHADOW SELF:  Fine.  You went for the culture, history, and inspiration, I stowed away for the pampering and the spoiling.  I want you to figure out how the phrase “You’ve been expedited!” gets me rollin’ like a balla when we get home.  If you don’t, I’m gonna raise bloody hell!  I will be unable to be lived with—do you hear me, Bitch! ‘Cause once you go coddled and pampered, you never go back!  You tell WW, your trip to Africa next year has to at least be business class or I’m gonna throw a stage 4 temper tantrum in the terminal! 

MY PERSONNA:  Shut the fuck up and go to sleep!  You are officially on lock-down, Shadow self. I don’t want to hear another word from you!  Get yourself prepared to eat nothing but lettuce wraps, exercise incessantly, and attempt to write the next great American novel because my “idealized persona,” that I am a disciplined writer and in control of my flesh, is my modus operandi when I’m state side.

SELAH (MEDITATIVE THOUGHT FOR THE DAY)

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WANT TO READ MORE?  CHECK OUT AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOKS:  “Monsters’ Throwdown,” Fleeing Oz,” and “The Fetus Chronicles:  Podcasts From my Miseducated Self”—on sale now at Amazon!

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR?  Check out her website at www.eleanortomczyk.com

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REFERENCES:

https://lonerwolf.com/shadow-self/*

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 June 5, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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LIVIN’ MY LIFE LIKE IT’S GOLDEN

ESSAY ON MINDFULNESS DURING THE REIGN OF TERROR BY TRUMP, EPISODE #2

Remember how I told you recently that The Donald had given me an Easter gift of mindfulness, and I will be eternally grateful to him for it?  How life was passing me by because I was so wrapped up in #45’s 10,000 lies that they were robbing my peace and joy? In fact, I was acting like God had died and bequeathed the United States to Donald J. Trump.  It was driving me INSANE!  Well, I got set free during the Easter season. No kidding! In order to not go crazy from his highness’ unrepentant evil, I’ve cut down the news to 2 hours a day (1 hour in the a.m. and 1 hour in late afternoon) to keep me abreast of whether Armageddon has started in case I have to move to my bomb shelter and start bartering the wine from my wine cabinet for food with my neighbors. The rest of my day is spent smelling the roses—being grateful for what I have at almost 71 years old (in June) and opening up my life to new experiences.  I am currently living in awakened, grateful mindfulness while engaging in the world around me.  It’s been absolutely awesome!  I’m so cool, calm, and collected these days.  I’m so happy and full of joy!

Cartoon used by permission: Bob Englehart, Middletown, CT

It isn’t just the antics of the toddler-king that cause me great anxiety, it is the entire 24/7 news of how badly we’re treating each other as human beings that is killing my spirit (from mass shootings in schools and houses of worship to individual meanness in our homes (some old fart in my town [75 years old] shot his wife of 54 years in front of his grown kid the other day and announced to the judge that he did it because “the bitch just wouldn’t shut up”. Oy!) 

The thing that really breaks my heart is every time I read or hear about Christians blatantly selling their souls to the altar of Donald Trump (yes, I’m talking to you Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Franklin Graham), I’m crushed in spirit, and the anguish of their deception overwhelms me.  (I’ve always wondered how those that fought evil in the past were able to keep their hearts and minds from exploding when they saw the majority of Germany’s Christians applauding Hitler and carrying out his instructions to annihilate the Jews, or South African Christians trampling on the rights of Black South Africans in the name of “divine” Apartheid, or Southerners preaching from the church pulpits that slavery of the Negro and the subsequent Jim Crow Laws were warranted and justified in Jesus’ name.  How did the minority who knew that the evil swirling around them in Jesus’ name had nothing to do with Jesus maintain their sanity?

It had to be mindfulness (dwelling in the moment on gratitude, hope, beauty, and love) that kept them holding on until the TRUTH showed up and out and set the enslaved free.


Cartoon used by permission: Bob Englehart, Middletown, CT

In my new state of mindfulness this week, I discovered that my home state of Virginia is celebrating 50 years of love.  Apparently, Virginia’s Tourism Board started the campaign that “Virginia is for Lovers” some 50 years ago, which is really ironic since Virginia is the state that was sued by the interracial couple, Mr. and Mrs. Loving (I know, talk about irony!) 52 years ago to allow them to live in Virginia as a married couple which broke the miscegenation laws at the time when they won the Supreme Court case.  Because of the Lovings, John and I can live in Virginia as an interracial married couple who have been married 40 years without the local sheriff dragging us out of our home in the middle of the night and throwing us into jail.  For 50 days, the Virginia Tourism Corporation has led an active campaign around the word “love”—“50 years of love—Virginia is for Lovers.”

I almost didn’t go for my six-mile walk the other day, because I had allowed some negative criticism of some MAGA hat Christians to seep into my thinking (why are they always so obstinate and mean-spirited?).  But I reminded myself that the “new Eleanor” was a slave to mindfulness now and needed to go about her day as an instrument of God’s peace.  So I prayed the prayer I’ve made up for myself and set off on my walk:

“I have no plans today for my life—only sketches.

Reveal to me your path—where I should go, who I should meet, what I should do.

May I be slow to anger, quick to listen, and slow to speak.

Grant me courage, wisdom, grace, mercy, and above all love for those I encounter along the way.”

Halfway through my walk as I meditated on what a fabulous man I’d ended up with to journey through this life (I call him “WW”—“White and Wonderful”), I came across a giant display of the word “love” in the central area of my community.  It was a manifestation of the Virginia Tourism’s “Love” campaign throughout the state.  And I knew exactly what my mindfulness action was supposed to be that day, and I hope the Lovings were looking down on us from heaven and grinning from ear to ear.

Photo credit: Marilyn Mason
Photo credit: Marilyn Mason

In keeping with the spirit of how mindful we should be for the love WW and I have been given (blessed with two children and one grandchild), we are not going to stop at the “love” sign.  We are going to go celebrate that love in Spain, Portugal, and England on a brand new cruise ship called the Celebrity Edge (I’ll also be celebrating my 71st birthday).  All of this is a month early (we were actually married in June on my birthday), but so what? I’m old—I can do just about anything I want.  For the entire time we’re traveling, we are going to ignore any and everything about Trump, his mayhem, and his minions’ chaos (no bad news will cross these eyeballs or infiltrate these ears).  Consequently, I will be taking a break from blogging and rolling from the spa to the dance floor, to the gourmet restaurants, and through the vineyards and cathedrals in each port on one of the loveliest ships I’ve ever seen.  I’m sure I’ll have plenty of stories to tickle your funny bones and lighten your hearts about mindfulness when I return because I plan to take my journal with me.

In the meantime, wallow in mindfulness while I’m gone—it will make your day!

Celebrity Edge Poster Photo

(They say that one of the five restaurants on this ship is one where you can build your meal via hologram—hot diggedy-dog!)

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WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR?  Check out her website at www.eleanortomczyk.com

THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOKS:  Monsters’ Throwdown, Fleeing Oz, The Fetus Chronicles on sale now at Amazon!

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Photo credit: Marilyn Mason

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 May 10, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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OH MY GOD: DONALD TRUMP SENT ME AN EASTER PRESENT!

ESSAY ON EASTER AND MINDFULNESS

I take back everything I’ve ever said about Donald Trump not knowing what he’s doing for the people of the United States and the image of Christ.  He’s an evil genius!  Also, I take back every disdainful thought I’ve ever had against the MAGA hats that put Trump in office and are keeping him there. Because of them, I’ve found a new lease on life, a calmer demeanor, and a deeper trust in God this Easter.  (Thank you, oh Crazy Orange One and your MAGA hat minions for my Easter present!)


Cartoon used by permission: Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune, UT , Cagle

My non-believing sisters and brothers, do you know what Lent is?  According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is “the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting,” which is to draw one closer to God by the time Easter rolls around because the resurrection of Christ from the dead is so awesome that it is every Christian’s hope that if Christ can conquer death, he can conquer every other type of evil plaguing our lives. The reason we give up things at Lent that have some control over our appetites is because we hope it will be easier to scrub off the veneer of fear and hopelessness that blinds us to the power of Christ’s resurrection help in other areas of our lives.

Well, Eureka!  The Holy Ghost gave me a revelation.  The messianic imposter in the White House had caused me to momentarily think he was indestructible, invincible, and made of Teflon (none of his sins were ever going to stick to him and bring him down), and there was absolutely nothing I could personally do about his reign and damage done to our country.  (If his Evangelical supporters are to be believed, I am not operating in God’s will by opposing the Orange One—in fact, I am a sinful little snot who will burn in Hell.)  I was full of fear (not of going to Hell, but of Trump getting away with murder, which seems so much worse than living in Hell), and that led to chronic anxiety which led to eating a gluttonous amount of chocolate-covered bon-bons washed down with buckets of mojitos (not really, but you get my point).  

I am seventy years old and counting—I cannot afford to waste any more of my days on fear and loathing.

So I had a Lenten revelation:  I need to give up Donald J. Trump, not just for Lent, but for the end of time. He is like an obnoxious, spoiled toddler who is only happy if he is absorbing all our attention every second of the day.  I no longer give him the attention he is demanding.  I have replaced thoughts about Trump with gratitude and mindfulness via meditation, and I’m letting the God of the universe fight the things I cannot control—including kicking Trump’s ass. 

I have become a mindfulness aficionado (more about this in the weeks to come).

Carrie on Pinterest

Every morning when I wake up (before I get out of bed), I thank God for what I have—not what I’ve lost. (At this age, one starts losing things, people, and memories on a daily basis as if they were pennies in a pocket full of holes.  Trust me, getting old is not for the cowardly.)  In other words, if I can still breathe, walk, see, hear, talk, and learn…it’s a good day!

Then I mediate, and the sole script of that meditation is a prayer to the God of Easter:

“I have no plans today for my life—only sketches.

Reveal to me your path—where I should go, who I should meet, what I should do.

May I be slow to anger, quick to listen, and slow to speak.

Grant me courage, wisdom, grace, mercy, and above all love for those I encounter along the way.”

It has been amazing!  No more stress, no more anxiety, and no more anger at Trump or anything else—I am as cool as an iced cucumber and I’m no longer in search of bon-bons.  (I fully believe he’s going to be flushed down the toilet of life, but I’m not worried about the if, when, how, or by whom, anymore.)  Consequently, I’ve had the most amazing encounters during the Lent season.  As you might expect, I met a Tin Man who needed a heart, a Scarecrow who needed a brain (actually this was a woman), and just recently, a Lion who needed courage.

Let me tell you about the most significant traveler I met along the way since the beginning of my new mindfulness journey.  The Lion.  He was a driver for a car service in New York City.  He was Asian, young, handsome, and spoke fairly good English. On his dashboard was a miniature picture of the Dalai Lama.  Our driver had shoulder-length black hair which sported a cocky backwards baseball cap that displayed the slogan:  “Let’s get fucked tonight!”  Since I had no intentions of doing anything that day but get to the airport on time and try to return home in one piece, I said, “Delta Terminal C, please,” and proceeded to get lost in conversation with my husband about our magnificent grandson and daughter who we had just spent a wonderful weekend with.  The driver seemed lost in thought but said nothing except an explosive “sigh” every minute or so which was very disruptive—each sigh was like the percussive sound of a steam engine.   (It was so unnerving that I almost yelled at him and said, “What the fuck is wrong with you?  Turn on some music if this is the best you can do for conversation!”  But this is the new and improved, mindfulness Eleanor, so I was not “quick to anger,” nor was I “quick to speak,” (plus, if the truth be told, I didn’t want my Uber rating to take a hit—it’s bad enough as it is!).

I thought the driver was frustrated with the traffic, and I made a mental note to give him a one-star rating where it says, “Driver was a good conversationalist” on the ratings form at the end of our destination.  After a long twenty minutes and about thirty Eeyore sighs later, we finally pulled up in front of our designated terminal.  As soon as I unbuckled my seat belt and hastily reached for the door, the driver turned around and said:  “If you had a friend whose wife was having an affair with his best friend, would you forgive her and try to make the marriage work for the sake of the kids (he has the kids), or would you take the kids and run?”  In the midst of a traffic jam with horns blaring, in front of an airport terminal, trying not to be late to catch a flight, my husband and I gave a broken-hearted lion a few minutes of counseling that I can only hope gave him the courage to let love win and try to save his marriage. (I’d like to think there was something about our mindfulness that encouraged him to open his Dalai Lama-loving heart to us…)

But one thing I’m certain of, ever since I let go of Trump and let God take over my mind and heart, I am encountering the most amazing human beings and having the most outlandish conversations.  I shall keep you posted.  In the meantime, if all the mess of Donald Trump and his minions gets you down or your life is one that makes you mourn and sigh, remember the God of Easter and his amazing resurrection life makes all good things possible, and in the words of one of my favorite authors:

“Everything will be all right in the end.

If it’s not all right, it is not yet the end.”

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


Cartoon used by permission: Bob Englehart, Middletown CT, Cagle

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR?  Check out her website at www.eleanortomczyk.com

THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOKS:  Monsters’ Throwdown, Fleeing Oz, The Fetus Chronicles on sale now at Amazon!

***


Cartoon used by permission: Dave Granlund, Minnesota, Cagle

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 April 18, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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JESUS, GOD OF EASTER, HELP!

As you might imagine, given the events of this week, I am sitting Shiva with the rest of my liberal friends—or should I say, sitting Shiva with anybody who has a brain, a conscious, a heart, a soul, or eyes and ears.  According to Wikipedia, Shiva means “seven,” and “sitting Shiva” is described as: “the week-long mourning period in Judaism for first-degree relatives.”  In this case, my first-degree relatives are my country’s morality, constitution, and soul, and my religion’s core Truth.  I know I’m supposed to accept Barr’s assessment of the Mueller report and move on, but I just can’t.  In the words of George Conway (conservative lawyer and the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway —talk about irony):

“TRUMP IS GUILTY—OF BEING UNFIT FOR OFFICE”

Cartoon used by permission: Milt Priggee, Oak Harbor, WA/Cagle Cartoons

The aftermath of Barr’s summary has been brutal against anyone who has opposed Trump—led by the mean-spirited bully Trump himself, as he takes his victory lap in the end zone.  Every time I hear him attacking someone who has uncovered his lies or stood up to his bullying, all I can do is pray that the God of Easter rescues us from this cretin—SOON.  Was it wrong to hope the Mueller Report would be an answer to that prayer of obvious corruption exposed?  And why did William Barr give us an interpretation of a potentially 300-plus page report rather than the report itself?  What is Barr hiding?  Instead, the White Right-Wing Christians who believe Trump was sent by God are hoarse from crowing Barr’s summation that God has protected their anointed one, and it makes me sick to my stomach—so sick, it sent me into intercessory prayer.  Below is my most recent prayer—prayed while sitting in sackcloth and ashes cataloged under the title: If Ever There was a God, Now is the Time to Show Up (Again).

Cartoon used by permission: Ed Wexler, PoliticalCartoons.com/Cagle Cartoons

DEAR GOD:

How are you?  The last time we spoke, I was praying for healing of a horrible respiratory disease, spring to arrive (sooner than later), and for the Mueller Report to be released, putting a stop to our current reign of terror. I’m very grateful that you completely healed my snot-generating, five-foot chubby-ass body, that spring has finally sprung revealing that not all my plants died over the winter (thank you very much), and the Mueller Report was finally released—kind of.

It looks like I needed to be a bit more specific in my prayers regarding the Mueller Report.  I don’t mean to be ungrateful, but I thought we had an understanding that the report would be released in its entirety and reveal the complete corruption of Donald J. Trump in such a way that his followers would flee in horror—especially the ones who claim to be your followers.  But instead of them repenting in sackcloth and ashes for propping up this egregious sack of sin, they are joining in his revenge victory lap claiming the Bible verse (Psalm 105:15) on Trump’s behalf:  “Don’t touch my chosen leaders or harm my prophets! “Just the other day I came across this billboard that was once posted near St. Louis, Missouri from a bunch of your Trump-loving Christian followers equating him with you, Jesus:

A billboard along route I-70 near St. Louis, Missouri in Nov. 2018

(OPEN LETTER TO GOD, CONT.)

I don’t know how I missed this billboard when it first appeared, but my God, doesn’t this just burn your cookies?  Seems as if that alone would cause you to make a personal appearance just to set the record straight.  Now, how does the Bible verse John 1:14 read again? 

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(The billboard was removed in 2018, but only after a great deal of hysteria from your “sane” peeps who rallied to confront this blasphemous stupidity.)

Insane, right?!

Cartoon used by permission: Pat Bagley, The Salt Lake Tribune, UT/Cagle Cartoons

(OPEN LETTER TO GOD, CONT.)

With all due respect, knowing what you must know, what’s up with letting Trump slide by on the Mueller Report and practically getting away with murder?  You of all deities know that he’s guilty.  He’s like a giant toddler, and he won’t stop until he’s caught red-handed. He needs a giant ass-kicking by you since I am now convinced that Trump was right—he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose his supporters—especially his Christian supporters because they believe you sent Trump to save America.

Not that I need to give you any parenting advice, but do you recall the “Great Toddler Candy Heist of 87” that was perpetrated by one of my children (no need to name names—you know who Baby-girl is)?  Bear with me here.

As you recall, in the beginning, I tried to raise my children in a sugar-free environment. However, one of my kids came to Earth dreaming of lollipops. If upon her arrival the Devil had presented himself to her and said, “I’ll give you all the candy in the world in exchange for your soul, your sister’s soul, and both your parents’ souls,” she would have said, “In a hot baby-poop minute—where do I stamp my baby paw print?”   My child had ways of getting candy that I knew not of.  All I know is that the minute I turned my back on her (with the specific instructions: “Don’t give this child any candy!”) and returned to pick her up from babysitters, Sunday school providers, mother-in-law, or friends’ homes, I’d find candy wrappers stuffed in her diapers and witness the vestiges of a tummy ache all over my new blouses when I snuggled with her.  But no one could ever catch her actually procuring and eating the sweets.  No matter how many times I asked her if she’d eaten candy and where she’d gotten it from, she’d look me straight in the eyes and lie through her cute little four-year-old baby teeth.  (I think I might have even tossed out a prayer or two to you to help me catch that little barbarian in her lies at one time or another.)

Internet Meme

One day, I think you answered my prayers.  I took said candy thief and her sister with me to a very brief business meeting. I noticed as we passed by a table in the lobby by the receptionist’s desk that a rather large bowl of grape Jolly Ranchers was prominently displayed on our way to the elevators.  Both girls asked if they could have some, but I told them “no,” because I was afraid it would spoil their lunch.

After the meeting was over, I strapped the kids into their respective car seats and proceeded back home for lunch.  About five minutes into the drive, I smelled a pungent grapey odor coming from the back seat.  In fact, the odor was overwhelming, as if someone had flooded the car with Welch’s Grape Juice. It was apparent that one of the kids had stolen candy from the office candy dish.  As I whipped my head around like a cobra to seek out the culprit, I demanded to know who was sucking on a Jolly Rancher. My older daughter said, “Not I, said the cat.” When I turned to Baby-girl, she violently shook her head in denial but refused to open her mouth.  Had I not pulled over to the side of the road, I would not have caught her in the act.  But as I stopped the car and looked into the back seat at my girls, streams of purple ooze poured out of Baby-girl’s mouth.  Apparently, she had stolen as many Jolly Ranchers as her little fat fingers could handle and squirrelled them away in her jumpsuit pockets.  My toddler thief had stuffed not one, not two, not three, but at least four grape Jolly Ranchers into her tiny toddler mouth which couldn’t contain the saliva overflow. Caught dead to rights, even as I asked Baby-girl if she had Jolly Ranchers in her mouth, she continued to shake her head in fierce denial while purple saliva stormed from both sides of her mouth as if she were an overheated Saint Bernard and consequently slimed both her sister and me in purple ooze.

Lord, the point of this story is that I nipped that little rascal’s lyin’ and stealin’ in the bud by catching her in the act, and today she is a fine upstanding citizen. I thought you were probably proud of me for that bit of parenting stealth, if the truth be known.So here’s the word: you created Donald Trump.  Essentially, you’re his first parent.  I don’t mean to be impertinent, but why didn’t you let the Mueller Report expose him in all his ill-gotten slime?  Instead, he has gotten away with his crimes (again!) and has become an even bigger jerk than ever—claiming to be a martyr on the level of messiahhood, creating a revenge list, and tormenting the sick, the poor, and anybody that crosses him.


Cartoon used by permission: Milt Priggee, Oak Harbor, WA/Cagle Cartoons

(OPEN LETTER TO GOD, CONT.)

Lord Jesus, I know you know everything none of us know and in due time, all will be revealed, and we’ll all know the truth whether we want to accept it or not. It’s just that William Barr’s assessment was not the truth.  It may have “technically” helped Trump escape collusion, but he’s got the stain of being a horrible human being in every fiber of his being and he’s sliming us all with his purple-tainted sins of lying and corruption.   

Anyway, see you on Easter.  I could use some hope and proof that you’re in control of this mess. Just sayin’. In the meantime, I’ll keep praying (like a mantra) in the words of Leslie Jones’ recent universal tweet:  #LORDHELPUSPLEASE


Cartoon used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star Tucson, AZ/Cagle Cartoons

***

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR?  Check out her website at www.eleanortomczyk.com

THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOKS:  Monsters’ Throwdown, Fleeing Oz, The Fetus Chronicles on sale now at Amazon!

***

REFERENCE

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/03/27/michael-avenattis-downfall-would-be-great-thing-democrats/?utm_term=.b45c5010c518

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/george-conway-trump-is-guilty–of-being-unfit-for-office/2019/03/26/0b5f851e-4ffd-11e9-88a1-ed346f0ec94f_story.html?utm_term=.b59e095fe99e

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/27/politics/cnn-poll-mueller-reaction-exoneration/index.html

https://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2018/11/05/we-fixed-that-appalling-trump-billboard-just-outside-st-louis-for-you

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 March 29, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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WAITING FOR SPRING, MUELLER, AND JESUS—NOT NECESSARILY IN THAT ORDER

Do you know what I recently discovered?  Lent has started and Easter is less than 40 days away.  Also, March 1st was the start of “meteorological spring,” which should mean that spring is just around the corner. Then someone said that Mueller should be releasing his report soon.  Looks like if any of these things actually show up, it’s going to be a bombastic spring. But all three of these items (spring, Easter, and Mueller) seem to be in jeopardy, if you ask me—if you really want to know.

Cartoon used by permission: Darkow, Columbia Missourian, Cagle Cartoons

I suppose, as a spiritual being, I should really be getting myself prepared for Easter (I haven’t even thought about giving up a thing for Lent—except maybe news coverage about Trump), but I can’t concentrate because the weather is kicking my ass.  According to Joel Achenbach from The Washington Post, spring is going to be delayed because we’ve entered a polar vortex (“the very cold air mass that normally circulates in the Arctic”), and it has broken “into pieces, with a fragment hurtling south and creating dangerously cold conditions in the Lower 48 states.”  I didn’t need Achenbach to tell me that the world seemed to be coming to an end via the weather, all I had to do was look at the weather map.  Snow where no snow has rarely gone, temps going as low as minus 60 degrees in states other than Alaska, floods and tornadoes wiping out entire communities, and rains coming down so frequently that this year is considered the wettest year on record.  It’s beginning to feel like these are the days of Noah.


Although I’m praising God that I don’t live in Minnesota and the Dakotas (recorded 30 – 60 below zero temps last month), California (mudslides), Seattle (record snow), Tennessee (flooding), Alabama and Georgia (tornadoes from Hell), I am really sick and tired of being sick and tired of rain in Virginia.  It has been raining almost nonstop for over a month, and everything is covered in mildew—including my body.  I got so ill from the weather that I became a walking, hacking, sneezing mucus factory.


Cartoon used by permission: John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune, PA

About 2 ½ months ago, it started to rain, and in the midst of all that rain, I woke up with an upper respiratory infection that felt like bricks had been piled on top of my head while I was being water-boarded. No matter what I did, I couldn’t rid myself of the symptoms.  No antibiotics helped.  After 20 boxes of tissues, my nose was stripped raw of its skin leaving it too tender to even touch and looking like I had the beginnings of vitiligo on my skinned bulbous.  Scores of chickens were sacrificed at the altar of soup cauldrons to make chicken soup—Jewish penicillin—and I combed the Earth looking for effective cough meds like a junkie looking for her next fix.  My husband was banished to the guest room to escape my incessant hacking cough, and my friends started making the sign of the cross whenever I came into their presence.  Somewhere in the middle of my snot and sneeze tour, I went deaf (WTF!!).  When I dragged myself into the ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor), he came at me with a suction tube on one side of my head and a miniature ice cream scoop on the other. The nurse told me (after reviving me from my fainting spell at the horror of it all), that she and the doc had scoped out a candle factory’s supply of wax in the left ear and sucked out six months’ worth of mucus in the right ear—restoring my hearing within minutes.  In the midst of this torture, Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow and proclaimed an early spring which has turned out to be a big fat lie, and if I ever get my strength back, I shall hunt him down and open up a can of whup ass on him that he’ll never forget. (Nasty-ass rodent!)


Cartoon used by permission: Darkow, Columbia Missourian, Cagle Cartoons

Having nothing better to do in my snotty state of mind (how much snot can a 70-year-old woman expectorate? Turns out that the answer is: 2 tons!), I started meditating on liars—inspired by Punxsutawney Phil.

According to dictionary.com, a lie is: a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood. Something intended or serving to convey a false impression….  Well, clearly my nurse practitioner had lied when she told me the antibiotics and the little translucent cough pills would do the trick and clear my symptoms right up.  In reality, she had no idea her advice would work, but she charged me $234.19 and sent me on my way, anyhow.  I started watching the Cohen testimonies from my sick bed and realized that I was watching a professional liar trying to shed himself of a professional liar who is now our President, while those that still follow him continue to lie to themselves that “Trumpee, Trumpee, he’s our man, if he can’t save us, no one can!”


Cartoon used by permission: Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune MN, CagleCartoons

When the Cohen testimonies made me sick at heart, I turned to the coverage of the Vatican’s cover-up through the years about the pedophilia priests in their midst, and immediately erased Pope Francis from my Christmas card list. (Seriously, Francis, I thought you were going to be different than all the other popes, but all you’ve done is talk, talk, talk.  For Christ’s sake:  call the police and throw all those sick pervs in jail.  How hard can that be?)


Cartoon used by permission: Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune MN, CagleCartoons

My disappointment in the current Pope really made me really sick at heart, and I thought I couldn’t get any sicker until I watched the four-hour HBO documentary and Oprah’s follow-up interview on Michael Jackson’s alleged years-long serial pedophilia against two of his victims and scores of other children from ages 5 to 14 or so.  This was after I had grooved to a dance mix of “Thriller,” “Bad,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” (suddenly those lyrics take on a whole new meaning!) to try and cheer me up from the stories about pedophilia in the Catholic church. Yuck! Being a Michael Jackson fan, how the hell did I miss this?  If these stories are true, M.J. was one sick fuck. 


Cartoon used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star, Tucson, AZ

At that point, I turned off the television, crawled under the covers in despair with another bowl of chicken soup and my tissue box and made a declaration that I planned to stay there.  I mean what’s the point of trying to get well when humans are such horrid creatures. (Physical sickness causes me to feel really sorry for myself and very agitated with the world at large.  If you look at me the wrong way, I’ll fling my snot at you.  Be glad I don’t have any magic powers or you’d all be turned into fried frog legs.  God may have had his Noah’s flood, but I’d come at the Earth with a zapping power that would fricassee everybody’s ass who got on my nerves.)

Then I was reminded that Easter was coming soon.  I love Easter!  It’s my favorite high holiday. It is connected to spring, and it reminds me that winter won’t last forever, bad people won’t get away with murdering the hearts of the innocents ad infinitum, and that I need redemption and salvation just as much as those that I’m judging.  As I poked my head from underneath the covers, I began to recite this anonymous prayer I found on the Google machine to ease my aching body and soul:

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime.  No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. Easter is meant to be a symbol of hope, renewal, and new life. For I remember it is Easter morn and life and love and peace are all new born.”—Anonymous

The problem is—with me, as with many others—will we recognize Easter when it shows up?


Cartoon used by permission: Aislin, The Montreal Gazette

***

I’m discovering that I have no idea when the madness—physical, political, sociological, or meteorological—will end.  I just know I’m tired of being sick and tired. (To my horror, I just got in a CNN News bulletin on my phone:  FLU SEASON MAY NOT HAVE PEAKED, AND THERE’S ANOTHER WAVE OF SEVERE INFECTIONS UNDERWAY, CDC SAYS.)   What to do…what to do?  Shall I take the chance and come out from underneath my covers and reenter the world?  Shall I look to the sky in anticipation for spring while hoping and praying for the resurrection of Easter to sweep away the dross of winter from our human hearts—from here to the Vatican on down through the Michael Jackson fans who are threatening violence against the survivors of M.J.’s alleged sexual abuse?  I think so, because if I’ve learned anything, hope does spring eternal and winter never lasts.


Cartoon used by permission: Dave Granlund, PoliticalCartoons.com

***

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR?  Check out her website at www.eleanortomczyk.com

THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOKS:  Monsters’ Throwdown, Fleeing Oz, The Fetus Chronicles on sale now at Amazon!

***

REFERENCES

https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/03/04/historically-cold-march-temperatures-are-freezing-large-part-lower/?utm_term=.72a3d2e4e9af

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/spring-put-on-hold-as-storm-rolls-across-us-and-polar-air-arrives/2019/03/02/2cacafe2-3d0d-11e9-a2cd-307b06d0257b_story.html?utm_term=.d5196785a7e1

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.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on March 9, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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I’M BLACK AND I DON’T LIKE BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Do you know what I discovered the other day?  It’s Black History Month!  It snuck up on me because I have mixed feelings about this month.  I suppose I should be happy for some part of the calendar to shine a national spotlight on something that gets short shrift in our school textbooks and our public square conversations. Besides paying lip service to our nation’s sojourn into slavery’s immorality and to the same laundry list of Black, long-suffering heroes (King, Parks, Lewis, Marshall, The Little Rock Nine, to name a few), I wouldn’t mind the annual February tribute to Black history if it pushed us deeper into having a more substantive conversation about race in America.

I wish Black history would simply be American History–told with searing honesty so that profound conversations could ensue and an even deeper understanding could emerge to confront what is needed to really see how much damage the stain of slavery and the subsequent Jim Crow Laws did to our collective souls and how that stain still runs painfully deep.  White people need to be healed from the damage of all that immoral racial DNA as much as Black folks do who were the victims of it.  Instead, many White people hope and declare that racism is over (“After all, I voted for Obama!”), and most Black people limp along—permanently scarred—hoping to just go along to get along.  I almost skipped acknowledging and blogging about Black History Month this year until my state (Virginia) went insane during the last few weeks over my governor’s college yearbook blackface photos coupled with a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) costume.  

Cartoon used by permission: Bob Englehart, PoliticalCartoons.com/Cagle Cartoons

Not that “woke” White Virginians shouldn’t have reacted negatively to these mocking, degrading “darkology” photos, but they should not have been surprised.  According to Rhae Lynn Barnes (assistant professor of American cultural history at Princeton University) who has written the forthcoming book Darkology: When the American Dream Wore Blackface, “Blackface is as American as the ruling class.” Ms. Barnes says that blackface has been used by every White group in Virginia from the KKK (“used blackface in raids to confuse victims”), to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, to the Charlottesville Elks to ridicule Black American soldiers in 1924, to our southern colleges and universities until as recently as 2002.  She has studied “darkology” and minstrel shows for at least a decade and claims that nearly every city and town in America is guilty of participating in blackface which started in New York City, believe it or not.  (Minstrel—“minstrelsy”—shows started a couple hundred years ago and were performed by White people who darkened their skin with shoe polish and cork. The performances were always of an exaggerated depiction of Black people as lazy, stupid, bumbling, over-sexed, and, more significantly, in need of being led and governed by a superior race because they were too ignorant to manage life on their own.  The performances were always meant to demean, degrade, and disdain the African-American male, especially.)

What blew me away was Rhae Lynn Barnes’ article in the Washington Post* which cited an example of an obituary of a 94 year old White man from Charlottesville whose obit celebrated his 64-year membership in the Lions Club—you know, that lovely service group of mostly old White men who collect used eyeglasses to send to poor countries.  The obit boasted of the old man’s participation in the club’s Minstrel Show every year (according to Ms. Barnes, until 1974, the Charlottesville Lion’s Club Minstrel show was part of the city’s travel brochure).  The obituary was written in April 2017—just a few months before the White Nationalists’ march, mayhem, and murder in Charlottesville by Confederate flag carrying White Supremacists who had traded in their white sheets and burning crosses for khaki pants and tikki-torches.  At the end of the old man’s obituary was a single line that said there would be a celebration of his life at an Episcopal Church in Keswick, VA. (Say what?!)

Cartoon used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star, Tucson, AZ/Cagle

Something bothered me about this obituary and the blackface conversations that weren’t being had.  If the truth be known, it wasn’t that my governor and others (more surfacing every day) had been outed for wearing blackface that disturbed me as much as the fact that we weren’t getting to the root of why something so egregious as a racist Jim Crow tool could be done so nonchalantly as recently as 1984 that the participants did it and summarily forgot about it—that it was sanctioned by their educational institutions.  (“Hey, it was all in good fun, right? I’m not a racist—I have tons of Black friends and associates, and I believe in Jesus! Besides, I’m a Democrat and I voted for Obama!”)

Then I saw a picture during my research, and the answer became clear to me as the noon day sun why the Governor of Virginia and a 94-year-old Lion’s Club member from the local Episcopal Church can put on blackface and be tone-deaf  as to why that was not cool, not funny, not Christlike and extremely hurtful to African-Americans:

KKK thought to be in Portland, OR 1920/Photographer unknown/Public Domain

This craziness is in their spiritual DNA!  Jesus plus the Ku Klux Klan?!  Hello!  Well that says it all.  The deep discussions we need to have about race can’t be had until we recognize how much systematic racism is ingrained in White Christianity and how that coupling has made so much of the hateful antics against African-Americans “okay” in such a way that its tentacles are intertwined with the Gospel of Christ. 

The picture above was taken in 1920.  It is thought to be in a church in Portland, Oregon.  Six years before this picture was taken a White Methodist minister (William Joseph Simmons), restarted the Ku Klux Klan that Ulysses S. Grant had earlier disbanded.  On the top of Stone Mountain in Georgia Minister Simmons declared himself the Imperial Wizard and proclaimed:  “The angels that have anxiously watched the reformation from its beginnings must have hovered about Stone Mountain and shouted hosannas to the highest heavens.” 

By the time the photo was taken of the local Klan in a church in Oregon, 5 million White men belonged to the KKK and had infiltrated churches all across America—some being so bold as to wear their “uniforms of terror” while they sang in church choirs or sat in church pews.  Many Protestant ministers (strictly Protestant because the KKK hated Catholics and Jews as much as Black people) were either sympathetic toward the KKK or were members.  If men running around in hooded sheets and wearing blackface had been the extent of the Klan’s evil, we could have chalked it up to bad taste and might have been able to racially heal in America.  But their deeds, which were sanctioned by many White Christian churches, were demonic and murderous across the nation.  For example, in 1921 approximately 3,200 Klansmen lived in Oklahoma (2,000 of them in Tulsa) which became the backdrop of the worst massacre of African-Americans in our history.  This brutal terrorist act happened in a city that boasted of copious Christian churches as part of its reputation and stability.

Tulsa Race Massacre 1921 Wikipedia/Public Domain

On May 31, 1921, 35 blocks of an all-Black residential and business area, known as “the Negro Wall Street” because it was so prosperous, was burned to the ground by the jealous White citizens of Tulsa.  Approximately 10,000 Blacks had settled in the area due to the land rush at the time and established very vibrant and strong middle and upper class existences on valuable oil-rich land.  It was a model community.  They had doctors, lawyers, teachers, and bankers. They owned fine jewels and fur coats, pianos, beautiful houses, and delicately carved furniture.  Greenwood, as it was called, had everything a thriving town would want, including Dr. A.C. Jackson, “the most able Negro surgeon in America” as cited by the Mayo brothers. 

In 1921, private planes bombed Greenwood from the air with turpentine balls while hundreds of White men gunned down anyone who tried to escape their homes and businesses, including Dr. A.C. Jackson as he ascended his office steps with his hands up in surrender.  300 people died, 1,200 homes were looted and subsequently burned to the ground while thousands of Greenwood’s citizens were imprisoned without recourse.  It was reported (although never proven) that witnesses saw hundreds of bodies thrown into the river and mass graves.  For years afterwards, Black Greenwood citizens would see their jewelry around the necks of White residents in and about town (I wonder if any of that stolen jewelry was worn to church with their Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes?) while the Klan distributed post cards across the country with pictures of the destruction as proof of their ability to maintain White rule and dominance.  The loss was the equivalent of $30 million in damage in today’s currency according to Brandon Weber of The Progressive.

Greenwood Residents picking through burned homes/Photo: Public Domain

No White person was ever charged or held responsible for the Tulsa massacre. Many of the bodies were never found.  Until recently, Oklahoma buried the story and refused to acknowledge it.

The excuse for the terrorist attack: A well-known shoe shine boy (Dick Rowland) who was stationed outside a Tulsa department store on the White side of town—well-known and liked by the White residents—needed to use the only restroom available for Blacks which was on the top floor of the store.  He ran into the elevator which was operated by a White woman (Sara Page).  For some reason Ms. Page screamed (Rowland stepped on her toe or he stumbled and grabbed her arm—some even say they might have been lovers, but no one ever knew the reason for the scream except that it wasn’t rape as was later accused).  Page’s scream frightened Rowland and he fled.  A White person heard the scream, saw Rowland running away, and assumed the worst.  The shoeshine boy was later exonerated, but the destruction and massacre was blamed on the Black citizens of Greenwood and they were never compensated.

Of all my research of this horrific moment in Black history, which, as I said, is still considered the worst massacre of African-Americans, I have never, ever read that the White Evangelical churches in Oklahoma took responsibility for the bedfellows they made with the Ku Klux Klan which probably undergirded their participation in Greenwood’s demise.   I have found no record of any White Tulsa citizens coming to the aid of their African-American neighbors when they and their livelihood were being destroyed.

Courtesy of HBCU.org

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ELEANOR’S SELAH (“AHA” MOMENT)

I am discovering of late that until we comprehend how much of America’s racism has been fostered and cloaked in the Gospel of Christ, it will be impossible to get to the root of our national sin and systemically kill this tree because it is in the bloodstream of White Christian America, and unfortunately a month every year is just not going to cut it.  Racism is a spiritual entity in our midst which permeates everything in our country from the church pew to the college campus to the White House.  Let’s not stop at rooting out old yearbooks and apologizing for long forgotten blackface pages—let’s move on down the road and deeper into the forests of our Evangelical churches’ histories, and really rid ourselves of our national sin of racism.

On that note, we are not totally without hope. In April 2018, Pastor Jim Wallis (President of Sojourners) and the National Council of Churches led a rally marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Its major focus was to “Confess to Confront Racism: Confessing the Church’s Complicity in Practicing, Promoting, and Profiting from White Privilege and Racial Division.”  As Pastor Wallis said in Sojourners blog commentary:

“Let me say this as clearly as I can: Our original sin of white racism and the way it not just lingers but continues to evolve is literally throwing away imago dei — the image of God — and it happens over and over again each and every day. Let me quote a colleague, Professor Fr. Bryan Massingale from Fordham University, who says, ‘When I ask my white students if they have ever heard racism named or preached as a sin from their pulpits growing up in their churches — their answer is almost always NO.’ That says it all and that’s what we have to change. If we do, the changes could be enormous, with the fruits of repentance literally undergirding the substance of social change.”

AMEN AND AMEN!

Cartoon used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star, Tucson, AZ, Cagle

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE

“Without confession to the sin of white racism, white supremacy, white privilege, people who call themselves white Christians will never be free.”@jimwallis

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WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR?  Check out her website at www.eleanortomczyk.com

THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOKS:  Monsters’ Throwdown, Fleeing Oz, The Fetus Chronicles on sale now at Amazon!

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REFERENCES

https://sojo.net/articles/50th-anniversary-dr-kings-assassination-confessing-churchs-complicity-racial-division

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/04/08/the-preacher-who-used-christianity-to-revive-the-ku-klux-klan/?utm_term=.288cd6c159d2

https://www.splcenter.org/20170925/hate-god%E2%80%99s-name

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/local/wp/2018/09/28/feature/they-was-killing-black-people/?utm_term=.aa2289ca731e

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/yes-politicians-wore-blackface-it-used-to-be-all-american-fun/2019/02/08/821b268c-2b0d-11e9-b011-d8500644dc98_story.html?utm_term=.b8c4ef93b92d

*https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/02/02/troubling-history-behind-ralph-northams-blackface-klan-photo/?utm_term=.7f468406793c

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Posted by on February 10, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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