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Monthly Archives: February 2013

I See Them Trollin’—They Hatin’

Do you know what I’ve discovered?   A year ago if you would have asked me what a troll was, I would have told you it was a mythical being out of Norse mythology or one of those cute/ugly dolls that were a huge fad in the early 60s.

blinged out troll anythingtroll dot tumblr dot com

My Favorite: Blinged-out Troll||image from anythingtroll.trumblr.com

When other well-known authors, my kids, my husband WW, and my IT savvy friends helped me set up my blog and my first-time Facebook account (I had planned to live to 100 and never, ever engage in FB—I consider it such a waste of time), not one of my helpers breathed a word that I would draw the ire of “trolls” and that these entities would not be from fairy tales nor would they be cute little plastic dolls.  “You must enter the wide-wide-world of the Internet if you want to be successful as a writer,” they said—“Try it, it will be fun,” they said. 

Now that I am doing better than I ever thought possible with this blog venture and am riding on 93,000 plus blog hits with thunderous applause from my fan base, I am beginning to get my fair share of haters, and I have been informed that these cretins are called trolls.

Internet Troll Beartoons dot com 2012 used by permission

http://beartoons.com ||(used by permission)

At first my “trolls” were “Christians” I had briefly known from a previous life (acquaintances, who when they contacted me via Facebook some 30 years after we’d first met, I couldn’t even remember who they were).   They had “friended” me on Facebook (probably to be nosy and see how life had treated me or kicked my ass in some divine retribution that they secretly hoped I deserved).  Upon finding out that even though I was chubbier than the time they had last seen me, I still “loved me some Jesus” but was “mad as hell” at the misrepresentation of the love of God by many of their right-wing heroes. I began to piss some people off when I used my humor to do a shout-out to anyone who would listen that I was a Christian, but not “one of those Christians.”   Wow, did the shit hit the fan, and the trolls started pouring in!

Tea Party Christians cartoonist Bigey The alt of America caglecartoons dot com

Bigley Cartoon||www.caglecartoons.com

“EXAMPLES” OF SOME OF MY TROLL COMMENTS ABOUT  MY BLOG

TROLL #1/MISSIONARY LADY:  “You are disgusting and need to burn in Hell.  What happened to you?  When I knew you on the mission field, you were such a lovely Colored lady who knew her place.  Now you’re crude and full of coarse humor and not worthy to speak our Lord’s name.  You’re leading all those naïve heathens astray.  You’re hanging around with liberals, befriending homosexuals, and voting for a Muslim terrorist for President.  I will pray for your soul because you sure could use it.”

  • MY RESPONSE:  “WHO DIED AND MADE YOU GOD?  YOUR SORRY-ASS IS PERMANENTLY BLOCKED FROM MY FB PAGE.  AND . . . WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?”

TROLL #2/SARAH PALIN RELIGIOUS SYCOPHANT:  “How dare you question the wisdom of God’s anointed, Sarah Palin?  Do you know her?  We used to be roommates, and if you were truly my friend, you would agree with me that Sarah is the chosen one.”  (I checked around and discovered this troll had never met Sarah Palin.)  “Now I don’t mind your potty mouth like some others might.  But I expect better of you regarding one of God’s chosen.  This poor woman has taken such abuse from godless people like you.  God has called Sarah to lead our country out of the darkness.  She is a prophet, and you better beware of speaking against God’s anointed before he strikes you dead.”

  • MY RESPONSE:  SAID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING—COMPLETELY IGNORED THE BITCH, BLOCKED PERSON FROM MY FB PAGE,  AND PERMANENTLY TURNED BLOG COMMENT MONITOR ON.  (I’d been wondering how to kick this relationship to the curb for years due to her increasingly right-wing leanings and the hurtful racist comments to me from her husband—so this was as good a time as ever.)

TROLL #3/MAD-AS-HELL-ROMNEY CAMPAIGNER:  “How dare you post congratulations on your Facebook page for a man who just stole the election?  You are much smarter than that!  Just because that Kenyan won, doesn’t mean your prayers were answered—it means the Devil tricked you, and all you and your liberal friends who want something for nothing.  You don’t even realize how much of a pathetic Christian you’ve become—you are the Devil’s spawn.  I can’t stop crying that such a good, quality man as Mitt Romney has lost to such a Communist that wasn’t even born in this country and neither can any of my true Christian friends who understand that our country is going to Hell in a hand basket.”

  • MY RESPONSEWTF? I didn’t post my meme on your Facebook page.  You were snooping around on mine!”  (I DELETED, BLOCKED SAID PERSON FROM FACEBOOK, AND WROTE A BLOG STORY ENTITLED:  “I DON’T GIVE A FUCK WHAT YOU THINK!” (Writing is truly one of the best revenges!)

Dont troll troll dot me

TROLL #4/BLOG FOLLOWER (SOMEONE I KNEW) WHO SUBMITTED A COMMENT TO MY BLOG LATE INTO THE NIGHT AFTER THE ELECTION RETURNS WERE ANNOUNCED IN PRESIDENT OBAMA’S FAVOR:  “Hi Y’all!”  (The “familiar troll” purposely addressed my audience and not me to stir up a response.) “Wasn’t tonight just over-the-top?  It is so special when we can all engage in the electoral process—it shows what a great and exceptional country we have.  Now, I must confess that I don’t quite agree with the results—no I really don’t.   I wanted to let you all know that I’m a Christian” (the familiar troll assumed no one else was a Christian or pro-life who read my blog) “and I didn’t vote for Barak Obama because I am anti-abortion and I believe that all those little babies deserve a chance to live which this president won’t give them.  He is also spending way too much money and has really bamboozled people who aren’t thinking clearly about our country’s future.”  (On this particular “familiar troll’s” FB page, the responders were all born-again, white, right-wing Evangelical women who were sobbing and damning all the liberal white women they didn’t personally know but who they assumed wanted their “free birth control” from Obamacare, which must have been the reason the election was stolen from Romney.  I purposely didn’t leave a comment on this person’s FB page so as not to be a disruptive troll.  I respected the posters’ right to have their own opinions—no matter how misguided—and I left them to mourn in peace.)  “I think if you’ll think about it and do some more research, you’ll find that we missed a true opportunity here to turn our great country around.  What do you think? Well, I’m just exhausted from all the excitement and need to turn in for the battle ahead.  Thanks for listening. Love ya!”

MY RESPONSE:  DELETED COMMENT IMMEDIATELY AND DID NOT LET ANY OF MY READERS SEE IT.   Sent an email to “said friend” who I am pretty sure is probably no longer my friend:  “Out of respect for you and our friendship, I just wanted to let you know that I deleted your comment on my blog.  I felt that you were baiting my readers.  I heard anger in the tenor of your comment and a desire to beat the shit out of the first liberal you could get your hands on with your southern boxing gloves since no liberal was venturing onto your FB page.  That’s not what Jesus would do, and I’m not going to let you do it.  This is a safe place for my readers and I want it to remain as such.”

“One rule of thumb is that trolls pretend to be sincerely interested in a topic at hand—that’s how they rope you in—but their real motive is to push your neural buttons and elicit some sort of reaction.  In other words, they want to make your brain every bit as angry and addled as their own.  Science has got some advice on this:  don’t let them.  Do not feed the trolls.”—Richard Schiffman, The Huffingtonpost.com

Online Trolls James Kin Cartoon uwire dot com

Cartoonist James Kim||image from uwire.com

TROLL #5/TEA-BAGGER STRANGER TO MY INAUGURATION BLOG:  “Eleanor, you are a horrid racist!  You hate white people, you’ve never known any white person which is why you hate us so bad, and although you write well (I’ll give you that), you spew hatred upon the white race and you want us destroyed.  You should be ashamed because you’re one of the reasons our country is headed for civil war.  Let me say this so that it gets through your thick skull:  You really hate white people like that racist Kenyan you worship!

MY RESPONSE(I talked to my white husband, and called all my white friends [in the interest of full-disclosure, I have more white friends than I do black friends due to the nature of where I live and work], and called my half-white children and asked them:  “Darlings, have I ever expressed hatred toward any other race, including the white race?”)  After picking themselves up from rolling on the floor with laughter, I SENT SAID TEA BAGGER TO SPAM AND NEVER LET HIS COMMENT SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY.  Although, in all honesty, I was strongly tempted to defend my honor (which is what this type of troll wants—they’re counting on you not being able to resist being falsely accused), but WW said:  “Do not reward negative behavior—ignoring the dishonest taunt will be the best revenge.  In other words:  Don’t feed the trolls!”

That is when I had an “aha” moment and realized that all Internet trolls are nothing more than the high school bullies of old.   The bullies want you to do what they want; think how they think, and submit to their control so that they can reign supreme, whether it is in the high school corridor, the church pew, or in the chat forums, the commentary sections of news articles, the message boards, or various blogs on the Internet.  Bullying never stops!  It really doesn’t get better after high school—sorry kids.  The attacked just have to learn how to fight back against the attackers by ignoring the trolls and not giving them an audience, and then learning the most effective way to banish them into oblivion (another name for troll hell).

Troll fighting back

image from Google Media

To be fair, I am discovering that, on the surface of things, one man’s troll can be another man’s hero.  When someone enters a rational and sane comment on an Internet forum about the sanity of strong background checks and limiting semi-automatic weapons as the beginning of an intelligent form of gun control, they are a standard bearer for all reasonable people—be they Democrats or Republicans.  But to a Tea Party conspiracy theorist, that person is the lowest form of troll pond-scum who is taking away their God-given rights.  If a fiscally conservative Republican enters a comment on a blog about the Sequester and gives a sound discourse on how to balance the budget with both spending cuts and additional revenue, to a moderate Republican and Democrat he or she is a smart thinking politician and a strong leader, but to Breitbart.com or FreedomWorks they are evil and must be destroyed.

But most trolls roam the Internet to demoralize and the validity of the subject rarely matters (it could be as delightful as loving cute furry animals or as mundane as one’s preference of jelly beans vs. cupcakes).  If a right-wing conspiracy theorist troll posts a missive on my blog about jelly beans being part of a Communist take-over, and that I and all my “half-breed jelly bean-eating children” should take my “fat ass back to Africa along with my Kenyan President and leave America to the real cupcake-eating Americans,” then what is driving the troll commentary is contempt for my existence and not the desire to show me a different side of a chewy intellectual argument.   So the problem is not the ability to challenge an argument with which we don’t agree.  The issue is motive:  What makes a troll a troll is anger and contempt (what the author Dallas Willard calls the twin scourges of the Earth).  The anger drives the contempt in us for our opponent and it is that very moment (in the dismissive desire to see one’s opponent harmed or eradicated) that the troll must not be fed and must be banned.

dont feed the trolls sodaheaddotcom

Image from sodahead.com

“Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker’s game because they almost always turn out to be—or to be indistinguishable from—self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time.”Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon

“The way to work with a bully is to take the ball and go home. First time, every time.  When there’s no ball, there’s no game. Bullies hate that. So they’ll either behave so they can play with you or they’ll go bully someone else.”—Seth Godin

RECOMMENDED READING ABOUT DEALING WITH TROLLS:

(These are excellent articles about the subtle and not so subtle art of being trolled, and how to avoid being sucked into their vortex—be they former friends or new foes.)

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.

 
28 Comments

Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

Infectious Coryza

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  If you don’t have a God, you sure as hell better get one!  Shit is hitting the fan and there is nowhere to run—nowhere to hide. I’m beginning to think maybe the world is coming to an end or it’s doing a damn good job of faking it.   Every day that we wake up there is something going on that is worse than the day before, and we never know when the chaos, murder, or mayhem (ranging from the smallest bacteria to the latest natural disaster) is going to strike our pathetic little lives.

shit hits the fan sodahead dot com

Image from sodahead.com

My collision with the proverbial fan started a few days before Valentine’s Day.  I was taking a break from writing and decided to check on the children’s well-being (ages 30 and 28) via their Facebook pages (I rarely comment, but like any good mother, I spy).  The thirty year old was fine and seemed healthy enough, but Baby-girl’s posting about her encounter with the common cold almost made me hop a plane with a couple gallons of chicken soup and a tub of Vapor Rub:

“Sweeping declaration:  this is the worst cold I’ve ever had. 4 days out of 6 spent entirely in bed, sleepless nights, overwhelming guilt about what I’m missing, single-handedly employing the good people at Bite Squad to ship in truckloads of chicken soup—countless tissues and cough drops later and all I can think is….I freaking love my dog, she is the best, the sweetest, the cutest and refuses to leave my side no matter what. She is my buddy. :-)” [Used by permission]

Wednesday standing sick duty

Wednesday Addams—Guard Dog Sick Duty|Photo by CDT

Like any decent mother, I was on the phone doing my combo nagging/worrying Momma jig as I jokingly said:  “Child, you get sick more than anybody I know.  You must not be taking care of yourself.  I’m so glad I’m nowhere near you (sorry kid, nothing personal; I just can’t afford to get sick right now)—you sound so awful that I wouldn’t be surprised if that cold traveled thousands of miles through the cell towers and tried to zap me right off my non-sick feet.  Just for grins and giggles, I think I’ll sterilize the phone in case you have an infection that defies science.  Drink lots of fluids, get plenty of rest, take your vitamins and call me in the morning, cutie pie.  MUAH!”

It is as if the gods of chaos, mayhem, and destruction heard my glib reply to my daughter and sent one of their oracles from Baby-girl’s city to stand at the entrance of my town dispensing “Infectious Coryza” curses (the common cold) as if it were Oprah giving out cars to a handful of lucky winners, because I came down with the cold from Hell within 24 hours of the phone call with my sick kid.

Sick Meme Oprah

Oprah “Give Aways”

It’s been six days!  Six days of my life being turned upside down by a common cold which, can I state for the record, is not “common” by any means?  This torture was tailor-made for me.  Six days of in-and-out fever, hacking, mucus—my God, the rivers of mucus—the aches, the pains, and a high-pitch ringing in my left ear that I am quickly lapsing into insanity over as I keep slapping my ear while turning in frantic circles like a dog chasing his tail to try and catch the sound or make it go back to the Hell from which it emerged.  If Lennon was right and “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” then “shit just happened” to me and I was definitely not making plans to encounter Infectious Coryza.  It destroyed my Valentine’s dinner with WW and turned it into a “Valentine’s Fail” because there ended up being no dessert that night (see “Epic Valentine Fails” https://howthehelldidienduphere.wordpress.com/).  Enough said!  I could hardly taste the delicious food and wine at my retirement dinner nor could I shake the concern that I might be killing off some very lovely people with my infection from Hell at the dinner party.   I’ve been in a complete fog at work (how much did I actually get done?), and I haven’t been able to write anything coherent for days which caused me to miss my blog deadline.  It hurt to even read so I dropped off the grid, and in just six days (not counting the mayhem, murder, and chaos in the Middle East and Africa that is always happening) I discovered that shit hit the fan in so many bizarre situations causing innocent lives to implode:

  • An LAPD cop (Christopher Dorner) lost his mind and went on a killing rampage because he had been wronged on his job (who hasn’t been wronged on a job, and when did this become a license to kill?)
  • The South African Olympian Blade Runner (Pistorius) allegedly shot and killed his girlfriend in a jealous rage (Yikes!)
  •  A sorry-ass excuse of a man (Joe Rickey Hundley) flying on a Delta flight allegedly slapped a toddler (not his own—not that that would make any difference) across his face and left a scar, just because the baby was crying from an earache due to pressure from the plane landing, and to add insult to injury, Mr. Hundley allegedly called the baby the “N-word” (Huh?).
  • A 10-ton meteor traveling at 40,000 mph exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk hurting over 1,000 people and exploding copious windows for miles around. It didn’t even land; can you imagine the damage if it had hit the Earth? (Did you know this happens all the time in Russia?  It just usually happens over Siberia where few people live.  The meteor that exploded near the Tunguska River in 1908 leveled 80 million trees and had this happened over a large metropolis, the meteor would have obliterated the entire city and its inhabitants—Holy Mary, Mother of God!)
  • Fellowes killed off Matt Crawley on Downton Abbey (seriously, Fellowes, don’t I have enough stress?)
  • A cruise ship (Carnival Triumph) left port on a 4-day cruise and got stranded at sea with only a couple of working toilets and 4,000 plus people, no air conditioning, not enough food, limited alcohol, and sewage back-up.  (Do I hear a mash-up of the Gilligan’s Island and the Love Boat theme songs making its way to YouTube?)

When I finally checked Dalai Mama’s Twitter account after six days of being knocked out by a common cold, sure enough my fans had a lot to say about bad things happening to good people citing the news articles I’d just gotten caught up on.  But the most delightful tweets were the Twitter feed from a couple of my fans on Carnival Triumph who sent me very creative reasons to never cruise again.

Cruisewear cartoonist Lowe Sout Flo Sun Sentinel

Cartoon by Chan Lowe|image from South Florida Sun Sentinel

Shit Happens”/a tribute to the Carnival Triumph Mishap

Sung to the tune of “Love Boat by Paul Williams and Charles Fox

(My humble apologies to P. Williams and C. Fox)

CRUIS-ING—exciting and new!

Went onboard—sought a fantasy come true.

The TRI-UMPH—was a horror at best.

Shit seeping through the walls; shit flowing in the halls.

THE TRIUMPH—it won’t be making another run

THE TRIUMPH—just was too shitty for anyone.

Paid for steak, wine, and vodka

Got onions and mayonnaise.

And cruising—one of life’s great rewards

We’re so sick at sea—we just may swim to shore

It’s HEELLL!

 Welcome aboard!

SHIT HEEE-LL-LL!

There were 96 other verses on Dalai Mama’s Tweeter feed of “Shit Happens” (my readers obviously had a lot of time on their hands) but you get the point.  Dalai Mama’s readers paid for an expensive cruise and were expecting luxury, instead, “shit happened”—literally, and they got to cruise on a floating giant toilet with no air conditioning, no alcohol to numb their sorrows, and no gourmet food to assuage their pain.  In other words, they went in search of Heaven and landed in Hell.  C’est la vie. 

Bad things happen cartoon by Simeon Liebman London Times

Cartoon by Simeon Liebman|image from London Times

I am discovering that no one ever wakes up in the morning and says, “today I’ll die in a Holocaust, get stranded at sea, or get shot by a madman.”  I am also discovering that bad things really do happen to good people, and we have little or no control over them when they do.  It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, male or female, black or white, religious or non-religious.   (Although, I’m getting a little sick and tired of never knowing when the sky is going to fall or when I’m going to get hit by the common cold or WWIII.)  I’ve got so many questions to ask God in order to try and make some sense of all of the chaos in world history.

I watched Roman Polanski’s The Pianist (a story about Polish-Jewish musician Władysław Szpilman, whose family was exterminated by the Nazis and who, himself, barely survived the occupation of Poland) while I was sick.  I was speechless through most of it. Why? Why? Why?  What was the point of all that hellish suffering?  And even though I get that we have no control over natural disasters (especially meteors), why should a two-year old adopted baby flying with his mommy have to learn so early in life that a stranger can cross the line, hate him, call him derogatory names, and hit and hurt him when he’s already in pain from an earache that he can’t control?  Why should a disgruntled cop be allowed to obliterate the hopes and dreams of people who had nothing to do with his grievances?  Why should the friends and families of all the gunshot victims we’ve been mourning from Sandy Hook to Chicago be battling anything today except possibly trying not to catch the common cold?  Years ago when I was stupid and self-righteous, I would have had pat answers to these questions.  Nowadays, since I’m entering my twilight years, the only thing I know for sure is that my response to suffering seems to mean so much more to my character, in the long run, than my ability to control every aspect of my life.  No one likes to suffer—least of all me.  But maybe Richard Bach has a point when he says:  “The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly.”

Butterfly photo of WW Tomczyk

“The person I choose to be from the suffering that is thrust upon me”|photo by “WW” Tomczyk

“In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened.”Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

 “No man is broken because bad things happen to him. He’s broken because he doesn’t keep going after those (bad) [parenthesis mine] things happen.”― Courtney Milan, Unraveled

Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

“Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
– I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
– I shall fear only God.
– I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
– I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
– I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.” 
―    Mahatma Gandhi

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.

 
36 Comments

Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

All Bets Are Off

Do not read if you have not seen Season 3, Episode 4 of Downton Abbey.  Also, do not read if you are pregnant with your first child and are already scared shitless about the whole birthing process (I know, girlfriend!—what WAS God thinking?)

Do you know what I’ve discovered?   Even when one tries to get away from the chaos and meanness of everyday life and wants to submerge one’s brain in the soapiest of soap opera fantasies with a bottle of wine and a bucket of chicken wings, pooh-pooh always occurs and snatches one’s mind right back to reality and the horrors of the past!   So says one.

downton_abbey

Downton Abbey Cast 2013/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE/PBS

Having coerced my husband to watch the “can’t miss TV Episode 4” of Downton Abbey in exchange for two episodes of Homeland and some hot wings, WW (“White and Wonderful”) promptly fell asleep leaving me riveted to the 52-inch screen in his man cave contemplating what it would be like to have been born white, rich, and British with a to-die-for wardrobe, mountains of bling, and tons of servants.   As soon as Lady Sybil (the youngest daughter) took to her bed in the final weeks of her pregnancy, with swollen ankles, high blood pressure, high fever, and random crazy talk, I started beating WW’s leg with a chicken bone to wake him up to witness what I knew was the inevitable:  Lady Sybil was going to bite the dust with something that had almost killed me 28 years ago—preeclampsia (what used to be called “toxemia of pregnancy”).  Having the baby is the only cure for preeclampsia and sometimes that doesn’t even help.

ME:        Wake up, WW!  Wake up!  That damn writer, Julian Fellowes, is going to kill off Lady Sybil—I can feel it in my bones.  I know these symptoms.  I swear to God if he kills Lady Sybil off, I’ll have to get on a plane and fly to the UK tonight—tonight I tell you—to open up a can of whup-ass on his chubby little British butt.

WW:     Huh?  No, no, no, no, no.  You’re getting all bent out of shape about nothing.  You’re watching this so that you can relax, remember?  Fellowes knows he has you women wrapped around his finger.  The writer is just messing with you.  Look, the baby has arrived.  It came through with flying colors and all is well.  In the meantime, stop beating my knee with that damn chicken bone.

ME:        It’s all a ruse!   I had this sickness when I was in the final stages of my pregnancy almost 30 years ago.  Don’t you remember?  I almost died, and I had modern medicine and antibiotics.    Lady Sybil doesn’t have a chance.  I’m telling you:  a tragedy is unfolding in my favorite happy place!  Rich white people are going to suffer and I can’t handle it.  Nothing is supposed to mess with their world—they’ve got it all.  In fact, when I finally come face-to-face with God, I’m going to ask him why the hell he didn’t make me white, rich, and a man.  So I don’t want to hear about death and mayhem messing with my “upstairs” Downton peeps.

Lady Sybil and Tom Branson a Joss Barratt photo

Joss Barratt photo|Lady Sybil and Tom Branson|Downton Abbey

Sure enough, when everyone at Downton Abbey (both upstairs and downstairs) was doing the delirious “Hallelujah-glory-dance” over the birth of the first Downton Abbey offspring from one of the Crawley girls, Lady Sybil suddenly went into a seizure and died from:  dun, dun, dun. . . “eclampsia” while two doctors (one of them, an arrogant asshole) looked on helplessly.  As Tom, the husband, and Cora, the mother, flung themselves on Lady Sybil’s body and pled, “Please don’t leave us, please,” I broke down into inconsolable sobs while flinging chicken bones at WW for falling asleep in yet another eclampsia episode.  (Oh, oh, you wonder, is this foreshadowing?  Can it possibly be true that WW, “White and Wonderful,” slipped from his god-like pedestal and royally blew it by falling asleep in his wife’s hour of need—say it isn’t so?!)

Midhusbands fitnessista dot com

Cartoon by Dave Coverly|speedbump.com

In defense of WW, my eclampsia crisis happened a long time ago in a far, far away landthe land of Jesus’ birth.  We lived in a border town that connected to Lebanon and eventually Syria where WW’s job provided the occasional stress of having his bullet proof-jacketed-ass shot at while going to and from work, the periodic necessity of shuffling his family into a bomb shelter while Katyusha rockets reigned down from the north (Lebanon), the medical requirement of driving his bed-ridden pregnant wife back and forth to a doctor who was two hours from our home, and the fatherly duties of taking care of our newly adopted older daughter, while doing all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning.  This was not how we had planned our lives would transpire.

When we first moved to the land of the Messiah with our two-month old adopted daughter, it was assumed that I could not get pregnant.  Well . . . more like I could get pregnant, but I couldn’t stay pregnant.  WW and I had made peace with being dealt our infertility hand, and figured there were worse things in life.  Besides, by the time all was said and done, I was way too old to start popping out babies.  But as is common to most, as soon as we stopped “trying,” we got the news:

ISRAELI DOC:      Congratulations, Bubbe (translation:  grandmother in Yiddish)!  You’re carrying the gift of life.

ME:        Say what? No, no, no, no, no . . . I came to see you because I’ve had the stomach flu for three months, and I can’t stop throwing up.  What kind of joke is this?  Something is definitely being lost in translation between us, because I can’t get pregnant:  אני לא יכול להיכנס להריון!  (Mumbling to myself)  Although, come to think of it, I was contemplating suing Jane Fonda because her exercises sure don’t seem to be working—my tummy is blowing up like a balloon. 

ISRAELI DOC:      What is that to me?  You’re in the land of miracles.  If your Jewish Messiah could be born here from a virgin Jewish mother, then you, Bubbe, can get pregnant.  Mazel tov!

Birth of Jesus freethunk dot net

Cartoon by Jeff Swenson|swensonfunnies.com

I thought being bed-ridden for six months (because I almost lost the “miracle baby”) was hard enough, but nothing could have prepared me for the preeclampsia manifestations.  By the eighth month my ankles were the size of elephants, my body looked like a chocolate Goodyear blimp waiting to take flight, and when I walked into my Israeli doctor’s office in Haifa for my penultimate pre-natal appointment, I had a fever of 103 and high blood pressure of 260 over 110—stroke level.  (Oh, did I forget to tell you that I lost my mind and turned into a crazy woman?)

ISRAELI DOC:      I’m worried about you, Bubbe.  You have all the symptoms of toxemia.  I can’t risk you going back home via a mountainous two-hour drive.  I want to check you into a hospital.

ME:        Hell, no, Doc!  I’ve got to get back to my 20-month old.  I’m pretty sure her baby-sitter is a serial killer or at least wanted by the Mossad.  But she was the only person available who speaks English who could watch the baby.

ISRAELI DOC:      You don’t have a choice in this.  Besides, I’m sending you to one of the best hospitals in the country—it’s a Kupat Holim hospital on Mt. Carmel.  You’ll get the best of care.  The midwives are waiting for you.

ME:        Read my lips, Doc, I’M NOT GOING!  I have to get back to my baby.  I don’t know this baby inside of me (maybe he’s someone I’ll like—maybe he’s not—only time will tell), but I do know the one that is at home, and I’m telling you that psycho-chick is her babysitter.  I don’t know why I let WW talk me into letting her sit for my baby, but she’s his secretary, and he insisted I couldn’t miss this doctor’s appointment because I was all feverish and shit.  But you need to know, the secretary-bitch has a legion of demons running around in her and eyes like Rosemary’s Baby.  Besides, I’ve heard about that hospital you want me to go to and I ain’t havin’ it, Doc.  It’s on Mt. Carmel where Elijah fought the gods of Ba’al and won, BUT not until Jezebel almost fricasseed his ass.   I know the Talmud—you can’t fool me.  That hospital is sitting on some pretty funky ground.  Who knows what might come up through the basement and possess my baby?

ISRAELI DOC:      First of all, Bubbe, how do you know your baby is a boy?  You wouldn’t let me use my new magic machine from America called the “ultrasound.”  I’ve got the only one in town.

ME:        Cause I don’t know what that thing is!   They didn’t have those when I left America.   For all I know that radiation thingie will turn my baby into a Conehead from the planet Remulak, and it will be entirely your fault.  Besides, all my Jewish neighbor-friends assured me I was going to have a boy by the shape of my belly.  We don’t even have a girl’s name.  Anyway, I had a dream from God and he told me to name him Brian Eden.  If this baby doesn’t come out sporting a penis to claim the name of Brian Eden, then it will go through life nameless.Ultrasound fins by Mark Elden fins dot voot dot com dot au

Ultrasound| fins cartoon by Mark Elden fins.voot.com.au

Yeah, I was shit-faced delirious and in full-blown preeclampsia.  After fighting for 45 minutes with my very patient and wise doctor, he and WW tricked me into going to the hospital for a urine test which they both adamantly assured me wasn’t situated on the part were the “Ba’al gods” used to roam.  They promised I could go home and rescue my older daughter from Satan’s helper once the test confirmed that I didn’t have elevated protein levels in my urine (a sure sign of preeclampsia).*

My saint of a doctor conspired with the hospital to detain me and perform an ultrasound test while WW had everyone he knew from the States call me and try to pull me back from the brink of insanity.  At 10:00 p.m. I started down the road of 20 hours of the most excruciatingly induced labor I have ever heard of in my life (I will never let my youngest child live this down—ever!)  It felt like a watermelon was trying to ram through a vagina hole the size of a pea.  At the 21st hour WW fell asleep for a few minutes and woke up to the screaming of a banshee:  “ARE YOU FUCKIN’ KIDDING ME—YOU’RE ASLEEP?”  At the 22nd hour, midwives stepped aside and let my Israeli doctor perform a C-section, and Baby-girl (“CDT”) was born.

When I awoke some time later, I asked WW all the questions you might think:  was our baby okay, did it have all its fingers and toes, and was “Brian Eden” a lovely chocolate-brown?  WW looked at me and slowly said the doctor had assured him our baby was fine, but WW was convinced that the nurse had given him the wrong baby to hold and promptly told her so:  “This is not my baby—you made a mistake.  First of all, it is a girl (we don’t have a girl’s name picked out), she is completely white with grayish-green eyes (obviously, she’s supposed to be brown), her head is in the shape of a cone, and her face is a canvas of bruises from trying to push through the birth canal.  I gave the baby back to the nurses and told them to look for a mocha-chocolate boy.”

Will Ferrel taglol dot com

Before I could even begin to process WW’s information, I lapsed into eclampsia (name of malady after the baby is born), and began a week-long struggle with high fevers as I muttered:  it’s a “girl,” she has a cone head from the ultrasound, and she doesn’t have a name—oy!”  Anti-seizure meds were fed to me like water, and at one point, the nurses pushed my bed into a storage closet to get some sleep and escape the chaos of my “semi-private” room of 12 new mothers and their extended families in a hospital that seemed to have 24/7 visiting hours and rockin’ out birth parties.

The fever would break on the 7th day and I would take my beautiful “ginger baby” (as the Arab women in the hospital called her) home to meet her big sister (“KLT”).  My beautiful baby-girl would no longer have a cone head and bruises, but her older sister (having been promised a little brother who would be her playmate), after two months of listening to crying, eating, burping, farting, and watching Baby-girl sleep would summarily announce:  “You know that baby you got at hospital?  Take back—it broke!”

New Born Yogi frabz dot com

Not our baby but sure looks like “CDT” when she was born—only her head was pointier and her face was so bruised it looked like she had been cage fighting

I am discovering that all bets are off when it comes to filling in the blank space between birth and death, if you survive the birth.  I don’t care how rich you are—whether to the manor born like Downton Abbey or born in the projects of Cleveland like me—few things in life will follow our best laid plans.   At the time of Lady Sybil’s death, 37 million had died in WWI and 27 million were severely wounded—no young men were still alive for the women to “court” according to Lady Edith, Sybil’s middle sister.   Until WWI, tragedy was not a Crawley relative.  If we’re lucky as humans, a couple aspects of life will turn out better than we expect, but most of life will be much harder than we could have ever imagined.  It takes great courage to live life.  It is easy to be born and it doesn’t take that much effort to die.  It is the stuff in between that takes everything we’ve got.

******

“Don’t tell your kids you had an easy birth or they won’t respect you. For years I used to wake up my daughter and say, ‘Melissa you ripped me to shreds. Now go back to sleep’.”Joan Rivers

“Listen to the cry of a woman in labor at the hour of giving birth – look at the dying man’s struggle at his last extremity, and then tell me whether something that begins and ends thus could be intended for enjoyment.”Soren Kierkegaard

“When you’re born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front row seat.”George Carlin

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”—Maya Angelou

***

* “Nobody knows what caused preeclampsia in the early 1920s or causes it now. It appears to be an out-of-control state of inflammation.”—David Brown (“Lady Sybil’s shocking death. Did it have to happen?”) Health and Science/The Washington Post.  My story was presented tongue-in-check but preeclampsia is no laughing matter.  I almost died and women still die from it today.  Even though I told first-time mothers (the most likely candidates for this condition) not to read this blog, if you disobeyed me 🙂 and read it anyway, and you start to display any of the symptoms suffered by Lady Sybil and me, run don’t walk, to your doctor’s office because preeclampsia is serious shit. 

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Posted by on February 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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