Infectious Coryza

18 Feb

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

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”  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


 Welcome aboard!


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.


Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Uncategorized


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36 responses to “Infectious Coryza

  1. becomingcliche

    February 18, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Hope you are feeling better soon.

    Retirement dinner? What did I miss?

    • etomczyk

      February 18, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      Hi BC: Yep, my 2013 New Year’s blog (The Odyssey Continues) was about me retiring from my “day job” and attempting to become a fulltime writer, motivational speaker, and maybe actress again. We’ll see. I might as well try. What’s the worse that can happen, right? But first I’ve got to get over this cold from Hell. Take care!

      • becomingcliche

        February 19, 2013 at 6:51 am

        I read that post! Now I remember. I do wish you the best. Taking a step off the ledge is terrifying, but if anyone is going to make a go of it, it’s you!

      • etomczyk

        February 19, 2013 at 7:44 pm

        BC: Thanks so much, my friend. That’s really encouraging.

  2. georgefloreswrite

    February 18, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    As usual, a great post, Eleanor! And I loved your use of Spanglish – my daily tongue 🙂

    • etomczyk

      February 18, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      Hi George. Glad to have you back. Hope all is well! Missed you. All the best.

  3. Hudson Howl

    February 19, 2013 at 12:27 am

    My radar locked on ‘I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape’. There is a lot of wisdom in Dickens quote. I can see, no, I can feel why you chose to use it. Our bent-ness and broke-ness is all we have to fall back on. It is from here we attain the capacity for compassion. When I come here, I read and then usually I contemplate. Some times I stay in the story, stick to the message. Other times I drift, Tonight I drifted. I read the same headlines as you, but to be truthful none of it sticks of late -I shed it off like water on a ducks back. Its not that am insensitive or not compassionate. I am simply preoccupied with other matters -or should I say attending to what really matters -my parents. My mother is 84 and takes care of my father who is 87 suffering from dementia and deteriorating health. There is little I can do about the ugliness that happens in other places. All I can do is sacrifice, no wrong word, just spend time with my parents and live through this with them. This is how it is, this is that ‘choice’ one either makes or ignores -this is what has to be done – I have to make this into a ‘Butterfly’. All the ugly ‘shtufffs’ will keep right on being ugly in my absence but I need to focus on what really matters for the moment. Thanks for this Eleanor, I owe you one.

    • Hudson Howl

      February 19, 2013 at 11:42 am

      Wait wait. Head wag. Huh!………10 hours later it comes to me, did she mention ‘retirement dinner’, so its a done deal? Knew it was pending. If so congrats!!!!!!!……went and read again you said ‘your’ …..all the best in the next phase!!!

      • etomczyk

        February 20, 2013 at 12:15 am

        Hudson: Yes, the time has come. My official last day in the corporate world is 3/15 and looking forward to entering my next phase officially as a writer. Wish me luck! 🙂

      • Hudson Howl

        February 20, 2013 at 8:14 am

        Around about then, I’ll be in Cuba. I will raise my glass with Hemingway and give ‘yeh a proper salut. I promise, we’ll keep our praise ‘clean but lavish’.

    • etomczyk

      February 19, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      Dearest Hudson. I read your comment this morning before I went to work and was so deeply moved that I wanted to meditate on what you’d said before responding. You’re so correct: if I’ve learned anything through the suffering in my life, it is that I have been reshaped into something better if I allow myself to embrace the journey without bitterness. It has never been easy, and I don’t understand it all, but I know that I have become more compassionate and loving.

      You bring up such a dynamic point about not being able to key into the suffering in the world when the suffering at home is so intense. There are entire swatches of history that I don’t remember happening when I was growing up in The Cleve (some of it happening right under my nose) because all I could concentrate on was trying to survive. I’m so sorry to hear about your parents, but you are right you need to focus on what really matters for the moment because our psyches can only take so much. Thanks for sharing . . . I think I really owe you one!

  4. Valentine Logar

    February 19, 2013 at 5:35 am

    I hope your cold has gone the way of all colds and is done with you now. You have asked some profound questions, to which there are no answers.

    • etomczyk

      February 19, 2013 at 7:15 pm

      Val. Unfortunately, I’m still wrestling with this thing. Good grief!

      You’re right about profound questions that don’t seem to have answers, at least not complete answers. I get glimmers and glimpses every once and a while but then some fresh horror bowls me over and I’m sitting in the ashes in sack cloth and ashes asking, “Why, oh God; How long, oh God?” On the other hand, my best understanding of “comfort” by a spiritual being and “compassion” enhancement of my own gruff temperment tends to intensify and I do mature. Those are the glimpses I see. Thanks for stopping by and sharing–as always.

  5. momshieb

    February 19, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Sorry to hear about your cold, Eleanor! You sure it wasn’t the flu? If you lived closer, you know I’d be at your door with some hot soup and fresh bread!
    As for the daily dose of deadly disasters: seriously! I have been trying to figure out how to respond to killer bacteria, killer meteors, killer cops, killer nut jobs and killer storms. Since I can’t really fit under the bed, and its too dusty under there anyway, I figure we may as well make the most of every day we have left. Good reason to put down the mop and go snowshoeing, you know?
    Hope that Baby Girl is all better, too! Good luck with your new phase of life.

    • etomczyk

      February 19, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      Momshieb: It could have been the flu because I kept getting chills, then fever, then chills. But if that is the case, what good was that damn flu shot? I would have loved your soup. Soup and bread: my favorite meal.

      I know what you mean: there is no where to run or hide. One just has to not be part of the problem (the ones dispensing the pain and suffering) and try and be part of the solution (comfortig others with what we’ve been comforted with). Thanks for stopping by and think of me on 3/15, my final corporate work day!

      • momshieb

        February 20, 2013 at 8:47 am

        Oh, my goodness; You are embarking on your new life on the Ides of March! I will be thinking of you, for sure, my friend!

      • etomczyk

        February 20, 2013 at 10:14 pm

        Thanks Momshieb. I’m a tad bit nervous but I’ve got to try. I’ve been on the edge of this cliff before (going to college, marrying WW, and moving to a foreign country to live). All I can do is “jump” and hope for the best. Take care.

  6. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer

    February 19, 2013 at 8:40 am

    When I clicked on “like” I hoped you wound’t think that I liked your being sick: of course not, but liked your writing.

    Thanks you for not trying to come up with trivial, meaningless answers to all the questions thinking people all over the earth are asking.

    • etomczyk

      February 19, 2013 at 11:54 pm

      Ronnie, you’re welcome! I hear you about the trivial, meaningless answers. I am so over platitudes. They are unbearable when one is dwelling with the nitty-gritty reality of suffering. Thanks for “liking” me. Ciao.

  7. imagesbytdashfield

    February 19, 2013 at 9:43 am

    So no Valentine’s Bump and Grind for you, eh? (sorry I’ve been hanging around your humor lol ) Goodness! You and I have children around the same age! The kvetching we could do over coffee – OY! The creeping crud in all of it’s malevolent incarnations has been kicking ass and taking names for months now. The news is just depressing – as always – and that cruise ship? I’ve cruised on that thing! Ask me if I’m going on a cruise anytime soon? Oh hell naw! That guy on the Delta flight? Touch my child and I would’ve had the strength of 20 mommas plus 2 while breaking off both of my feet in his behind. But let me pull it back in….I hope you are feeling better and I love your end quotes.

    • etomczyk

      February 20, 2013 at 12:03 am

      TD. You are a scream. I have a feeling you don’t need my writing to unearth that humor in you. Ha!

      You are so right about the kvetching we could do over coffee about raising kids. Let me just say that no one prepared me.

      Wouldn’t you have just broken the fingers off the man who slapped that precious child on the plane. I had originally written into the blog post just exactly what I’d like to do to that creep, but then I realized it kept the cycle of choas, mayhem, and murder going. Vengence is mine, saith the Lord and all that. Clearly I would have ended up in jail.

      WW mentioned today how booking a cruise now would be such a great savings because cruise prices are going to plummet. I said “no thank you, crazy man.” Take care.

  8. composerinthegarden

    February 19, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Eleanor, I hope you are recovering well; my hubby and I were sick all last week too. Maybe it was cosmic revenge for that Valentine pinata that you and I were contemplating 🙂

    • etomczyk

      February 20, 2013 at 12:06 am

      Lynn: Oh, no! I’m so sorry you and your hubby got the sickness. I think we may have angered the Valentine pinata gods. 🙂 Get well, I still can’t see the end yet.

  9. Chrystal Solomon

    February 19, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Sorry! to here your were under the weather, I hope all is well now. Your blog has enlightened me on so many things that happen throughout our universe. Keep up the good work.

    • etomczyk

      February 20, 2013 at 12:12 am

      Chrystal: What a pleasant surprise! I’m so glad you like my blog. That is really touching. I noticed that you subscribed. Thanks so much. Feel free to “like” me on Facebook as well. I only use Facebook to promote my blog posts when they are released or any future writing I may do. Cheers!

  10. talesfromthemotherland

    February 19, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    SO much to respond to here Mama! This is not the time to be stuck in bed… self imposed lying on the sofa is different, I argue, but still… bad news everywhere! And you didn’t even address Pistorius… or… oh, never mind. It’s all very overwhelming! But you do make it interesting. Not sure why you would watch The Pianist, while sick… but, damned good movie! The Piano is one of my favorites… something about Pianos and somber films. 🙂 Glad you’re on the mend. Hugs.

    • etomczyk

      February 20, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      Hi Dawn. Yep, I mentioned Pistorius (Blade Runer). I’m appalled at that story, and even though I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, something (a lot of things) smells about this story. I don’t know how I ended up watching the Pianist while I was sick. I had never seen the movie and anything about music enthralls me. It was brilliant but I’m not sure it was helpful to my immune system. Take care.

      • talesfromthemotherland

        February 20, 2013 at 9:41 pm

        I’m notoriously bad about abbreviations! Having trouble giving Pistorius the benefit of the doubt, given the alleged history of domestic abuse. All bets are off, but very disturbing… and so sad! Bad week to be sick in front of the TV, but then, any week maybe.

  11. nonnie9999

    February 20, 2013 at 3:45 am

    so sorry that you caught a horrible cold over the phone lines. hope you are on the mend and will be all better soon. now, if you’ll excuse me, i am going to wipe my keyboard and monitor with lysol and slather my hands with purel. 😉

    • etomczyk

      February 20, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      Nonnie: Ha! I would encourage you to wipe down everything you own with disenfectant, because I can believe that this awful creeping crude I have could be used as a weapon of mass distruction! I feel like I’ve been run over by a Mack truck. Thanks for stopping by and cheering me up, kiddo.

  12. eurobrat

    February 21, 2013 at 1:51 am

    Wow…so as if it wasn’t bad enough that you were sick, you tortured yourself with The Pianist too? Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great movie, but yikes!
    Yeah, for the past couple of years I have felt anxiety about the approach of war and conflict, as tensions in this world seem to be rising. It is frightening to think of how fragile our lives and relationships are, and how easily they could be destroyed. Perhaps the fragility helps us appreciate them more.

  13. Elyse

    February 23, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Boy oh boy. I fall a little behind on my blog reading and you fall totally apart and have no job. Damn!

    Seriously, hope by now you’re feeling better and that “retirement” finds you with more work than you can imagine.

    Loved the quotes.

    • etomczyk

      February 23, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Elyse. Well, the final exit day is 3/15 but I am packing up boxes and shipping out stuff. I shall miss the people but I am looking forward to becoming a full time writer. I want to see where it takes me. I’ll keep you posted. Cheers!

      • Elyse

        February 23, 2013 at 6:40 pm

        Please do! And congratulations. I envy you, sort of. Then again, I just bought a lottery ticket so perhaps you and I can become the writing ladies who lunch!

  14. Lindy Lee

    March 2, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Trust by now recovery from your bad cold is complete? I’m just a wee might behind in my WordPress catch-up program.

    And, as for the reason “why?” or any answers thereto, the closest answer I have ever managed to that eternal question is nobody knows, not really. The good & the bad happen & run concurrently, whether we ask them to or not. A philosophy prof once told our class the sooner we accepted this reality, we would find life a whole lot easier. Yeah, right!

    A psych prof once defined the difference between neurosis & psychosis.
    The psychotic thinks, is downright certain, 2 + 2 = 5. The neurotic knows 2 + 2 = 4 but can’t help being damned pissed off about it. Not sure what this has to do with the answer to the question ‘why?’ but thought I’d pass on these bits of profundity that this post of yours arose in my humble psyche…

    P.S. Adrian Brody is quite a fine actor. I’d love to believe he plays the piano like that but I suppose he really doesn’t.

    • etomczyk

      March 4, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Lindy Lee: Always happy to have you stop by whenever you can. Just honored that you read my stuff. Adrian Brody played well enough. The real close-ups were definitely him. He started the final scene as well but when the hands started flying across the keys, you notice how the camera drew back to quite a distance so that you couldn’t tell there was a double. But I was impressed with what parts Adrian could play. Fantastic movie. Ciao!


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