Pooh-pooh Occurs

06 Apr

Do you know what I’ve discovered?    No matter how organized a day, how strategically planned a goal, or how focused a vision—shit happens.   Whether it’s on a large corporate scale of having purchased a ticket on the unsinkable Titanic or the individual mundane act of getting a flat tire on the way to work on a six-lane highway—there’s always something!  (Did you read about the guy in Tampa who was in his bed sleeping when a 100ft wide and 50ft deep sinkhole opened up and swallowed him whole?  Apparently, Tampa is prone to sinkholes and I just vacationed there a month or so ago.)  What’s up with that?  Consequently, I’ve been poking holes in and around my house ever since—checking for depressions in the soil to find any clues of a potential center of the Earth slip-n-slide to China!  It doesn’t matter that I don’t live anywhere near Tampa—one can never be too careful when it comes to being obliterated.

shit happens mickey mouse

Cartoon from

I try not to let the potential threat of mayhem get to me, but sometimes I have a suspicion that even inanimate things conspire to kick my ass by engaging in guerilla warfare against me in a very short time span, as if by attacking in a 1-2-3 punch manner, “they” or “it” will take me out for good. Even as I tell this story, my left eye is twitching like a plastic pin wheel caught up in the aftermath of a tropical storm, and I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop after the debacle of this past week.

IMP. NOTE TO BLOGGING COMMUNITY:  If my husband, WW, comes home from work to find me missing one day, you must let him know that I told you this story, and he’ll know where to look for my body.  The murderer will be any of my home appliances, the water heater (especially the water heater—it really hates me), the 60-year-old pipes in my post-WWII house, the toilets (I swear I heard one of them gasp in horror at the size of my ass when I sat down on it the other day), and the furnace/air-conditioner.   The furnace/air-conditioner will surely be in on the plot because I suspect they are the ring leaders.


Everyone knows that I retired a couple of weeks ago because I arrogantly sent out announcements with a delineation of my “artiste” schedule announcing: “I’M RETIRING TO BECOME A WRITER, PEOPLE—THIS IS SERIOUS” (yes, I bolded “serious” AND underlined it)!  “In the morning the Dalai Mama will be gardening, communing with God, and running errands; after lunch I will be writing my “Memoirs of a Nobody” and will be in complete isolation so that my creative juices can flow, because that’s how we writers roll.  I will not answer the phone (take your damn drama elsewhere), respond to text messages, or read emails.”  (Did I ever tell you that one of my favorite lines of poetry comes from a 1785 Scottish poem by Robert Burns that Hemingway stole?

The best laid schemes of mice and men

 Go often awry,

 And leave us nothing but grief and pain,

 For promised joy!)

At exactly 12:01 on the third day of the writer-at-work hermitage (the first two days I spent farting around reading various books waiting for inspiration to strike, roaming the Internet, and playing Solitaire), as I cracked my inverted finger joints and typed my first profound opening line . . . the doorbell rang.

The writer

Snoopy, the Writer|A Charles Schulz Creation

INTERRUPTION #1:          “Hi Mrs. Tomczyk.  I’m here for your yearly termite inspection on your 60-year-old house which could be prone to these insidious invaders, given all the mature trees that surround your property and the age of your post-WWII home.  I won’t take long—I hope.  Did you know we’re getting another cicada invasion this year which could destroy that lovely Dwarf Japanese Cherry Tree in your front yard unless you tent it before they arrive?  That’s just one of our services as your friendly neighborhood inspection company.”

I did not remember making this appointment with the termite company.  I’m sure it was on my electronic calendar at my old job, but when I retired, I lost use of my company calendar.   The problem is if you don’t let these service people do their job during the mutually agreed upon appointment time, they will charge you a fee anyway (what balls!), so what was I to do but let him in and follow him around (I never let strange people wander around in my house unattended—that’s a “you’ve been burgled” blog story in the making).

The termite man checked here, there, and everywhere spending most of his time in the basement shining his flashlight on every ceiling beam and corner as he checked for signs of moisture and termite tunnels.  After giving my sweet old house a clean bill of health (45 minutes later), he bid me adieu and went on his way, and I went back to my writing.

At 1:00 p.m. on the same day, I was interrupted by another doorbell ring clanging to introduce the annual heating inspector.

INTERRUPTION #2:       “Hi Mrs. Tomczyk.  Your husband set up this appointment” (in answer to my query of why he was at my house unscheduled) “when we called him to let him know that there had been a mix-up in our data base and none of our contract customer’s furnaces had been serviced.  This is the last day we can facilitate such a servicing before your contract runs out, and you’ve already paid for it.  Your husband said it would be okay to drop by since you were retired and would be home, anyway.” 

Down to the basement we headed as I folded clothes, keeping one eye on the heater man and another on the taped insanity of a thrice-married Steve Harvey giving bullshit marital tidbits to vulnerable audience members (all women) worshipping at his feet and actually taking his lame-ass advice like he was the next black pope (America—are we really that gullible?).  As I clicked off the TV in total disgust, I heard the beginning of a colossal rain storm and shouted to the repairman in the next room:

“I didn’t know it was going to rain today.  Was it raining when you came in?”

HEATER MAN:   “What you talking about, lady.  It’s not raining.  I’m standing by your basement window across from the furnace, and the sun is streaming in like nobody’s business—it’s a glorious day.”

As I gingerly moved toward a windowed bedroom in the opposite corner of the basement where the sound was most prominent, I looked up as an avalanche of water poured out of a ceiling vent onto my head as if it were an upside down Vesuvius celebrating its right to explode and applauding its timing on having obviously bestowed upon me a little grace by waiting until the termite man had made his exit.

The heater man came running to my screeched exclamation of “WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS!”—I’m supposed to be writing”—while we both grabbed buckets and towels and tried to collect the explosive aqua as I shut off the water and frantically dialed the plumber.

HEATER MAN:   “This is probably not a good time to tell you this, but although your furnace is in great shape, I checked out your water heater just as a courtesy, and it is about to blow any minute due to its age and sediment encrustation (shelf life for a WH is 10 years; you’ve had yours for 15), and no amount of insurance money will put this basement back to the level of quality that you’ve built after the destruction of a WH blow.  The water pouring through your ceiling is bad enough but the gallons of water that will flow from an exploded water tank (probably when you’re on vacation, as is usually the case) will be beyond repair!”

shit happens to somebody else

Three days later of non-stop people in and out of my house, two major holes in the wall hacked into by the plumber looking for the source of the leak (took three hours to find), one new water heater at the tune of $1400 dollars (“and you get a 20% discount for being such a loyal customer!”), one dry-waller and painter, my Dolly Parton acrylic nails bitten down to the core, and a stack of repair bills that came close to giving me a heart attack, all I could do was stare at my blank memoir page which was the culmination of my first week as a retired writer, and the only thing I could hear were the parting words of the Heater Man:

“You and your hubby better save your pennies, because as a courtesy, I checked out your air-conditioner, and its got about 6 – 12 months before it conks out on you.  That will cost you a cool $5,000.  What can I tell you, Lady:

“Shit happens!”


I am discovering that no one gets a pass on mayhem in life—daily or otherwise. Oh, we get respites if we’re lucky, but not only does “shit happen” but “shit always returns.” Which makes me wonder how do people get through life with their sanity intact without belief in a higher power? Who do they go to when they need peace in the midst of chaos and disappointment?  But then again, it is amazing how in some of the circles of religious friends where I used to frequent, if the outcome of your personal “mayhemic attack” (an Eleanor term, for sure) was good or landed in your favor, then it was God’s answer to prayer, and “Jesus saved your behind,” but if the mayhemic attack happened to your enemy (one of those nasty liberals, of course) than it too was God’s will and his judgment on their sorry-asses.  (This is one of the reasons poor God gets such a bad rap.)

shit happens mirthbomb

Fortunately, I‘ve disassociated myself from such a self-centered misguided viewpoint and see my own “mayhemic” nightmares as well as everyone else’s as the result of having been born in what JR Ward calls the “Survivor’s Club,” whether we want to have membership in it or not.  I just finished reading the book and watching the movie of an ultimate survivor’s tale, The Life of Pi by Yann Martel (the coming-of-age story about an Indian boy who overcomes all the mayhem thrown at him while lost at sea for seven months in the company of an adult Bengal tiger who turns to God, tames the tiger, and survives the sea with all its rage and destructive forces).   The older I get, the less I know, but I am coming to understand that as surely as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, “poo-pooh” occurs in every life from the most insignificant, irritating mishaps to the most cataclysmic events, and we either survive them or we don’t, we either learn from them or we won’t, and we either rise up to find God in the face of the tiger sharing our life’s vessel or we shut our eyes and close our ears to the better people that God beckons us to become by learning from our suffering and having our “best laid plans” interrupted.

NOTE TO SELF:  Chill out!  You have your plans, but God has his.  Next week make your “to do” lists but expect the unexpected.  In that space you just might see the face of God and thus your creative, humorous impetus needed to write a good story.

shit happens bird

Cartoon by Jems

 “Or, God, maybe this was just life.  For everyone on the planet.  Maybe the Survivor’s Club wasn’t something you ‘earned,’ but simply what you were born into when you came out of your mother’s womb. Your heartbeat put you on the roster and then the rest of it was just a question of vocabulary: the nouns and verbs used to describe the events that rocked your foundation and sent you flailing were not always the same as other people’s, but the random cruelties of disease and accident, and the malicious focus of evil men and nasty deeds, and the heartbreak of loss with all its stinging whips and rattling chains… At the core, it was all the same.”― J.R. Ward, Lover Mine

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 April 6, 2013 in Uncategorized


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18 responses to “Pooh-pooh Occurs

  1. momshieb

    April 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Sorry to say, Eleanor, but your misery made my day! I mean, the story of your misery made my day! Thanks for the laughs, and the reminder that we are just NOT in charge of much in this life. Now I think I need to call the furnace man for a yearly inspection….!
    Hope you have a better week!

    • etomczyk

      April 6, 2013 at 7:48 pm

      Momshieb: I know, I would be roaring if you or one of my other blog friends had written about this chaos. Can you believe it. You are so right that we are not in charge of much in this life. Why do I keep trying to defy the odds? I’m such an idiot! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Kimberly

    April 6, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Wow…just when they said it couldn’t get any…I’m sure you know how that one ends! Hoping you have a better chance this week at tackling the world’s greatest memoir. We are all on the edge of our seats for that one! Once again this was a great peek into the beloved life of Dali Mama. Have a blessed week.

  3. Elyse

    April 7, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I imagine your availability for this stuff has just started. My husband works at home and deals with all the repairmen and other hassles. I mean, what else might he be doing!

    I’m starting a memoir writing course this week — I’ve been working on stories for a while but there is no direction to them — I’m trying to find some structure (I always hear Madeline Kahn talking about bone structure whenever I’m trying to figure out writing structure — perhaps that’s my problem.)

    • etomczyk

      April 9, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      Elyse: I think you might be right about just getting started on being the house sitter for the repairmen. The clock repairman came today and I had to be home for the FedEx delivery yesterday. I think I better have a little chat with my man.

      Good luck on your memoir course. Finding a theme is super important–it clears and focuses the direction and flow of a memoir, because we memoirists tend to have a problem knowing what to keep and knowing what to toss. All the best.

      • Elyse

        April 9, 2013 at 10:20 pm

        Thanks Eleanor. I’m sure I’ll be posting some of the stuff I write for the class. Today is the first day!

  4. Valentine Logar

    April 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Your misery, oh my sorry. But think of all the added chapters in your book!

    All I can say is get insurance for your appliances and plumbing, save yourself tons of money and heartache. I keep insurance on all mine the cost is low for the savings I get when something blows!

    • etomczyk

      April 9, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      Hi Val. You’re right, this gives me fodder for many books to come. The insurance is a good idea but it wasn’t so much the money as it was the robbing of my time. Chaos robs peace of mind and the ability to create. Hopefully, this week will be different. Cheers!

  5. becomingcliche

    April 7, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    I’m sitting in a Panera reading this and just shouted a dopplered “NOOOOOOOOoooooooo!” when I read about the pouring water. I am so sorry!

    And our air unit was “scheduled” to give out and kept ticking for a very long time. Hope yours behaves itself.

    • etomczyk

      April 9, 2013 at 11:05 pm

      BC: Can you believe it? What did I do to piss off the house gods? Oh well, it gave me a humorous blog for the week. Take care.

  6. imagesbytdashfield

    April 7, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    Wow! What you had there was what is called in the bidness….”a cluster f**c”! I suppose you could try and look on the bright side of things (and not the bill side of it, that will give you HBP) it all happened while you were at home instead of coming home to hell having broken loose. Hope all is fixed and you can get back to writing. You comment about your toilet seat had me spitting my tea I’ll have you know 😉

    • etomczyk

      April 9, 2013 at 11:12 pm

      TD: And guess what was the culprit of the water gusher? The toilet! But it was insidious because it happened beneath the floor and gathered in a “well-like” indent behing the vent until the ceiling got soaked enough to explode. Good googily-moo!

  7. talesfromthemotherland

    April 7, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    You just sent me running to the furnace room… I know for a fact our hot water heater is on her last legs. When that water came flowing, I was torn between howling and laughing! Poor Eleanor… just not fair. It does seem that when the shit falls, it falls en masse. Hope things turn around. I want to read your book; finish it!

  8. composerinthegarden

    April 9, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    I feel your pain, Eleanor; houses can do that to you sometimes. As Rosannadanna would say, “It’s always something!” We had a 100′ oak tree fall on our house the week I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, the first week of summer break. I think I need to learn to write funny stories about this stuff! Thanks for sharing yours 🙂

  9. aFrankAngle

    April 12, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Oh my … when it rains, it pours … but as you said, shit happens. On the bright side, that’s out of your way, no more interruptions … so get to work. 😉 ….. BTW – you will enjoy the handbell piece I have up today, which involves singing!

    • etomczyk

      April 12, 2013 at 10:04 pm

      Frank. I just got the water bill (apparently, this pipe had been leaking for a long time and collecting in a vent) and fainted dead away. WW and I might have to move in with you and Mrs. A. I promise not to bring too much bling! 🙂 I started listening to the handbell piece with the singer yesterday but got interrupted by the arrival of the water bill. I shall finish it once I post my blog. Take care.

      • aFrankAngle

        April 13, 2013 at 7:29 am

        No kidding about the bling … between that an your wardrobe, the house would hold it, but four of us would be staying at a hotel.


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