Ripped from the Headlines

15 Jul

Do you know what I’ve discovered this week about blogging? There is no Hell like the one I enter when I walk through the portal that puts me at a loss for words. I don’t eat, I don’t sleep, I don’t bathe, and my poor husband gets no hot meals or happy endings.

After my July 4th post my brain went into hiatus. (I’m not sure, but I think it is vacationing somewhere in Bora Bora.) All this is keeping me from proceeding with my second book. My first book, Monsters’ Throwdown, was published six months ago, and I need to follow up with book two by the end of the year.

Writers block Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and Hobbs||Cartoonist Bill Watterson

As I fell in full face plant upon my laptop, my husband (WW) came home to no dinner and me still in sweat pants, looking as if “sexy” was a word that had never entered my vocabulary (Hey, never-you-mind: at age 66 I can still work it, baby!). I kept murmuring: “so many words, so many headlines, so little time!” As my editor, WW’s been through this drill before and instantly sprang into action to try and untangle my brain.

WW:      Okay, don’t panic. It’s only words that have gotten themselves all scrambled in your head. Let’s freestyle and bring everything down to basics and do a simple word play to unscramble them. One word only: spill out the first adjectives and nouns that come to mind as fast as you can.

ME:       Ignorant, frustrated, surprised, frightened, mortifying, disgusted, humanitarian, embarrassing, violent, stupid, ship, border, help, wrinkly, Paula, “eeuuw,” ignorant, corpse, football, van, Cuba, zombie, St. Louis, Florida, Robin, elephant, crisis, déjà vu, blurred lines.”

WW:      All right, all right, all right—that’s a start. How many news articles have you read? Never mind, don’t answer that. I can tell by your glazed-over eyes that you’ve read hundreds of online news and research articles. What if I help you eliminate words and headlines that can’t produce an interesting post? Would that clear your mind?

ME:        No. [Said petulantly while scratching my head like a monkey—convinced by my hypochondriac mind that I probably have head lice from not washing my hair for days.]

WW:      Humor your husband—after 35 years, you owe me this. I’ll randomly choose which words can be eliminated in the first round: “Ignorant, frustrated, surprised, frightened, mortifying, disgusting, humanitarian, embarrassing, violent, stupid, ship, border, help, wrinkly, Paula, ‘eeuuw,’ corpse, football, van, Cuba, zombie, St. Louis, Florida, Robin, elephant, crisis, déjà vu, blurred lines.” You’ve read scores of headlines since July 4th. Which ones come to mind that would fit the description of the eliminated words: ignorant, frustrated, disgusted, and stupid?

MM:      Easy! Idiot Sarah Palin Demanding President’s Impeachment—WTF! (Eliminate the words ignorant and stupid)  2/3rds of Lincoln’s Party Agree with Palin and Think Obama Should Be Impeached Causing Lincoln Statue to Burst into Tears—the Lincoln Statue Is Inconsolable (disgusting, frustrated).

Zany Sarah Palin Nate Beeler The Columbus Dispatch

Used by Permission: Nate Beeler The Columbus Dispatch

WW:      Yep, toss the Sarah Palin headline. Enough of that Christian poser. She’s just an attention ho. Ignore her.

Let’s get rid of some more words and headlines to help clear your head. Here we go—let’s eliminate: surprised, frightened, mortifying, humanitarian, embarrassing, violent, ship, border, help, wrinkly, Paula, “eeuuw,” corpse, football, van, Cuba, zombie, St. Louis, Florida, Robin, elephant, crisis, déjà vu, blurred lines.” What headlines get flushed from your muddled brain with those words? Go!

ME:        Okay: Online Dating A-hole Rejects Beautiful Woman in Her 50’s Because He Says She has “Wrinkly Skin,” Even Though He is of Similar Age and is Nothing to Write Home About—Dave, The Neanderthal is Upset When Lovely Lady Dumps His Ass and is Now On the Run from Millions of Angry Women in America (wrinkly, violent); Robin Thicke’s New Album, “Paula,” is Attempt to Win Back ex-Wife, But All Agree is TMI Cringe-Worthy (Paula, “eeuuw,” embarrassing, Robin, mortifying, blurred lines); Corpse Slips Out of Funeral Van Onto Street and Freaks Out Passer-byers (surprised, corpse, zombie, van, frightened); Elephant Sobs After Being Rescued from Five Decades in Chains—Promises Never to Forget His Torturers’ Sorry-Asses Whom He Plans to Trample Underfoot in Hell as He Makes His Way to Pachyderm Heaven (elephant).

WW:      Drumroll please. That leaves you with the words “humanitarian, ship, border, help, football, Cuba, St. Louis, Florida, crisis, and déjà vu.” Can you see a blog story on the horizon?

Republican Prayers

Used by permission: Daryl Cagle,

ME:        Oh my God, the word pipes are unclogged! Hey Babe, you’re like Drano to the brain. I should bottle you and sell you to other writers.

Anyway, I think the post will be about the children crossing the border from Central America and how the politicians are using them as political footballs. And although the Dems and the Repubs need to get off their asses and help pass comprehensive immigration reform, this is not an immigration problem as much as it is a humanitarian crisis. The Party that stands for “Pro-life” needs to step up to the plate and help bring God’s grace and mercy to the situation instead of praying that these children will vanish back over the border to the Hell they came from.

And although I’m a true fan of the President, I’m not pleased with his decision to send these children back to their countries, nor the request for border funds to speed up their deportation—in fact, if you’re listening Mr. President, I am really saddened! Members of the GOP are already trying to sue you and calling for your impeachment, what do you have to lose by doing the right thing by these refugees? As far as I’m concerned, these babies have already come with signs on their backs that they are in danger from the enemies they left behind. Just to get to America, some of the children have been reportedly raped and abused, terrified and traumatized. I think I’ll write about how America has never really lived up to our refugee mission statement.   I’ll introduce my readers to the déjà vu story of the Voyage of the Damned—the ship (SS St. Louis) that carried almost 1,000 Jews from Germany to America in 1939 after Kristallnacht (“Night of Broken Glass”) and the beginning of Hitler’s open annihilation of the Jews. Cuba refused the refugees and as the good German captain hung off Florida’s shores hoping and praying that the United States would allow the refugees to disembark, he was forced to return to Germany with most of his passengers while their relatives shouted encouragement to them from scores of small boats feverishly trailing the massive ship of the damned. Except for those who managed to make it to European countries beyond the reach of the Nazi extermination machine when they returned to Germany, many of them were eventually rounded up and sent to concentration camps where they died horrible deaths.

Border Children Pat Bagley  Salt Lake Tribune

Used by Permission: Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

ME:        Knowing what we know now, we would have and should have taken in all the passengers of the SS St. Louis. Yeah, that’s the post I’ll write for my blog. Thanks, Babe.

WW:      Happy to be of service, Cutie. In the meantime, why don’t I order in Chinese? And how about I run you a bath? You’re smelling a bit “ripe”—like Pepé Le Pew—almost as if you accompanied the children from Central America across the border.

ME:        Oh, that’s really cold, husband of mine!


I am discovering that our country’s mission statement about immigration is full of high-tone rhetoric, but it is only words if the moral component of the Statue of Liberty’s invitation is not embraced and adhered to when the humanitarian situation calls us to do so:

Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

It is easy to boast of our immigration policies and our Christian morals as a country when they don’t cost us anything or come in the correct color, with the desired skillset, and the proper entry point. But if we’re really honest with ourselves, our country has come to this crossroad many times and we have failed to treat the “alien” amongst us as seeing Jesus in the “least of them.” And don’t even get me started about how my ancestral peeps (dragged here against our wills) would have had a much better transition out of slavery to emancipation had the refugee situation been handled with grace and charity instead of 100 years of Jim Crow brutality (one million ex-slaves became sick and died after the Emancipation).

Immigration History robertnielson21 dot wordpress dot com

Courtesy of Ampersand by B. Deutsch ||

“No country, including the United States, did as much as it might have or should have done to save innocent victims of Nazi persecution – Jews, Gypsies, political opponents and others. Restrictive US immigration policies kept hundreds of thousands of refugees from finding safety in the United States, most tragically exemplified by our refusal to allow the St. Louis to dock with its cargo of refugees – many of whom perished when the ship was forced to return to Europe.”—Eizenstat, May 1997 from “Voyage of the Damned” by Marilyn Henry/Jerusalem Post July 1998.

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”Eleanor Roosevelt

“The U.S. immigration laws are bad – really, really bad. I’d say treatment of immigrants is one of the greatest injustices done in our government’s name.”Bill Gates

“Most Christian ‘believers’ tend to echo the cultural prejudices and worldviews of the dominant group in their country, with only a minority revealing any real transformation of attitudes or consciousness. It has been true of slavery and racism, classism and consumerism and issues of immigration and health care for the poor.”Richard Rohr

writers block

. . . so that is what it was!



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 July 15, 2014 in Uncategorized


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23 responses to “Ripped from the Headlines

  1. imagesbytdashfield

    July 15, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Ok now my head hurts! I’d like to go with your brain to relax on that Bora Bora beach. I will be picking your brain when it returns to the states for tips on how to get a book from the brain to fruition. DH keeps asking me when I’m going to do that rose book and I keep face planting onto the keyboard.

    • etomczyk

      July 15, 2014 at 11:47 am

      TD: Oh, my gosh, it is soooo hard and tedious. Tedious because of the constant editing (that would be my first advice–hire an “excellent” editor who has experience in putting together picture books with text). But I will be happy to answer any questions as you go through the process. Wishing you all the best.

  2. momshieb

    July 15, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Oh, I so share your frustration and anger about the issue of those refugees! This country has no problem expecting Egypt to take in refugees from Gaza, or expecting Ethiopia to take in refugees from Sudan. Just don’t ask us to take in refugees from across our own borders! This morning I almost had a conniption fit listening to a woman who was protesting at the border, saying these children would “stress our community”. Who are we becoming?

    • etomczyk

      July 15, 2014 at 12:15 pm

      Moms, isn’t that the truth? We certainly aren’t what we boast we are. Wasn’t that story about the SS St. Louis chilling? If we had taken those passengers in, who knows what affect the saving of their lives would have had on our country and the Holocaust itself. It is all so horrible.

      • momshieb

        July 15, 2014 at 4:08 pm

        I know, I know. I actually know a fair amount about that time in history; I used to a Russian interpreter for Soviet Jews leaving the old USSR, and I learned a huge amount about Israel, about its founding, etc.
        For example, I know that Shimon Peres used to be a terrorist: go figure.
        And I know that anyone who is not Navajo, Apache, Abnaki, Wampanoag, etc, has no reason to try to shut the gates to this place. I think we have room for those scared kids, and I’m not afraid to say so!
        Hell, I’m ready to head for the border with a pan of lasagna……

  3. Let's CUT the Crap!

    July 15, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Oh the familiar face plant. 😦
    I like the way your brain unstuck. Effective. I can’t stop laughing. You have style.
    I bet you could sell extinguishers to pyromaniacs too. 😀 😀 😀

    • etomczyk

      July 15, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      Tess, you are so sweet. It took me days to get to the place where I saw the road start and end. I wish this writing stuff came easier for me. Sigh!

      • Let's CUT the Crap!

        July 15, 2014 at 12:21 pm

        Sigh. When it does, be happy. I see you know how to work your way out, though. 😀

  4. talesfromthemotherland

    July 15, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    That’s a helluva editor you have there, E! I need to get home from all this travel, to get caught up! I know, first world problems. That said, I’ve really missed my writing!

    As for the decision to send all of those babies back into harm’s way, I find it unforgivable. I understand the problems with immigration; I understand that we can’t let everyone in, but it’s hard to understand how we can send small children back into a hostile and violent environment. In my opinion, there will be blood on the hands of everyone turned their back on those babies.

    As usual, you sure know how to stir me up!

    • etomczyk

      July 15, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      Dawn, you’re so right, there will be hell to pay. When I did the research on the SS St. Louis (Voyage of the Damned), I burst into tears (I’m crying now just thinking about it). It is never going to be a “convenient” time to help those who are refugees. It is always going to cost us something. This is a test from God–are we really what and who we boast about? It will not end well.

      Sorry to have stirred you up. Hope you don’t have anymore terrorizing rock climbing to do. Take care.

      • talesfromthemotherland

        July 17, 2014 at 2:03 pm

        It never stops bothering me… so true, are we who we claim to be, or do we become a calloused, uncaring nation, who turns its back on the truly needy? We both cry easily, darlin’. xo

      • talesfromthemotherland

        July 17, 2014 at 2:04 pm

        PS) we both cry too easily… it’s one of the many things I admire about you, darlin’. 😉

  5. Elyse

    July 15, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Bulls-eye! We are a country of immigrants, for cryin’ out loud! This whole situation makes me so deeply angry. It is terrible when we turn our backs on adults. Unconscionable when we do so to children.

    Well done, Eleanor.

    • etomczyk

      July 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm

      Thanks Elyse. I think the reason it took so long to “find” the thread of this post was because it took a while for all the pieces to come together (sorry for the mixed metaphors).

  6. Valentine Logar

    July 16, 2014 at 7:16 am

    I think you nailed it. This time I don’t think our President has much of a choice, as much as we might wish he could do something different there isn’t anything open to him. We have a refugee problem with no solution. Our nation, it is falling apart at the seams, no compassion, no empathy and no common sense. We are turning our backs on children, leaving no stone unturned to send them back to what can only be termed a war zone.

    I don’t believe we can blame the President for following the law. We have to push to get the laws changed. It is on all of us, we cannot sit back and allow this to continue.

    • etomczyk

      July 16, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Val, I think you’re right. That’s why I am adding my voice to the shouts of “do something, immediately. Because we have a responsibility as a nation to walk the talk and keep talking until it happens. I’ve read stories about the beautiful Texans who have come out to bring aid and comfort. May they multiply by the thousands and drawn out the horrid people yelling at the bus loads of kids while we continue to press our law maker on both sides of the aisles to quickly pass a comprehensive immigration bill that is both humane and fair.

  7. aFrankAngle

    July 16, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    I was calmly reading along, and then … .then you mentioned Nincompoop, and I was ready to return you to therapy … but, to my surprise and pleasantly so, you steer away from going into a useless abyss.

    This issue isn’t much different than most issues during the past 15 years … it’s full of rhetoric that doesn’t address solutions.

    • etomczyk

      July 17, 2014 at 12:15 am

      Frank, so true, so true. . .

      P.S. There was more about Nincompoop, but I thought of you and I edited it! 🙂

      • aFrankAngle

        July 17, 2014 at 8:10 am

        LOL … the therapy worked.

  8. composerinthegarden

    July 17, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Oh, that “elephant” cartoon – whew. . . way too close to the truth. The Rohr quote is a breath of reason. Great post, Eleanor, and I’m glad you got unstuck.

    When I can’t get traction for writing a new piece of music, it is usually because I am too focused on someone else’s perception of it, i.e. “will they like it? “will they think I should have done better?” “will they finally realize that I’m a fake?”, “maybe it will be so great that I’ll win a Pulitzer”, etc. etc. etc. As soon as I can put that nonsense aside and try to please only myself, I can get to work. Unfortunately, this happens almost every time! but fortunately I recognize the trap more quickly each time. Maybe I’ll never go there again sometime in the future 🙂

    • etomczyk

      July 17, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      Lynn, your comment is so profound, so much so that I’m going to meditate on it and see if I can produce a humorous post on those one-liners. It is as if you pulled them from my brain. The larger my audience grows the stronger these voices become. The more trolls that attack my work (especially “friends” from my former life), the more I wrestle with self-doubt; the more praise I receive the more I question my ability (“will they finally realize that I’m fake?”). Yikes, this must be something that most if not all artists wrestle with. No wonder so many have emotional problems. Thanks so much for stopping by.

      P.S. What helps is a garden to meditate in and become centered. I will always garden!

      • composerinthegarden

        July 17, 2014 at 6:58 pm

        Eleanor, I think its more common than most people think. Not only do I have to deal with solving my own blocks, but I also have to help my students with theirs! This summer, I began reading a short but inspired book called “Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking” by Bayles and Orland. They address all art forms and offer insights into that inner dialogue; so far, it has proven insightful and given me a few new ideas to use in my teaching. 🙂

      • etomczyk

        July 17, 2014 at 7:14 pm

        Lynn, that book sounds awesome. I shall purchase it and read it. Thanks so much.


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