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It’s Sure Gonna Suck for You

Do you know what I have discovered?   I wish I had had an “onboarding” course or interview before I made my debut on Earth.   It may not have made my journey any easier knowing what to expect, but at least I wouldn’t have gone through most of my life waiting for the other shoe to drop.

How do we get here anyway?  When I say here, I mean to Earth.   I don’t mean, what is the biology of it all (at 63 if I don’t know how babies are born, I better give up the ghost).   But it is obvious that we are so much more than instinctive animals.  We have the ability to choose between good and evil.  We also have the ability to choose whom we will love and whom we will hate.  In other words, we have souls.  As a soul, before being stuffed into the sausage casing of my little brown body, I would like to have been shown a DVD of my proposed life and given an edit pencil so that I could take out what I didn’t like and add in what I thought was missing.  That’s all I’m sayin’!

Google Image

IMAGINED ONBOARDING INTERVIEW

 WITH NANNY OF BABY SOULS

Cosmos Nanny:  So, C-‘48, how can I help you today?

C-‘48:   Well, I know it’s getting near my time to take a slip-and-slide through the vagina shoot that will transition me from this world to my birth family on Earth.  But you see, I was talking to the other candidates last night and they said you used to have an onboarding course we could take to help prepare us for life on Earth.  They also said that some of us fair better than others once we get our body casings.  I’d like to take that course so that I side step as many of the pitfalls as possible in my life.

Cosmos Nanny:  Those damn rebellious baby souls are always causing problems by passing along misinformation.  Most of you are pretty well-behaved, but there are a couple of you who are destined for New York City and who have a street cred that makes you too clever for words.  A few of you are always stirring up mischief.  You’re all beginning to get on my every last nerve, that’s for sure.

C-’48:  I’m sorry; I’m just scared of the unknown.  The Earth sounds like a pretty scary place!

Cosmos Nanny:  (Sigh!)  Okay.  We used to have an onboarding course but we don’t any more.  It caused way too much hysteria, and people were always trying to change their destinies or trick other baby souls into taking their place.  So, no, there is no onboarding course.  You’ll just have to wing it once you get there.

C-’48:  Really?  Oh, come on:  throw me a freakin’ bone here.  Like for instance, what race will I be?  What gender?

Cosmos Nanny:  What do you want to be?

C-’48:   That’s easy to answer:  I want to be white; I want to be rich; and I want to be a man.

Cosmos Nanny:  Ha!  Don’t they all.  Well, kiddo, you’re going to be anything but. You are going to be born poor, black, and female, and you’ll grow up in the Cleveland ghetto.

C-’48:  The Cleve!  Shit, not The Cleve!  Anywhere, but The Cleve.

Cosmos Nanny:  Why, what do you have against Cleveland?

C-’48:  A couple of the other baby souls said it is the point of no return.  It’s like the roach motel commercial:  “Once you check in you never check out.”  Where in the Cleve will I be born?  Can it be with the rich white people in Shaker Heights?  Can my mother look like Doris Day?  I really love yellow hair!

Google Image/Doris Day

Cosmos Nanny:  No, you can’t.  Why do you insist on being born “white”?  Black is beautiful; you’ll discover that sometime around the mid-sixties.

C’48:  Crap!  Because according to the other baby souls, things go a lot better for the souls in the white-body casings.  They said if I choose any other casing color (yellow, light brown, or reddish hue), I’ll have a bad time of it on Earth because the white-body casings will treat me like shit.

Cosmos Nanny:  I’ll be sure and tell the Irish how much better life went for them due to their white-body casings the next time I’m sitting in on a lecture about the Irish Potato Famine in the 1800’s.  Did those rascally baby souls tell you that the potato famine killed more than a million Irish souls, and it displaced another million or more Irishmen and women to the New World?  And the pisser of it all is that the people of England let them starve to death while stealing their land, robbing them of their culture, and exporting tons of their food to the world market.  Or maybe instead of an onboarding course for you troublesome baby-souls, I think I’ll reintroduce my course about the Bubonic Plague that wiped out 75 million Europeans or approximately 50% of its population by the time it was over.  The culprits in this suffering were close living conditions, filth, and rats.

“Die Pest in Epiros” (“The Plague in Epirus”) by
Pierre Mignard (1610-1665)

C-’48:  Yikes! That’s supposed to make me feel better about living on Earth?  What other planets do you have up your sleeve that I can matriculate to?

Cosmos Nanny:   Just Earth as far as you’re concerned.  Now hush — enough of this misinformed nonsense.  Let’s get on with the work at hand.  You’re slated to be born in a place called Central-Woodland in a house that won’t be condemned for another ten years after you’re born, but it should have been torn down ten years before you ever entered it.  The house will have rats the size of cats and roaches the size of hummingbirds.  The people in your neighborhood will be trapped by poverty and locked out of education and jobs due to the tenacious long-reaching effect of Jim Crow laws — not “officially” written down in the North, but just as tenacious as the ones in the South.  Your caretakers will be numbers runners, schizophrenics, alcoholics, prostitutes, and pedophiles.  I found a picture of a house cited for Urban Renewal that looks very similar to the one you will spend your formative years in (give or take a few less holes), just to give you an idea of what you’re in for.

Google Image/Cleveland House

C-’48:  Aie-yi-yi!  You’re so goddamn nonchalant about the shit I’m going to have to deal with in my life.
Look at that house:  I can see the abuse and mayhem written all over its framework.  Don’t you get it?  I’m
not cut out for suffering
.  I don’t think I can handle pain – physical or emotional.  Can’t I just stay here?  Or how about this:  Since the sperm hasn’t connected to the egg yet that will form my body, can’t I simply choose to be someone else born in 1948, and you look the other way?

Cosmos Nanny:  Like who?

C-’48:  I don’t know. . .tell me who’s in the catalogue that will be born in 1948.

Cosmos Nanny:  Of the baby souls you would hear about in your lifetime, there will be born a Mikhail Baryshnikov (a womanizing Russian dancer who defects to the US and builds a brilliant career as a dancer but a mediocre one as an actor).  Then there will also be an Al Gore (worth more than $100 million, a US Vice President, and supposedly “founder of the Internet,” and a global warming darling who will cheat on his
wife after 40 years of marriage).  And, of course, we can’t forget Ozzy Osbourne (a drug-addicted, rock musician who bites off the head of a bat on stage and is arguably the father of reality TV that will destroy Western civilization as we know it).  They all will become rich and famous, but they all will have had and have caused their fair share of suffering – none of which you could have survived.

C-’48:  Well, that’s a shitty sampling of rich, white men.  Aren’t there others?

Cosmos Nanny:  Sure there are but they are all Jewish, and you couldn’t handle being Jewish.

C-’48:  Say what?  How do you know what I can handle?

Cosmos Nanny:  I know what you can handle because you don’t want to suffer.  You’ll do anything in
your power not to suffer.  You couldn’t bear the history of the Jewish race bleeding down through your ancestors.  It is going to be hard enough to bear up under the slave history of the African races and all the Jim Crow aftermath that you will inherit.  But you’re missing the point all together:  no race escapes suffering.  No race or gender is better than the other.  No human is immune from life’s sorrow, and no one has a corner on suffering.  Do you remember the quote I taught you and the other baby souls by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?

C-’48:  “If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”

Cosmos Nanny:  There are lives you will come to know who will be born in comfort of class and skin but once you know their history, you would not want to change places with them for all the money and white-body casings in the world.  The Kennedy clan will have more money than God, but they will bear so much premature death, assassinations, mental retardation, alcoholism, accidents, scandals, and death threats that you would never willingly trade places with their mother in a million years.  Helen Keller was born before you in a wealthy family, but her years of painful isolation due to being deaf and dumb would have crushed you in a nano-second if you had traded places with her.  And the doctor in Connecticut, whose entire family will be beaten, raped, and burned alive by heartless criminals when you are in your sixties, would change his color-casing for your life in a heartbeat, if he could bring his wife and daughters back and save them from that horrible day.

C- ’48:  Okay, okay, I get it.  I have only one more question before I go:  Will I have children?

Cosmos Nanny:  After a bit, but not without a struggle, and that in itself will be cause for suffering.

C-’48:  Oh. . . . Will they suffer?

Cosmos Nanny:  Yes.  They will suffer, all the more, because in your attempt to save them from suffering, they will create their own suffering, especially one of them.  It will take you a long time to learn that making sure children are happy and content is not a raison d’etre for them — serving the poor and fighting for the disenfranchised is.  It causes children to think beyond themselves and their wants and needs.  But the irony
of your children’s self-imposed suffering is that it will be the catalyst of your greatest character development.

C- ’48:  Really?  How so?

Cosmos Nanny:  I can’t tell you that.  That’s like putting the cart before the horse.  You’re going to have to find out for yourself.

C-’48:  What?  No, no, no, no. . . .  I hate this system.  I don’t care what you say.  I’m going to adjust things when I get down to Earth.  I’ll make life easier for myself and my family so we don’t have to suffer — so help me God!  You’ll see.  Now that I know how things are going to roll once I’m born, I’ll make some changes before they happen.

Cosmos Nanny:  You haven’t heard a word I’ve said, have you?  Say good-bye Cleve ’48 because it is time for you to go.  And by the way, once you enter your mother’s womb, you won’t remember a word of our conversation.  This is a good thing because I think you’re going to be a trouble-maker.  But I will throw you one “freakin’ bone” as you put it:  you’ll end up living in a house like this one — a complete juxtaposition
to the home of your childhood — and have the life that picture represents. You’ll encounter a lot of suffering getting there, but it will be the great love of a “white casing” that will keep you there and make it a home.

Author’s House/1980’s – 1990’s

C- ’48:  No, wait. . . I have so much more to ask.  I want to know if there is a God, why is there suffering?  Why doesn’t he stop all this turmoil if he is as good as we’ve been taught?  Are some people born good and others born bad?  If so, why can’t God just keep the bad souls from transitioning to Earth?

Cosmos Nanny:  ENOUGH!  Some things are a mystery, and no matter how much you clamor to know the
answer, to remove the mystery would remove the motivating factors that build character.  Suffering is a plumb line that determines your true depth in the midst of the bullshit that you will try and construct as your earthly façade.  Now go and get into your little brown human casing and prepare to make your entrance.  Trust me — it won’t be as bad as you think.

C-’48:  Seriously?   I don’t believe you – not for a New York minute. I can tell this trip is going to be a very bad one.  I can just feel it!   Send a note to God for me, and tell him that he’s sure got some explainin’ to do — that’s for sure!

***

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT

Negro baby girl born today in Cleveland ghetto

Rescued from toilet

Mother mentally unstable

Father AWOL

Life of child/TBD

C-’48

“Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.” – George Orwell

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”  Helen Keller (1880 – 1968)

All text and photos by Eleanor and John Tomczyk copyrighted
© 2011 except where otherwise noted

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.

 
40 Comments

Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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The Last Day of My Life

This post was written over a week ago before the deaths this week of the great Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth (the iconic Civil Rights leader who sacrificed his life to make the United States a better place to live for everyone) and Steve Jobs (the visionary and creative genius who created a brand new world for us all).  Their names were added in place of the two iconic figures that had originally graced this story.  The facts of the near-death experiences are true; the conversation with Death is not, thank God!

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  I’ve had three near-death experiences — no, four, if you count the one that just happened.  The fact that I’m still alive means I lived to see another day, but it got me thinking that any one of those experiences could have been the last day of my life.  To make matters even worse, Death dropped by in my dreams the other night (as he does from time to time), and wanted to sit down and chat about how we almost bumped into each other this past winter.

Used by permission:  Ryan Hudson at www.channelate.com

Death:  Just dropped by to see how you were doing since we almost collided on the slopes in Aspen in January — one of your classic pratfalls.  What is it with you?  You just can’t stay upright when you ski, can you?

Blogger:  Skiing?  I don’t ski!  Black people don’t ski.  In fact, black folks don’t even “frolic” in snow.  How can you be “Death” and not have your facts straight?  Do you even know who I am?

Death:  (checks his notes) Hmm, you’re right. I had you mixed up with another blogger.  You’re “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” (a chubby-ass, black, baby-boomer blogger), but I had you confused with “How the F**k
Did I End Up Here?”
(a gen-x, white, male blogger).  My bad!  I almost had to claim you recently though when that city bus barely missed taking you out.

Blogger:  Oh my God, I had forgotten about that!  I never saw it coming.  The bus charged by so fast and so close that it ripped off one of the buttons on my blouse and bruised my right breast and knee as it smashed up against me.  I’ll never forget the look of horror on that bus driver’s face when he realized he’d almost hit me.

Death:  Almost “flattened” you is more like it.  What were you thinking?  According to my notes, I didn’t have a
directive to bring you in yet.  Why were you attempting to cross the street at that point?  You didn’t have the right-of-way, and you could have gotten killed before your time on Earth was up.

Blogger:   What is this third degree interrogation?  I already had one mother and that was more than enough.

Death:  I’m just sayin’ you don’t have that much time left, “Chiquita.”  You really should be much more in tune with your surroundings and live more in the moment.  I bet you didn’t see that bus because your mind was on another planet, as my mother used to say.

Blogger:  You had a mother?

Death:  That’s beside the point, and don’t change the subject.  The fact is, you’ve had three other near-death experiences and your “cat lives” are running out.  As my girl Oprah is fond of saying:  “Are you living your best life, today?”

Google Image/Angel of Death Statue

Blogger:  I think you’re exaggerating.   I’ve had a rough life, but I certainly haven’t been near death’s door, or grasp, as the case may be, more than once.

Death:  How soon you humans forget what isn’t convenient to remember.  Your first near-death experience was when you were six years old.  I know because I was there to collect the heroin addict in the alleyway when you went scooting through.

Blogger:  Oh yeah.  That was when I saw that pusher stab Carl to death because Carl owed him money.  Those were the days when I was a bag girl for the Mafia.  You know that was my first job, don’t you?  I made 25 cents (big money in those days) for every numbers bag that I dropped off at the cheese and roasted peanuts store.  The numbers king would carry them on up the chain to his boss and that guy would deliver them to his connection.  No one ever suspected a six-year-old was a runner – not the Po-Po and not the competition.

Death:  Sheesh, you must have been raised by rats!

Blogger:  Okay, there you go with the goddamn judgment again.

Death:  The point is you had no business being in that alleyway after dark – you were only six years old.  I saw that pusher grab you by the suspenders on your overalls and slam you up against the wall.  I watched in horror as he jabbed his ice pick against your little chubby face threatening to take your life the same way he took Carl’s.  I stood by as the pusher shook you like you were a rag doll while your entire penny-candy stash fell  from behind your overall bib and splattered all over Carl’s dead body.

Blogger:  God, I’ve never talked my way out of anything so fast in all my life.  That’s when I knew I could argue a dead man into buying a life insurance policy.  I had that heroin pusher convinced that I would never tell a soul I saw him murder Carl, not then, and not ever.  I never did either.  I was something else at that age.  I had so much “chutzpah,” as a child.  Do you remember what I said to him?

Death:  “What the fuck is wrong wit you, muthafucker?  You better pick up my shit, or I’ll kick yo’ ass.”

Blogger:  Oh, Lord.  What a mouth I had.  He didn’t pick up the candy, but he did fling me down on the ground beside Carl’s bloody body for one last look and told me to “get the hell out of there.”  I swear I thought I saw him smile as I took off for home trying to grab as much of my candy off the ground as I could.

Death:  Don’t flatter yourself.  You lived because the pusher and you had the same boss and killing you would have required quite a bit of explaining on the junkie’s part as to what happened to their best little numbers courier.  But I lingered on the scene to collect your body with Carl’s, just in case, even though I didn’t have
departure papers on you.

Blogger (left side) at height of Mafia employment

Blogger:  Yeah, maybe that was the case.  But you said there were other times.   The only other near-death experience I remember was when I almost drowned at the age of sixteen.

Death:  That was a hoot!  There you were sitting on the bottom of the pool like a little fat Buddha as I descended to the bottom waiting for God knows what to rescue you.

Blogger:  If I recall you weren’t the only one laughing.  All my friends thought I was playing a joke as I tried surging to the top to gasp for air.  By the third time, I knew I was going to be singing with Jesus at any moment so I just sat there waiting to die.  If that lifeguard hadn’t come out of his house to see what everyone was staring at, I would have missed three-quarters of my life.

Death: Well, that’s what you get for lying telling everybody you could swim. Now my favorite near-death experience of yours was what I entitled “The Midnight Stalker” when I posted it on my blog.

Blogger:  You have a blog?  Oh, for Pete’s sake:  Is there anybody who doesn’t have a blog?

Death:  No, I don’t think so.  Anyway, as I tell the story, you were walking down that long, long stretch of road with no street lights where the city park with all its massive trees almost forms an arch.

Blogger:  Oh, I remember that street.  It was always a spooky stretch of road even in the daylight but the scariest place on the planet at night because the darkness was so dense.  The problem was back then the Colored section of the city ended at the South end of the road  right before the stretch of road cutting through the park.  At the end of the mile long road was the beginning of the white folks section.  No bus took Colored folks there because the transportation authorities assumed we had no business over there anyway.  Even the white folks wouldn’t let their maids cross that stretch of road alone in the dark and drove them over to the bus stop on the Colored side after their shifts.  To make matters worse, I had an inordinate fear of horror creatures from my childhood, like the Wolf Man and Dracula, and I just knew they lived in those woods when I was a young girl.  But in the winter of 1967 I had won a scholarship in music at a music school on the “white” side, and the teacher taught me for free in the evenings.  So once a week, I had to make that journey to and from the school via that mile-long road of terror.

Google Image

Death:  Remember the footsteps?  That’s what got my attention to make an appearance on the scene that night.

Blogger:  At first I thought I was hearing things.  And then about every third click of my high heels, I thought I could hear a step or two out of sync with mine.  When I looked back the first and second time I heard the syncopation of steps, I didn’t see a soul, but I could feel someone there.  So I crossed the street, and as I did, I distinctly heard the other footsteps cross, as well.

Death:  Then you crossed back again. . .

Blogger:  . . .and the footsteps followed! 

Death:  It was when you started running, trying to wrestle the hatpin from under the lapel of your coat that I knew I’d better stick around.

Blogger:  Oh Christ, the hatpin.  I’d almost forgotten about that.  I actually thought a hatpin would be a good
weapon of choice against an attacker in those days.

Death:  What had you planned on doing, affixing a new chapeau on his head?

Blogger:  Ha, Ha. . .I figured I could stab it in his eyes and it would give me enough time to get away.  At least that is how I had practiced it in my head when I imagined being attacked by the Wolf Man.

Death:  Did you forget you were only 4’ 10” then?  I got a look at your stalker and he was a good 6’ 5” tall.

Google Image/Wolf Man Trailer

Blogger:  I’ve never known fear like that before or after.  Even now I can taste the fear as I ran down the middle of that road, praying for a car to drive by and see me.  As I picked up my pace, so did my attacker, and after a while I couldn’t tell whether I was outpacing him because my heart was pounding so loudly in my ears that it blocked out all other sounds.  I could see the lights to the music school coming into view, and I kept saying to myself:  “Just get to the edge of the property of the school, and you can scream for help.  Somebody will hear – somebody has to hear!”

Death:  My eyes were on you the entire time.  I was so caught up in rooting for your escape that when the killer suddenly reached out and grabbed you from behind, I fainted dead away!

Blogger:  Seriously. . . you’re making puns at my expense?

Death:  Sorry, I couldn’t resist.  Do you remember what you did next?

Blogger:  Yeah, I did something absolutely heroic:  I peed all over myself.  And I don’t mean a spritz of pee; I mean I peed as if I hadn’t peed for years.  And then I started to cry hysterically as I collapsed onto the pavement and began to shake like a lone maple leaf in the middle of a tropical storm.  I couldn’t look at him because I just knew I was being strangled by the Wolf Man.  All I remember before I collapsed was this dark man with unidentifiable features grabbing me by the collar and holding onto my limp body like a sack of potatoes.
To this day, I don’t know why that man didn’t kill my sorry-ass.

Death:  I’ve often pondered that myself.  Maybe he saw your guardian angel.  Of course the smell of urine, the avalanche of tears, and the screaming banshee loop of “OH LAWD, LAWD JESUS, DON’T LET THIS SON OF BITCH KILL ME; OH LAWD, LAWDIE, HELP ME JESUS, HELP, HELP, HELP ME JEEE-SUUUS!” would have scared away a legend of demons.

Blogger:  Well, excuuuuuuuse me!  I can tell you’ve never been scared to death.  You try having the shit scared out of you and live to tell the story.  That man was so evil that I could smell his malevolence.  That monster just stared at me for what seemed like an eternity, slammed me down to the ground, and then lumbered away in disgust.  He was actually disgusted because I had peed on myself, I guess.  That’s the only thing I can figure.  After what seemed like an eternity, I crawled on my knees the rest of the way to my music school because I couldn’t stand up on my own two feet no matter how hard I tried.  Isn’t it weird that we can imagine all sorts
of ways that we’ll confront evil when given the opportunity (e.g., the pathetic hatpin counter attack), and then when it actually happens, we turn into a limp noodle?

Death:  Yeah, it happens to the best of them.  Well, I better get going — duty calls, you know.  By the way, the
next time I drop by I will have to stay.  You understand?

Blogger:  I don’t want to understand, but I think I do.

Death:  I mean nothing personal; you actually crack me up.  But my visits are a common destiny to every person sooner or later.  And since it’s later than you realize, I just have one question for you.  Why are you living as if you have all the time in the world to accomplish what it is you want to do and that there will always be a tomorrow?  Think about it.  In the meantime, take care of yourself, kiddo, because I’ll be back!

I’m discovering that it is later than I think.  I’m at the stage of life where people like Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who sacrificed his life so that I could ride in the front of a bus and get a quality education, have passed on.  Geniuses who I grew up with like Steve Jobs, who changed our world forever are prematurely exiting the Earth.   My friends are beginning to die, and what is even worse, some of their children have died.  But here I am blowing through my life like sand being scattered by a monsoon, letting dogma and the opinions of others keep me from pursuing the dreams I was created to fulfill.  I don’t want to go out that way.  I won’t go out that way!  Maybe death will come tomorrow and stay or maybe it won’t happen for another twenty years. That’s not my business nor is it in my control.  But I can do something about living in the moment today and doing my best to absorb all the beauty and love that comes my way by putting aside everything and everyone that is a waste of my time and  energy.  I can give back to a God who has been so good to me by ignoring the “haters,” embracing the broken-hearted, giving love to the loveless, and spreading joy and laughter to the lowly in spirit no matter what their race, greed, nationality, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. I’m going to become a writer even if I die trying. Each day, as long as I live, I will remember that Death may pay a visit today.

What about you?

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.  Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”  Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer:  Commencement address at Stanford on June 12, 2005.

All text and photos by Eleanor and John Tomczyk copyrighted © 2011
except where otherwise noted

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.

 
38 Comments

Posted by on October 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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