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Monkey See, Monkey Do

Do you know what I’ve discovered this week about taking a vacation? I can’t figure out a place to go on the planet where there aren’t any people. I’m sick of people. If you scan the globe much of the brutality that is happening around the world is caused by bullies. Bullies are everywhere. No matter where you go—from your workplace to the Middle East to Congress to your place of worship—there’s always a bully trying to mess with you.

If the world were the audience of the old Oprah Winfrey show, you could almost hear her proclaiming: “WELCOME W-OOOOOO-R-L-D! Have I got a surprise for you: YOU get your ass kicked by a bully today, and YOU get your ass kicked by a bully tomorrow—go anywhere in the world, and you’ll get your ass kicked by a BUUUULLLY!

World in Chaos Gary McCoy Cagle Cartoons

Used by Permission: World in Chaos by Gary McCoy, Cagle Cartoons

In my disgruntled state of mind, I ran across an article on the “It Gets Better” Project by Dan Savage who birthed this campaign to try and encourage teens who were being bullied. I’ve supported it through my blog in the past and initially thought it was very good. But recently, I realized that as thoughtful as that project was, I don’t think it does get better. Can kids learn not to bully when the adults in the world own the franchise on fucking with people who they deem weaker or less than? Every religion has a major component of compassion within its ethos, yet history has proven that religious people can be some of the worst bullies. It got me to thinking that maybe we are all just six degrees of separation from a bully tango, even in situations that should be considered safe (houses of worship, marriage, friendships, the grocery store).

But what if we had the ability to call bullshit on the bully within ourselves and others? What if an Anti-Bully App were invented (adults only) that would sound an alarm when we or others stepped over the line of compassion no matter how right or empowered we thought we were in the situation? The more I thought about this, the more I wanted to explore the germination of bullying in adults. So I asked my alter ego, the “Dalai Mama” (sees all, knows all) to query her advice column readers for weird, quirky stories of bullying in which my proposed app would have been a handy aid. Below are some of those stories and the Dalai Mama’s response.

(Please note that even though the Dalai Mama is imaginary, the stories are all true. Only the names and the locations have been changed to protect the innocent.)

***

Dear Dalai Mama:

I used to attend a church where the pastor’s wife and two of her ladies in waiting had a three-way conference call with me and told me I should not leave home without a full coat of makeup. The pastor’s wife said I was being unkind to the neighbors. I have laughed about that for years, but it did affect me deeply. It is only in the last year that I can let people see me with no makeup. And when they do see me, no one has killed themselves. Go figure! I sure could have used your Anti-Bully App—if only I had realized I was being bullied. (Would it surprise you to know that the wife, who considered herself a “prophetess,” sold “Fancy Me Lovely” makeup?)—signed: Jezebel from Tennessee, age 63

Dear “Jezebel”:

I checked out this sorry-ass woman’s Facebook page—thinkin’ she must be all that and a bag of chips to say somethin’ like that to you. Guess what? She is no Halle Berry; she is what my mama used to call havin’ a face only a mother could love. Does yo’ man like how you look? Then that is all you have to worry about. Go on and strut yo’ stuff with or without makeup and act like you own the world, girl, because you only have this one life to live. Also, next time you see “Miss Thang,” tell her that I said, God don’t like ugly—hearts, that is.

Hey Dalai:

Zuckerberg + Facebook = bullying!  I avoided “the Book of Face” for years and only signed up to promote my book, Monsters’ Throwdown. My kids made me do it. They said if I didn’t, no one would buy my book. They said it would be fun. Well, they lied! The Facebook is not fun. People came out of the woodwork wanting to “friend” me that I didn’t remember. I barely could tolerate them if I did know them in the past, and could have cared less about chatting with them in my old age. If I thought they were stupid before my encounter with them on the “Book of Face,” they became verifiably ignorant after reading their inner-most desires and thoughts on their page. As quickly as some of them “friended” me, they “unfriended” me during the presidential election and left attack-dog Tea Party messages on my “liberal” page—“just tryin’ to set you straight.” When I changed my privacy settings, I’m told by Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times* that Zuckerberg kept changing them to less privacy without my knowledge. The Zuck kept demanding to know my business (how old I am, what schools I went to, what type of relationship I am in), and when I wasn’t forthcoming, he kept on and is keeping on demanding I cough up the goods. (I changed my birthday three times to protect myself from identity theft since Facebook insists on broadcasting to the entire freakin’ world that I am an old fart, and Zuckerberg had the nerve to indicate that he would only allow me to change it a total of three times, and then I would be stuck with the last age chosen. I am currently 85 years old according to Facebook.) Now I hear that Zuckerberg tried to categorize and study my responses by manipulating the news feed on my page to make me sad.* When I sent him a nasty note about messin’ with my mind, he said I gave him permission when I agreed to his data use policy. (It is 9,123 god-damn words—I never read all that crap!) I need an anti-bullying gun with Zuckerberg and all my ex-trolls (ex-“friends”) engraved on it, and I’m calling for a rumble on the Facebook campus in the fall.—signed, “So Over the ‘Book of Face'” from Somewhere USA, age 50, 71, or 85

Dear “So Over the Book of Face”:

You sound familiar. Is that you, Eleanor the blogger? Girl, go away. This is a conflict of interest. Plus, I only have one thing to say to your clueless behind: “Whoever writes the contract, gets the gold.” Or another way of putting it is “Whoever gets a free online service will get all her shit exploited—so deal with it.”

Bullies Types David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Used by Permission: David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star 

Dear Dalai Mama:

I know a couple that fought like cats and dogs and took home the first place trophy for bullying each other. To meet them as individuals was to love them, but together they were like two rabid demons from Hell. If they were invited to your house for dinner, before the soup course was served the woman would cut her man down for how he talked, how he chewed, how stupid he was, what a piss-poor man of God he was, and what a poor provider he had been. He would volley with how fat she’d gotten in recent years, what a bitch she had become, and how she got on his every last fucking nerve. In the past, she threw a pan of hot grits in his face, and he retaliated by slashing her craft room into shreds with his chain saw. The man died of a heart attack over a year ago, and the strangest thing happened. The woman was inconsolable. She threw herself over his coffin—weeping and wailing as if she had lost the love of her life. I had to leave the room when she and her pastor tried to raise the man from the dead through prayer and the laying on of hands as she screamed: “Rupert, come back, don’t leave me . . . I need you, baby!” Last month, the woman died. She left behind a daughter. Why is it that somehow I think the woman and the man are still trying to kill each other in eternity? There isn’t an anti-bullying app that could ever be made that would have cut through all their loveless crap. Some people are beyond the pale.—signed, “The Daughter, a.k.a, I’m Never Getting Married” from Honolulu, age 30 

Dear “I’m Never Getting Married”:

I don’t even know what to say, Baby-girl except I’m so sorry. I’m so very sorry. Some people will never change.

Israelis vs Palestinians Daryl Cagle CagleCartoons com

Used by permission: Israelis vs Palestinians, Daryl Cagle, CagleCartoons.com

I am discovering that if rearing kids has taught me anything, it’s that “what monkey sees, monkey will definitely do.” If we want our kids not to become bullies, we have to be on guard against the slightest trait of this within ourselves and model that behavior.

When I first started blogging, I was trying to find my voice, and I did a humorous puff piece on flesh-colored tights being worn as leotards with sort tops, thus causing major ass display whenever the wearer bent over. I found a picture on the Web of the back of a very obese cashier exemplifying exactly why this was a fashion no-no as her seemingly naked ass was causing people to cover their eyes and flee in horror every time her shirt hiked up. Some stranger had taken her picture without the young woman’s knowledge or consent and uploaded it on the Web. It had a million clicks as people laughed at her over and over again. I used the picture in my blog. Two years later a troll left a comment about my “ass-holy-ness” as a Christian towards this girl. I never answered the troll, but I did repent for my momentary bullying and deleted the post because the troll was right. I called bullshit on myself. We are all just six degrees of separation from becoming a bully, and the children are watching.

Bullies et al Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

Used by permission: Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

“A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.”Abraham Joshua Heschel

“For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?”Bell hooks

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”Dalai Lama

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.” ― Michael J. Fox

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR? CHECK OUT: www.eleanortomczyk.com

REFERENCES

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/07/18/are-you-raising-nice-kids-a-harvard-psychologist-gives-5-ways-to-raise-them-to-be-kind/?tid=pm_lifestyle_pop

*http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-facebooks-user-20140630-column.html#page=1

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.

 

 
21 Comments

Posted by on August 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

False Identity

Do you know what I’ve discovered after attending a funeral last week of someone who died before her time (she was two years younger than I, and believe you me, I am not ready to exit stage left just yet)?  After meditating at great length on the premature death of my co-worker, I discovered that Shakespeare was right:  “To thine own self be true!”  Doing otherwise will just fuck with your mind and your life.

Because I’m always thinking of what spiritual legacy WW and I can implant in our grandson before we kick the bucket, I was mulling over the concept of how to convey recognizing one’s “True Self” vs. the “False Self” we often get imprisoned in by the opinions of others to a four-year-old.  But Little-Dude beat me to it. The other day the phone rang and my daughter (Boo)—choked with laughter—started to rattle off one of Baby-boy’s latest adventures.

BOO:     “Mom, you are never going to believe what Baby-boy did to Mama-Mama (Baby-boy’s paternal grandmother)!”

Baby Boy Trying Identities

Baby-Boy (a.k.a. Pumbaa Impersonator Extraordinaire)

ME:        “Oh, whatever it is, I’m sure it is going to be a hoot and totally blog worthy.”

BOO:     “Well, I don’t know how blog worthy it is, but Mama-Mama and Baby-boy stopped by the grocery store for a hot minute and before you could say, ‘stay put wiggle-worm,’ your grandson wandered off to another aisle.  The next thing Mama-Mama heard was Baby-boy shouting at someone:

 ‘Are you talkin’ to me?  Are YOU talkin’ TO ME??

‘So, you want a piece of me?  YOU want a PIECE of ME??’

BOO:     “Mama-Mama almost had a heart attack thinking that her worst fears had come to fruition, and Baby-boy was being kidnapped and dragged out of the store.  But when Mama-Mama ran around the corner, nobody was there but your grandson looking at her like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland.  Mama-Mama asked Baby-boy who he was talking to and he answered her in that sly way of his that makes you think you’re going crazy:  Nobody.’  After scolding him to stay close to her, the two got in the check-out line and were almost finished when  all of a sudden, Baby-boy started his ‘Are you talkin’ to me?’ spiel again while staring directly at Mama-Mama’s butt as if he and the butt were having a tussle (she did say, ‘stay close to me’).  While his grandmother hustled our little giggling terrorist out of the grocery store, she told me that all the customers were staring at her with the kind of looks that say:  ‘Should we or should we not call the Child Abuse Hotline?”

ME:        “Well, it’s obvious that our darling boy picked this phrase up from something he watched on TV, and he was either channeling Al Pacino’s “Scarface” (in which case a phone call to the abuse hotline might be in order) or he was imitating Pumbaa’s speech from The Lion King.  How did Baby-boy end the speech?  Did he say: ‘AND THEY CALL ME, MR. PIG?’  Because that is definitely a Pumbaa line!”

Pumbaa quotesworthrepeating dot com

Pumbaa from “The Lion King”/Disney

BOO:     “Maybe, but Mama-Mama swears she has no idea where he picked that dialogue up.  She thinks it might have come from his pre-school (“The Our Lady of Goodness and Grace Holy Child of the Heavenly Jesus Loves You School”).  But it gets worse, Mom.  On Sunday we went out to dinner with one of the deacons at the church.  I told Baby-boy he needed to be on his best behavior and at first he was a total angel—showing off my parenting as if he had never done a bratty thing in his life.  The waiter came over to take our orders and after finishing with the adults the server asked me what Baby-boy would like to eat.  Before I could say, ‘Oh, he’ll have his usual—chicken nuggets with fries and chocolate soy milk’—your grandson reared back in his seat with a ‘high noon at the O.K. Corral shoot-out’ look and said to the waiter:  Are you talkin’ to me?  Are YOU talkin’ TO ME??  You want a piece of me?  Do YOU want a PIECE of ME??’  Mom—he’s only four-years-old!  Can I send him to live with you until he’s eighteen or he’s out of his Al Pacino phase—whichever comes first?  My nerves can’t take much more of this!”

ME:        “No.  I’m not raising anymore babies, thank you very much.  Besides, it sounds like Baby-boy is just trying on identities like a new set of clothes—trying to figure out what persona he wants to be.   Maybe since winning ‘Student of the Month’ in pre-school last month, he’s having issues with his street cred.  Ha!  Maybe there’s a four-year-old gang that’s messin’ with him on the playground.  (By the way, what do you have to do to become ‘Student of the Month’ out of all the four-year-old classes in a school—not pee your pants before lunch is served?)

Kid turned weird

Calvin and Hobbes | Cartoonist Bill Watterson

BOO:     “Mom, this is not funny!  The child is embarrassing me and his New York City grandmother.  Would you please work with me here and take this seriously?  I called you for advice—do I have a gangsta in the making?”

ME:        “Fine.  There is nothing to worry about.  Baby-boy will grow out of it because trying on identities at four years old is like playing dress-up.  Just be glad he’s no longer practicing his Chipette impersonation while channeling Beyoncé and Willow Smith when he was three years old.  Remember how we couldn’t stop Baby-boy from breaking into his Beyoncé/Willow medley no matter where we were?   With one hand on hip, the other hand in the air—he’d burst into song and out booty-pop anything Beyoncé could do as he burst into his three-year-old rendition of ‘All the Single Ladies.’  And in true Chipette style (because, obviously, Chipettes have no hair), Baby-boy would segue into (without missing a beat):  I whip my TAIL back and forth; I whip my TAIL back and forth. . .’”

ME:        “Just be glad Baby-boy is channeling the spirit of Pumbaa, the farting warthog!”  At least the other four-year-olds can all relate to farts and it makes them laugh.  The Beyonce-Willow-Chipette medley might have gotten his butt kicked at his little inner-city Catholic School—Jesus or no Jesus—because those people know how to rumble.  Remember West Side Story?  All Catholics!  Besides, the ages you have to worry about are the middle school years and up.  That’s when Baby-boy will try on different identities that just might be false, and if they stick they could affect his life-choices rendering irreversible circumstances to his journey.

“What you have to be on the look-out for are people like that asshole, Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, who has been in the news the last few days for the unabashed way he sells “false selves” while trampling all over the psyches of young people without so much as a ‘by your leave.’    Allegedly, Mike Jefferies said his brand-killing quotes about ‘only wanting beautiful people to wear his brand’ in an interview seven years ago, but the interview has resurfaced—to much more backlash than before (IMP. NOTE:  Nothing ever goes away on the Internet, Mr. Jeffries).  Keep in mind that he doesn’t allow his stores to carry any girls’ jeans larger than a size 10 which are really a size 6—I know, because I checked them out when you were in high school and A&F was the divining rod of who was “in” and who was “out”!   The CEO of A&F only allows larger sizes for guys because athletes are usually buff and sexy and need a larger size (his words—not mine).

“He (Mike Jeffries) doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people,” Lewis said. “He doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing. People who wear his clothing should feel like they’re one of the ‘cool kids.’”— Robin Lewis, author of The New Rules of Retail as told to Business Insider*

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids . . . Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends.  A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary?  Absolutely. . .”—Mike Jeffries to Salon.com by Sean Levinson*

CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch

Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch

ME:        “When Baby-boy reaches the age when creeps like Mike Jeffries can mess with his mind and cause him to think he is not “good enough” because he can’t squeeze his ass into a pair of A&F’s jeans, then we’ll have trouble on our hands.  Even if A&F is out of business by then (please, God, please), there will be others to take its place.  If Baby-boy or his friends start starving themselves to become the false selves that Jeffries or others like him are selling or he starts labeling himself as the ‘cool kid’ and the others the ‘losers,’ then you’ll know that you need to grab the family, far and wide, to do an intervention before his soul gets sucked right out of his body and we lose him to a false God and a false identity.   Show Baby-boy that his worth comes from the inside out—that he’s spirit, soul, and body, and that nothing anyone says about him is his true self unless he answers to it and makes it his own.

“In the meantime, I’ve got to go and alert all the mothers and grandmothers I know through my blog and Facebook page to this latest assault on our children’s psyches.  I even have an idea for a picket sign.  What do you think?”

Are you talking to me God sign

“…because if you are, Jeffries:  Talk to the hand, Mofo!”

I am discovering that just as snowflakes (no two being identical) are formed with yesterday’s moisture and today’s arctic air, so it is with people.   We form our identity with a little bit of this from our past and a little bit of that from the present—elements from our family environment and the world around us.  Just as each snowflake must own its individuality to develop into the snowball, the snowman, the snow mound that never existed before but makes all the difference in the world, so must we as humans.   To fit in with the rest of the snowflakes is great in order to build something constructive, but we must never forget that we are all unique and it is that uniqueness that makes the world a fabulous place.  To settle for less is to live a less than excellent life, and it allows others to undermine our destiny, our credibility, and our “True Selves.”

I am also discovering that we can bring smug-ass Jeffries to his knees in a heartbeat by helping our children see that even though they may be able to fit into A&F’s clothes, for the “common good” of their “uncool” sisters and brothers, cousins and nieces, friends and acquaintances, the poor and disenfranchised, they should not spend another dime in this man’s stores.   And in the meantime, they can do like the Los Angeles filmmaker, Greg Karber,** and collect Abercrombie and Fitch brands from thrift stores and friends who’ve outgrown Mr. Arrogant-ass’ rags and give them to the homeless.  Let’s see how Jeffries “cool” brand looks on the “ugly” street-bound chic!

Teach Our Daughters Blog

AMEN, AND AMEN! 

 “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”― Oscar Wilde

Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

 “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.― Harvey Fierstein

* http://elitedaily.com/news/world/abercrombie-fitch-ceo-explains-why-he-hates-fat-chicks/

** http://www.kpho.com/story/22259490/la-man-doles-out-abercrombie-fitch-clothing-to-homeless

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.

 
14 Comments

Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Karma Can Be a Bitch

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  There is a God because every once and awhile the shit hits the fan against the enemies of our souls and we are vindicated.  Most bullying situations in life don’t have a Hollywood ending, but every now and then, karma has a way of circling back and biting the bully in the ass, and to that we—the bullied—cry “OO-YAH”!

justcapshunz.com/Pinterest

At my moonlighting job as an advice columnist, “Big Mama Speaks,” I received several letters of interest this week from bullies, their bullying relatives, and innocent observers of bullying.  I’d like to share with my readers a sampling of some of the letters along with my answers which illustrate the “payback is a bitch” principle when it comes to being a bully, and that the best revenge against a bully, of any type, is “living well.”

BIG MAMA SPEAKS!

Osama bin Laden’s hideaway being demolished/AP Image

Aasalaamu Aleikum, you infidel, Big Mama:  Let me please introduce myself—I am one of Osama bin Laden’s wives and we have heard of your blog and your advice column, even in Pakistan, where we are now under house arrest with our many, many children.  Of all Osama’s (Allah be praised) wives, I have always been the most sophisticated and forward thinking (as you can see, I speak English very well).  Now that “O” is no longer alive to try and take over the world, I am a realist and realize that we wives will need to get jobs to support ourselves and our children, but we have no skills.  I have been checking out your American television programs.  Most of them are disgusting (what can you expect from infidels, yes?), but I do watch Downton Abbey (what a delicious show about the disgusting British Imperialism), The Oprah Channel (I secretly envy her empowerment as a woman), Desperate Housewives (this gives us all the guilty-pleasure giggles), reruns of Big Love (who knew we had something in common with you Americans?), and select pickings from the Bravo channel and the Food Network.  After much thought and careful discussion among the other wives, we’ve come up with an employment plan that may work, and we don’t have to leave the house (which would cause an international incident) to get it done.  What if we filmed our lives in our current “house arrest” situation and submitted it for airing on the Bravo channel?  We would call it:  The Real Housewives of Abbottabad.  I am writing to see if you would be our representative with the Jew, Andy Cohen, who produces the housewives series in America.  We could do a demo and send it to you to pass along.   I have uploaded a picture of our favorite Housewives cast so that you do not get confused as to which one we wish to pattern our show after (the Atlanta ladies have such great swag).  I have also included a shot of my sister wives and me so that you can gauge our potential as reality show material.   I look forward to your reply.  Signed:  One of “The Real Housewives of Abbottabad” (TRHA)

The Real Housewives of Atlanta/Cast photo

Wa-Aleikum Aassalaam TRHA:  Big Mama doesn’t even know where to begin, child.  To be perfectly blunt, I did not like your husband.  (No, I did not, girlfriend!)  Matter of fact, I had to keep myself from doing the “Jumping Jack Flash” dance of joy when I found out your old man was dead.  Since my mama always told me I should never speak ill of the dead because it was bad luck, about the nicest thing I can say about your boo is that he was a horrible bully.  (Also, before I forget, I don’t know Andy Cohen or I’d submit my own housewives reality show to him:  Big Mamas Who Take No Shit from Terrorists, Bullies, or Otherwise.)

Google Image

But I am so glad you wrote because Big Mama has a butt-load of questions that I’d like to ask you given recent news reports.   I read that three of you wives, eight children, five grandchildren, and support staff all lived in the suburban house that was recently demolished in Pakistan.   (Is it true that bin Laden was married 22 times and has 54 children?  How did he find time to do anything else but the “nasty” given all those women?)  I also read that “First Wife” is a colossal bitch and that she and the youngest wife (Osama’s favorite—is that you?) were the Nene Leakes and the Kim Zolciaks of your own “Real Housewives” scenario.   Word on the street is that all the wives bitched and complained so much to bin Laden that he stayed holed up in his room watching hours of endless porno tapes to keep his head from exploding.  It is all so delicious and I must tell you that, as an American, I relish the thought that you all tormented your husband’s sorry-ass until he couldn’t think straight.  He probably was the one that tipped off the Navy Seals about his own hideout just to have some peace.  According to the interviews given to the Pakistanis by all of you, Osama was in terrible health, as well as mentally unstable in his final days.  Wow!  I guess you do qualify to become a Real Housewife of “fill in the blank.”  Good times!

Osama bin Laden/Google Image

Your terrorist bully of a husband is probably thinking by now that Hell is a five-star resort compared to living with his bitching and complaining wives—all under one roof with nowhere to go day, after day, after day, after day.   (I’m sorry; I don’t mean to revel in Osama’s misery—but then again, I think I do.)

So what else can I tell you?  I don’t have the clout to make you and your “girls” reality stars.  Big Mama is not a miracle worker.  But you’re probably as much victims of Osama’s bullying as the rest of the people he terrorized around the world which does soften my heart towards you, I must say.  My advice to you, baby, is to write a tell-all memoir and live well off the proceeds (Our Lives As Wives With That Son-of-a-Bitch, Bin Laden or He Promised Me the World But All I Got Was This Lousy Burqa).  It will be a bestseller, I promise you.

Book Jacket/Google Image

“Limbaugh became a radio powerhouse and a leader of the Republican Party, through withering attacks that rile up his base. . . . This time Limbaugh picked on a soft-spoken young woman no one had ever heard of and mockingly challenged (Sharon) Fluke to post a sex video online. He looked like a bully.” By Howard Kurtz (Why Rush Limbaugh’s Apology for Sandra Fluke ‘Slut’ Remarks Bombed—The Daily Beast)

***

Dear Big Mama:  I am visiting your country from another planet and have been following your American slander gab shows.  No offense, but have the people in your country all lost their minds—especially the Conservatives?  Who is this person called Rush Limbaugh?  You know— the one who flings racist darts at your leader and his family as if they were human piñatas whose bodies he’s trying to poison.   Is there any race Mr. Lumbaugh likes other than the white one?  This kind of incivility is unheard of on other planets.  I had heard of your “American Exceptionalism” on my planet, and I was intrigued and really looking forward to getting to know what that was all about but it seems to breed only arrogance.  I googled this Rush Limbaugh and found that Mr. Limbaugh says he talks to God every day.   But from what I know of God, I don’t think he is listening, do you?   I’m looking forward to your perspective for my travel journal.   You are an interesting species, to say the least.  Signed:  Disappointed in Americans

Dear Disappointed:  RL says hateful things about everyone who doesn’t agree with him, and it is all for the Benjamins.  Rush is such a bully that an entire political party is scared to death of him.  God is listening, alright, Sugar, but I don’t think any of us wants to know how severely he finds us wanting for our hatefulness towards each other.  Unfortunately, we have a slew of these bullies, my celestial friend (most claiming to have some type of God connection), except for maybe the mean-spirited, manipulative conservative watch dog, Andrew Breitbart, who just crossed over the “great divide” with a lot of explainin’ to have to do to his Maker for his serial character assassination plots and manipulation of information used to destroy the lives and livelihood of innocent people for sport.  If there is a God, Andrew Breitbart should have to serve as Shirley Sherrod’s butler for the first third of eternity.   I don’t know about where you come from, Alien-Baby, but evil doesn’t remain status quo forever here.  Bullies get their comeuppance in the end ‘cause bad karma sure is a bitch, and it will come back like a boomerang to bite them in the ass when they least expect it.

Snapshot of JC Penney/Ellen DeGeneres Commercial

Dear Traitor to the Name of Jesus, Big Mama:  I am one of the One Million Moms who signed up to get JC Penney to drop Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesperson for their company because she does not represent family values and promotes a degenerate lifestyle.  But I have noticed that you have refused to join our cause and what is even more maddening is that you have publicly come out in support of this lesbian.  Our campaign against JC Penney was a bust because of people like you.  And you call yourself a Christian.  You should be ashamed of yourself.  Well, I’m writing to tell you that unless you repent, you’re going to burn in Hell! Signed: OMM “True Believer”

Dear OMM BullyOooooh-kay!  Can I suggest you switch to decaf for starters?  After you’ve calmed down a bit, Bully-Mommy, I’d like to point out that your group’s name is a “teensy-weensy bit” overstated, so you might want to rein that verbosity in a tad bit.  The last time I checked out your website, you had 44,000 “likes” and counting.  Not quite 1M.  The One Million People for Ellen surpassed your group 5 times and counting within days of its launch.  Second, I didn’t see anything anywhere where Ellen DeGeneres or JC Penney said, shop with us and Ellen, and we will give you a 20% coupon to our next, “You too can be gay if you just walk my way” seminar.   Finally, “judge not lest ye be judged,” OMM groupie.  Ellen’s sexuality is Ellen’s business, not mine or yours.  If this is such a big deal with God, why don’t we trust him to have a little chat with Ellen and Portia?  Or don’t you trust God to do the right thing?  You know what I think?   I think you secretly suspect that God doesn’t hate the things you hate.  Isn’t that a bitch?  In the meantime, Hell ain’t half-full yet, so keep on “actin’ ugly” and we’ll let God be the judge of who wins the race to Heaven.

  At this point, JC Penney, Ellen, and me

 are happy as hummingbirds in a hibiscus tree.

 (Damn, I’m a poet and don’t know it!)

******

I am discovering that not being liked never killed anybody—how we react to not being liked is the thing that can do us in.  I don’t remember a day that passed in my elementary, junior high and high schools when I wasn’t being bullied.  It was a rare day when I didn’t cry myself to sleep most nights because I didn’t fit in, wasn’t accepted, wasn’t loved, or was just having the plain ol’ shit beat out of me.   Bullies flanked me on my left and right, front and back, top and bottom, home(s) and school(s), playgrounds and alleyways, but I never let them have the final word.  The more they tortured me, the more I resolved not to let them win.   I encountered my first bully when I was six years old and even at that tender age I instinctively knew that no one else was the “boss of me.”  When a caretaker was beating me senseless with a razor strop (thick leather strap used to sharpen straight razors) while she screamed, “I better see some tears or I’ll beat your fat ass into next week,” I determined not to shed a drop of tears, and I didn’t.  I still remember the look of fear in that woman’s eyes when she realized a six-year-old, with fury emanating from my dryless eyes like fire bolts, had stood up to her bullying and had won the day.

I am very supportive of the anti-bullying campaign of “It Gets Better,” but it only tells part of the story.  When the bullied don’t let the bullies define them, and we chose to live our lives to the fullest in spite of them, then that truly is the best revenge.

Pinterest.com

“Never be bullied into silence.  Never allow yourself to be made a victim.  Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.”  ~Harvey Fierstein

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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.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Don’t Quote Me—But I Think Jesus Is Pissed!

(This story is a continuation of C-‘48’s Odyssey from blog post: “It’s Sure Gonna Suck for You.”)

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  My sorry-ass was supposed to be “out of here” last week—Oct. 21st (a.k.a. the Rapture).  I haven’t always believed in the Rapture, but I figured why not give it a try.  Earth was becoming a place that was really beginning to suck for a various number of reasons (wars upon wars and rumors of wars, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, uptick in racism, child abuse, murders, mayhem, and rape—just to name a few nightmares).  I was looking forward to the great escape and going to a place where there would be no more tears, and I could eat great food without gaining weight.  I could stand to trade in all the stress from the chaos and mayhem, and just “hang ten” with Jesus (in heaven I’m going to have a killer surfer bod and be able to surf like a female Kelly Slater).  I’d gotten all my affairs in order, paid all my bills, called in sick to work, kissed WW and the kids good-bye, and prepared myself for a long trip “up.”  But nothing happened!

I’m typing this blog post several days AFTER I was supposed to take flight with my wig and clothes left behind on the seat in front of the steering wheel of my car while my chubby naked ass floated heavenward.  My vehicle would have barreled on down the highway without a driver, terrorizing the “left behind drivers” and the “po-po,” which made me sad at first, but it was just the way the cookie had to crumble if I was going to be part of the “big snatch.”  But. . . I’m still here!   What the fuck?

Google Image/Rapture Billboard

Actually, according to that old dude (Harold Camping) who prophesied the big snatch for Oct. 21st, he promised that I was supposed to be originally raptured on May 21st.

Well, Rev. Camping, you’ve sure got some explaining to do.  It’s like you cried “fire” in a dark theater twice in one year, causing tons of people to panic, but there was no fire.  I’m still here on this planet that I never wanted to come to in the first place (see “It’s Sure Gonna Suck for You”), and your second “snatch day” has come and gone.

So, I’ve had it, Campy baby, and I’m not taking this lying down.  I’d open up a can of whup-ass on you if I could find you (apparently, you’re in hiding), but since I can’t find you, I’m going to do what every little kid on the playground knows to do when they are pissed at one of the other kids:  I’m tellin’ on your ass.

I’m going straight to the person who you claim to be “your boss” and I’m going to tell him how you’re messin’ with people’s minds, causing all sorts of chaos, and making a mockery of your boss’ life and death.  You see, I have discovered the Jesus you talk about is a real stand-up guy, and I’m registering a letter of complaint to him against you.  And while I’m at it, I’m telling on all the other ne’er-do-wells that are saying “God told me this or God told me that” just for their own political or financial gain!  YOUR ASS IS GRASS, MOFO!

COPY OF LETTER TO JESUS

Dear Jesus:

Hope all is well with you and the universe(s) and the hundreds of billions of galaxies you traverse.  I am one of your peeps and I’ve tried to follow you with all my heart for over forty years.  Let me say, first and foremost:  I love you because you first loved me and I remain secure in that love.  However, in the interest of full disclosure, I no longer attend church, but I’m sure you knew that.   I left about a year before the writer Anne Rice left and for the same reasons:  so many of your peeps have lost their ever lovin’, freakin’ minds, and they have become part of the problem and not the solution down here on your third rock from the sun.  They’ve become Fox News worshipers, Glenn Beck idolizers, and Palin-Bachmann sympathizers, as if you, personally, had come down from heaven and knighted these people with a special dispensation from on high.

Which is why I’m writing:  I would like to register a complaint against your Church.  I’m not registering the complaint against all of your Church, just  the crazy parts.  I know that there has always been a remnant of Christians who have been sane and have done the  right thing by your Earth and the people in it, but right now, the crazies are  over-shadowing your “normal” peeps who are just trying to model your example of integrity, love, and grace.

So I’m writing to ask:  what is up with these people and would you please put a stop to them?  You’re such an intelligent God and so outrageously loving and great—with a fabulous sense of humor, I might add—but it’s hard to see that because of what people, who “claim” to be your peeps, are saying and doing in your name.  In case you haven’t been able to catch the news lately, here are a few examples of the freak show:

Google Image/Rev. Harold Camping (False Prophet)

Rev. Camping’s Predictions

“Thus, we must realize that October 21, 2011 will be the final day of this earth’s existence.”

“And now, we have no option. We can’t say ‘maybe’ ‘it’s possible’ ‘it
looks very probable…’ No way! We have to say this is what the Bible teaches!
This is fact! May 21, 2011 is the
day of the Rapture, it is the day that Judgment Day begins…”

“When September 6, 1994,
arrives, no one else can become saved. The end has come.”

Really, Jesus?  I’ve read that in the 90’s, Rev. Camping had approximately eight false Rapture predictions.  And yet I hear today he’s worth 7 million dollars, while the people who took him seriously sold all their worldly goods to help him “spread the word.”  Obviously, he didn’t think he was going very far if he held onto his own millions.  Last time I checked, our money was no good in Heaven.  But here’s the real kick in the balls:  Rev. Camping refused to reimburse the people who sold their homes, crisscrossed the country screaming “the end is near,” and used all their life savings to advertise Rev. Campings false predictions (some foolish guy invested $144,000 of his retirement—all he had).

Google Image/Anita Perry (Wife of Rick Perry)

“God was already speaking to me,” she [Anita Perry] said, “but he [Rick] didn’t want to hear it” (on hearing the distinct voice of God tell her that her husband should run for president and “take back our nation”). . . .  “We’ve been brutalized. Beaten up, chewed up in the press … We’ve been brutalized by our opponents and our own party. So much that is I think they look at him [Rick] because of his faith.”

Jesus, what Anita is saying, just isn’t true.  Ricky is being chewed up in the press because he’s saying idiotic and “anti-you” things but claiming to be called by you to be our next president.  On one hand, he’s presenting himself as a “good, upstanding Christian” (your knight in shining armor), and on the other hand, he’s pathetically defending the existence of a damn rock that bore the name “Niggerhead” at a hunting camp he and his family owned for years in a place that was once considered a “sundown town.”  (Translation:  “Don’t let the sun go down, Nigger, while you are still in our town.”)   Ricky says he painted over that rock in 1983, but at least seven other hunters claim to have seen the sign “unpainted” as late as 2008, and others have said that even with the sign currently painted, discernable letters are still visible.

Google Image/Throckmorton (Rick Perry’s Hunting Camp)

So, Jesus, here is the $64,000 question:  If this man loves you and is called by you to govern people of all races and colors, why didn’t that sign break his heart?  I know plenty of righteous white folks (some of them live in Texas, too) who wouldn’t have slept until that rock was ground into dust, scattered to the four corners of the Earth, and an exorcist brought into the camp to cleanse it of its racist past.

Now your “man of God,” is resurfacing the insulting Birther lie about our president.  When asked why, this “good Christian man” is doing such a mean-spirited thing, he said:  “It’s fun to poke at him (Obama) a little bit and say, ‘Hey, how about it.  Let’s see your grades and your birth certificate’” (keeping alive the lie the Tea Party spread that our President may have lied about his schooling).  Seriously, Jesus?  Does Rick Perry really want to “go there” having graduated as a cheerleader from Texas A&M with mediocre to failing grades in his core subjects?  Does he really want to bear the shame of the world comparing his grades against Barack Obama’s who was the president of the Harvard Law Review?   Rick Perry held a prayer meeting in your name to kick off his presidential campaign, so why is he “poking” fun at his president and mine?  Is Rick jealous or just flat out mean?  Somehow the “love your brother as yourself” just isn’t cutting it with him, and it’s making that prayer meeting of his seem like a total sham.

Google Image/AFP||Getty Image

Westboro Baptist Church “Screaming hatred in the name of Jesus”

Now about that sick Westboro Baptist Church:  This picture speaks a thousand words.  Are these people really going to Heaven?  I seriously might have to reconsider your offer about heaven if I have the slightest potential of living with these racist, homophobic, misanthropic people for an eternity.  Please, say it isn’t so!

You see what I’m sayin’, Jesus; it’s all so perverse!   To Hell with this creepy Rapture stuff!  I know it’s a lie made up by some dude named John Darby in the 1800’s, but you’d be stunned to know how many people actually believe in it and “sell it” like their lives depended on it while their actions are the antithesis of you and what you stand for.

  •  “You’ll be riding along in an automobile. You’ll be the driver perhaps. You’re a Christian. There’ll be several people in the automobile with you, maybe someone who is not a Christian. When the trumpet sounds you and the other born-again believers in that automobile will be instantly caught away — you will disappear, leaving behind only your clothes and physical things that cannot inherit eternal life. That unsaved person or persons in the automobile will suddenly be startled to find the car suddenly somewhere crashes…. Other cars on the highway driven by believers will suddenly be out of control and stark pandemonium will occur on … every highway in the world where Christians are caught away from the driver’s wheel.” Jerry Falwell’s pamphlet:  Nuclear War and the Second Coming of Christ

Remember Jerry Falwell’s multitudinous hurtful and racist statements committed in your name when he was alive?  So, if Jerry was correct about the Rapture, that would make you the God of Chaos!  Sheesh!  (Important reminder, Lord Jesus:  Jerry Falwell also died very rich and politically powerful while preaching we all needed to prepare to be “snatched up” and leave everything behind.)

No disrespect, my Lord, but why do you let these jokers get away with this?  Why don’t you say something or, better yet, do something?

Unless…unless you have already raptured everyone a long time ago, and I’ve been left behind with the likes of Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Glenn Beck, Herman Cain, Rush Limbaugh, Rick Perry, and the Westboro Baptist Church, just to name a few of the wingnuts!  Oh, my God, what if Fox News is the official news channel for Hell?  I never thought of that!  Oy vez mir. 

Please, please return soon.

Trying to be one of your servants, C-‘48

Google Image of Jesus (not really—just his human skin-casing)

COPY OF RESPONSE FROM JESUS

Dear Cleve-’48:

I am Jesus’ executive assistant and I wanted to get back to you as soon as possible with a letter that he specifically dictated to you.  He sends his apologies that he couldn’t personally speak to you himself (he does far less of that than people claim), but he is dealing with all the mayhem throughout the world that is being caused by the choices of humans who refuse to do right by each other and the Earth. 

Jesus asked me to let you know that he feels your pain.  He also wants to assure you that he never said anything crazy people have maintained he said throughout the centuries—from the murderous crusaders to Rick Perry’s wife saying God told her, “Rick should run for president and take our country back.”  Jesus’ exact response to all of this, to put it in a nutshell, is:  “They are ‘mashugana’”!

As to the Westboro Baptist Church, Jesus has nothing to say about them because he doesn’t know them—you might try Satan’s website for those who have signed up for early registration to Hell.

My boss said to remind you that what he did say to those people, who claim to be acting on his behalf, is a matter of public record:

  •  “Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. . . .Knowing the correct password — saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance — isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. . . I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat.  All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’” (Matt. 7:21-23 The Message Bible—bold and underline emphasis = mine)

Jesus also asked me to tell you that as to this blatant worship of capitalism that is running amok through so many Christians who think he’s an American and a Republican, and who are so against social justice, he’s just “not down” with that.  It is a “cancer” enhanced by the discipleship to people like Glenn Beck (not a spokesman of his, by the way) to Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism which she laid out so poorly in Atlas Shrugged. My boss is still puzzled that Christians can read the ninety pages of John Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged which is a manifesto to greed, hubris, self-centeredness, disdain and contempt for the poor, and cold-heartedness to the disenfranchised, and his peeps don’t walk away feeling sick to their stomach when they measure it against his Sermon on the Mount.  Finally, what he actually said to all of them, and they are purposely ignoring, is still a matter of public record:

  •  “Then he (Jesus) will turn to the ‘goats’ (heartless, self-centered, mean-spirited, self-righteous Christians) the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats!  You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
    • I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
    • I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
    • I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
    • I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
    • Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’ He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’” Matt: 25:41-43 (The Message Bible – parentheses, bold, and underlining emphasis = mine)

One last point, C-‘48:  Jesus asked me to tell you not to believe everything you hear.  I believe he said:  “If it walks like a fool, and talks like a fool, then it is a fool and has nothing to do with me or what I am about.”

Hope this helps and brings you peace.  Keep on believin’, keep on representin’, and keep on lovin’ regardless of the haters!

All the Best.

Jesus’ EA, Heavenly Dimension, Inc.

I am a Christian, BUT not one of those Christians!

“I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mahatma Gandhi

******

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.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Into the Woods (Hello Fear)!

To my loyal readers:  This story is based on two of the characters from my memoir (When Monsters Come Out to Play)

Do you know what I’ve discovered?   There are various methods one should use when being attacked by bears.  If it is a grizzly bear, you are supposed to fall down, curl into a fetal position with fingers and hands tucked in between your tummy and the ground and pretend to be dead.  Even when The Grizzly is poking your body with his massive claws and sniffing and growling to see if you’re really dead, you’re not to lose control of your bodily functions, nor should you proceed to become “undead.”  You should simply play possum in the hopes that The Grizzly isn’t one of the smart ones in the family of bears and eats your death-poser ass anyway.  However, if you are attacked by a brown or black bear, you are advised to turn and face the sucker, puff up as large as you can make yourself (arms and hands in attack mode above head), yell aggressively (“HY-YAH”), and beat the bear about the face (snout, eyes, head) with anything heavy you can find (rock, tree branch, or heavy Coach purse) until it hollers “ouch” and runs way.  But don’t ever, ever run away from any color or kind of bear because they are so much faster than humans they will catch you and eat you for sure.

******

Although I occasionally hike, I don’t know much about woods or bears.  My “how to thwart a bear philosophy” is “it is better to never encounter a bear in the first place than have to figure out what to do with one when you do.”  So when I’m hiking, I jingle my car keys incessantly and talk a mile a minute as loudly as I can (without taking a breath) about any and everything (sort of like whistling in the dark) so that if there are any bears in the area, they run the other away.  I don’t know if it’s really effective against bears — I do know it makes my husband’s head explode.

What I know a lot about is growing up poor, black, and parentless in the inner city.   In the ghetto the Bear Survival Manual instructions actually work rather well because that’s how I “got over” and lived to tell about it.

My mother’s mind got eaten by a mental grizzly bear when my good-for-nothing-father vanished when I was three years old (let’s hope my father’s sorry ass got completely eaten by The Grizzly).  This left my sister and me homeless — touring the Cleveland foster care system of the 1950s and 60s – only slightly one step up from a Charles Dickens work-house story of the 1800s.  I learned two things when I was growing up about the fear of monsters: some of the monsters that cross your path aren’t worth a moment’s notice (they are powerless to harm you even though they have loud aggressive roars), but a few of the monsters are truly deadly and are meant to be faced head-on with the enlarged stature of a warrior who knows something that bears don’t:  you may be small and you may be scared, but you’ll fight to win.

As a Ward of the State, I journeyed through more than a half-dozen foster homes and a children’s receiving home (temporary orphanage) before reaching adulthood.  No other foster mother personified the type of monster or bear that just needed ignoring like Edwina Burley.

Edwina Burley, “Burley-pig,” as she was derisively known to me, had the looks of a female Idi Amin, the body of a giant walrus, and the skin-color of asphalt.  Her face bore a jagged scar from the right corner of her lip to the top of her right ear — souvenir of a knife attack from an intruder in a mansion in Shaker Heights where she had once worked as a domestic.

The first time I met Mrs. Burley was when my caseworker of the hour took me for a visit to see if I would hit it off with the Burleys and their child – a ten-year-old wallflower of a boy.  Rowena Burley proudly took us on the grand tour of her tiny cookie-cutter 1940’s house that had been ordered as a kit from the Sears and Roebuck Catalogue by a previous owner.   The minute she opened her mouth I knew she was a poser in everything from her furnishings to her bastardization of the King’s English.

“Why don’t y’all come into the livin’ room and make yo’selves declinable.”

Burley-pig practically sang her next line as she impersonated what she thought a rich white woman would say as we toured her “mansion”:

“I gots whore-doors and drinks for allllllllll.”

As we stepped onto the carpet (covered entirely in thick plastic), her son took a running leap to an organ bench while the rest of us made our way through a living room so full of Sears Catalogue items (lamps, end tables, a miniature organ, coffee table, and a buffet side board all covered in plastic), we had to walk single-file in order to get to a couch and two chairs.  Our feet burped their way across the plastic on the floor, while my caseworker’s high heels hole-punched their way in and out of the plastic runway to the nearest chair. When I sank into the couch, my butt connected with the plastic seat cushions and without warning my ass emitted the sound of a
plastic-fart that could have been a replica of a giant passing gas had we all known what that sounded like.  I recognized that I had entered plastic hell as the preening Mrs. Burley’s lard-ass connected to the couch that belched her final plastic-fart pronouncement:

“This here’s our anointed livin’ room that we constrains for our most impotents of guests!”

When my caseworker asked me if “this seemed like a foster home I could be happy in,” what the hell was I supposed to say? It seemed like a plastic insane asylum, but I was already seasoned enough in the foster-home-visit-drill to know they would all turn out the same:  I’d live there for six months to a year — max — and then get thrown out for my “bull-headedness or sassy mouth (code for ‘she wouldn’t let us abuse and use her without putting up a fight’).”   I had no choice but to stay; it was either the obsequious Mrs. Burley or the orphanage. However, I’d been in enough foster homes to know there would be an “unveiling” of the lady of the manor.  Within forty-eight hours, the lilting, preening, malapropism-spewing Rowena Burley gave way to the caustic, mean-spirited, ignorant Burley-pig of a bitch who posted what she called the “Rules of My Domain, or How to Get Along to Get Along.”

Primarilyist:  My boy is the onlyest one ‘lowed in the livin’ room so that he cans play with his organ. He’s
gonna be famous like Nat King Cole someday — a true dignitary of our race. I betta’ not catch yo’ little fat ass in my parlor messin’ wit my boy’s instrument.

“Secondarily:  Elnura, let’s me give you some advertisement, chil’. You way too ugly and stupid to have the friends you do. You needs to hang out wit people uglier and stupeedier than you is (if you can find ‘em – hee, hee, hee), ‘cause it don’t help yo’ case none to have smart, glamor-pussing friends — it jes pontificates both yo’ ugliness and yo’ ignrance.

“Thirdesly:  My boy gets the chicken thighs — you gets the neck bones and the chicken’s butt, and you best be happy wit’ it, cause in most places you wouldn’t even get that. It’s only cause I’m a good Christian woman and considers it my God-fearin’ dutability to provide a home for wayward chilrens of the worl’ that I even lets you into my manor born — so’s you best be grateful for everythin’ I gives you.”

Burley-pig was a monster I was never afraid of.  Her words and actions were hurtful but what she called me I never responded to because I didn’t believe her.  On one hand, I knew I was intelligent and someday that intelligence would prove her wrong.  I just needed time and a miracle.   On the other hand, I didn’t know if I was pretty or not; I just knew the Burley-pig was as ugly as sin and a pot sure couldn’t call a kettle black.

******

“What they call you is one thing; what you answer to is something else.”

Lucille Clifton
(Poet, writer, educator/1936-2010)

******

I did run into other bears in my childhood who caused me great fear and a grizzly bear or two that almost destroyed me.  Those encounters made me realize that some bears aren’t just out to protect their territory; some are out to destroy you and your destiny.  Usually, the grizzly bears of life (debilitating addictions, poverty, racism, illiteracy, childhood sexual and physical abuse, abandonment, mental illness,  to name a few) endeavor to swallow you whole no matter what you try and do to thwart them. I found that I personally needed a power higher than myself and a couple of mentors to help me get over a few of these or I’d be a carcass in the woods today.   A major grizzly bear that attacked me during my most formative years was a racist social worker who had been assigned to me when I was sixteen years old.  Defeating her has made all the difference in my life.

SWOTW (Social-worker-of-the-week):  “Eleanor, I asked you to come see me today because, as you know, you’re being asked to leave your last foster home due to an insubordinate attitude and behavioral
problems,” said SWOTW, barely able to contain her ennui.  She didn’t even bother to look up from her papers when she delivered my fate.

“In all honesty, we have nowhere else to place you because the Court no longer has responsibility for its wards once they’ve turned sixteen. However, we have some terrific news for you.  We have decided to provide a
stipend for you to rent a room at a boarding facility that is kind of like a Colored Women’s YWCA for homeless women. We’ll pay for a room there until you’re eighteen and supplement your income with an allowance for a pass to eat in the cafeteria. It has been decided since you are somewhat articulate we can help get you a job at the telephone company as a switchboard operator.  That should give you what you need for bus fare, clothing, and incidentals.”

ELEANOR:  “No,” I said, trembling from head to toe while turning to face the bear (bear tactic one).

SWOTW:  “What do you mean, ‘no?’” asked SWOTW.

ELEANOR:  “NO as in N-O! I want to stay in school. You didn’t say anything about staying in school. I have two more years before I graduate high school,” I said, puffing up my body to appear larger than I was (bear tactic two).

SWOTW:  “And do what? You can legally leave school at sixteen and given your prospects, getting out of school now and getting a secure job is nothing to sneeze at, young lady. As a Colored girl, whether you leave school now or two years from now, the outcome will be the same. Now, I’m not asking you, I’m telling you.”

ELEANOR:  “HELL, NO! I make all A’s. You can’t do this to me. Have you even bothered to check my report cards or talk to my teachers or principal?” I said, frantically looking around for something to clobber the
bear with (bear tactic three).

SWOTW:  “I don’t need to check with your school about this decision, because according to the aptitude test you took with Human Services last month, you scored only two points above the retardation level.  Do you get it – you’re considered feeble-minded?  You should be grateful I can get you a job at the telephone company, and you don’t have to become a domestic.”

ELEANOR:  “NO, YOU’RE THE IDIOT!” I screamed in a gruff voice (bear tactic five). “I don’t know anything about your stupid tests or even if they are accurate.  What I do know is what I have in my book bag:  A copy of A Tale of Two Cities that is ‘fun reading’ for me, a book of Langston Hughes poetry, and a German language test that I’ve just aced.  Oh, and by the way, I just found out I’m in the top 1% of my class academically,” I said as I picked up the “book bag of my future” and metaphorically clobbered the SWOTW bear repeatedly on her nose (bear tactic six).

SWOTW:  “Well, that’s not the point; you’re a Colored girl and this is as good as it is going to get . . . .”  

ELEANOR:  “Fuck you! FUCK YOU — that is precisely the point!  This is not as good as it is going to get for me.  I’m going to talk to my guidance counselor, my principal, my voice teacher, and my mentor; they won’t let this happen to me because they say I’ve got real potential and that I’m going to college – even if they have to help pay for it themselves” (bear tactic seven).

The SWOTW was so pissed she cut me off from any stipend except housing (I don’t think she could legally do otherwise). I was able to stay in school because of one of those liberal government programs from heaven that let me work in my school before and after classes.  As in all great “into the woods stories,” the monster briefly reappeared in my life during my senior year in the form of the pissed-off caseworker who tried to reassert her authority over me and challenge what she considered the folly of misguided busybodies.  But when a village
takes up arms to fight the grizzly bear trying to destroy a child (a surrogate mother and mentor, a visionary principal, a tireless guidance counselor, a wealthy patron, and a passionate young voice teacher), they did what villagers often do to monsters, and they kicked the social worker’s ass.  I never heard from her again and neither did they.

It’s been more than forty-seven years since I sailed into my future.   In fact, I’m rapidly coming to the end of it.  I have discovered that “living well” truly is “the best revenge” against all the bears in the land – the ones who aren’t worth our attention and especially the ones who try to destroy us on the spot.   Burley-pig and the SWOTW’s heads would have exploded if they could have seen what the future held for me and how beautiful on the outside and the inside I would become.   With the SWOTW I didn’t have to wait too long because within five years of the altercation in her office, the Cleveland newspapers would run an article with my picture about how I’d made the dean’s list at the liberal arts college where I was a junior — having gone to that particular college on a full scholarship: INNER-CITY KID ELECTED TO WHO’S WHO IN AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES.  And on one of those rare, sweet, self-indulgent moments in life, I returned to Cleveland after an eighteen year absence and showed Rowena Burley just how much she had miscalculated me as well.

My mother died at age seventy, completely losing her battle with schizophrenia, and I went back to bury her. I discovered that Burley-pig still lived in the same Sears and Roebuck house, was still a domestic for white folks, except she’d gotten even fatter; and her only child was uneducated and aimless. She was one of the deaconesses at the church where my mother’s funeral was held, and she purposely placed herself in front of the casket, so she wouldn’t miss me.  I imagined she did so to gloat in case I had become what she and the SWOTW predicted.

As I glided into the funeral home like a rock star, accompanied by my handsome, brilliant, and successful husband (WW), my beautiful little sister, and one of my major mentors in my color-coordinated, black and white suit that had been designed for my athletic size-eight body, Burley-pig’s jaw dropped to her feet.  I had become a runner, a college honors graduate, a music teacher, and if I do say so myself, I looked like a freakin’ fashion model for a “Black is Beautiful” centerfold in Jet magazine. As the preacher crowed about my career accom-plishments from the pulpit, the stupefied look on Burley-pig’s face was a gift from heaven — absolutely, fucking priceless!

******

I discovered when I had children that the victories of courage I had in my childhood weren’t necessarily transferable to them.  I could give them my stories as a legacy and my faith as a beacon, but they had to choose not to give in or run away from their monsters, choose to use the proper fighting tactics, and choose to stand up to their own bears and save themselves.  I can’t save anyone:  That has been the hardest part about being a parent and an into-the-woods bear slayer.

“There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.”   Andre Gide

***

“I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically the fear of
change. . . .I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back.
”  Erica Jong 

All text and photos

 by Eleanor and John Tomczyk © 2011

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.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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