Tag Archives: courage

Sneaky Snake’s Blog

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  The entire world is blogging.  It seems everybody has an opinion about something, and the Internet is awash with his or her viewpoints.  I don’t care what you think or how you think about it, someone will have already put those concepts into a blog before you have even formed the thoughts.  The blogs are from all types of people, with every type of proclivity, in every country on the globe, and in every language that is printable.  Still, even knowing all that, I was stunned to run across the blog site of The Devil the other day.  There it was in plain sight on a popular blog site having been “freshly pressed” (featured as the “best” of some 350,000 bloggers).  I’ve got to tell you that that was a real pisser (my blog hasn’t even been freshly pressed), because the blogger had stolen some of my pictures and an assortment of people were DISCUSSING MY LIFE (as if I need that kind of attention from an evil entity) in his comments section.  I know this is impossible to believe which is why I’ve cut and pasted The Devil’s entire blog post below (comments and all).



HOME                  ABOUT  ME

CHURNIN’ AND BURNIN’! by Lucifer S. Snake

(Tags: Dr. Evil, sarcasm, control issues, inappropriate behavior, anger issues, chaos, mayhem)

Hey, Homies – how’s it hangin’?  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post anything on my blog.  I’ve been roaming the Earth trying to seduce people into walking on the wild side with me.  Doing a pretty good job if I do say so myself.  My business card which is in its gazillionth printing reads:  The original Dr. Evil — creator of murder, chaos, and mayhem.

I got back into town last night and bust out some digits to make a booty call to some of my shorties.  Then I sent a text to Saddam and Osama bin Laden to meet me in the inner circle at my new club, Hades 54.  It started off being a “good, good night” until that “has-been” trio (Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini) snuck in past the bouncer.  (They are sooooo yesterday!)  They came by my private area actin’ all dope and shit — like they just knew if they hung around long enough, I’d invite them to join my exclusive inner circle.  Anyway, I could have ignored those blowhards, but when that low-life Johnnie Cochran showed up (still wearing the skanky O.J. glove) and started boasting about how “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” it was just too much to handle on my jet-lagged ass.  So I left my shorties to party on without me and went home to watch a movie by myself.

I was excited to see that Netflix had sent me The Adjustment Bureau, directed by George Nolfi.  I’ve been waiting for it to come out on DVD.  But it wasn’t what I expected.  First of all, it was a “sci-fi romance” which just makes me wants to barf.  I wanted me some “sci-fi,” only!   Then on top of the romance I think they snuck some Calvinism into it.  Nothing makes me sicker than the discussion of whether God gave people free will or if they are predestined to follow a certain plan, blah, blah, blah.  And don’t even get me started on this “soul mate” shit!  I AM THE GREAT ADJUSTER AND THE ULTIMATE SPOILER, and I have a dungeon full of records of fucked up relationships caused by my single-handed inspiration of lies, betrayal, racism, adultery, selfishness, rejection, abuse, and murder against that stomach turner:  love.  Anyway, dear reader, I know you’ll agree with me when you see this movie – it’s a bunch of shit.  Since everything’s been a disappointment tonight.  I think I’ll turn in so that I’ll have plenty of strength tomorrow to plan another land war in the Middle East.

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marieantoinette says (5 minutes ago):  Hey Boo!  How U doin’?  Sorry we didn’t get a chance to do The Devil’s Slide tonight.  I reeaally love that dance.  Anyhooo, I just wanted to tell you that I liked your post, but I kind of disagree with you.  Now, wait a minute…wait a minute…don’t get mad at me or nothin’, Boo — I mean there are lots and lots of couples that you’ve tried to mess with or “adjust” their destinies with each other, and they did great in spite of you.  That’s all I’m sayin’.

sneakysnake’s response (5.2 minutes ago): WTF, woman — what do you know?

Yahweh says: (6 minutes ago): Marie’s right, you know.  You don’t get the last word — you never do and you never will.  You’re a spoiler of destinies, but if couples make the choice to push back, they can make it. Love wins — it always does.

sneakysnake’s response (10 minutes ago):  Who asked you?  Get the hell off my blog!

Yahweh says (12 minutes ago):  Why don’t you try and make me, Lucy?

sneakysnake’s response (20 minutes ago):  This isn’t faaaiiir; this is my domain.  What did you do to my “delete comment” button?  Did you override it again?  This is my blog, and I don’t want you commenting on it.  And I told you before: never, ever call me Lucy.  I HATE THAT NAME!

Yahweh says (21 minutes ago):  Why don’t you want my comments, Lucy?  Are you afraid you’ll be proven wrong?  Why don’t you stand behind your convictions, Luuuuuuccccy?   I think Marie has a point.  What about the Lovings (Richard and Mildred)?  Remember how you got some of your racist’s peeps to adjust the marriage law in the United States by adding miscegenation laws so that no white person could marry a person of color?

marieantoinette says (22 minutes ago):  Ooo-oo-oo, I remember them, Pumpkin!  He was white and she was black (with a little bit of Rappahannock Indian blood). They were high school sweethearts (isn’t that precious).  They tried to get married in the State of Virginia but the law forbade them.  So they fled to Washington, DC which didn’t have miscegenation laws, and they got married in 1958.  BUUUUUT, when they returned to their home in Virginia, the sheriff waited until they were asleep, burst into their bedroom, and drug them off to jail for breaking the law. They had to move out of Virginia or face going to jail for a long, long time. 

sneakysnake’s response (25 minutes ago):  SHUT UP, MARIE!

Yahweh says (25 minutes ago):  And didn’t Mildred push back after a while (she always was a feisty little thing) and petition the US Attorney General, Robert F. Kennedy, to revoke that law?  If I remember correctly the ACLU carried the challenge all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 1967 the miscegenation laws were struck down across the country.  I believe June 12th is known as “Loving Day” to this day to celebrate mixed marriages.

sneakysnake’s response (30 minutes ago):  Just shoot me now with this saccharine shit.  You know good and well that you stacked the deck by giving them the last name of “Loving!”  Their name was a PR man’s wet dream given the circumstances.  Anyway, I kept the hatred going so that the law still remained in force for thirty more years.  South Carolina didn’t drop its law from the books until 1998 and Alabama didn’t drop its law until the year 2000.  I’m sure that screwed up a lot of destinies.  Not to mention that most of your “churches” supported the law and went to great lengths to uphold it – so what do you have to say about that, Mr. Holier-Than-Thou?

Yahweh says (35 minutes ago):  Admittedly, it wasn’t the Christian Church’s finest hour, and it broke my heart.  When the Church should have been a leader in breaking down barriers by marrying different races who desired to do so, it let the culture intimidate my law of love.

sneakysnake’s response (36 minutes ago):  Aha!  Finally, you’re admitting your peeps have been wrong  about something.  Anyway, I don’t care about those stupid Lovings, because I managed to strike a hateful blow against them in the end:  He died in a car accident in 1975 that left Mildred blind in one eye; she died in 2008 after having been a widow for 33 years.

Yahweh says (46 minutes ago):  You’ll never learn will you:  it’s not the quantity of time spent together, but it’s the quality of the love shared in the time given.

sneakysnake’s response (47 minutes ago):  HISSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

Yahweh says (50 minutes ago):  You never know the complete story about anything on Earth, Lucy, which is why you always get tripped up.  There is always a hidden magic that defies logic. The Lovings’ life and actions paved the way for two babies born in 1948 and 1952 who were destined to marry each other in spite of your interference.  Remember the little girl called “Pipsqueak” who became a singer and writer and the little boy she would someday call “White and Wonderful” (WW) who would become the love of her life?  I found their pictures when they were children — one was born in the Mid-West and the other was born in New England.  Remember them?

marieantoinette says (55 minutes ago):  Oh, aren’t they adorable?  I remember you telling me about them Sneaky, baby.  I’ve always secretly loved that story.  She was black and grew up in an orphanage and multiple foster homes, thinking she would never amount to nothin’.  He was white, but he was a direct descendent of Governor Bradford of the Mayflower (with the papers to prove it, no less).  He always thought at the very least he’d grow up to be a lawyer and at the most he’d be president of the United States.  But then Sneaky, darlin’, you said you threw all sorts of life-altering crap their way as they were growing up, trying to make sure their paths never crossed.  Didn’t you tell me that they once passed each other on the campus where the boy went to college, but they didn’t notice each other?

sneakysnake’s response (60 minutes ago):  Bitch, you are so going to be toast when I catch up with you.  Now, shut the fuck up!

Yahweh says (60.2 minutes ago):  No need to take your frustrations out on Marie.  I’m the one you’re angry at.  Problem is your arms are too short to box with me and you know it.

Marie, there is more to the story.  Your boyfriend knew these two were destined to be together – he could smell it on them.  So he tampered with the boy’s law school acceptances (who graduates Magna Cum Laude from one of the best high schools in the nation and doesn’t get into even the bottom choice of law schools that he’s chosen?). The girl got a fellowship to the graduate school next door where the boy graduated (this is when they should have met), but the funding fell through at the last minute to attend that particular program.  Disillusioned and disappointed, the boy took some entry level job as a DJ in Virginia, and the girl went off to NYC to pursue a career as a singer, not knowing what else to do.  At that point, it seemed as if their paths would never cross.  In fact, they both made very poor choices that summer that almost derailed their destinies forever.

aynrand says (65 minutes ago):  Hello there, Ayn here!  Okay, I’ve had it with this bullshit!  I’ve been following the comments all along, and I wasn’t going to say anything because you know I can’t stand “you know who.”  But everyone keeps missing the point:  the Negro girl and the white boy do meet because “someone” interfered!  The playing field was leveled because “someone” influenced some altruistic do-gooder to give the girl a scholarship to a liberal arts school.  The boy would have never even come near the girl if she had not been his equal educationally because he prided himself on being an intellectual.  Natural selection was supposed to run its course to weed her out and it didn’t.  I, for one, am pissed!  If you had read any of my books, Atlas Shrugged or Fountainhead, you would know that certain groups are born to be on the bottom and should stay there.

Yahweh says (67 minutes ago):  Well, well, well Ayn, what hole in Hell did you climb out of?  I see you’re still trying to hawk your tale that greed and selfishness against the poor and disenfranchised is a morally superior choice.  Tell me; didn’t your self-centeredness and hatred for the weak and poor leave you bitter, angry, and alone in your old age with nothing but a shell of your philosophies to keep you warm?

aynrand says (70 minutes ago):  COMMENT DELETED BY BLOG ADMINISTRATOR (some words are too inflammatory even for Sneaky Snake’s blog).

marieantoinette says (75 minutes ago):  Poookiee – sweetie; are you okay?  I looked up the girl and the boy on the cosmic Internet, and it looks like you did deliver several juicy devastating destiny-altering blows to them both.  The girl left NYC to join a commune in NY State a year after she graduated college.  The boy was actually told to transfer to that same area of the country for his new job but refused to do so. They really almost missed connecting.  You did good, babe!

sneakysnake’s response (80 minutes ago):  BUT THEY DIDN’T MISS CONNECTING, BITCH!  Could you be more of an idiot, Marie?  Did you see the part where they both have a “religious experience” and go searching for truth throughout the land?  Of all the communes and ashrams around the world, what are the odds the two of them would end up in the same one at the same time?  Huh?  I know why:  HIM!!!

friedrichwilhelmnietzsche says (85 minutes ago): Hey Dude, Fred Nietzsche here!  Congrats on being “freshly pressed!”  Way to go!  I just wanted to state the obvious:  stop bantering with the Yahweh commenter – he doesn’t exist!  You’re getting all worked up over nothing.  Can you see him?  No!  Now move on!

Yahweh says (90 minute ago):  LOL!  Nietzsche, you kill me – not! 

marieantoinette says (92 minutes ago):  Awwww, Pookie look at the wedding picture I found of the boy and girl on Google.  I know pictures like this one aren’t supposed to affect me, but I just can’t help myself.

sneakysnake’s response (95 minutes ago):  Marie, are you crying?  Oh, for Satan’s sake!  You have gotten on my every last nerve tonight.  Don’t you have a beheading to attend or something?  For your information, I did throw a few roadblocks in their way after they “fell in love.”  His mother was totally against the marriage – she even refused to submit the girl’s engagement picture to the local newspaper so as not to embarrass the family. 

Yahweh says (100 minutes ago):  And what choice did her man make in response to The Mother’s ignorance?  He stood against his mother and all the other haters and announced to them:  “You’re either with me or against me, but I’m marrying this woman.  She’s my African queen, and wherever she goes, I go.”  The girl even wavered at one point and tried to run away and hook up with a man from Bermuda just because he was the same race as her (I’m sure you had something to do with that temptation, Lucy).  But in the end, the girl chose the boy because she knew he was the man she had been looking for all her life.  So what are you planning on telliing your blog audience, Lucy?  Was it free will that brought the little black girl and the little white boy together, or were they destined to be soul mates in spite of all the obstacles?

marieantoinette says (120 minutes):  Sweetie, are you going to answer him?  Cause if you aren’t I want to show your readers the picture I found of the couple ten years into their marriage.  Look at that beautiful family, Pookie!  (I personally think mixed couples always have the prettiest babies.)  Anyhoo, I’ve been doin’ some more research on the Web, and our couple married four years after that marriage law was struck down by the Supreme Court, BUT it was still being enacted in a lot of southern states.  It says here that they celebrated their 33rd anniversary this year on the same weekend in June that the Lovings so courageously made a way for mixed marriages to become legal.  Oh well, looks like you can’t win ‘em all Sneaky-bear.

sneakysnake’s response (122 minutes):  HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! GET OUT!  I HATE YOU — I HATE YOU ALL!

I am discovering that there is really no magic formula to finding the right man or woman to travel this sometimes very scary journey on Earth with.  I wish I knew a formula because then I could bottle it, sell it, and become a very wealthy woman, while at the same time eradicating a lot of pain, including in the lives of my own children.  I’ve met people who were perfect for each other and they met randomly, or got “assigned” to marry by their parents in third world countries, or met online, or got set up on blind dates.  All of it works and none of it can work.  And that’s the point.  I’m discovering that love is a choice (not just an emotion), and how we connect to that love is a mystery.  I personally don’t believe in love at first sight.  I think we are “in lust” at first sight, unable to keep out of each other’s drawers.  But I do believe that every time a couple overcomes some obstacle or pain and they “choose” to care for and cherish each other in the midst of the mayhem instead of running away or pushing each other away, they grow deeper in love. In the midst of the worst temptation, hardship, or disappointment when a couple says, “I choose you (over everything and everyone else), no matter what the  cost – I CHOOSE YOU!Then love rules – love wins!

“Most people live life on the path we set for them, too afraid to explore any other.  But once in a while people like you come along who knock down all the obstacles we put in your way.  People who realize free will is a gift you’ll never know how to use until you fight for it. . . .”  From the movie: The Adjustment Bureau (written and directed by George Nolfi), loosely based on the short story “Adjustment Team.”

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

Photo of Mildred and Richard Loving, newspaper archives 1967

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Posted by on September 16, 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.


Posted by on August 11, 2011 in Uncategorized


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