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Say WHAT?!

Do you know what I’ve discovered?   I need a break!  My mind is about to explode (again!).  Keeping abreast of the news to stay informed as a blogger affords me more stress than my little, little brain can consistently handle, and I often need to get away—if only just in my mind.  Not to mention the fact that this blogging stuff is so much harder than anyone lets on.

When a would-be writer first starts the task of telling the world her innermost feelings, she naïvely thinks the world will just be waiting with bated breath for her latest “mot juste.”  Not only isn’t the world chomping at the bit to read my her crap (although, I shouldn’t complain—I’m doing better than most), it takes a lot of reading to stay informed and not sound like an idiot.

So, this week, I needed to go to a place to get fresh perspective on the inhabitants of the Earth who are coming across as mostly good-for-nothing-ne’er-do-wells as was demonstrated by the tone-deaf NRA who will probably destroy any formative gun control, a crazy North Korean who wants to nuke us and take over the world, and the alleged mass murderer, Kevin Gosnell, who operated an illegal, unregulated abortion clinic for years and committed mass murder against full-term babies and at least one mother in the most barbaric, horrific manner.  (IMHO: this is not a pro-choice or pro-life issue—this is a basic human rights issue.  Why have we liberals been so quiet about this evil man’s barbarism?)   Humans are the custodians of the Earth and we don’t seem to be doing very well.  As a blogger, I’m losing the creativity to write about human meanness in such a way that it pricks the hearts of those who stumble across my blog and brings about compassion and a desire to love one’s fellowman as one’s self.

blogging fame horsey

Cartoon by David Horsey | www.latimes.com

We jumped 35 degrees and skipped from winter to summer (it is 95 degrees at this writing) in my area this week, and when I went for a walk to clear my head, I started seeing all sorts of crazy animal activity unnerved by the sudden hike in temperatures.  Woodpeckers were frantically pounding away at the siding on my house trying to get in to build a nest (convinced they were behind schedule, I’m sure).  Hundreds of sparrows were trying to find hiding places in foliage that hadn’t had time to make its appearance.  The sparrows knew that the 17-year-cicada invasion (whose entry cue is a temperature of 65 degrees), would now arrive early before the birds had set up condos in the trees, and the squirrels just looked at me with a “Say What?!   I think all the animals thought I could answer for the erratic behavior of the weather.  While I walked, I meditated on the biblical character of Job who was pretty pissed off at his fellow humans at one time (I’m sure he was the Earth’s original ranting blogger, or maybe it was Jeremiah with his Lamentations, but my old age is causing these details to slip).  Job was pretty hacked off about the way his friends were treating him, and the state of affairs in his hometown (marauders, mayhem, chaos, loss of his business and his entire family, giant boils on his skin, and people generally getting on his nerves telling him that all the mayhem was his fault).  At one point Job lashes out at his so-called friends and tells them how they can ascertain the truth about life since they don’t believe him and can’t seem to see it with their own eyes:

“Ask the animals, and they will teach you,

Or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you,

Or speak to the Earth, and it will teach you,

Or let the fish in the sea inform you.”

Aha! I thought.  I will go and speak to the animals and see what I can learn from them about the human race.  I shall send my alter-ego (the Dalai Mama) to interview a sector of the animal population that can best shed light on life—our closest relatives—the primates.

Bonobo couple finbarr and oreilly photo msn

Bonobo Couple | photo by Finbarr and O’Reilly/Reuters via MSN

******

INTERVIEW WITH CLAUDE AND LYDIA BONOBO

By Dalai Mama at DM-TV | Location: The Democratic Republic of the Congo

DM-TV:   “Mr. and Mrs. Bonobo, how y’all doin’?  I’m so glad to finally meet you.  Are you ready for your Dalai Mama TV interview?  Excuse my ignorance, but do you know I never heard of your kind, and I’m sure most of my audience never heard of you either.   It’s not your fault; it’s just that America’s educational system isn’t the best these days.  I barely knew where Cincinnati was when I was growing up in The Cleve, let alone, the Congo.  But I did do some research on you recently,* and I discovered your official name is Pan paniscus—affectionately known as the pygmy chimpanzee.  That’s so precious.”

LYDIA:    “Actually, dear, we are a close cousin of the chimpanzee, but they are much more quarrelsome than we are, and many of them are extremely boorish and don’t play well with others—much like you humans.”

CLAUDE:  “Now Lydia, don’t be rude, sweetheart.”

LYDIA:    “Sorry, darling, I was just trying to point out that we Bonobos have a reputation of ‘make love, not war.’  The Google says that hippy humans tried this in the 60s but it disintegrated into drugs and chaos.”

DM-TV:   “Yeah, we got the sex part kinda right, but we still kept killing each other.  Is it true that you share 98 percent of our DNA, ‘cause that just boggles my mind, child.”

LYDIA:    “So, we’ve been told, but we are way ahead of you humans on a few levels.  Did you know that female Bonobos rule over the male Bonobos?  We solved the equality issue a long time ago—we just simply declared, “Girls Rule!”  The only other species that do this are the spotted hyena and the Madagascar lemur.   I’m the leader of this tribe, so if you need anything, just let me know.  Would you like something to eat—a banana, perhaps?  I’ve heard that you humans are still wrestling with the concept of female leadership.  Is it true you’ve never had a woman leader of your country?”

DM-TV:   “Yeah, it’s true—maybe next time.   For some reason, women continue to be a threat to the male leadership in my country as well as so many other cultures.  Girl, it’s just insane!   Tell me something—do y’all share your food so that no Bonobo goes hungry (this banana is delicious, by the way)?  And do you provide childcare for the entire group?

LYDIA:   “Yes and yes.   Women are in charge of the food and we will usually share with our immediate family and those we don’t know. Every once and awhile we’ll swat a male Bonobo away from the food if the babies haven’t eaten.   All Bonobo babies are provided for—no matter who the parents are.  You humans don’t share your food or provide universal childcare?  That seems a little primitive, don’t you think?  No Bonobo dies from hunger.  We’re dying out, but we’re dying because of your human wars and rumors of wars.  We used to be 100,000 strong in the Congo; now we are down to a mere 5,000 Bonobos. And since we only exist in this area of the world where there’s always humans destroying the jungle and poaching our friends and relatives, we’re on the endangered species list.  I’ve got to admit that our daily existence can get really stressful due to you humans.  The older Bonobos are pretty Zen about it all, but the younger ones (you know teenagers; you can’t tell them anything) are furious about the whole situation and can get quite aggressive from time to time.

Evolvers Anonymous Piraro

Cartoon by Dan Piraro | www.bizarro.com

DM-TV:   “Speaking of stress, I read somewhere that Bonobos use sex as tension relief, as an expression of goodwill, and to enhance bonding.  Is it also true that the Kama Sutra is required reading for all the Bonobos?”

LYDIA:    “That’s an urban legend, girlfriend.  Don’t believe everything you hear or read on the Internet.  Unlike the crude chimpanzees, who have no creativity whatsoever when it comes to having sex, the Bonobos perform sex in every position you can possibly imagine and then some, including the missionary position which the chimpanzees have still yet to master (I told you they were crude).  We Bonobos do mouth-to-mouth kissing, oral sex, penis-fencing, and G-G rubbing just to name a few of our Bonobo-like “Kama Sutra” acts.  We also have homosexual Bonobos, but that is not unique to us.  I read the other day on the Google that 1,500 species have homosexual couplings.”

DM-TV:   “Holy Mary, Mother of God, I don’t even want to know what “penis-whatever” and “G-G (oh my God)” is!!  You Bonobos sho’ know how to get yo’ freak on!”  I’m way too old to be hearin’ this!

LYDIA:     “He, he, heeee . . . are you blushing, dear?  Look Honey, the human is embarrassed!”

CLAUDE:  “Mother, stop messing with our guest; you can see she’s beet red even underneath her hairless brown body.   Is there anything else, you’d like to know Mrs. Dalai?”

DM-TV:    “Um . . . um . . . no, don’t you think that’s enough?  I need a bar of soap to wash out my brain and my eyes as it is.  Oh yeah, I did have one more question (God may this be a safe one!)  How do you socialize?  Do y’all play games?

LYDIA:    “That’s one of our best assets, Dalai Baby!  Playing together is how we engage in creativity, how we bond, how we problem-solve, and most of all, how we avoid conflict.  What are you writing so furiously, dear?”

DM-TV:  “A note to our President:  Dear President Obama—‘Please send the legislative branch to the Congo for a teaching session by the Bonobos on game-playing as conflict resolution and team building—ASAP!  I think our leaders will be able to learn from the Bonobos if they will just shut up and listen.  P.S.  The Bonobos are a tad X-rated.’”

Bonobos at play Ted 2011 thinkfun dot com

Primatologist and TED Fellow Isabel Behncke Izquierdo show how a wild bonobo ape society in the Congo learns from constantly playing at Ted “Think Fun” 2011.  

***

I am discovering that we still have so much to learn about the Earth and the animals that we’ve been given stewardship over—not to mention how much we need to learn and respect about one another.  It seems to me that we all need to slow down, stop the madness of warring against each other and raping of the land and its inhabitants, and listen to what God’s creatures are showing us about who we are and what we need to do to become truly human (that’s a lot of “ands” but you know what I mean).  I personally believe that the entire Earth and the heavens speak to who we are and to the glory of God.  We are more than our politics, the limitations of our religions, and the narrow-mindedness of our experiences.  Let’s all take a chill pill and go talk to the animals this week.  We just might learn how to be human.

***

                                Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.”–Thomas Jefferson

“I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it’s such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her.”—Ellen DeGeneres

 “Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they ought to be.”—William Hazlitt

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.”― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Animal Adorable Sea Lion and  Allison Williams Girls thefw dot com

“Talk to the Animals”: Adorable Sea Lion and Allison Williams from “Girls”| www.fw.com

*

REFERENCE MATERIAL

* “An exclusive Look at Bonobos: The Left Bank Ape” by David Quammen from National Geographic, March 2013

*http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/04/animal_personalities_apes_rodents_birds_dogs_cats_and_hyenas_have_animalities.html

*http://cda.morris.umn.edu/~meeklesr/bonobo.html

http://www.bonobo.org/Bonobos are an endangered species.  Please check out the Bonobo Conservation website to learn more about them and how to participate in saving them from poachers, loggers, and agricultural encroachment.

Bonobo joke borwn dot edu laboratory primate letter

BONOBOS AT PLAY | www.brown.edu | laboratory primate letter

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.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on April 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Epic Valentine Fails

Do you know what I’ve discovered?    When I die and sail off into the great unknown, the first thing I’m going to do is look up Eve (of Adam and Eve fame) and kick her ass because of the “curse” and the gross birthing method women got saddled with.  I mean what woman has ever truthfully thought that that monthly plague we get was worth its hassle, or what woman wouldn’t exchange the excruciating pain of childbirth for the power men seem to have been endowed with from Jump Street.  In a fair world we should have been able to switch roles halfway through our lifetimes—kind of like musical chairs.  Maybe it would have been negotiable.  Who knows?  But we never got a chance to find out.  All that chick Eve  had to do was follow the game plan; but nooooooo, she was all:

EVE:       “Eat the apple Adam.  If you do we’ll be like God and we’ll know everything.  What’s the worst that can happen to us, Adam?” 

Adam and Eve Mistake garyharbo dot com

The second person whose ass I’m going to whup is Esther Howland, the mother of the American Valentine card.  The fluke thing that made Esther rich in 1840 was the spawn of all that is evil about Valentine’s Day in 2013.   It was just our luck that Esther was the daughter of a stationery store owner and she once got a frilly lace-embossed valentine card from Victorian England.  She was all:

ESTHER:  “Faaathaw, is not this lace-infused, linen-embossed, over-the-top valentine’s card simply marvelous?  What say you loan me some of your stationery goods and I’ll make every American woman lust after this manifestation of “true love” forever and forever.  My Valentine cards will be a tribute to the purest form of love and the start of a Valentine revolution!”

That was then:  1840

Valentine Esther Howland Design

And this is what we’ve descended into now . . . 2013

Valetine Teddy Gift timesunion dot com

valentine-teddy-gift-timesunion-dot-com

So 173 years later, lovers (men especially) must turn into consummate event planners for one day, lovers must become psychics who can accurately guess every whim of their beloved, and checking accounts must be depleted and drained to feed the restaurant, flower, candy, and hotel industries (worth about 18 billion
dollars) once Cupid’s arrow strikes its target.  The Valentine fails are legendary (I’ve had a few of my own).  Nothing ever turns out like we’ve planned:  a few Valentine scenarios will be better than anticipated but most will be worse, because shit always happens when you least expect it, because we’re humans.  The industry manipulations are too entrenched to throw them all overboard and start from scratch but guidance is definitely
needed.  I’m old and I know shit, so over the weekend I set up a “Dalai Mama Epic Valentine Fails website” to take questions from the Valentine road-kill in need of a word or two of wisdom about avoiding epic Valentine Day fails.

Valentine Flowers and candy zazzle dot com Valentine’s Day Card for the Clueless

VALENTINE NOVICE #1: “Dalai Mama, I’ve met a girl I really like.  I’ve never done the whole Valentine production before but I thought, since this girl is so special, I’d rent a limo, take her to a great restaurant, and see where the night ends—if you know what I mean.  But there’s a problem, even though I started looking for restaurant reservations two weeks ago, everything from Manny’s Steak House to White Castle is booked, and no limo company within 200 miles will book me a reservation for under $200 an hour.  Also, did I mention that I just got my first job and I don’t have much money?  Can you help me or am I headed into an epic Valentine fail?”  Signed, Young and in love in Minnesota

DALAI MAMA:  “Of course I ‘know what you mean,’ Val Novice #1—I’m old but I’m not dead!   Yes, you are headed for an epic fail.  Only amateurs go to restaurants on Valentine’s Day.  An average dinner that would normally cost $70 will be sold to you for $150, and the food will be mediocre at best (a restaurant that normally serves a modestly priced fish dish will suddenly only serve high-end steaks or overpriced pasta with lobster and a mediocre red sauce that tastes suspiciously like canned marinara).  All the tables will be pushed together and maximum seating capacity completely ignored so that the restaurant can make up for its January slump, and every word you utter will be heard and judged by the elbow-bumping couples to your left, right, front, and rear. Not to mention that the noise from all the chatter will be cacophonous, and the agitated wait staff will serve you in such a hurried manner that you’ll complete your entire romantic meal in just under 55 minutes so that the 20 other couples can be rushed in to take your place and experience their wind-whipped Valentine dining experience.”

Dalai Mama’s Suggestion

Turn your living space into a restaurant and cook for your cutie (clean your apartment first—especially the toilet).  If you can’t cook, arrange for the local grocery store to prepare the meal, pick it up at the appropriate time and follow nuking instructions (throw away the grocery store bags to maintain the illusion).  Candles, romantic music, dim lighting, no old sock smells, and easy-going and funny conversation will go a long way to your final goal—if you know what I mean.  All women love a man with a sense of humor.  But if you’re humorless, well, I don’t know what to tell you—I can’t help you there.  P.S. If you really want to do the whole limo scenario, have one of your buddies put on a black suit and cap, and pick your girl up with you in the back seat carrying one rose.  (If you can’t afford a dozen roses during the hyped Valentine season, approximately $150-$200, one rose is always better than nothing.)

valentines catalog thong toilette dash humor dot com

“Valentine lingerie”|image from toilette-humor.com

VALENTINE NOVICE #2:  “Dalai Mama:  I’ve been married to my wife for thirty-eight years.   Romance has never been our thing, but we almost got divorced out of shear boredom last year.  So I started taking the little blue pill, and I was thinking maybe it was time to spice things up a little bit this Valentine’s Day—if you know what I mean.   I was hoping to purchase my wife some sexy lingerie from one of the catalogues that recently came to the house, but it is hard to tell what she’d like.  I thought I’d better get some advice from a woman who is of similar age to my wife which is why I’m writing.  Oh, I forgot to mention that the wife is not the size she was when we first married.  What do you think:  am I headed for an epic Valentine fail?”  Signed: Looking to get a rise in Pennsylvania

DALAI MAMA:   “Dear Val Novice #2:  If you do this, I promise you that your wife will hate you forever.  Since when did you become an expert in women’s sizes?   You say she’s put on a few pounds?  This is an epic Valentine fail waiting to happen.  No man should ever buy woman lingerie, ever—no matter what her size!  That catalogue you received is a “sucker’s catalogue” trying to get you to waste your money on a multi-million dollar Victoria Secret’s industry.  They will sell you anything, including thong underwear that doesn’t even look that good on the heroine-chic model sporting it.  I bet you that it’s edible, right?  (Can I let you in on a little secret?  That shit sounds better than it really is.  Trust me!)  If the lingerie is too big, your wife will think you think she’s huge and it will make her sad (and you won’t be getting’ nothin’ that night), if it is too small, she’ll think you’ve been watching porn and she will kill you.  (And why does everyone keep asking me if “I know what they mean”—I’m not a sexless idiot!)  What if we switched the idea to another ass?  What if your wife bought your chubby little droopy ass some sexy underwear she saw on David Beckham in an underwear ad?  How would you respond?  (Never mind, don’t answer that; men are generally clueless when it comes to how they look in inappropriate underwear.)”

Valentine chocolates instead cartoonstock dot com fran cartoon

Image from cartoonstock.com

Dalai Mama’s Suggestion

Don’t do it—don’t ever do it.  Give your wife a gift card and let her buy what she thinks is sexy.  Besides, now that you’re taking the little blue pill, methinks she could be wearing a burlap sack and you’d still be dancing around the house singing, “Let’s get it on!”  Good luck!

Valentine single source remember dash neverlosehope

Source:  remember-neverlosehope.com

VALENTINE NOVICE #3:  “Dalai Mama, I HATE VALENTINE’S DAY!   I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!  I can’t believe you’ve made my pain even worse by doing an entire blog about Valentine’s Day.  This ersatz “holiday” cuts through me like a knife.  (Did I mention that I hate it?)  Nothing makes me feel like such a loser than everybody showing off at the office by getting flowers from their boyfriends and husbands.  For the past five years or so I’ve been sending myself flowers just so I won’t feel like such a dork, but this year I’m not even going to bother.  I am what I am—alone, and I’ll die alone.  Most of my friends are engaged or married and the only guys I know are gay.  (Did I mention that I hate you for reminding me that I’m alone?)  Signed: 3rd Wheel in Toronto

Dear Val Novice #3:  “Are you through feeling sorry for yourself?  ‘Cause the Dalai Mama don’t play that shit.  Life is what you make it and if it gives you lemons then you go out and make goddamn lemonade.  Dalai Mama didn’t marry her man until she was in her thirties, and “White and wonderful” (WW) was worth the wait.  In fact, had I married any one of the jerks I met before WW, I shudder to think what my life would be like today.  Have you seen Valentine’s Day by Gary Marshall?  It’s an awful movie, but the scene worth watching and emulating is the “I hate Valentine’s Day” scene where all the unattached girls meet for dinner with a piñata heart and beat the shit out of it with a baseball bat as they recount their horrid past relationships.  Excellent therapy!  So grab your single friends—guys, gals, straight, gay, divorced, widowed—and get all dressed up, and cook a great dinner for each other and then pulverize your own version of a piñata heart.  And then declare your urban family love for each other—being there to watch each other’s back no matter what is needed.  I guarantee you that Valentine’s Day will work for you and not against you.  P.S.  It helps if everybody gets a little bit drunk!

Valentine Day Movie party scene

Jessica Biel in “Valentine’s Day”|Warner Bros. Pictures

I am discovering that we are all the victims of the money-grubbing Valentine industry.  Our minds have also been poisoned by storytellers like Nicholas Sparks and Hollywood’s formulaic romantic comedies (boy sees girl, girl sees boy, both fall madly in love, both fall out of love, both run languidly through the wheat field/airport/city
street/along the beach declaring their undying love in the last five minutes of the movie and live happily ever after.  Life is just not like that.  Relationships are up and down, in and out.  Romance is real but is only meant to be a beckoning call to attract each other and sexually connect us.  Once that has happened, then the real work
begins—the “growing in love” part.

The romantic love we feel toward the opposite sex is probably one extra help from God to bring you together, but that’s it. All the rest of it, the true love, is the test.”—Joan Chen

The sooner we untangle ourselves from the commercialism of Valentine’s Day and search for what makes us happy as individuals and what makes those who love us happy, the better off we’ll be as people and lovers.  Trust me—it has nothing to do with money and over-the-top treacle romance.  It has more to do with the “c” word:  commitment.

Valentine growing old together dave granlund cartoon

My parents circulate the room hand in hand . . . Soul mates. They really call themselves that, which makes sense, because I guess they are . . . They have no harsh edges with each other, no spiny conflicts, they ride through life like conjoined jellyfish—expanding and contracting instinctively, filling each other’s spaces liquidly.  Making it look easy, the soul-mate thing.  People say children from broken homes have it hard, but the children of charmed marriages have their own particular challenges.”—by Gillian Flynn from Gone Girl

 “True love doesn’t happen right away; it’s an ever-growing process. It develops after you’ve gone through many ups and downs, when you’ve suffered together, cried together, laughed together.”Ricardo Montalban

  “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”—Lao Tzu

 “I don’t understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine’s Day.  When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a short, chubby toddler coming at me with a weapon.” —Author Unknown

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.

 
27 Comments

Posted by on February 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Dalai Mama’s House of Love

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  Love can occur in a fifth of a second, and falling in love hits the brain like cocaine does “causing euphoria-inducing chemicals to be released in 12 areas of the brain that work simultaneously,” according to The Medical News Today.*

That explains why we are so obsessed with the concept of romance as Americans.  Life is so hard and unpredictable, who wouldn’t want to remain perpetually high on love?   I mean I “loves me some romance,” and I would kick any man out of my bed who couldn’t deliver in that department.  But having been happily married for almost 34 years, I know that romance alone just doesn’t cut it (it ebbs and flows and never burns as red-hot as in the beginning).  It would be like having a diet of all desserts, but no protein, veggies, or grains.  Everything good about the body would decay, and so it is with marriage when it’s all sizzle and no steak.

Romantic love is when the chemicals in your brain kick in and you feel an emotional high, exhilaration, passion, and elation when you and your lover are together.—Sheri & Bob Stritof from The Everything Great Marriage Book (Adams Media).

I have discovered the problem with romance is that it is great when taken in context with a proper diet of true love, commitment, selflessness, loyalty, and grace, but it is a real bust when left to its own devices, and if most people were being honest they’d agree.  But online dating sites, bachelorette reality shows, and Hollywood chick-flick producers earn a fortune packaging romance as a commodity and, we the consumers, hope it will lead us to that perfect mate for life where we will live happily ever after.

Those were my thoughts when my husband WW (“White and Wonderful”) and I took our seats one Friday night for a dinner to recharge our romantic batteries after a week of having our asses kicked by life.  In my purse was the latest copy of Washingtonian magazine’s “Marriage: Making Love Last—and Who to Call When It Doesn’t (advice for everyone, including retired generals and their biographers),” which I wanted to talk to WW about to see if I could extrapolate a blog from it.  But before I could mention the magazine theme this month, my attention was drawn to a rather odd man sitting across from us.

Sitting in a booth all alone was a nebbish-looking man (the spitting image of Paul Giamatti as Harvey Pekar in American Splendor), wearing a cheap, ill-fitting suit, and nervously bouncing his legs up and down underneath the table as if there were jumping beans in the soles of his feet while his eyes lit up expectantly at every pretty dark-haired white woman who entered the restaurant door.  My initial reaction was to feel instantly sorry for the lonely diner and to feel an instinctive impending dread of what was surely to come.

Paul Giamatti as Harvey Pekar in American Splendor

ME:        Babe, babe, look at that guy over there.   I think he’s on a blind date.  I wonder if it is one of those online dating thingies.  Can you say:  ‘Here comes the Dalai Mama’s blog for the week’?

WW:     No, I cannot say anything about anyone without a vodka gimlet and some sustenance, and I need my “Lucille Ball” wife not to distract me from that goal or I’m going to keel over from hunger, and I won’t be a happy camper, believe you me.  Waiter!

ME:        Seriously, honey—work with me here!   Pretend this is a James Bond plot unfolding.  We’ve got one nebbish-looking white man, slightly paunchy, with a glass of red wine in front of him, and a single red rose dropping petals faster than I can say my name (who does that anymore—the single red rose thing?).  From the looks of it, he must have bought that rose three days ago because it is as limp as a wet noodle.  The dude can’t take his eyes off the entrance of the restaurant and he is sweating buckets.  Look at his armpits and the front of his shirt—he looks like he’s having hot-flashes.  Poor sweetie—I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

WW:     “Poor sweetie?”  What do you mean, “Poor sweetie.”  How do you know he’s a sweetie and not a serial killer?  I’m telling you “my chocolate Lucy,” mind your own business.

At that moment, an unusually tall brunette in 5-inch heels, a pencil skirt half-way up her ass, sporting a short biker leather jacket, and dog-collar choker, with her hair pulled up in a stern ponytail and her eyes encased in Goth carbon-black eyeliner and eye-shadow strolled into the restaurant looking defiantly for the guy that matched the picture on the paper she carried in her hand.  Just as she was about to turn away and go back out the door, our waiter sprang into action and rushed over to the woman who looked like an escapee from a dominatrix film and asked if she was looking for “Dennis” ?  As her eyes lit up in pleasant surprise, the waiter said, “No, I’m not Dennis, he’s over there” and gently steered “Ms. D.” to Nebbish’s table.   The woman’s back stiffened and you could tell she was not down with the guy who looked nothing like our handsome waiter.  As soon as I saw Ms. D’s reaction to Mr. N, I knew that lover-boy had not been honest about his profile and Ms. Dominatrix was going to kick his ass over the dishonesty, if given half the chance.

MS. D:   So you’re Dennis, huh?  I’ve just got to say this, right up front and right now (God, I’m so tired of this shit); you don’t look anything like your online picture.  What the fuck—the waiter looks more like this picture than you do!  Wait a minute. . .is that it, did you submit the waiter’s picture for your profile?

MR. NEBBISH:  Um, no . . . it’s mine.  Ha, ha . . . don’t get bent out of shape over a silly picture.  I mean what’s a picture compared to a heart?   At least I wasn’t crass and I didn’t send you a photo of my “little Dennis” (if you know what I mean) like some stories I’ve heard about online—right?   I mean, no, I didn’t mean to say that; I mean, yes . . . I mean maybe my waiter friend helped me out just a little and loaned me one of his photos. . .  Oy!

As “Dennis” tried to present his decimated rose to compensate for the awkward “little Dennis” joke and his pathetic life, he inadvertently knocked his glass of red wine all over the table.  And as I watched the back  of the woman’s neck turn beet red as she sat down across from her buyer’s remorse, I frantically searched for anything to write with to help hapless Dennis salvage his date (it turned out my lip liner would have to do). The woman’s back was to me, but I could see the man’s face without a problem and he could see mine.  I heard nose-diving snippets of one-liners from Mr. Nebbish accompanied by the high-pitched laughter of a hyena as his friend, the waiter, tried to rush in menus and sop up wine to help out the situation, while Mr. Nebbish’s nerves and the pitch of his voice became more strained:  “Ha, ha, you are just like my twelve-year-old daughter—she gets a little potty mouth when she can’t have her own way—you better sit down ‘little girl’ (ha, ha, ha)!” At that point I held up my frantically scrawled napkin sign for the nebbish that screamed, “Abort, abort . . . DROP THE KID ANALOGY—it’s too soon,” but Mr. Nebbish ignored me and heroically forged on with his rehearsed death march, “I thought we’d start with a bottle of bubbly, and then move on down the road to my favorite gourmet restaurant (Chipotle) for a romantic dinner.”   At that point, WW went to the men’s room (either to really do his business or escape my embarrassing, busybody antics), and I grabbed WW’s napkin and scrawled another sign, “No, no dude—can’t you see she’s just not into you—ABORT, ABORT—save your pride—save your balls!!” 

When Dennis started throwing out more desperate lines like, I rode in on my Harley” (sure you did, Dennis!) and “Maybe I could bring my daughter next time” (Oh, Dude, there will be no next time!), I saw Ms. Dominatrix excuse herself to go to the restroom all the while proclaiming she wasn’t blowing Dennis off, and that she’d be right back.  As she left with her coat and purse (that’s a sign, nebbish-man, for the next time—nobody takes their coat and purse to the restroom unless they are leaving), I shook my head in devastation for Dennis and mouthed the words, “she’s not coming back, Dude—I’m so sorry!”

 A Chuck Ingwersen Cartoon

After the angry Dominatrix stormed off into the blue, and the dejected Dennis rode off into the sunset, WW and I talked about what we had witnessed for the rest of the evening as we cuddled and sipped champagne on our couch while a romantic comedy streamed across the TV in the background.  We had met some forty years ago, five years after the landmark civil rights case of Loving vs. Virginia that made it possible for interracial couples to marry without being in violation of the law and being thrown in jail for disobeying that law—especially in Virginia, the state where we currently live.

ME:        Honey, do you think we would have ever met if we had to rely on a dating site?

WW:     No!  You weren’t into “white men” in your radical 60s, remember, so you would have never checked “open to dating all races” even if it had been legal and socially acceptable.  What was that famous line of yours:  “There ain’t nothin’ no white man can do for me!” 

ME:        Well, you wouldn’t have checked the box that said “I’m into hot black chicks,” either.  The only black person that you ever remotely knew was the mailman and only because your dog, Trixie, used to chase him down the street and try to bite a hole in his ass.  That damn family dog of yours never chased anybody else except the black mailman.  I can’t tell you how relieved I was when your mother wrote and told us that racist dog of theirs had died.

WW:     But that’s my point:  we had to meet each other in settings far away from our families, had to work with each other in a theater group as we grew as friends, and had to mingle with each other as part of a group of accepting and inclusive friends to break down those racial barriers, or our love would have been squelched before it could begin.   Who knows if that couple tonight could have made it or not?  All they saw were the stereotypes of each other.  They never got to the issues of the heart.  Maybe nebbish-man was the softening around the edges dominatrix-woman needed and she was the steel nebbish-man needed to strengthen his spine.  It was one nebbish and dominatrix demolition derby in that restaurant tonight and “never the hearts did meet.”  This online stuff is a tool but only a tool.  If people don’t really take the time to go below the surface, it’s a faulty tool at best.  But once a couple gets together, I suspect it takes investment and hard work.  And speaking of investment, I’m tired of talking about those people we saw tonight; let’s turn off the TV and put on some music of our own.

(And so to the mellifluous strains of Marvin Gaye singing, “Let’s get it on. . .” WW and I forgot all about nebbish-man and dominatrix-woman and did our own wild thing—the romance that keeps us “keeping on” even after all this time).

******

I am discovering that “romance” is simply the ticket into the amusement park:  the sexual attraction that hooks up the lovers and gives them a jump-start at the beginning and continues to turn their engines throughout the course of the relationship.  But romance was never meant to be the whole enchilada (mixed metaphor intended).

I may be wrong, but to me, marriage is 90% hard work and 10% “a thrill up your spine.” There is no “perfect solution” to finding a perfect mate to take this journey with—no matter what eHarmony promises.  I believe you can meet a potential mate wherever people gather—either randomly “falling in love” on a glorious sunny day or methodically letting an algorithm guide you to each other through a dating service.  Your husband or wife will either be the best thing that ever happened to you or he or she will be the relationship from Hell and no matter how you met your mate, both people will still have to give it all they’ve got to make it work and keep the marriage vibrant.   People always ask me, “what’s your secret to a long and fulfilling marriage,” and lately I’ve been telling them, “It’s the ‘4-Hs’:

Humility:  a thirst for knowledge of a higher power (cause you could be wrong about so much shit today as well as tomorrow) and the ability to readily express to your God and partner: “I’m sorry; please forgive me!” goes a long way in going the distance

Humor: a ready ability to laugh at oneself and never take oneself too seriously—ever

Honor:  a never-ending sense of wanting to empower one’s partner and love what he or she loves—always

Hearing:  an ability to be the world’s greatest listener to your partner’s incessant chatter (hopes and dreams)—knowing that you love it when he or she listens to your bullshit

Humility is so important.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in your frustration about the ways your spouse is an asshole.  You need to remember that the ways you are an asshole are being tolerated by your spouse.”Richard B.Smith, DC Psychologist Specializing in Marriage and Family counseling as tagged by Washingtonian/Dec 2012

“Develop a poor memory.  That is, do not collect grievances and throw them in your spouse’s face.  No one wants to hear, ‘This is just like the time on our honeymoon when you . . . .’”—Emily Yoffe, Who Writes the Dear Prudence Column for Slate as tagged by Washingtonian/Dec 2012

“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”― Dave Meurer

“Marriage has no guarantees. If that’s what you’re looking for, go live with a car battery.”—Erma Bombeck

“One of the nicest things you can say to your partner, “If I had it to do over again, I’d choose you—Again.“—Unknown

WW (“White and Wonderful”) and the Dalai Mama blogger

*Christian Nordqvist.  “Fallin Love Hits the Brain Like Cocaine Does.”  Medical News Today.  Medilexicon, Intl., 27 Oct. 2010.  Web.

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 November 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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What If God Was One of Us?

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  I’m not doing that well this week—how you doin?  I feel like pond scum to tell you the truth.  I rarely feel this way because, by nature, I am an eternal optimist, and to know me is to be part of an instant party of laughter and joy, if I do say so myself.   I should be on top of the world:  My husband, WW, and I are meeting a daughter’s serious boyfriend for the first time (THIS COULD BE THE ONE, FOLKS!) this weekend, and my blog just topped off 50,500 views!  Who knew when I started this storytelling malarkey just over a year ago, anybody outside my family and friends would even bother to tap my space, let alone 50,000 and counting? So why am I so blue?  The whole world is going to Hell in a hand basket, that’s why! I’m in mourning over what has happened in Libya and the rest of the Middle East, just when it seemed as if liberty, justice, and freedom had come to visit during the Arab Spring and were unpacking their bags.  But now it seems that various factors of the religious entities of the world (Muslims, Christians, Jews, and including the Mormon running for President and the Republicans who claim to be “the moral guardians of God”) have forgotten that we all bleed red and have the same tenet running through our religious ideologies:  “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”   As I mourn for Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and his staff, I can hardly breathe; let alone write a blog about how we “need to love each other and all get along.”  What’s the point?

www.coxandforkum.com

I’ve got so many questions but they all boil down to one observation:  none of us (not one) has seen our particular God face to face, so we all need to chill and remember we all could be wrong about an entire host of things regarding our individual religions.  And maybe that is the point, which is why I’m going to spend the rest of the week meditating on the old Indian parable about the blind men and the elephant as I contemplate what it means to live in a world where we all see the meaning of life through a foggy glass and deem it fine and dandy to demean, disparage, bear false witness, blaspheme, and kill innocent people “in the name of our particular god” over some perceived slight that was the creation and promotion of a couple of demented cretins.

You remember that old 19th Century poem by John Godfrey Saxe don’t you (and I loosely paraphrase) where six or seven blind men from Indostan approach an elephant for the first time, which the poet dutifully labels as our “theological wars.”  As each man touches a different part of the elephant, their description of what they believe an elephant is like is completely different from the other blind men, yet they are all right and they are all wrong.  The poem ends as such:

And so these men of Indostan

Disputed loud and long,

Each in his own opinion

Exceeding stiff and strong,

Though each was partly in the right,

And all were in the wrong! 

So, oft in theologic wars

 The disputants, I ween,

 Rail on in utter ignorance

 Of what each other mean,

 And prate about an elephant

 Not one of them has seen!

I am discovering that until we pass beyond the reality of this life into the next, we only have theories about life:  how it began, who began it, and how it will all end.  Until Mother Theresa (the Saint), Christopher Hitchens (the Atheist), Martin Luther King, Jr (The Liberator), and Adolf Hitler (The Asshole Murderer who, if he isn’t in Hell, would make me seriously doubt the validity of God) to name a few, come back and tell us what they’ve seen, we’d all better chill.  Until they tell us that God is or isn’t real and Heaven and Hell do or do not exist, we better figure out that we all bleed red and we’ve only got one planet and one life to live (sorry my Hindu friends, but I’m pretty sure I’m right about this—yet again, I could be wrong!), so we better learn how to honor the one theme that flows through all our religions regardless of the gods we serve:  Do unto others as we would have others do unto us!  (Yeah, that’s the point!)

Image from funnychill.com

******

“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image, when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”—Anne Lamott

“Scapegoating will go on forever. We need someone to blame – illegal immigrants, single moms, people in prison. We need someone to victimize.”—Winona Ryder

“Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If God had a name, what would it be?

And would you call it to his face

If you were faced with him in all his glory

What would you ask if you had just one question . . .?”

What if God was one of us?

Just a slob like one of us

Just a stranger on the bus

Trying to make his way home.”

 “What If God Was One of Us?” by Eric Brazilian (as sung by Joan Osborne)

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 September 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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The Real Work of Love

Do you know what I discovered?  Everybody’s talking about the dissolution of the marriage of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise.  Who didn’t see that coming?  If you really want to know the real predictors of the longevity of a celebrity marriage you just need to visit your neighborhood beauty parlor, barber shop, or nail salon—you’ll never be taken by surprise again.  At my weekly spa the technicians have names like Mary, Jane, Carol, and Judy but in real life their names are Jungyoon, Yunjoo, Joohee, and Wonjin.  They all pour over People magazine as if their lives depended on it.  They know more about Hollywood celebrities than the celebrities’ own mothers do, and they predicted the demise of the Cruise/Holmes marriage almost to the day.

For years I too had the “gift of prophesy” of predicting how long a couple would stay married because for a good stretch of time in my life I was a wedding singer.  By the time the rehearsal for a wedding was over, I could tell if the bride and groom had the fiber to go the distance or if they were just bullshitting each other and themselves.  During those days (60s, 70s, early 80s), my overall conclusion about the brides and grooms I met were that they were in “lust,” but rarely in love.  Oh, they thought they were in love, and I’m sure it would have come as quite a surprise to them to hear otherwise.  But if their union lasted more than a hot minute and I got to meet them again on their 20th or 30th anniversary, I usually found that by that time they were “growing up” in love because they had journeyed through Hell and back and had truly discovered the hard work of choosing to love each other rather than exiting stage right when the thrill was gone.

Image from funnanimalsite.com

As a wedding singer during that time, I had three songs that I rotated by popular demand:  Paul Stookey’s “Wedding Song: There is Love,” Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly,” and Fiddler on the Roof’s Sunrise Sunset.”   If I had $100 for every time I sang one of those songs at a wedding, I’d be rollin’ with The Donald (no, not that slimball—never that slimeball—but I’d definitely be a baller).  I was thinking about my wedding singer season the other day, and those songs kept ringing though my head as if on a loop (possibly precipitated by the great Holmes/Cruise marital take-down) when I went to get my nails done recently.

WONJIN:  “Well, how yu doin’ my friend?

ME:  “Hey Judy, how’s life—what’s the buzz?”

WONJIN:  “Hangin’ in der, my friend—not too shabby—can’t complain.   Hey, you hear how Katie Holmes kick Tom Cruise ass?  People say she run divorce escape-plan like ‘Mission Impossible.’   Baby-girl one smart cookie, that’s what I say.”

JOOHEE:   “Oh yeah.  People say that that Puss in the Boots guy’s marriage to 9 to 5 actress is toast too, but I don’t want to say too much until I confirm it with the People.  I not surprised, though.  That Antonio has got the look of a real player, but I wouldn’t kick him out of my bed even though he not Asian.  Hee, hee!”

ME:  “Auntie, you so nasty.  What would Antonio Banderas want with an old woman?”

JOOHEE:  “How he know if he never try?  What that thing you tell me last month:  Once you go Auntie-Asian you never go back!”

ME:  “You’re a hoot, Auntie.  The expression is ‘once you go black, you never go back’ and I was talking about myself.  Only Black people can use that expression.  Somehow it gets lost in translation when you use it.”

JOOHEE:  “I can see you never taste ripe Asian fruit, my friend or you’d be singin’ a different tune—forever!”

Image pinned by Lisa Marie DeMedeiros on Pinterest

JOOHEE:  “Anyhow, I gave that Puss-n-boots and his Melanie five years when I first read about them in the People—they been married ten years more than I said they’d be.  And divorces come in threes, you know.  Once People tell me Demi and Ashton on their way down the toilet, and then Katie ditched Tom ass, I knew another divorce comin’ our way faster than you can say kimchi.”

JUNGYOON:  “What all they problem, anyway?  I understand why poor people break up—no money!  It’s hard to be all lovey-dovey when you ain’t got pot to piss in or window to throw it out of.  But how come rich people can’t just get along?”

WONJIN:  “They got money, but they get bored and like to get milk from a different cow.  Sometime they like Asian flavor and sometime they like other flavors.  They think maybe next cow give them chocolate milk, ain’t that right my friend.  Tee-hee-hee-hee . . .”

ME: tuning into the iTune stream in my head)

“Well then what’s to be the reason for becoming man and wife?

Is it love that brings you here or love that brings you life?”

 (“Wedding Song: There is Love” by Paul Stookey)

Bored Couple” funnypictures.blogspot.com||image from
joannascheezeburger.com

JOOHEE:  “Well, finally Angelina and Brad finally got engaged.  People say her ring cost $500,000.  That no chump change, my friend.  I need me a man like that—Asian or no Asian.  I think somebody tell me engagements come in threes too. ”

ME:  “I think you me mean ‘deaths happen in threes,’ Mary.”

JOOHEE:  “No, this time, I right.  Although I a little worried because karma comes in threes and it is a bitch.  After what Angie and Brad did to Jennifer, I keep waiting for the other rock to drop.”

ME:  “Do you mean the ‘other shoe. . .’ oh, never mind.”

JOOHEE:  “All I know is Angie and Brad not safe from the karma gods until Jennifer finds happiness with her man.  Last month People rumored that Jennifer and Justin may be engaged.  They even show what they thought might be her ring from three different angles, but it was false alarm.  They were pictures of rings she give herself.  I think she fuckin’ with our minds, if you really want to know.  People think that too.  What wrong with these modern American couples?  Why he no put a ring on it?

(ME: zoning out to iTune stream in my head)

“Strumming my pain with his fingers

Singing my life with his words

Killing me softly with his song

Killing me softly with his song

Telling my whole life with his words

Killing me softly with his song.”

 “Killing Me Softly” (by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel)

Image pinned by Jennifer Bishop on Pinterest||original image joannascheezburger.com

HYUNJOO:  “Auntie, look at this—it’s the new People magazine for this month.  It says Vera Wang is leaving husband, Arthur Becker.  There’s your third celebrity divorce for the month because Demi and Ashton don’t count—they ancient history.  And this People story is about death of an Asian mixed marriage.  That makes me sad—I like mixed marriages.  I think if we all married each other there would be no more racism and war.”

JOOHEE:  “Silly girl—you talk crazy.  I think everybody stick to they own kind—everybody be much happier.  Look at Vera Wang . . . she marry that white man and 23 years later—Pow!—People say he leave her ass.  Nice Asian man would still be there.

WONJIN:  “Auntie, old woman, you don’t know what you talkin’ about.”

ME:  “Hyunjoo, that was a nice thought Baby-girl.  You’re young, and hope always springs eternal in our youth.  But your Auntie and I are old and we know that racism will always be something we’ll struggle with as people because it is an issue of the heart (and OLD PEOPLE really resist change—don’t we Auntie) . . . Besides we don’t all need to intermarry each other (nice to do if you want) to accept one another.  We’ll get better, but we’ll never get over the need to feel superior to one another.  The best we can do is to love each other as we are where we are for who we are and take a sledge hammer to our own prejudices when they pop up.  Speaking of international relationships, are we still going to see Avenue Q next week, Wonjin?”

WONJIN:  “Sure, but only if we get to sing my favorite song in the car.

ME:  “You only like that song because the Asian character sings it to her white husband and gets to scold him, the entire cast, and the audience about their racism.”

WONJIN:  (WONJIN/a.k.a. Judy breaks out in an atonal voice belting “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx like a scalded cat while all the customers in the shop scream in protest):

“Everyone’s a little bit racist it’s true.

But everyone is just about as racist as you!

  If we all could just admit that we are racist a little bit

And everyone stopped being so PC

 Maybe we could live in – Harmony!”

ME:  “And on that note, I’m turning on my massage chair, plugging in my iPod, and I’m taking a nap—this is supposed to be my therapy time, not my eardrum bursting time.  Wake me when you find an interracial couple in People who you think will go the distance.  I’d like to place a bet on that.  Preferably an Asian married to an African-American, because you all know. . .”

JUNGYOON, HYUNJOO, JOOHEE, and WONJIN:  “Once you go black, you never go back!”

(ME: sleeping while listening to iTune stream in my head)

“They look so natural together

Just like two newlyweds should be. . .

. . . Sunrise, sunset

Sunrise, sunset

Swiftly fly the years

One season following another

Laden with happiness and tears”

 (“Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick)

“Interracial” Marriage||image from funnyanimalsite.com

JOOHEE:  Wake up, my friend.  Did you hear what People have to say about Joraan van der Sloot?  He may
be getting engaged.
  WTF!  Go figure!  How a convicted killer get a woman to marry him in prison, and his ass
in jail (in Peru) for twenty-eight years?  I tell you right now, if what People say be true, I give that marriage two days—maybe one week, tops!

******

I am discovering that real love takes a lot of work.  Whether it is the love of a petulant toddler, a rebellious teenager, a thoughtless spouse, or an unkind friend—to love is to sacrifice.  I don’t believe in staying in a marriage where it is abusive (physically or verbally), or the partner is a substance abuser, or if the partner is so self-centered that the spouse has to play second fiddle to his or her ego more often than not.  I know nothing about Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s marriage, but I suspect, given the cult-like nature of Scientology that infused their lives she might have escaped a volatile situation by the hair of her chinny-chin-chin—or else why the subterfuge?  (Hey, get off my case:  I read People and I know these things—so there you have it!)

But as Americans (without an oppressive cult-like religion breathing down our throats), we’ve really been sold a bill of goods about love.   We’ve been told that it is something we “fall into” rather than “grow into over time.”   We’ve also been told that love is a “feeling,” but it is more than that.  Love is actually a choice—an action.  Feelings will ebb and flow like the tide, but the ability to choose to give and receive love is always with us—it is organic and it grows as we make the choice to choose love over self-centeredness over and over again.  I have been fortunate to find the man of my dreams and to be married to him for 33 years after dating him for six.  He is not the same race, his family did not openly embrace me, he is better educated, and our initial “hot” bodies that we had when we were young that caused us to drown “in lust” for each other now sag in all the wrong places and increasingly feel more like the Pillsbury Dough Boy when we cuddle together at days end against the slings and arrows of the outside world.  We have been to Hell and back together.  But I love him and he loves me in all our twilight failings and oddities—so much more today than we did the day we first said, “I do.”

Pinned by Jennifer Bishop on Pinterest||Image from joannascheezeburger.com

“Love is action. Love is tolerance. Love is learning your partner’s love language* and then expressing love in a way that he can receive. Love is giving. Love is receiving. Love is plodding through the slow eddies of a relationship without jumping ship into another’s churning rapids. Love is recognizing that it’s not your partner’s job to make you feel alive, fulfilled, or complete; that’s your job. And it’s only when you learn to become the source of your own aliveness and are living your life connected to the spark of genius that is everyone’s birthright can you fully love another.” By Sheryl Paul (“What is Love?”) Huffingtonpost.com

“No matter what way you dress it up, the best thing you can bring to a marriage is not the feeling of ‘being in love‘, but romance’s poor relation: tolerance. . . And while I am pontificating, one more tip for the ladies: Try to find a man who has that most underrated of qualities: character.” By Kate Kerrigan (“Blog post: Marriage Myths”) and author of Recipes for a Perfect Marriage.

Book cover for excellent study on speaking and listening to our partners regarding their needs

*“Something in our nature cries out to be loved by another. Isolation is devastating to the human psyche. That is why solitary confinement is considered the cruelest of punishments.”
Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts

******

July 20, 2012 In Memoriam

Artist: Mark Rantal

Mark Rantal’s blue ribbon image interlaces elements of the Colorado state flag, a heart shape and an outline of Batman||Image from MarkRantal.Blogspot.com or “like” Mark at http://www.facebook.com/MarkRantal

MY HUSBAND AND I WISH TO EXTEND OUR HEARTFELT CONDOLENCES TO THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF AURORA, COLORADO AND ALL THE VICTIMS OF THE HORRIBLE TRAGEDY WHICH TOOK PLACE ON JULY 20, 2012.  OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU.  MAY GOD GRANT YOU GRACE, HEALING, AND LOVE.  E & J Tomczyk

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 July 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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My Application to Join the 1%

Do you know what I’ve discovered?   I deserve the right to be “bougie” (meaning bourgeois—pronounced “boo-gee” with a soft “g” for my non-ghetto friends).  I haven’t always felt that way, but I just got back from an island vacation after taking my husband (White and Wonderful, a.k.a. “WW”) there for his 60th birthday and that experience left me thinking:  “I want in on the good times too—all the time—you 1% Mofos!”

I’ve been saving for a year to surprise WW with this ostentatious trip because I knew he would not take turning sixty years old with even the slightest amount of grace.  I knew this because he’s been announcing his attitudinal demise for five years:  “You better be on the alert, Cutie, I will not do turning 60 very well at all!”   This was one unhappy white man, and he was careening towards sixty years old kicking and screaming like a toddler.  I was not looking forward to hanging out for a year with a grumpy old man.  I decided to give him a birthday gift of a lifetime in the hope that it would be an infusion of joy to sustain him over the hump of the big 6-0.  So I put his list of favorite things into a search category (sea, sun, sand, snorkeling, boating, hot weather in January, easy to get to from the States, and fascinating new experiences), and Google spit out the Cayman Islands.

Google Image/Public Domain

The seduction started immediately.

Beautiful Hotel Assistant (BHA):  “Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. High Muckety-muck.  Would you like a glass of guava-mango nectar and some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies from heaven while you check in?”  Even though I have a gluten allergy, those cookies were so “to die for” in my newfound “Bali Ha’i” that they didn’t even make me sick.  (WW says the cookies were gluten-free because our holiday handlers were just that good and trained to make sure they didn’t miss a beat regarding our personal preferences.)

Gorgeous Concierge:  “We’ve solidified your itinerary for the week according to the specifications that you sent to us via email”:

  • 90 minutes spa appointment for Mrs. High Muckety-muck
  • Snorkeling trip on private sailboat to three prime locations off the beaten path (only Mr. HM. will be snorkeling—Mrs. HM will go along for the ride and do her diva thing)
  • Hawaii Five-0-type helicopter ride to survey the islands and the coastline (fascinating new experience)
  • Rollin’ with the pirates on a sunset cruise (new experience)
  • Touring a rum distillery (new experience)
  • Dinner at the restaurant of a world-renowned French chef
  • A day at the beach in your own private cabana (waiters in attendance with unlimited food and exotic drinks)

“Enjoy your stay, Mr. and Mrs. High-Muckety Muck.  Let us know if there is anything we can do for you.  We’re here to serve you.   There’s nothing we can’t provide for your vacationing pleasure.  Now will that be Visa or MasterCard?”

Ei-yi-yi-yi-yi!  WW and I had died and gone to heaven.  The sun kissed our skin with a perfect 82 degrees every day, and a constant trade wind gently blew across our bodies every second from the moment we ate our sumptuous breakfast on the private balcony to our room (overlooking a tropical garden), until we retired at night to the turned down sheets with gourmet chocolates gracing our over-stuffed pillows.

Google Image/Public Domain

The helicopter flung us through the air in an hour of Hawaii Five-0 duck and dive-type maneuvers that caused a young newlywed to lose her lunch but made WW and me scream with delight like little kids—“Again!”

The French pilot gave us a tour of the islands and slowly circled the houses of the rich and famous.  As he told us of his carefree existence in our “Shangri-La” (“I cam her for a vizit dirty yerz a-go and nev-air vent hume agane”), he assured us that we too could have our “joie de vivre” in the Cayman Islands if we just set our minds to do it.  As the pilot flew us over the houses of the real High-Muckety-mucks—not the posers like us—the gateway drug of greed bite WW and me solidly in the ass.  We are near retirement.  Why not quit the jobs, sell our house, cash in our retirement funds, and move to the Cayman Islands—never looking back.  The kids are grown and could fend for themselves.

But could we afford it?  “Of curz vous can,” said the pilot.  “Zat’s my houze below.  Zee what a magnefeesant manzion I own.  Vous know why:  NO PROPERTY TAX, NO INCOME TAX, NO CAPITAL GAINS TAX, AND NO INHERITANCE TAX!  (Suddenly, all trace of a French accent had disappeared once the pilot started talking about the absence of taxes.)  “With your money stashed in one of our 280 banks, you’d be sitting pretty, and without the curse of the IRS breathing down your throats your dreams could come true here in Cay-man.  Let’s bank to the left and swoop down on that mansion below.  Does this suit your fancy?  The owner is selling it for $60 million.” (I learned later that the French pilot sold real estate on the side and wasn’t as “French” as he claimed to be.)

Living room of Castillo Caribe, Cayman Island/Google Image

No matter how we jumbled the figures (and we seriously tried), the pilot’s suggestion was never going to be ours unless Mitt Romney gave us a percentage of the money he’s been sheltering in the Caymans.  Maybe then, and only then, could WW and I buy this house and never return to real life in America.  This was Mitt Romney rich, not “middle-class couple from the 99% saves for a year for a week’s vacation rich.”  We had to find another way.

And then the devil showed up.

Devil (posing as Captain Drake):  “Welcome aboard, Mr. and Mrs. High Muckety-muck.  I’m your Captain today and I will take you anywhere you want to go or wherever the wind blows.   May I call you John and Eleanor?  When I’m through with you, perhaps you’ll like the islands so much you’ll never return home.  I came here ten years ago for a vacation and never left.  Imagine your life with the sea and me on a boat like this.  Mr. John: let’s see how you look behind the wheel of this beauty; try it on for size why don’t you.”

As the Devil escorted WW from one glorious private snorkeling location to another, I could tell my husband was no longer feeling the devastation of turning 60.  When WW got to snorkel in and around an old wreck. . .

. . .and play kissy-face with a stingray, my husband cast off twenty years into the sea.

Seeing my husband so happy and energized, I stretched out on the deck and worked on my tan while the Devil continued to work on our minds.

Devil:  “Mr. John—Imagine taking your grandson out on a boat like this and teaching him how to fish and snorkel.  Can you see him spending the summers with you frolicking in the ocean and building castles in the sand?  Miss Eleanor—Imagine writing the great American novel right here in paradise.  All sorts of artistic people find their mojo here.  See that house on your left?  That used to be Sylvester Stallone’s mansion.”

But WW and I didn’t inject the “happy dust” into our veins at that point—we’re not stupid, and we know when we’re being played.  We didn’t succumb until we took the sunset cruise on the pirate ship and met a man and his wife who came down from New Jersey every other week and stayed in their custom-built home on Rum Point.  Sometimes they came alone, sometimes their best friends joined them, sometimes their grown kids tagged along with the grandkids, and sometimes it was just them and the grandkids.  They were our age and they were living the dream.  Suddenly a Gollum-like lust engulfed me:   “We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious.”  This island was my “precious,” dammit.  Why did New Jersey guy and his wife get to live the good life in the Caymans and we couldn’t?  What were WW and I—chopped liver?

The week flew by (doesn’t it always when you’re having fun), and we didn’t wake up from our choke-hold of greed until we were in the cab going back to the airport.  As we had done all week with anyone who served us, we asked the cab driver how long he had been living on the island, especially because he was an American and he was around our age.

Cabbie:  “I’m from upstate New York.  I came to the Cayman islands twenty years ago as a hotel manager.  It was a great life until Hurricane Ivan struck in 2004.  I lost everything (my house, my car, and my job) as did many of the other residents.  There’s the hotel I managed over there on the left.  It was never rebuilt—only the shell remains.  The entire island was out of electricity for three months and out of water for two months.  Sometimes it would take all day to queue up just to get a gallon of water.  And the summer heat was off the charts.  The hurricane sucked all the clouds and the trade winds out to sea while the mosquitos came up out of the swamps by the legions.  I swear they were the size of helicopters.  The very rich left on their private planes before the storm hit and hung out in one of their many other homes since they only come down here a couple of times a year.  Many of the international hotel workers who escaped via the evacuation never returned since everything they owned was in their luggage and what got left behind was destroyed anyway.  Everyone else who stayed was forced to keep their windows closed at night or the mosquitos would pick them up and carry them out to sea.  It was either die of heat exhaustion or be eaten alive.  Homeless families moved in with whoever still had shelter.  It took us quite a while to get back on our feet as an island and we still haven’t gotten back to where we were before 2004.  Poverty is at an all-time high, and the rich who use the Cayman’s as a second, third, fourth, or fifth home have driven the cost of real estate to the moon.  None of the locals who work in the service industries can afford homes anymore, and there is very little rental property for local use.  Because there are no taxes, the public schools are sub-standard (those who can send their children abroad to boarding schools), and the Island’s infrastructure is crumbling.  So here I am driving a cab in my golden years when I should be retired in paradise, but at least I’ve got a job and a home.  Have a safe trip back—I’d give anything to see snow again.”

As the sun set over the sea and we thought about the cab driver who was part of the 99% in the Cayman islands, WW and I got our sanity back, and thanked God for the “gift” of being able to experience a little piece of heaven.  Then we promptly dropped our lust to be part of the 1% into the sea as we headed back home with grateful hearts that we didn’t have to permanently live in the tax sheltered shadows of the rich and famous.

I am discovering that there are respites in our lives that are given to us as gifts to revitalize and encourage us in our journey.  They are meant to be enjoyed and relished.  But the gifts are never meant to be lusted after and sustained for life.  When that happens the respites are no longer gifts—they are heroin—and we will be consumed by our lust for them.

I am home now and it is freezing.  I’m back at work to make money so that I can take another trip next year to bring WW and me another joy-infused vacation (somewhere world) because travel is our “joie de vivre.”  We just won’t get greedy about it.

I am home now and my head hurts.  Another racist low-life has disrespected President Obama by jamming her finger in his face as if he were her house-boy; Paula Deen has fallen into disgrace by hiding her diabetes diagnosis for years while foisting hamburger, egg and bacon, donut sandwiches laced with sweet tea on her fans; Demi Moore is in the hospital for substance abuse after being screwed over by a little boy, and the Republican Party is eating its own.  But at least for a week, I got to go to heaven with the man I love and leave these types of troubles behind, and the Caymans gave me enough of a joy-infusion that it kept my head from exploding from all the crazies in the land.

Happy Birthday, my love!

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“There is a very fine line between loving life and being greedy for it.” ― Maya Angelou

“Greed, envy, sloth, pride and gluttony: these are not vices anymore. No, these are marketing tools. Lust is our way of life. Envy is just a nudge towards another sale. Even in our relationships we consume each other, each of us looking for what we can get out of the other. Our appetites are often satisfied at the expense of those around us. In a dog-eat-dog world we lose part of our humanity.” ― Jon Foreman

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All text and photos by Eleanor and John Tomczyk © 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 January 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Waiting for Santa

Well, my loyal and wonderful readers, I’m taking a break for two weeks to spend time with my delicious family.  They are pouring in from all parts by trains, planes, and automobiles.  The tree is up, the stockings have been hung with care, and I have enough food to feed an army.

Besides being the chief cook and chubby-cheek kisser of all peeps from three – eighty-three, I am on guard Christmas Eve as the Santa lookout.  The Sucker never, ever showed up to my house in The Cleve when I was a child, sending a strong signal that I was perennially on his “naughty” list.   (I’m inclined to believe the dude doesn’t exist.)  I have several years of “memory photos” of the rats eating Santa’s cookies when I hid in a closet with the door cracked to catch him in the act of consuming his midnight snack.

 

Google Image/originally uploaded by pyza

So now that I’m an adult who realizes one has to have a family to “eat the Santa cookies” in order to keep up the ruse, I’ll be standing guard Christmas Eve just in case while WW puts together a thousand piece train set for our grandson.  To help keep myself awake I’ll think about how, if I were a god who wanted to express his divine love to a gnarly bunch of ragamuffins who were constantly acting the fool against each other and the Earth, what better method could that god have used than to sneak in under cover as a baby and hang out in our midst for a few years to show us how to treat each other.

Google Image

To some it is hard to believe, but I actually think it’s pretty clever—hidden in plain sight.   And so with all the hope, love, peace and joy that Christmas offers from God incognito in a manger, Merry Christmas to you and yours from me and mine.

See you on January 5th!

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 December 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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