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Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

Do you know what I discovered about my life this week? I am one unlucky sorry-ass woman. I just barely got over a sinus infection, and the minute my husband stepped out the door to go on a business trip, I got an intestinal flu bug, and it kicked my behind from one end of my house to the other. I have chills, I ache all over, my stomach cramps at the slightest smell of food, I can’t stray more than two feet from a bathroom, and I’m spewing out of both ends.  I am truly undone.

Flu Bug Dolighan dot com

Cartoon by Tim Dolighan www.dolighan.com

I was writhing on the couch moaning in three octaves: “WHY ME, OH LORD; WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” when the phone rang and it turned out to be my youngest daughter (29).

BABY-GIRL: Hi Mom. How’s my favorite mother? I noticed that you hadn’t published your blog this week so I am checking up on you.

MISERABLE ME: Your only mother is ready to send up a shout-out to Jesus and let him know I’m ready to exit stage left—that’s how miserable I feel. I had to send a neighbor to get me stopper-upper meds, and I’m so weak I can barely cook for myself—let alone think of a blog topic. Of all the adages I’ve given you over the years under the title, “A Mother’s Parting Wisdom to Her Children,” did I ever tell you that when you have the flu you should never, ever trust a fart? Maybe I could write a blog on that tomorrow.

BABY-GIRL:   No, you have never told me that saying—and I don’t want to hear it now. And NO, you cannot write a blog on “never trust a fart.” You’ve written way too many posts on bodily functions or sex. Need I remind you that my colleagues read your blog, and it is mortifying when I get an email that says they’re reading about you farting in your doctor’s face after a colonoscopy while they’re drinking their morning coffee?

MISERABLE ME: Hey now—that was written in the spirit of public service. I’ve gotten a lot of requests to have that post sent to people who are undergoing a colonoscopy for the first time so that it doesn’t frighten them. Sheesh! Everybody’s a critic.

Flu Season Olle Johansson Sweden

Used by Permission: “Flu Season” by Olle Johansson, Sweden

BABY-GIRL: I don’t care, Mother; think of something else north of your navel. I’ve been reading some poetry lately. How about a post centered on the CLEAN poetic line: Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost. It’s from J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Fellowship of the Ring:

All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,

A light from the shadows shall spring;

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,

The crownless again shall be king.

BABY-GIRL: Does that line conjure up anything inspiring that you can write about even with the flu?

MISERABLE ME: Yeah, now that you mention it. I facilitated a storytelling hour and book signing for my book Monsters’ Throwdown last week at the largest women’s homeless shelter in D.C. It was packed—standing room only. Now that I think about it, the women who attended were amazing. Life had dealt them all a tough blow, but I could see in most of their eyes that they were not down for the count. They were broken, but they had the great hope of being renewed because of the helping hand that had been extended to them—they were wanderers, but they weren’t completely lost. That’s why they keep showing up at the Village for the counseling, the educational classes, and the community support.

BABY-GIRL: I read somewhere recently that President Reagan once said that, “The homeless are homeless because they want to be homeless.” Did you sense that at your storytelling hour?

Homeless in America

Photo courtesy of www.csindy.com

MISERABLE ME: Ronald Reagan was a insensitive pig! Much to my chagrin, I voted for him and I will never forgive myself for that because he did more to mushroom homelessness in the inner city than any other force in recent years with his goddamn trickle-down economics that made the rich richer and the poor only poorer. If there is a Hell, Reagan is wandering around it on cold, barren streets as a homeless person for at least a quarter of eternity without a blanket and with constant diarrhea.

BABY-GIRL: Now that’s an interesting topic. What did you learn from these “wandering women”?

N Street Village 007

Author Book Signing for Monsters’ Throwdown at N Street Village’s homeless outreach

MISERABLE ME: I learned that but by the grace of God go I. I was homeless several times in my life before the age of 21, but it never lasted long. I was rescued which is what my book is about. Someone discovered that I was broken and could be renewed. I learned that many of the homeless have jobs (more than one) that they go to, but they still can’t afford housing. I learned that you can come from the best of families, with the best education, and all it takes is a few missteps and before you know it, you’re out on the street—whether from a bad relationship, an abusive husband, a medical issue, or a layoff. I learned that in Washington, DC, 55% of the homeless women that N Street Village services (they are the largest women’s homeless services in DC), are over 50 years old. I met one woman who was an amputee due to diabetes, and yet she is homeless. The homeless women I met suffer from emotional, sexual, and physical trauma, while some are crippled by mental health issues and addictive behaviors. All I could do was cling to them after all was said and done. As I looked into their eyes, I could see the beauty of who they were created to be. I understood what Jesus meant when he said: “What you do for the least of these, you do for me.” If I do a thousand more book signings, I doubt that any of them will be as rewarding or as profound as the one at the women’s homeless shelter.

BABY-GIRL: I’m so proud of you, Mom. I’m sure the ladies loved your time together. Just imagine yourself in their place with what you’ve been going through the last few days—flu symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and chills BUT going through that while sleeping on the street in the snow with no proper meds or sanitation. Makes your situation pretty tolerable, huh, La Mama?

MISERABLE ME: Yes, Ms. Smart-ass, it does! Anyway, I’ll write that post tomorrow. In the meantime, let me snuggle up in front of the fireplace and sip my hot toddy while I read 50 Shades of Grey. Your father and I could use some tips to spice up our sex life, although I hear this book is about bondage with handcuffs and all. I’m afraid if Dad and I try this handcuff thingie, I’ll fall asleep before anything exciting can actually happen.

BABY-GIRL: TMI! HANGING UP! HANNNNNNGING UP! OH, MY GOD—MY EARS, MY PSYCHE . . .

Homeless Neighbor

I am discovering that it is so easy to get caught up in my pathetic little life and forget that homelessness is everywhere and ever-expanding due to issues that we can primarily control as a society. It is also so easy to become comfortable and forget from whence I came. All of us who claim to have a heart and especially those of us who claim to believe in a kind and generous God must do everything in our power to eradicate homelessness in our midst. Ronald Reagan was just plain wrong, and that Ayn Rand spirit he left behind permeates our politics and our national psyche. Being homeless could happen to any of us. But by the grace of God go us all!

N Street Village 010

Author Storytelling Hour at N Street Village/check out Author’s website for more details

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”—Mother Teresa

“There is a lot that happens around the world we cannot control. We cannot stop earthquakes, we cannot prevent droughts, and we cannot prevent all conflict, but when we know where the hungry, the homeless and the sick exist, then we can help.”—Jan Schakowsky

“Seven out of 10 Americans are one paycheck away from being homeless.”—Pras Michel

“All of us who covered the Reagans agreed that President Reagan was personable and charming, but I’m not so certain he was nice. It’s hard for me to think of anyone as ‘nice’ when I hear him say ‘The homeless are homeless because they want to be homeless.”—Helen Thomas

REFERNCES

http://www.nstreetvillage.org/

http://thegrio.com/2014/03/24/americas-most-under-reported-story-homelessness/

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2014/03/living/cnn10-visionary-women/?hpt=hp_bn11

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/25/housing-first-homeless-charlotte_n_5022628.html 

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.

 

 

 
18 Comments

Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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MONSTERS’ THROWDOWN KINDLE EDITION

Do you know what I just discovered?  Amazon has released my new book, Monsters’ Throwdown, on Kindle! 

frontcover

Kindle Edition Cover of Monsters’ Throwdown

I haven’t slept since my book launch last week, and I was still whirling like a Dervish but at a slower speed—more  like a windup toy whose battery is finally running down—when my husband, WW, tried to inform me of the release of the Kindle Edition of my book.

ME:        “Oooooooh, myyyyyy Goooood, IIIII’mmm fiiinaaally pubbbblished!”

WW:     “Hey, Cutie.  I’ve got more good news for you:  Amazon just released Monsters’ Throwdown on Kindle.  Now all your digital readers can get a copy of your book before Christmas.  Isn’t that great?

ME:        “IIIII ammm soooooo eeexciiited, IIII caaan hhhardlly ssstannd iiit, but I’m sooo damn tired.”

WW:     “I can see that—you’re beginning to sound like you’re drunk.  Looks like someone could use a nap.  How about giving your readers a quick shout out about the digital format of Monsters’ Throwdown and curling up on the couch for a nice afternoon siesta?

ME:        “Sssuuure . . .  They just need to check out (YAAAAWN) the link below.  In the meantime, have you seen my down pillow and my Snuggle blanket?”

BUY NOW!

Dear Blogger Friends and Faithful Readers:

My family is on its way here this very moment via trains, plains, and automobiles.  I will be taking off my blogging hat for the next couple of weeks in exchange for the hat of a mother who administers lots of hugs and kisses to world-weary adult children; I will also be ignoring social media during that time for the slobbery kisses of an adorable 5 year old that I’ll be reading bedtime stories to from a book that I can hold in my hands as we cuddle together, and I rock him to sleep while “visions of sugarplums dance in his head.”  Please note that I’ll be thinking of you all with a heart full of love and grace.  Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas to you all!  I’ll return with more hilarious blogs the first week of January.

Merry Christmas Rick McKee The Augusta Chronicle

Used by Permission:  Rick McKee The Augusta Chronicle

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 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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MONSTERS’ THROWDOWN IS HERE!

frontcover

Available on Amazon

(AUTHOR IS CURRENTLY RUNNING AROUND HER OFFICE WITH A COPY OF HER BOOK IN HAND AND SPINNING LIKE A WHIRLING DERVISH WHILE HUSBAND—WW—IS TRYING TO CATCH HER AND BRING CALMNESS TO THE SITUATION.)

ME:        “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD . . . MY BOOK IS FINALLY PUBLISHED!   OH, MY GOD!!!”

WW:     “There is no need to lose one’s head and use triple exclamation points.  There is never any need to use three exclamation points unless the sky opens up and God peeps through the fabric of the universe and announces to the entire Earth:  Surprise—I’m real, I’m black, I’m a woman, and I’m coming back!!!  Anyway, aren’t you going to tell people where they can buy your book and in what form?”

ME:        “Oh, yeah.  The paperback is available on Amazon and the Kindle Edition will be available at the end of December.   OH, MY GOOOOOOOOOD!”

WW:     “Well, at least tell the people what the book is about.”

ME:        “I can’t—I can’t breathe!  I’ll show them the back cover.  That’s the best I can do right now—OH MY GOD!”

backcover

Back Cover of Monsters’ Throwdown |Available at Amazon.com

WW:     “Okay.  But I’m your manager and I need to put together a press kit that says more than ‘Oh, my God!!!’, so you need to answer some questions.  Who will like your book?  (And don’t tell me “everybody”—get specific.)  Why should anybody buy your book?  (And don’t tell me “because it is good, it’s really good”—I need details, details, details.)  For instance:  does it make a good book club read?  Tell me why I should buy your book.”

ME:        “Can’t breathe . . . hyperventilating . . . .  Yes, it is a perfect book club read.  It will generate tons of discussion.  I’m told it reads like a real-life Hunger Games, if you imagine Katniss Everdeen to be a chubby-ass-poor-black-child born in the ghetto, kicking ass, taking no prisoners, and marrying the love of her life. That’s it:  it is the true story of the mash-up of The Hunger Games and Cinderella.”

WW:     “Oh, good grief!  You’re not being any help in your excitable state.  How is this for a quick, down and dirty press release?

MONSTERS’ THROWDOWN: A Human Odyssey by Eleanor Tomczyk

BUY IT BECAUSE IT IS RIVETING

BUY IT BECAUSE IT IS A GREAT READ

BUY IT BECAUSE IT WILL MAKE YOU CRY

BUY IT BECAUSE IT WILL MAKE YOU LAUGH

BUY IT BECAUSE IT WILL MAKE YOU BELIEVE IN LOVE AGAIN

BUY IT BECAUSE IT IS WORTH THREE EXCLAMATION POINTS

***

A PRE-PUBLICATION REVIEWER: “I love this book!  It’s warm, witty, honest, and positive.  The author’s voice is authentic, engaging, and unstoppable.  The pluck and stick-to-itiveness of a girl with so many things stacked against her is guaranteed to be inspiration for every reader lucky enough to pick up this book.”

P.S.  If you LIKE Monsters’ Throwdown, please tell your friends and relatives; if you LOVE Monsters’ Throwdown, please leave a review on Amazon.com.  Thanks so much!

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.

 
20 Comments

Posted by on December 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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