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Hitting the Airplane

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  I’m finished!  I’m screwed as a blogger!   I can’t figure out a blog topic, and I have no more inspiration to pass along!  I’m tapped out!  I’m all clogged up.  I’m three days late in posting a blog because my brain is fried and I could just scream!  Oh God, I am undone!

Stressed

Cartoonist: Michael Trent Martin | www.strangecomics.com

My husband (WW) has been out of town all week.  I thought this would be the perfect time to get a lot of writing done.  Instead, I’ve been sitting in one spot, disheveled, unwashed (be happy this is not “smell-a-blog”), and in sweats for three days with abandoned cups of coffee, discarded Jelly Belly bags, empty microwave popcorn bags, and wrappers of Dove chocolate scattered here, there, and everywhere.  I’m sitting amidst the junk food carnage like Job of the Bible when he felt God had forsaken him.  My brain has turned to mush.  It is in this state that my husband found me when he returned from his business trip.

WW:     “So, suffice it to say, you haven’t gotten much writing done?”

ME:        “Grrrrrrrr!”

WW:     “That bad, huh?  Is this what a caffeine-chocolate-Jelly-Belly overdose looks like?”

ME:        “I know this looks awful.  I don’t know what happened to me.  I was getting great reader traction on my earlier post about Paula Deen, and felt I’d generated some great comments about racism and forgiveness.  But then she opened her mouth again and tried to justify her racism with a line from an old racist joke:  ‘I is
what I is, and I’m not changing.’
  Either she is stupid as a stump or she’s one clever bitch.  You know why I’m pissed at Paula?  Not because she used an inappropriate word, but because she sold us a brand of authenticity regarding who she was as part of the new South—open-armed, accepting of everyone, full of love and tolerance for all—with her only vice being butter.  Now she’s using a racist joke to underscore that she was not at all as she portrayed herself to be!”

Paula Deen More Butter Nate Beeler The Columbus Dispatch

Used by Permission:  Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

WW:     “Well, nobody is exactly who they say they are, cutie—you know that.  We’re all actors on a world stage trying not to lose control of the narrative that we think will keep us safe or help us get over on one another.   I hate to ask this, but what old joke?”

ME:          “You mean what old racist joke?  The joke is ages old, but it’s clearly one Paula might have grown up with, and she allegedly admitted to engaging in these types of racist jokes in her workplace during the deposition.  If I remember it correctly, it goes something like:

There was a black guy and a white guy, and they were debating over whether God was white.

The white guy said that there was only one way to find out and that was to pray.

So they both go up on a hill to pray and after sometime they hear a voice say: “I am what I am.”

The white guy jumps up from his knees and says: “Aha, I told you God was white.”

The black guy says: “What do you mean?  That didn’t prove anything.”

“Yes it did,” said the white guy

“If God was black, he would have said, ‘I IS WHAT I IS!’”

WW:     “Yeah, that’s not even funny, but I could see how racism might be a systemic issue in Paula Deen’s life if she engaged in jokes like that in the work place.  It makes me wonder if she said those jokes in front of her black staff.”

ME:        “I can’t even imagine someone saying that joke in front of me and surviving my wrath.  Anyhow, she’s the least of my problems.  Her brand is never going to be the same again.  I hope that silly old woman enjoyed her entrenched moment in the sun of ‘I is what I is and I’m not changing,’ because it’s costing her the empire that butter built.  Anyway, I have bigger fish to fry.  Part of my depression is over the way SCOTUS gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  That was the Emancipation Proclamation of my generation.  Didn’t the Supremes notice the wide-range voter suppression that took place during the presidential campaign?  Are they blind to the struggles still afoot regarding voting equality?  And who stuck roasted jalapeños up Justice Scalia’s ass?  What the fuck caused him to say that preservation of the Voting Act (instrumental in ending the Jim Crow Era) perpetuates “racial entitlement”?  Good googalimoo!

July 2, 2013

Used by Permission:  Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News|Cagle Cartoons

WW:     “Well, you need to get out of your funk and find something inspiring to write about.  Paula’s too old to change; racism is here to stay (at least for a while), because you can’t legislate attitudes and hearts.   It is also going to take more than a blog and a day to change the damage that SCOTUS has done against the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Besides, before I left, I thought you were going to write a simple, breezy post on the local massage parlors.”

ME:        “Day spas . . . day spas—not massage parlors!  The term “massage parlors” sounds so sleazy.  I did all the research, but I don’t know . . . Did you know that I thought the worst massage I ever had was a “sugar massage” at a local froo-froo spa at the behest of a couple of co-workers.  Turns out the word “massage” means different things to different people.  I mean, I’m still pulling sugar out of my butt from that damn sugar massage and that was years ago.  I didn’t know that the teenager that was my “therapist” was going to shoot sugar straight up my ass and call it a day—and she almost drowned me to boot!  Also, apparently in California (because only in California would people be crazy enough to do shit like this) one can get a massage done by a tank full of snakes on your back.  Oh, and get this:  did you know that “happy endings” are legal in massage parlors in China?  They call them:  ‘hitting the airplane,’ ‘playing with little brother,’ and ‘visiting Miss Five.’  That’s why I’ve been stuck here in a daze for three days—to write about ‘hitting the airplane’ or not to ‘hit the airplane,’ that is the question.

blog to blog or not

Cox and Forkum |http://www.coxandforkum.com/

WW:     “Or you could sit very still, detox from all that junk you’ve been eating, and think about your mission statement as a blogger—as inspired by Oprah:  “to help people ask the big questions (with humor) about the hard situations in life.”  So what stories did you find in the cesspool of the Internet while I was gone that will help you, and how can they help you ask the big question this week?

Hard Question

I am discovering that “authentic” blogging is really, really hard work—then again—what isn’t?  It’s hard because in order to meet weekly or daily deadlines, one can so easily become trite and cynical, thereby producing a lot of crap.  There is a certain filthiness attached to gleaning stories from the daily carnage of the world news in order to lend one’s opinion to the Titanic state of the human soul and ask the right questions that will steer us toward love, joy, grace, mercy, truth, and peace—or in other words—the face of God.  It is so easy to fall into the pit of writing for the continued bump in numbers.  It takes a consistent revisiting of one’s mission statement in order to sanitize oneself from the consequences of most human actions.  When it becomes too much, I have to sit quietly in my garden and wait for the stories of the sacrificial lives of people like the Arizona 19 (the brave firemen who gave their lives to save those of their neighbors) to remind me that I am not just a blogger—I am a storyteller that wants to see beyond the stupidity and the cynicism in life.  Knowing what celebrity has let her nip slip out of her dress while she posed on the red carpet in a $2,000 pair of Louboutin’s zippered heels doesn’t touch the unthinkable and the unbearable in our everyday lives.

I can do that.  I just need to stay calm and carry on.

Blogging Cat Meme Fp

“I don’t want to go viral, I want to set hearts on fire.”Coco J. Ginger

“My blog is a collection of answers people don’t want to hear to questions they didn’t ask.”― Sebastyne Young

 “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”—John Quincy Adams

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 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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We’re All A Little Bit Racist

Do you know what I discovered?   Can we all agree that it is time for us to stop pretending, that since electing a black president, we are living in a post-racial era?  We’ve come a long way as a nation (hallelujah!), but between the virulent racist attacks against Cheerios recently for producing a commercial featuring an interracial family and the Paula Deen debacle, it is painfully clear that we’ve still got a long way to go because this shit is centuries old and layers deep.

Cheerios Meme

Little girl from Cheerios’ interracial family commercial

Personally, I would like to recommend a country-wide field trip to see the musical: Avenue Q.  We need only stay for the one song sung by the Asian character and then go immediately to our churches, synagogues, mosques, or therapists to repent of the fact that no one amongst us can afford to throw stones because we all live in glass houses which cover a history of saying racist things at one time or another about each other (either cluelessly or with full-blown hatred—yeah, I’m talking to you my ex-friend with your Tea Party bias who claims you don’t have a racist bone in your body, but who called a certain race “diaper heads” that you regularly work with and expected me to chuckle over it as if doing so gave us a common bond of disdain as your one black friend with your Tea Party bias).

“Everyone’s a little bit racist sometimes.

Doesn’t mean we go around committing hate crimes.

Look around and you will find no one’s really color blind.

Maybe it’s a fact we all should face

Everyone makes judgments based on race.”

By Lyricists: Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx from Avenue Q

You see, even though I despise what Paula Deen has been accused of, I’ve been wrestling with my own racist demons just this past few months.   Without making matters worse by naming the people group I’m currently having issues with, let’s just say that I have managed to rid myself of most of my prejudices (knocked out my bigotry toward white people by marrying one thirty-four years ago—nothing solves racial ignorance like getting to know, love, and understand the people you were stupid about in the first place).  But there is one race that drives me nuts and partially because I know they have horrid prejudices towards African-Americans of which I’m constantly running into.  Unfortunately, I’m very much in love with my white man so I can’t divorce him and marry one of them just to get over my budding racial ugliness.

Cant We all get along from shelersanon dot blogspot dot com

“Can’t we all just get along” from shelversanon.blogspot.com

The stereotype of the people group that I’m struggling with think I’m stupid, that my skin color is a curse from God, and that I’m going to rob their businesses on any given Sunday.  My stereotype of them is that they’re cheap; they hate black people, and many of them have bought up all the dry cleaners in America giving me no other tetrachloroethylene (dry-cleaning fluid) alternatives but theirs.  My stereotypes are trying to take anchor because I’ve had to change dry cleaners three times in the last ten years and I’m pissed.  The first dry cleaners lost my designer jacket and refused to pay up until I threatened to call the po-po, the second one shrank my silk blouse down to the size of a Barbie doll and refused to be accountable, telling me “it because you get fat—that why garment no fit” (oh, no she didn’t!), and the third one overcharged me four times the amount for a hemming job and hoped I wouldn’t notice (as if!).

I’m now on my fourth dry cleaner and in my effort to not let these ugly stereotype take up residence in my head and heart, I’ve gone out of my way to befriend the owners (a young couple) and their seamstress mother when I pick up WW’s shirts every week. It is working.  We engage in delightful chit-chat and the service they provide is excellent.  I’ve got no complaints.  In fact everything was great for 18 months until a new relative came to America and started working in the store.   I could tell by the way she greeted me, that she did not like black people.  She wouldn’t even look me in the eyes or speak to me even after my many effusive greetings.  I know that she can make eye-contact, smile, and speak English because she does so to the white customers who come in behind me. (I’ve tested my theory several times by sending WW in my place and she has been quite pleasant with him.)

After putting up with this ‘tude for three months, I confronted the new dry-cleaner assistant:  “What is your problem?  You are refusing to understand and follow my instructions, and you’re costing me time and money!  I keep getting my dry cleaning back with stains on them because you don’t mark them as per my instructions in the beginning. You skimp on the laundry marking tape.  Stop being so cheap with the god-damn laundry tape!”  At that point, she looked and me and rolled her eyes and said:  “No, you no understand; this is process—you get one tiny piece of sticky tape (about an eighth of an inch) for entire garment—no more for you!”  Then she said something in her language that could not have been good given the intensity, walked back to her station, and angrily sorted through clothes.

(Jesus, please help my sorry-ass.  I’m getting ready to declare war over sticky laundry-marking tape.)

There you have it—my own laundry soup-Nazi.  I suffer the same angst as Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine did in their soup-Nazi episodes every time I enter that dry cleaning establishment, and I’ve tried to solve the situation by still being nice as possible—plus I only go to the dry cleaners at the times of the day I know the owners will be there to wait on me.  They still treat me with great respect and give me plenty of laundry marking tape.  I’m making a choice to see my nemesis as a “one-off” rude person—no more representative of her race as a black person robbing her store is of mine.

***

But how am I to solve the problem I have with Paula Deen whom I really liked and was so proud of her accomplishments as a woman.  Oh Paula, Paula, Paula . . .

Paula Deen

PAULA DEEN’S ALLEGED‎ SINS: “For instance: admitting that she has used ‘the N word’ (in her and the lawyer’s  words)–‘of course,’ and probably on more than one occasion.   Defending telling racial and ethnic jokes: ‘it’s just what they are—they’re jokes.’  And wishing she could plan a “Southern plantation wedding” for her brother, with African American servers in the part of antebellum slaves. (Deen reportedly didn’t go through with that idea because, you know, ‘the media’ would have twisted it into something. Those media!  Always turning folks’ innocent plantation-slave parties into something racist!*)”—By James Poniewozik||Less Than Accidental Racist: Why Paula Deen’s Comments Insult Her Fans Too||Times Entertainment

*PAULA DEEN’S ALLEGED COMMENT ABOUT THE PLANTATION WEDDING: “Well what I would really like is a bunch of little n!**ers to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts and black bow ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around,” the lawsuit claims Deen said. “Now that would be a true southern wedding, wouldn’t it? But we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that.”—by breakingbrown.com

Racism Subtle

…then again sometimes it is not!

I am discovering (surprisingly so) that I think The Food Network jumped the gun by firing Paula Deen without letting the court case play out until the end.  My husband, who is white, thinks they didn’t fire her fast enough.  WW says:

“In this day and age, whether you’re twenty or ninety, you should have gotten the memo, and you should know the answer as to whether to use the ‘N’ word or not.  (And don’t get me started on Hollywood, comics, rappers/hip-hoppers—because they don’t get a pass for artistic license in my book.)  Given the disdain, contempt, and degradation associated with that word, I think it should be eradicated from our vocabulary—period!)  If I were on the board of directors of The Food Network, I’d have no choice but to fire her butter-laden ass.  Anyway, she has already used up two strikes with me by hiding the fact that her recipes allegedly caused her Type II Diabetes while still peddling her recipes of butter on butter topped off by butter.”by “WW” Tomczyk

Cake and Eat it too

Cartoonist: Mike Luckovich

***

I am also discovering that I think we should forgive Paula Deen because she has repented (albeit, extremely clumsily) and “to err is human, to forgive, divine.”  And even though I don’t consider myself to be a racist, I know that I fall short of the glory of God to love my neighbors as myself on a consistent basis, and I’m really, really trying!  Can you imagine how many trip-wires this old woman, who still thinks the Civil War was the “war of Northern aggression,” must be stumbling over?  I don’t mean that Paula shouldn’t suffer the consequences.  We all have to take responsibility for our actions.  I suggest that the Food Network and other corporations suspend Paula for a season until she understands that she was supposed to be representing the “new South” and part of her charm was to comfort us with her fatty-ass foods while letting go of the shitty hatred cloaked in cluelessness and racial stupidity (Don’t you just love Paula’s alleged answer as to the reasoning for using the ‘N’ word throughout the years:  “. . . it was sometimes used with affection”please Paula, don’t love me so much, you’re killing me!”).

Next, I’d make Paula go on Oprah and let Oprah act as our national conscience and walk her over spiritual “hot coals” like she did to James Frey for lying to her.  (By the way, this is how I know that Paula knows that her use of the ‘N’ word is wrong:  she never used it publicly about Oprah and to Oprah and Oprah’s best friend, Gail, when they visited Paula at her home and helped make Paula and her enterprise a household word.  I know this because Oprah and Gail would have bitch-slapped Paula into the 7th level of Dante’s Inferno and we’d all be saying—“Paula?  Paula who?” right now.)  Finally, after due season, I’d let her return to her TV show(s) with new low-calorie recipes and a new serving up of southern charm and grace without hidden ugliness.  We all have a God-given destiny, Paula, and part of it is to spread the true love of God around like thick butter on homemade biscuits but not spread the sins of our fathers.   This is your wake-up call, girlfriend.

Racism's antidote

“A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury.”—John Stuart Mill

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

“He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.”—Thomas Fuller

REFERENCES:

http://entertainment.time.com/2013/06/20/less-than-accidental-racist-why-paula-deens-comments-insult-her-fans-too/

http://www.deadline.com/2013/06/nyt-food-network-wont-renew-paula-deens-contract-after-racial-slur-dilemma/

http://breakingbrown.com/2013/06/remember-when-oprah-visited-paula-deen-and-deen-put-her-in-the-guest-house-out-back-video/

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 June 23, 2013 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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