Tag Archives: spirituality

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!


Cartoonist: Michael Trent Martin |

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 |

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.


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

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

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


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


Posted by on June 23, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Never Gonna Be That Old

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  I am in love with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.  Let’s try another way of stating this:  I, a 65-year-old-evangelical-Black-woman, am in love with Macklemore and Lewis’ new video release of “Can’t Hold Us” (featuring that cutie-pie, Ray Dalton).  If you know what I’m talking about then you are probably under 30-years old and your jaw just dropped to the floor that a 65-year-old-chubby-ass woman knows and likes the writers of “Thrift Shop”—pee-pee sheets and all.  But if you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, then you’re most likely a Mormon, dead, a conservative Christian (all over 50-years-old), and you’re thanking your God that you never heard of the alternative hip-hop group from Seattle’s song, “Can’t Hold Us” from “The Heist,” that is now my new anthem.  Just the musical hook alone makes you want to soar if you’ve got any life left in you:

“Here we go back, this is the moment

 Tonight is the night—we’ll fight ’til it’s over

 So we put our hands up like the ceiling can’t hold us…

Macklemore Thrift Shop knowyourmeme dot com

Scene from “Thrift Shop” video: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Remember how I told you in my previous “I Do, I Do” post that it was my 65th birthday and 34th wedding anniversary (I gave my husband to me as a birthday present), and that my husband (WW) and I were going to sit around in my garden, drink wine, and read books (not that there is anything wrong with that on any given Sunday)?   Well, forget-that-Jack.  That lasted about 2 hours.  The next thing I knew we were on a plane to California in search of great friends (translation: not boring, non-judgmental, and generous to a fault friends), good wines, and fine times!

Balloon by Eleanor

(“Traffic Jam” balloons ahead of us) Photo by:  Eleanor Tomczyk/2013

“Did you know that Eleanor Roosevelt said that ‘We’re to do something scary every day,’” asked my friend as she gingerly plopped her little body (no bigger than a minute) into one side of the balloon basket and giving the rest of us the first indication that she might be scared shitless about our adventure?  I wanted to tell her that I didn’t know if the logic of that quote held up on its own because there is some pretty scary shit out there that I personally wouldn’t even want to try because of its aftermath:  you may survive it, but it could leave you maimed, crippled, brain-dead, or de-balled.  Just recently I heard about a scary fad that Baby-boomer men are doing called “tackle-tightening” (a.k.a. “ball ironing”).  It’s a new spa treatment in Santa Monica that polishes the family jewels with a laser and irons out the wrinkles (only in California, right?) to make said balls look younger.  Now the concept of this scares the crap out of me and I would never do it even if I had the equipment—I’m just sayin’.  I asked WW if he’d ever consider the procedure, and he said he’d rather go up in a hot-air balloon and crash-land (thank you very much), and there would be no more discussion about scary gonad scraping as he cupped the family jewels and fled to his man cave.  So there you have it.  Not all things that are scary should be engaged in.

Born to be wild photobucket dot com

Tweety meme from:

But I do have a “born to be wild” type of personality, so I soared over the California vineyards with my husband and dear friends and conquered my own fear (a slight problem with vertigo) by holding onto the basket railings and poles in what I perceived to be a nonchalant stance.  I was feeling pretty sure of myself until almost near the end when the pilot announced that we had drifted slightly off course, but he wasn’t allowed to land in any of the vineyards below:

BALLOON PILOT:  “Aw folks—it looks as if we’ve going to have to land on that knoll straight ahead, and it is going to be a rough landing.  Brace yourselves—bend your knees, lean to the left pushing your body into the side of the balloon, grab the rope rings, and hang onto them for dear life!”

The four passengers (my husband, my two newly married friends, and I) tried to look as cool as cucumbers as we crouched below the sight lines of the basket.  But as I sank below the rails, I caught a glimpse of their faces and I swear I could tell what they were thinking:

SHORT FEMALE FRIEND:   (“Eleanor Roosevelt:  you didn’t know what the hell you were talking about, and I even used your useless quote in a business conference to encourage women to be fearless.  It looks as if we’re headed for a crash landing, which means if we survive it, we’re all going to roll down the hill like four Jack and Jills summarily breaking our crowns.  Jesus, Mary, Mother of God—help!”)

FEMALE FRIEND’S TALL HUSBAND:  (“Maybe if we jump from this height, we’ll only break a leg or two!!!”)

BALLOON PILOT (out loud as if able to read our minds):  “Don’t even think about jumping or it will throw off the balance of the balloon and whoever doesn’t make the jump will go shooting straight up in the air and really drift off course.  Now, stop fidgeting, and do exactly what I told you to do!”

WW:     (“Oh, God:  This was my idea as an anniversary fun event, and now we’re all going to die?  Well, that’s awfully rude!”)

As for me, I went all Edvard Munch in my head and stayed that way until we landed:

The Scream

“The Scream” by Edvard Munch

Upon survival of our balloon ride, I think there is a coda that should be added to Eleanor Roosevelt’s epigraph:  “Do something that scares you every day, but regularly live your sorry-ass life to the fullest because on any given day it truly may be your last.”

I can’t remember if I was scared when the pilot finally landed our craft, but I just remember thinking that this didn’t feel like the day I would die.  We all landed without a scratch (albeit a little lopsided) due to the expert steering of our pilot, and other than the inability to climb out of the basket due to my short height and cumbersome ass (so much for my tall friend’s concept of me jumping out of a hot-air balloon in mid-air), it was quite the adventure. (IMP. NOTE:  Our pilot was a Baby-boomer with a quarter century of flying experience, and like “Sully” Sullenberger, who safely landed his plane in the Hudson River without losing a passenger, you really want the old dudes to be your pilots when you’re going down and it’s not your time to meet your Maker—this guy really kicked ass!)

But isn’t THIS ironic:  At one of the wineries the next day, I wore platform shoes (inappropriate for the events of the day, but since I was being transported by a limo, I felt I could risk dressing like a diva), and I slipped and fell on the level ground of gravel, bloodied my left leg something fierce (ruined my to-die-for-outfit), and I can hardly walk today.  It just goes to show you, that we all are going to die someday, and it could be on scary high heels or some scary-ass adventure, but since God only knows the date and time, we might as well chill and just reach for our dreams doing whatever it is that rings our bells!

Prat falls

I am discovering the reason I like Macklemore and Ryan Lewis so much is not because I’m trying to “act young” or “hip” as I used to say in my youth—it is because they inspire me as an artist—no matter what the age.  I love Ben Haggerty’s (Macklemore) backstory:

“All of their success has come in just a few months, and all of it is on their own.  They have no record label and no agents—just Haggerty, Ryan Lewis and a dream.”—ABC Nightline

Their soul-searching lyrics have become an “overnight” sensation which took 14 years of hard work and their big-tent hearts launched the career of 51-year-old Seattle-born Wanz (Michael Wansley) who had given up on ever having a career as a singer.   He had a dead-end job at Microsoft before recording one of the most memorable “Barry White-like” hooks ever:

“I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket / I-I-I’m hunting, looking for a come-up / This is fu-cking awe-soommme…”—Hook from Thrift Shop/Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

There is nothing wrong with working for Microsoft until one retires, unless you have hopes that bypass a corporate ceiling, you know in your heart of hearts that you ain’t never gonna be that old, and “you can put your hands up like the ceiling can’t hold you” to reach for your dreams and keep doing so until you’re dead!  As a Baby-boomer, I refuse to have my best years having happened in my youth only.  The good times are ahead of me, today, tomorrow, and any day after that (God willing).  I just have to stop wearing inappropriate shoes on my adventures setting me up for classic pratfalls on level ground that everyone on Earth and in the Heavens are laughing their asses over.   Grrr!

Getting Old Maxine

Cartoon by: John Wagner (“Maxine”)

“But I’m kind of comfortable with getting older because it’s better than the other option, which is being dead. So I’ll take getting older.”—George Clooney

 “Nevertheless, I can tell you that you will awake someday to find that your life has rushed by at a speed at once impossible and cruel. The most intense moments will seem to have occurred only yesterday and nothing will have erased the pain and pleasure, the impossible intensity of love and its dog-leaping happiness, the bleak blackness of passions unrequited, or unexpressed, or unresolved.”― Meg Rosoff, What I Was

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intentions of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to slide in broad-side, thoroughly used up—totally worn out—and loudly proclaiming:  ‘Wow, what  a ride!’”—Mark Frost

Baby Boomers grow old Horsey

Cartoon by: David Horsey

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


Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Uncategorized


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False Identity

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

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

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

Baby Boy Trying Identities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pumbaa quotesworthrepeating dot com

Pumbaa from “The Lion King”/Disney

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

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

Kid turned weird

Calvin and Hobbes | Cartoonist Bill Watterson

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

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

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

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

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

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

CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch

Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch

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

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

Are you talking to me God sign

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

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

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

Teach Our Daughters Blog


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

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

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



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


Posted by on May 16, 2013 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?

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


“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.


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

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”||image from

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

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

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

“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?”)

“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 or “like” Mark at


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


Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


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How Then Shall We Live?

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  I have to believe in a God because I am obsessed with the concept of chaos emerging out of nowhere and steam-rolling my life—“Cheese and Rice”!  On any given day, something that you couldn’t possibly know about can come out of the blue, bite you in the ass, and take you out.  If I didn’t believe in God, I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning (unless there were bed bugs and there is nothing I hate worse than bed bugs except roaches, rats, serial killers, and pedophiles).

I’m not an End Times nut, nor am I a conspiracy theorist, but if you’ve ever taken a gander at Revelation in the Bible (from which many a fantasy tale has been woven through the millennium), you’ve got to admit that those Four Horses of the Apocalypse (white, red, black, and pale) who wreak havoc on the Earth through conquest (people stealing your shit), war (people waging mayhem on you and your countrymen’s asses and stealing all y’all shit), famine (people starving you to death because of mismanagement—just ask Africa—and stealing the shit you were going to eat), and death (from diseases both known and unknown to random crap and planned attacks, and then fighting over your shit when you’re gone).

Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnetsov—Painted in 1887||Wikipedia Image


First, you’ve got your phobiashomichlophobia (fear of fog); chronophobia (fear of time); homophobia (fear of the gays—see Westboro Baptist Church for full-blown phobia on crack); socerophobia (fear of in-laws—if you had met my mother-in-law, you’d understand why this fear exists);

Engagement proposal card||

. . . triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number thirteen); metrophobia (fear of poetry, sorry M. Angelou and e.e. cummings); hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia (fear of long words); agoraphobia (fear of the “market place” or crowds); aquaphobia (fear of water); vasovagal syncope (fear of sight of blood); claustrophobia (fear of tight spaces); anuptaphobia (fear of staying single); acrophobia (fear of heights); pantophobia (fear of everything!) just to name a few out of a list that goes on and on until Jesus comes back!

Healthtips from

And then if you haven’t had a stroke from the fear of your phobias, you’ve got your diseases: Necrotizing Fasciitis (fleshing-eating disease caused by bacteria getting into a cut or wound from brackish water, dirt, or body fluids—probably the mother of MRSA, but don’t quote me); Progeria (rapid and premature aging in children); Acanthamoeba keratitis (common amoeba found in tap water that invades the cornea and can cause blindness and is excruciatingly painful); Paralytic Shellfish Poison (PSP) (found in the tissue of some shellfish—death can occur within 30 minutes); and Candiru fish—aka, “the penis fish” (you must live near the Amazon River and swim in it if you’re human, pee in the water, where a translucent tiny fish will follow the stream of urine that will lodge in your penis and grow up to six inches long while feeding on your blood—moral of the story: never, ever pee in a body of water again, you nasty boys!); and Prion Disease (transmissible spongiform encephalopathy) which can hit us in one or two forms, just to name a few of the gazillion diseases on the Earth:

  • Fatal familial insomnia (genetic condition in which you will never fall asleep again—EVER!)
  • Kuru (disease from eating the flesh of another human—extremely rare unless you are a cannibal, so you should be good to go)*

If we can manage to pull yourself out of bed after these revelations, then we’ve got our animals gone wild and opening up a can of whup ass on us when we least expect it (Google “Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin killed by Stingray”).  Oh sure, they look all cute and cuddly when they are babies:

Baby Platypus||M. Mentry Photo||

“The baby platypus (platypi?) are adorable when they are little but the male platypus has venom strong enough to kill a small dog, or cause excruciating pain and leave humans writhing in pain for months.  The platypus is Mother Nature’s way of saying, ‘I made this thing out of spare parts I found on the workshop floor, and it can still fucking cripple you.’”—The 6 Cutest Animals That Can Still Destroy You |

I always thought baby hippos were so cute and harmless—too fat to do anything but eat and float about.  Baby-girl, my younger daughter, has had an inordinate fear of hippos since she was a baby, which didn’t make any sense because we live in the Northeastern part of the US and hippos generally hang tough in Africa.  She hated them from the first moment she laid eyes on them at the zoo and I have since learned why the “instinctual” repulsion.

Author’s perspective of a hippo’s non-violent life||pinned by Yvette Thorne on Pinterest

. . . And then just when I was contemplating a trip to Africa, I saw this video and I “got the joke” that Baby-girl had known all along—hippos are some angry sons-of-a-bitches:

Photo of YouTube video—“pissed-off hippo chasing a park ranger”|Google Image

“It turns out in the real world, hippos fucking kill people.” ”—The 6 Cutest Animals That Can Still Destroy You

Sigh!  And so, burdened with my life teetering on an apocalyptic precipice, and fearing injury and death from every corner, I went to Liberty University last weekend to support the graduation of someone near and dear to me.  Not having totally made up my mind about the fiber of one Mitt Romney to be the leader of the free world (I have Mormon friends who are the salt of the Earth and who we would be well-suited to be leaders in our government, so I don’t have “Mormonphobia”), I was hoping to take a measurement of Mitt’s character.  I went to the graduation hoping Mr. Romney would prove his critics wrong and throw me a freakin’ bone out of his Mormon heritage and roots to give me and the thousands of graduates some encouragement or revelation about “getting over” on this scary planet of conquest, war, famine, and death.  Ol’ Mitt followed the octogenarian CEO of Chick-fil-A who had brought down the house with a one-line homily:  “I decided long ago that a good name was better to have than riches.”  All Mitty-boy needed to show me was that he could at least match the chicken guy’s compassion for his community—a man who never went to college (S. Truett Cathy) but who has managed to provide 125 local students with college scholarships and sponsored and built fourteen foster homes in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Brazil.  Hell, Mitt just had to show me he had a human heart and not the core of a robot underneath his commencement gown.

Well, I’m here to officially announce that Mitt gave a gift to the audience—thousands of graduates and I left the stadium with a new phobia:  mittromaphobia (fear of Mitt Romney becoming our next president).

Mitt Romney||Liberty University Commencement Speaker

 “I saw that the President and Mitt Romney both gave commencement speeches over the last few days.  Obama was like:  ‘You can be whatever you want to be,’ while Romney was like: ‘I can be whatever you want me to be.’  But actually during his commencement speech at Liberty University, Mitt Romney revealed his campaign staff loves Chick-fil-A—the other thing that he revealed is that he doesn’t know what to say in a commencement speech.”—Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon/NBC


Oh well, maybe I should give Romney the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe he has Glossophobia (the fear of public speaking)!


I am discovering that most people just want to raise their families, have enough to eat, put a roof that doesn’t leak over their heads, worship the god of their choice, live in peace with their neighbors, have a little merriment with their friends every once and awhile, live a long and fruitful life, and die a peaceful death—scary trauma and drama need not apply.  We are pretty much the same underneath when it comes to our core desires in life under our different color skin, the veils, the turbans, the pe’ot (side curls of orthodox Jewish men), the Western suits, and the Eastern saris . . . until we are overcome with fear of the unknown (“we’re all going to die!”), and then more often than not, we make the choice to succumb to the choas and add our individualized mayhem to the mix.

Happy Children &

Fear of the past (atrocities from those who hate us for no reason other than being different than they), fear of the present (attacks from those who hurt us to “get over”), and fear of the future (disastrous things of which we have no control) make us go crazy.  Reason alone fails to stand up to our own personal holocausts and reign in the phobias that overwhelming fear and hopelessness engender (sorry my Four “atheist” HorsemenHitchens, Harris, Dawkins, and Dennett).   Even though the fierceness of evil’s atrocity should make us want to sucker punch God for seemingly hanging us out to dry at times, it is only the ability to “trust” in a higher power that gives us hope beyond what we can see (faith) for another day, another generation, and another burst of “joie de vivre.”

The consummate expression of “Joie de vivre” on the face of a three-year-old||J Tomczyk Photo


“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”Mark Twain

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”—Nelson Mandela

“I shall never believe that God plays dice with the world.”—Albert Einstein

“I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details.”—Albert Einstein

“I fear one day I’ll meet God, he’ll sneeze and I won’t know what to say.”—Ronnie Shakes

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



Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Hello—You Did What?

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  Over the course of my 63 years of trying to leave my mark on this planet, I have done some really idiotic things.  When I made those dumb choices, I knew better at the time, but I just didn’t stop and think.  By God’s grace I haven’t broken anything on my body, killed anybody inadvertently, or started a gang war, but I‘ve come close to doing all three.

At the moment I’m trying to leave this planet better than the way I came in so I’m really trying to get my act together.  I’m pretty well set on not starting a gang war (limited access to fiery rhetoric and nefarious characters), or killing anybody (my kids are no longer the “you’re getting on Momma’s every last nerve” teenagers who coincided with my menopausal passage of “who in the hell turned down the air conditioner,” so I’m good on that front and we are all safe), but I’m still a little rocky on the potential of breaking something in or on my body and never, ever being able to recover from it.   I feel as if I am the Academy Award winner of things that make my husband and friends stop, scratch their heads, and exclaim:  “Now that deserves a ‘WTF?’ award!”

You know you deserve the “WTF?” award when. . .

…you insist on buying sushi from the Mexican teenager at the second-rate grocery store (“because I love it so much!”)  on a hot summer’s night, and you get parasites that take you eight months to get rid of.

Google Image/The Master

You know you deserve the “WTF?” award when. . .

…you insist on wearing death-tower heels because you can’t bring yourself to tell the truth about your height (actual height = 5ft; exaggerated height with stiletto heels = 5ft, 5in), and your chubby ass bites the dust every other month by taking a spill down any given set of stairs.

wire image

You know you deserve the “WTF?” award when. . .

…you refuse to read directions about anything (be it “how to run the new washer and dryer to how to work your new iPhone) because your arrogant attitude in life is: “How hard can this shit be!”

Clickipedia Image

Because misery loves company, I decided to do a sample study of all the other people in the world who could be nominees for the “WTF” award and out of thousands of recent candidates (it seems I’m not alone), I chose four, that in comparison, made me feel so much better about myself.  (Now you understand the fascination with reality shows—the dumber they seem, the better we feel about ourselves.)


#1.  You know you deserve the “WTF?” award when. . .

…you try to open a bank account (in Brazil!) using a fake ID with the picture of one of the world’s best known actors, Jack Nicholson (Oscar-winning star from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” ”As Good as It Gets,” and “Terms of Endearment”),

AP Image

…but you look nothing like Jack Nicholson!

AP Image


#2.  You know you deserve the “WTF?” award when. . .

…you tell your Fox News audience that The Lorax, written 40 years ago by Dr. Seuss, is a liberal “anti-industry” message.  Lou Dobbs said recently that he had “a story you won’t hear anywhere in the liberal national media . . . it involves Hollywood trying to indoctrinate our children.  The President’s liberal friends in Hollywood (are) targeting a younger demographic using animated movies to sell their agenda to children.”

Lou Dobbs, you are in the lead for the “WTF” award, especially if our children grow up to pillage and sack the Earth in the name of industry and consumerism.  Of course, you won’t have to deal with the results because you’ll be dead.  But not to worry, our children can simply go and inhabit the Moon colonies that your pal Newt Gingrich plans on building once he becomes president.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss/Wikipedia Image


#3.  You know you deserve the “WTF?” award when. . .

…you’re Disney World, the land where “when you wish upon a star; makes no difference who you are,” and you put together a fat-shaming interactive campaign for children at EPCOT (Habit Heroes) that pits “righteous” characters such as Will Power and Callie Stenics against enemies such as Snacker, Lead Bottom, and The Glutton.   In a place where all children are supposed to feel safe while their dreams come true, Disney and its partner in crime, Blue Cross/Blue Shield ambush and shame any child sporting a little “jelly,” while giving the skinny-meanies in their midst another bullying tool.  That’s after they all run the gauntlet of Disney’s advertising of “Satisfy your sweet tooth at Storybook Treats” or “Wake up with treats like freshly made funnel cakes and delicious waffle sandwiches,” as the writer Mary Elizabeth Williams so accurately illustrates in her article, “Disney’s Fat-shaming Fail.”   (Have you ever tried to get a healthy snack at Disney in between the caramel apples, pizza, ice cream, deep-fried hot dogs, French fries, fudge, giant cookies, forced-air baking bread smells, etc?)   Sheesh!  Disney, heal thy self!

Handout image via AFP – Getty Images

“You want to promote good health (Disney)? Start by looking at your own sugar and animal fat-laden menus.  And go on by respecting children of all shapes and sizes.  Because they’re the ones who trust in the mouse to see them not as Lead Bottoms and Gluttons but as princesses and pirates.  As beautiful.”  Mary Elizabeth Williams at

(Three weeks after was launched, it was taken down for maintenance and the exhibit was closed.  No word from the Mouse as to its return.)


#4.  You know you deserve the “WTF?” award when. . .

…you are Rihanna and spend $23,000 to fly your hair stylist from NY to London for a “hair emergency” because you go for a swim and a sauna and can’t get your weave untangled.

Rihanna/Google image

Matted hair/waiting on the stylist to arrive

Rihanna, you actually win this week’s “WTF” award because people in the know tell us that the weekend hair extravaganza was not an anomaly.  It has been widely reported that you spend $22,706 a week getting your hair done.  (Man, I need your hair stylist’s job, and FYI—that hair stylist saw you coming.)

Rihanna/Google Image

“The waste of money cures itself, for soon there is no more to waste.” ~M.W. Harrison

I am discovering that I am not alone in the “idiotic choices” department.   We all do stupid shit—it’s called being human—and to survive and grow from these foibles require the ability to look at the person in the mirror, humble ourselves, admit we’re acting the fool, and change our ways.  I am also discovering that to whom much is given, much is required, and corporations like Disney have to look before they leap when dealing with our children’s precious psyches, and people like Rihanna need to go on sabbatical to Somalia for three months out of every year just to get their heads (or weaves) on straight.  In any case, we all need realigning every once and awhile.

It helps when someone loves you in spite of your foibles


Thanks to Jeff Foxworthy for the hysterical concept of “You might be a Redneck if. . .” that informed this blog.

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


Posted by on March 2, 2012 in Uncategorized


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No Insignificant Choices

 (Another “Big Mama Speaks” Column)

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  The poor choices you make in your teens can derail your life into your twenties, and the poor choices you make in your twenties can kick your ass until your forties, and Lord have mercy on the poor choices made in your forties, because they may just end your life.

I wish someone had told me when I was in my late teens/early twenties to guard the gift of free will as if it were the fairy tale goose that laid the golden egg in my life.  If I had known how significant one’s choices are when I was in my junior year in college, I would have chosen differently when some ersatz Black Panther and his white SDS counterpart said, “We know we’re next door to Kent State and it’s only been two months since the Kent State Massacre, but let’s keep this protest movin’ across the country by taking over the Administration building on our campus.   Eleanor, you and the sistas are assigned to make a boat-load of fried chicken for the brothas so that we can hol’ up for a while once we’ve barricaded the doors.”  Without missing a beat I would have said, “Hell to the no, Negro, I’m going home to take a fucking nap because this could derail my scholarship and my future!”  Instead I ended up being surrounded by a SWAT team of angry white men with rifles while my bowels lost all control, and fried chicken went flying into the air and cascaded down upon the heads of my fellow revolutionaries like deep-fried hail as I threw up my arms in hysteria (“Jesus, Jesus, Lord have mercy, don’t let the po-po kill my sorry-ass”) as the police yelled:  “FREEZE!  WE WILL SHOOT TO KILL IF YOU MOVE!”

Photo by J. Tomczyk//”Big Mama Speaks” Hideout


Because I am so interested in the concept that there are no insignificant choices, this week I decided to publish my second advice column as “Big Mama,” but I’ve asked my readers to send in questions that only pertain to poor choices and how they have changed their lives or the lives of others.

Dear Big Mama:

Last year I attended an ATO fraternity party at a college in West Virginia.  One of my drunken frat brothers fired a bottle rocket out of his anus.  This action so startled me that I jumped back and fell off the deck and hurt myself.  I’ve chosen to file a lawsuit against my frat bother and my fraternity because the choice to “fire bottle rockets out of one’s anus constitutes an ‘ultrahazardous’ activity?”  Do you agree with my decision?

Signed:  My-Ass-Still-Intact

Google Image

Dear My-Ass-Still-Intact:

Boy, I don’t even know where to begin since you and the ass-rocket propeller don’t seem to have the brains you were born with!  What would possess someone to do something like that?  Whatever happened to fraternity boys lighting a fire to their farts like in The Farrelly Brothers’ Dumb and Dumber?  That was bad enough, but sticking a rocket up one’s ass?  WTF!

But Big Mama’s not here to judge.  You asked for advice, so advice I’m going to give you: fuhgetabout it!  How drunk did you have to be to fall off a deck from an ass-propelled rocket?  You’re not telling Big Mama the whole truth—I can feel it.  Don’t blame that dumb-ass fraternity brother for your inability to stand up on your own two feet.  Blame yourself for not picking more intelligent friends and a better fraternity.   ATO guys were the “animal house” even in my day.  I can’t imagine anything has changed.


Dear Fat-ass Black Mama (who would never be able to wear my clothes, thank God!):

Everybody suddenly hates me and I don’t know why.  All I did was make a choice to tell the truth about some chubby-ass singer and now everybody’s all over my ass.  My Tweeter feed has blown up with hate tweets, Anderson Cooper has put me on his RidicuList and attacked me on his show, and some writer has started a blog to boycott Chanel.  “C’est quoi cet argument foireux”?  How do I get these people off my back?  These chubby people are your kind of peeps.  Tell them to stop torturing me.  My philosophy as a designer is that “no one wants to see a curvy woman,” anyway!

Signed:  Put Upon in France—Your Majesty, Karl Lagerfeld

Google Image/Getty Images

Karl—you bleached, designer blowhard:

You know exactly why I and every other woman around the world want your head on a platter: you’re an arrogant asshole.  You verbally attacked that sweet baby, Adele, and for what?  What did she ever do to you except bless you with great music?  Who died and made you God?

I’ve never met you nor have I worn your clothes.  (You’re right; my fat ass couldn’t fit in a thing you design.)  I have worn Chanel perfume, of course.  However, I feel as if I know you, because you’ve been described as a 78-year-old shrunken prune of a “mincing pantomime dame of couture” and as “Karl, King Bitch of the catwalk.”  (I’ve met so many people like you in the theater world.)  Who are you to say that (and I quote) “the thing at the moment is Adele.  She is a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice.”  Who asked for your opinion?

I’m not callin’ off the attacks of anybody because I don’t feel sorry for you.  Everybody knows you “bat for the other team” and what “floats your boat” are slender hips and no breasts.  That’s your prerogative.  But Lago, here is a news flash:  you design for women and most of us have sizable tits and round asses.  The true beauty of a woman lies in those curvy hips you hate and those breasts you once contemptuously joked about when you said: “What does an old woman have between her breasts? Answer?  ‘A navel.’”   We were designed to sustain life, something you couldn’t do if your life depended on it.  One of those curvy women gave you life—be grateful.  I hope the women of the world hound your heroin-chic ass into the ground.  And you know what:  living well truly is the best revenge.  The six Grammys, the 95% spike in the sales of Adele’s songs, her picture on the cover of Vogue, and her response to you about being “fat” is so “priceless.”  Adele made the right choice to choose herself and her values over your misguided judgment.

NOTE TO FANS OF BIG MAMA’S ADVICE COLUMN:  Let’s Boycott Lagerfeld products until he gives a sizeable donation (I mean seven figures) to a foundation that deals with Anorexia Nervosa. 

“I’ve never wanted to look like models on the cover of magazines,” Adele told People. “I represent the majority of women and I’m very proud of that.”

“I’ve seen people where it (physical image) rules their lives, who want to be thinner or have bigger boobs, and how it wears down on them,” Adele told British Vogue. “And I don’t want that in my life. I have insecurities, of course, but I don’t hang out with anyone who points them out to me.”


P.S.  Karl, my heart towards you has softened a bit.  I don’t know if it is going to help your cause with the other Chubbies-R-Us on the planet, but I did some research about your mother and I am beginning to understand why you’re so weird:

  • “When a pre-pubescent Karl Lagerfeld informed his mother that he had been sexually molested by a man, her response was ‘It’s your own fault – look at you!’ Mama Lagerfeld apparently took the stance that Karl’s dress and demeanor encouraged such attention and stoically said no more about it.”—Shine Anthony-Dharan/Culturekiosque


Dear Big Mama:

I just heard that my picture, which was always featured in a place of honor in most black homes in the early 70’s, has been removed from your living room wall.  I’ve also heard that many of my white peeps no longer believe in the “Camelot” era of my presidency.  You are a child from that era, Big Mama.  What happened?  If I were still walking amongst you people, I’d give you all a call and find out why you no longer hold me in high esteem.  But since I passed on years ago, I need a champion to course-correct my downfall in your eyes as well as others throughout the nation.  Will you find out for me why the tide is turning?  I was the “first black president” in the hearts of the Negro before Bill Clinton ever was.  Remind your people of that.  My presidential legacy means everything to me.  Besides, I hate it when everyone doesn’t adore me.

Please advise.  Anxiously awaiting your reply.

Signed:  Jack, your favorite President until Barack

Google Image/File Photo

Dear President Kennedy:

So you’ve heard about Mimi Alford’s book, Once Upon a Secret: My Hidden Affair with JFK.  I knew you were no angel, but I had no idea that you were a “dog,” Mr. President.  I’m not thrilled with this ex-intern’s lack of conscience and/or lack of morality in the way she chose to handle this scandalous revelation and her affair with you, but you’re the one who was the President and she was only 19 years old.   Even though she didn’t accuse you of rape, from the details of her account of your sexual interaction with her, I certainly do.  And the thing that is beyond the pale is the cruel and degrading way she says you made her service other men while you watched, not to mention the drugs she says you allegedly made her take.  After the release of Ms. Alford’s book, the media rehashed a slew of information about all the women you had affairs with (10—at least one claiming to have aborted your baby) while you were challenging us to reach for nobler causes by asking “not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.”  I know what you could have done for your country and your wife:  kept your one-eyed monster in your pants.  I personally believe that a man’s character does influence his choices; and if you disrespect your wife that way, what in hell would you do to me? Your serial adultery calls into question your ability to have chosen wisely as a leader.

So that’s it—I’m over you.  I can’t speak for all the other black folks in the country, but when I was in my late teens there were only three pictures that graced the walls in all the black homes I knew:  Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., and you, Mr. President.

Your picture’s in the trash!


Photo by J. Tomczyk/Author

I am discovering that free will is a bitch.  It’s arguably our greatest gift from God, but it’s also volatile because, if not properly harnessed with self-control and humility, it runs amok and can wreak havoc that is irreparable.  The ability to choose is the impetus of our greatest ambitions and our worst holocausts.   Most, if not all of us, make unwise choices, at one time or another, which can slide into addictions through food, gambling, drugs, alcohol, shopping, video games, pornography, sex, work, exercise—just about anything that causes a physical and psychological dependence in order to cope with a life we feel we can’t handle.  On Saturday, February 18, 2012, one of our greatest talents will be laid to rest.  A lot will be said about her struggles with drugs and alcohol, and many people will be blamed for her demise.  Knowing what I know about life, Whitney didn’t die the night before the Grammys; she died the day her choices made her lose control of her actions.  No matter who else is culpable in her final demise, no one put a gun to her head to abuse drugs and alcohol—those were her choices and they were a bitch.

If we can teach our children, early on, how significant it is to guard their choices in life, we will have done them a great service.  Whitney’s decisions robbed a daughter of a mother, stole a daughter from a mother (Hell is having one’s children die before their parents do), destroyed the bonds with real friends, and cratered a once in a lifetime talent.  This is a “screamingly” teachable moment if we all remember that our free will makes us capable of choosing just about anything that can destory our destiny and our humanity, and that only by the grace of God go us all.

Whitney Houston (1963-2012)

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


Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Grit Is the Word

(Dedicated to KLT)

Do you know what I’ve discovered?  I should be writing about Valentine’s Day but I just can’t do it!  I’ve got nothing against Valentine’s Day and less against romance.  (If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I think I’ve made it pretty clear what type of relationship I have with my husband [“White and Wonderful,” a.k.a. “WW”] , and that our reoccurring theme song—even after thirty-two years of marriage—is “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye.)  It’s just that this once a year shot at force-feeding romance down our throats sort of leaves me cold.  I’m much more of a “show your love to me all year long through random acts of kindness routinely administered” kind of gal. 

So I’ll leave V-Day in the capable hands of more accomplished bloggers than I and move onto something near and dear to my heart:  TRUE GRIT!

“Research shows it’s not enough to be smart.  To get where you want to go in life, you’ll need determination, stamina, and grit.”—Lisa van Gemert (MENSA Bulletin)

The remake of “True Grit” by the Coen brothers is one of my all-time favorite movies because it deals with the fortitude and perseverance—the grit—that it takes to accomplish a seemingly impossible goal.  Grit becomes a character, in and of itself, in the movie, and it pulls the viewer into an intense journey that is both perilous and triumphant, and not without cost.

I am not a stranger to “grit” myself.  It has been my companion all my life and rode on the train that I took out of the Cleveland ghetto through the hallowed halls of my higher education and prosperous life.  I understand true grit, but I’ve never liked itIt is way too hard to acquire, and if one lives long enough, it always returns and beckons one to revisit it at another time, in another place, during another journey.


Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about grit because I’m trying to become a writer at sixty three years old, and I’m hitting some hurdles in the callous dog-eat-dog world of literary agents and publishers.  Nothing worth having comes easily—I know that—but haven’t I already paid my dues to the god of true grit in my hard-knock life?  As I pondered the definition of “grit” over and over in my mind (“perseverance and passion for long-term goals”), I thought of what it would be like to form a panel of two or three women who seem to be oozing with “grit” and ask them questions that would help me stay the course in my new adventure.

So I put about fifty names of “women with true grit who have authored at least one book” in a bowl and promised myself I’d have an imaginary discussion with the first three names that I pulled out—dead or alive—no matter how disparate.

Harriet Tubman/Google Image (public domain)

Ellen DeGeneres/Google Image

Maya Angelou/Google Image/AP Photo

ELT:  Good evening ladies.  It was so good of you to accept my invitation—especially you Mrs. Tubman. It is such an honor to meet you, and I hope heaven is treating you well.  Ellen, so good to see you—can I tell you that I love, love, love your talk show, and I think you were the bomb in Finding Nemo.   You made that movie! Dr. Angelou, you have been one of my idols for years.  I was so jealous that Oprah asked you to be her mentor before I could get a word in edgewise.  But I’m over that now because I learned from you not to be a hater.  I know you wouldn’t want me to hold a grudge against my girl Oprah.

Ladies, I’d like to present my readers with a short bio about each of you before we start our question and answer session, if that’s okay with you.

Harriet Tubman was a slave from Dorchester, Maryland who escaped the brutality of her masters by fleeing to the North as a young woman but not before being routinely beaten and hit by a heavy metal weight in the head which caused disabling seizures and headaches all of her life.  Upon arriving in Philadelphia, she hired herself out as a domestic and with the money she saved made twenty rescue trips to the South—freeing hundreds of slaves without losing one of them.   Known as “Moses” to slaves near and far, she became a prominent conductor of the Underground Railroad, an outspoken abolitionist, an advocate of women’s rights, and a scout and spy for the Union army.  Mrs. Tubman wrote her autobiography with Sarah Hopkins Bradford in 1868 which was entitled Scenes in the Life of Harriet Tubman.

Ellen DeGeneres is an Emmy-winning talk show host, comedienne, author, host of the Grammy, primetime Emmy, and Oscar awards.  Ms. DeGeneres has written three books entitled The Funny Thing Is, My Point and I do Have One, Seriously. . .I’m Kidding.

Maya Angelou, who was mute for eight years after a brutal childhood rape and living under systemic racism, grew up to become a celebrated poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist,  producer, and director.  Dr. Angelou has received over 30 honorary degrees and written over 20 books.  She has served on two presidential committees, was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.  Dr. Angelou is best known for the book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and her Pulitzer Prize nomination of her book of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie.

ELT:  Well, on that note ladies, let us begin!

How would you tell someone how to find their “calling” or their “path” in life—what they were meant to be?

Ellen:  Find out who you are and be that person. That’s what your soul was put on this Earth to be. Find that truth, live that truth and everything else will come.  Never follow anyone else’s path, unless you’re in the woods and you’re lost and you see a path; then, by all means, you should follow that path.

ELT:  All of you broke new ground as women and human beings when there were no road signs to direct you.  When did you find out that you were special?

Ellen:  I was doing stand-up at a restaurant and there was a chalkboard on the street out front. It said, ”Soup of the Day: Cream of Asparagus. Ellen DeGeneres.”

Harriet Tubman:  I had reasoned this out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death.  If I could not have one, I would have the other—for no man should take me alive.

ELT:  What was your greatest accomplishment?

Harriet Tubman:  I freed thousands of slaves, and could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves.

ELT:  How would you define success?

Maya Angelou:  Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it. . . . You can only become truly accomplished at something you love.  Don’t make money your goal.  Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”

ELT:  Did you ever fail and how did you deal with rejection?

Ellen:  I’m on the patch right now. Where it releases small dosages of approval until I no longer crave it, and then I’m gonna rip it off.

Maya Angelou:  You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise!

ELT:  What advice can you give my readers about not giving up no matter how difficult the journey?

Harriet Tubman:  If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

ELT:  Did you ever get angry with yourself about your choices or your life in general?

Ellen:  Sometimes when I am driving I get so angry at inconsiderate drivers that I want to scream at them.  But then I remember how insignificant that is, and I thank God that I have a car, and my health, and gas.  (That was phrased wrong—normally you wouldn’t say, thank God I have gas.)

Maya Angelou:  I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself.  But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself.  It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes—it is inevitable.  But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all.  So you say to people who you think you may have injured, “I’m sorry,” and then you say to yourself, “I’m sorry.”

ELT:  Has anything about your life ever really frightened you?

Ellen:  My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty.  She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the hell she is.

ELT:  Ellen, recently, a defamation group, calling themselves a “family values group” by the name of One Million Moms, tried to bully JC Penney into dropping you as a spokesperson because you’re a lesbian.   Didn’t that frighten you?  Would you explain what happened and how you dealt with that type of hate?

Ellen:  They wanted to get me fired, and I’m proud and happy to say that JC Penney stuck by their decision to make me their spokesperson, which is great news for me because I also need some new crew socks.

I usually don’t talk about stuff like this . . . but I really want to thank everyone who is supporting me.  And if you don’t know me very well. . . I want to be clear.  Here are the values that I stand for. I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values. That’s what I stand for.

ELT:  Crew socks?  Ellen, you’re too funny—even in the midst of haters trying to sabotage what you’ve rightly earned.

Ellen:  I’m glad I’m funny. I’m glad I make people happy, because that’s very important. But I’m most proud to be known as a kind person…Because kindness spreads, and the world is a little nicer out there.

(All words uttered from the mouths of my panel are exact quotes said by them at some point in time and utilized in this imaginary discussion for the illustration of “true grit.”)


I am discovering that there are human beacons in the past and present that illuminate our encumbered pathways to the fulfillment of our dreams.  They show us by example how to “get over.”  We just need to stop, listen, learn, and never, ever, ever, ever give up!


Fred Astaire/Google Image

At Fred Astaire’s first screen test, he received this verdict from studio executives: “Can’t act, can’t sing. Balding.  Can dance a little.”

Fred Astaire was an “American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer, and actor.  His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films.  He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute.  (Wikipedia)

Astaire’s immensely popular dancing style appeared relaxed, light, effortless, and largely improvised.  In reality, he was a hard-working perfectionist who tirelessly rehearsed routines for hours on end. (


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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Uncategorized


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