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VINEGAR VALENTINE CARDS

Do you know what I discovered the other day?  Valentine’s Day is on its way! And depending on whether you have someone special in your life at the present time, V-Day can be a bitch, which is really a shame.  We need as many expressions of love as we can get our hands on in this day and age.

So many people absolutely loathe Valentine’s Day.  Many comedy routines have been written about the single man who breaks up with a woman in January—so as to avoid Valentine’s Day and the expectations of everything from a dozen roses to an engagement ring—and resumes his booty calls in March, if his boo hasn’t murdered him in the interim.

Side Chick Valentine Meme

I’ve been there.  In my youth I had many a “butt-ugly cry” Valentine’s Day moment because some “jabroni” ghosted on me because of that forced romantic day coordinated by the card, chocolate, and flower industry (“But, I thought he loved me, boo-hoo…”).  Or worse, there was no man within a million miles of me that cared if I lived or died.  Consequently, I feel about Valentine’s Day like I feel about Mother’s Day:  love and respect me every single freakin’ day of the year, and we’ll be good for the count on the V-Day and the M-Day.

Of course, in the interest of full disclosure, I have been married to one of the most romantic men in the world for the past 39 years, and my Boo tends to knock it out of the park on Valentine’s Day.  I’m not gonna lie:  it does feel good after all those years of living in a loveless desert.  But he also fulfills my primary wish of making my everyday loving worth the journey.  Valentine’s Day is just the cherry on top.  I guess what I’m sayin’ is that this giant manipulative day should not break or make a relationship—it is the daily issues of the heart that count.

Calvin Hobbes V day Waterson

Cartoonist:  Bill Waterson/Universal Uclick

 

As I began to muse over the pros and cons of Valentine’s Day, I decided to check out its history.  Turns out, this whole thing started out as an ancient fertility festival thousands of years ago.  It was called the Festival of Lupercalia.  If one were fortunate or misfortunate enough (especially if you were a woman) to be living during that time, to celebrate this fertility mash-up, men would strip themselves naked, kill a bunch of goats, pull a single woman’s name out of a gourd and commence to whipping the shit out of said woman with the remains of a bloody goat.  No word on how many woman hooked up with these “dreamy” men or how many children were born as a result of the bloody goat S&M chase.  (Personally, I would have become a lesbian on the spot—right there in the middle of the first bloody-goat whip:  “Yo, yo, yo, people, I’m battin’ for the other team!”.) But when the Catholic Church took a gander at this pagan ritual of “love” a century later, Pope Gelasius I decided that this nastiness could use a bit of dry cleaning for the “modern world” of the 15th Century.  The Pope reached back into the Third century and pulled up not one but two martyrs by the name of Valentine who had been beheaded by Claudius II.  Viola!  Bloody goat festival was now out and St. Valentine’s Day (honoring two Christian saints) was now in!  Ain’t life grand?

The info about how a fertility festival got turned into Valentine’s Day was so fascinating, I decided to check out the history of Valentine’s cards since this is an American ritual from kindergarten to the nursing home. (Remember purchasing enough Valentine cards for every child in your kid’s elementary school class?  Or even worse—in the teen years—when every kid in the class received a Valentine card except your kid?  At that point, I usually wanted to kill somebody and bring down a pox on all their houses.) Did you know that 18.2 billion dollars was spent on Valentine accoutrement last year and 1 billion of that total was on V-Day cards?  Holy Moly!  Who’s buying all these cards?  According to the Greeting Card Association, 85% of V-Day cards are purchased by women.

You get a card meme

I must confess that I’ve spent hours over the course of my lifetime looking for the “perfect” Valentine’s Day card—wanting to express that perfect sentimental, gushy statement. But, like most things, V-Day cards weren’t always flowery profusions of love.  Between 1840 and 1930 there was a thing called “Vinegar Cards”—featuring rude, insulting poetry sent by a person’s haters to course-correct some behavior the sender thought was abhorrent in the receiver.  Like the Facebook and Twitter trolls of today, the Vinegar Cards were sent anonymously.  

Some call you, madam, a female dog,

They err, for you certainly are a whole hog;

Of your piggish charms need I say more.

When your temper is up you’re a bit of a bore.

The devil it’s said once went into the swine,

And none but he will e’er be your Valentine.

From: American Antiquarian Society in Worcester

*

OR HOW ABOUT THIS ONE…

“You’ve got a dual personality.  And nobody likes either of them!”

*

Yikes!  Some of these Vinegar Cards could get so brutal that duels between men would break out because of them.

visiting pest vinegar valentine card 1930

Sent to Ward off Uninvited Guests/c. 1930
Courtesy of Lisa Hix, “Happy Valentine’s Day: I Hate You!”

 

bondage 1910 womens suffrage

Sent to Shame Men Who Let Their Wives Join the Suffragette Movement/1910
Courtesy of Lisa Hix, “Happy Valentine’s Day: I Hate You!”

 

Come to think of it, I could use a few of these Vinegar Cards today when expressing my Valentine disgust with the current administration.  What if I sent one to Trump over his latest support of the wife beaters on his staff?

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

The fish rots from the head,

Shame on you.

Signed: #METOO

Trump and Women David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Cartoon used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

 

Or how about a Vinegar Card to the Evangelical leaders who came out in support of Trump’s support of the wife beaters in the White House:

Roses are Red,

Violets are Blue,

Are you sayin’ it’s okay to abuse women?

‘Cause that’s what Jesus would do?

Signed: Screw you!

Evangelicals Bob Englehart CagleCartoons com

Cartoon used by permission: Bob Englehart, CagleCartoons.com

 

On the other hand, spewing hatred against hatred rarely stomps out the fires of war.  So I suppose spreading a little bit of love via flowers, cards, candy, or jewelry is better than nothing.  We all have such hurting hearts, and we all could use a little love these days (actually a lot of love, if the truth be known).  So bring it on!  From my heart to your heart with love:  HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

 

Valentine Gifts Dave Granlund Politicalcartoons com

Cartoon used by permission: Dave Granlund, Politicalcartoons.com

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THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOK:  “The Fetus Chronicles:  Podcasts From my Miseducated Self” is on sale now at Amazon!

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR?  Check out her website at www.eleanortomczyk.com

 WANT TO HEAR THE AUTHOR’S LATEST INTERVIEW?  Check out the podcast interview with Leo Brown: http://breadboxmedia.podbean.com/e/what-if-it-is-true-can-you-find-faith-in-darkness/

***

Trump Valentine to Putin John Darkow PoliticalCartoons com

Cartoon used by permission: John Darkow, PoliticalCartoons.com

 

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.

REFERENCES

http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day

https://www.independent.ie/style/sex-relationships/theres-a-pretty-dark-history-behind-valentines-day-36578613.html

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1955/2/14/valentines-feature-insults-not-hearts-parsenic/

https://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/happy-valentines-day-i-hate-you/

http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/valentines-day-numbers-money-spent-flowers-candy-cards/story?id=45480956

 

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 13, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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VALENTINE’S DAY CARD KISS-OFFS!

Do you know what I discovered a long time ago about finding a decent man?   It ain’t easy, Baby! I had to kiss a lot of frogs before I found a prince and date a lot of cretins before I landed a Renaissance man. It took years, but I finally found the love of my life (WW, “White and Wonderful”).  We have fought the demons of life together for over forty years, and we’re still holding on to each other like a couple of otters.

Sweet Otters

But I almost missed him—almost missed him by a thousand miles or more because I kept giving my heart to men who didn’t deserve me. It’s as if the Cupid who “shot” me with his love arrows, that drew me to those other men, was stoned and in need of target practice. Had I not instinctively known the Maya Angelou dictate—“When someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time—I would have “settled” and summarily screwed up my life. Instead, I walked—no, I bolted—the minute they did me wrong, and I never looked back.  I didn’t wait around to see if they would change because I knew they wouldn’t.  And I kept on running until I eventually found my main man.

Cupid Screw Up

So I decided this Valentine’s holiday to send “Valentine Kiss-Off” cards (à la Jimmy Fallon’s “Thank You Notes”) to all the men I loved before, and thank them for showing me what I didn’t want in a man. When the genuine article came along in WW, there was no confusion. I recognized him as the “real deal” almost immediately because my ex-boyfriends had shown me by their behavior what a real man should look like. (My apologies to all poets living and dead—and all those yet to be born.)

*** *** ***

DEAR LYING, JIVE-TIME, SECRETLY MARRIED BOYFRIEND OF 1971

Bad Romance

You promised you loved me,

I believed you, I did.

Though you rarely showed up,

Half the times that you said.

I decided to surprise you

That summer on tour,

Drove through the night

Met yo’ mama at the door.

“My son ain’t here,”

(Vomit churnin’ in my gut)

“I thought you was a good girl

Who knew you was a slut.”

Turns out you’re married now,

(Yo’ Mama thought I knew)

I hugged and thanked her twice,

Said: “Tell your boy, we’re through.”

Happy Valentine’s Day,

You cheatin’ a-hole Ex of old

The man who loves me now

He’s a “Mensch”* made of gold.

*MENSCH: Someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous. (Rosten, Leo. 1968. The Joys of Yiddish. New York: Pocket Books. 237) Urban Dictionary

*** *** ***

DEAR ARROGANT, COLD-HEARTED, SOB BOYFRIEND OF 1969

Lose Weight Valentine Card

Damn, you was such a handsome boy!

Pardon me: a fine lookin’ man

All decked out in dress blues

Back from Viet Nam.

You knew it too, you son of a bitch

Thought you was all that and a bag of chips.

Skin the color of golden wheat

With succulent, luscious, to-die-for lips.

Dark brown eyes that had me,

Made me—drownin’ in pools of lust.

Then when you was all spent,

Your goddamn mood went bust.

You said: “You put on weight while I was gone

Yo’ ass not as fine as it used to be,

Slim it on down, Lil Chubby-ass Chunky,

If you want to be seen round town with me.”

Happy Valentine’s Day, OO-RAH!

My Ex-Marine in black and blue.

I walked out on your ass that very day,

Married a man, a gazillion times better than you.

Tells me daily how beautiful I am,

(After 40 years, I know he’s probably lyin’)

So what?—he really loves me for me

And I bless him for even tryin’. **

**I AM WHAT I AM: “I am what I am, I am my own special creation. So come take a look, give me the hook or the ovation. It’s my world that I want to take a little pride in, My world and it’s not a place I have to hide in, Life’s not worth a damn, Till you can say, ‘Hey world, I am what I am.’” –La Cage Aux Folles; Lyrics by Jerry Herman

*** *** ***

DEAR STUPID, CLUELESS, NEVER-PICKED-UP-A-BOOK-IN-YOUR-LIFE, BUT YOU KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYTHING, BOYFRIEND OF 1970

Sarah Palin Meme

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

You called me out

For not “gettin’ down with the peeps” like you.

 

Roses are red

Violets are blue,

You said I was actin’ all white with my talk

Said I read too much, too.

 

Roses are red

Violets are blue,

I dumped your stupid ass

For someone much smarter than you.

 

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

Valentine, you’re still shuckin’ and jivin’ in the ghetto.

Look at me! Traveling the world—praising God every day I got rid of you. ***

***LET NO ONE ELSE DEFINE YOU: “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”— Audre Lorde

*** *** ***

A VALENTINE WISH FOR ALL MY READERS FROM A WOMAN WHO HAS BEEN IN LOVE FOR OVER 40 YEARS WITH THE ONE THAT WAS MEANT TO BE—HERE’S THE SECRET TO LOVE:

Love someone who makes you laugh

(Anonymous Google Meme)

*** *** ***

Old Couple Farts

“Sometimes the more chances you give the more respect you lose. Your standards begin to be ignored when you let people get comfortable in knowing that another chance will always exist. They start to depend on your forgiveness. That’s why I’m no longer a slave to apologies. Treat me right the first time because I can’t guarantee you a next time (emphasis mine). It’s impossible to keep me once you’ve lost my trust. I’m not saying you have to be afraid to lose me, what I’m sayin’ is . . . I’m not afraid to walk away.” — @TrentShelton #RehabTime

“The heart that’s meant to love you will fight for you when you want to give up, pick you up when you’re feeling down, and will give their smile when it’s hard for you to find yours. They will NEVER get strength from seeing you weak, power from seeing you hurt, or joy from seeing you cry. The heart that’s meant to love you wants to see the BEST YOU, not the hurt you! Never forget that.”—@TrentShelton #RehabTime

 

WANT TO READ THE AUTHOR’S LATEST BOOK (Monsters’ Throwdown)? BUY NOW AT AMAZON!

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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.

 
17 Comments

Posted by on February 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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“Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing, Baby . . . .”

Do you know what I’ve discovered about this Valentine’s Day?  I got struck by Cupid’s arrow some 41 years ago and it was true love—go figure!   I am black, and he is white.  We met 7 years after the Supreme Court struck down the miscegenation laws across America via Loving vs Virginia.  We married 12 years after interracial marriage became legal in the United States.  (But even though the anti-miscegenation laws took effect in 1967, it took South Carolina until 1998 and Alabama until 2000 to get their acts together—and they did it by a mere 62% (SC) and 59% (AL) of the voters.)  Oh well, good thing WW (white and wonderful) and I went on about the business of building our lives and being outrageously happy without waiting for the naysayers and the racists to give us permission to love.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

WW and The Blogger loving life together when they were young

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

WW and our babes (mutual admiration society)

WW and I owe a great deal of gratitude to Mildred and Richard Loving.  God knew what he was doing when he allowed the burden of overturning the miscegenation laws in America to be placed upon their backs.  They were simple country people who had grown up together and fallen in love.  They weren’t interested in brandishing a cause—they just loved each other.   When they married in DC where interracial unions were legal, they came back to their home in Virginia to start their lives together.  I have often tried to imagine what it was like when the white sheriff and his two deputies broke into the Loving’s home in the middle of the night while they were sleeping and dragged them out of their bed and put them in separate jail cells—tormenting Mrs. Loving with the threat of rape from other prisoners.  They pled guilty to “breaking the law” and were sentenced to one year in jail, but it was suspended for 25 years if they agreed to leave Virginia and never return together— leaving behind their home, their land, their parents, their friends, and their relatives.

Richard and Mildred Loving

Mildred and Richard Loving courtesy of http://www.laprogressive.com/prop-8-jim-crow-nuremberg-and-other-unjust-laws/

The trial judge of Virginia (Judge Leon Bazile) issued the following statement when asked to reconsider his judgment against the Lovings:

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

When I read Judge Bazile’s statement, I wondered what type of marriage he had.  Was he happy?  Did he touch the soul of his wife like a deer panting after running rivers when it is with thirst?  Because, you see, WW and I have experienced that type of deep, deep love.  When I see the signs of the racists who equated the mixing of the races to communism or heralding the Anti-Christ’s reign of terror down on our country, it causes me to ponder how many of these men beat their wives, or how many of these people divorced each other, or even how many lived in cold silence as they forced themselves to simply co-exist until the end of their days?  How many of them listen for the garage door to open and feel a rush of excitement that their man or their woman has come home to them at the end of another day after 34 years?  How many of them go to dinner and never utter one word of conversation to each other because they have nothing in common?  Because you see, WW and I can’t shut up from sharing what we’ve experienced while we’ve been apart because we’re each other’s best friend and best listener.  We love many of the same things, and what we don’t love, we pretend that we do.  I wonder if the people in the picture below got marriage so perfect that they can now sit at the right hand of God and judge all others outside of their spectrum.

Race Mixing

Civil Rights Image Archives

It took the Lovings nine years to win their case to stay a married couple in Virginia.  In 1967 they prevailed and Chief Justice Warren issued this statement:

“’Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not to marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.’

The Supreme Court condemned Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law as ‘designed to maintain White supremacy.’”—Wikipedia

***

The most romantic words I’ve ever heard were from the lips of Richard Loving on the HBO special just before the Supreme Court ruling when his lawyer asked if he had any message for the judges:

“Mr. Cohen, tell the court I love my wife!”

Interracial Marriage cartoon Kevin Sters

Kevin Siers/Cartoonist:  www.charlotteobserver.com

I am discovering what I’ve always known:  I love my husband, and I can’t imagine having lived life without him.  I would be half the person I am today.  Marvin Gaye was right when he sang:  “There ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby . . .” In the beginning of our marriage, people used to stare at us all the time and occasionally make cracks about our interracial status (“hey Zebras”).  But now when people of any race stare at this old couple quickly scooting towards our 70’s, they often ask how long we’ve been married, gasp at the answer, and then ask us our secret.  We used to throw two-word one-liners at them:  “it’s communication, it’s respect, it’s laughter, it’s prayer. . .”  But now we just say it is love, and the definition is I Corinthians 13:4-8.

LOVE

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always “me first,”

Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies.

***

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY, MY LUV!

THANK YOU RICHARD AND MILDRED LOVING—I CAN HARDLY WAIT TO CHAT WITH YOU IN HEAVEN!

I love You allvoices dot com

www.wallpapermania.eu

QUOTES FOR VALENTINE’S DAY

“Love is no game! It is no flowery softness! It is hard work-a quest that never ends. It demands everything from you-especially the truth. Only then does it yield rewards. -Cupid”Rick Riordan, The House of Hades

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”—Charles M. Schulz

“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.”—Thomas Merton Author and Husband

Let us grow old together because living well is the best revenge!

More about how WW and I met in my new book, Monsters’ Throwdown at Amazon and Kindle

REFERENCES

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/us/06loving.html

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

 
26 Comments

Posted by on February 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Epic Valentine Fails

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

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

Adam and Eve Mistake garyharbo dot com

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

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

That was then:  1840

Valentine Esther Howland Design

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

Valetine Teddy Gift timesunion dot com

valentine-teddy-gift-timesunion-dot-com

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

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

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

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

Dalai Mama’s Suggestion

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

valentines catalog thong toilette dash humor dot com

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

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

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

Valentine chocolates instead cartoonstock dot com fran cartoon

Image from cartoonstock.com

Dalai Mama’s Suggestion

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

Valentine single source remember dash neverlosehope

Source:  remember-neverlosehope.com

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

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

Valentine Day Movie party scene

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

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

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

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

Valentine growing old together dave granlund cartoon

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

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

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

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

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

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2013 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!

www.pinterest.com

“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. (History.com)

******

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.

 
31 Comments

Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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