Date Archives July 2013

Doh!

Sorry readers!  That last post wasn’t a post. In my post-Blogher catchup frenzy (which is entirely different than a ketchup frenzy) I jotted down a few notes for a future post … and then I hit “publish” instead of “save.” Oy.

So if you got a weird email from me, ignore that shit.

Carry on. Nothing to see here.

 

 

I’m not here

I’m not here right now.

Why? Because I’m headed to Chicago for Blogher 13! It’s bound to be a shit show (at least, it will be if it’s anything like last year).

Follow me on Twitter @singlemommaTSJ or on my Facebook  page to get my live updates. I’m scared for myself already.

Smell ya later, peeps!

 

 

Saturday Morning Gratitude

This morning I am thankful for all the complicated beauty that comes along with having people in my life, letting people into my heart and saying yes! when people invite me into theirs.

Specific gratitude today for:

My friend Maria. It’s her birthday. When I first met her, more than 23 birthdays ago, we sorta hated each other. I was like, “HEY WORLD! ARE THOSE YOUR BALLS? WELL THEY’RE MINE NOW!” Maria did not find my brashness charming. I thought she needed to come out of her shell and spent countless hours lecturing her about how and why she should also grab a handful of world balls. Oddly enough, she did not find that charming either.

Many fights ensued. Loud ones, but more often than that, quiet ones where I imagine Maria wished my death with a manner of creative brutality that I’m sure would’ve both impressed and terrified me had I known what she was thinking.

But at the core, Maria and I resonated with each other. We were both always asking big questions. We both appreciated creativity, artistry, black humor, and people who colored outside of the lines. We just moved through the world in different ways.

When Maria got pregnant while we were still in college, she asked me to be her Lamaze coach. Looking back, I was an unlikely choice. But I drove home from college every week to take classes with her and then I was there when her son was born on Thanksgiving Day.

Since then, we have an unbreakable bond. Maria is 1/3 of my Life Advisory Board, the three friends who know every wonderful and horrible thing about me.

I am blessed, blessed, blessed to have this woman in my life. She has enriched my existence on this planet in ways I can’t even put words to. So thanks, Power That Be, for another year with my amazing friend.

—–

Another friend is going through some complicated grief. I haven’t seen her face in years. We weren’t great friends back when we were in each other’s orbits five days a week. But somehow we’ve bonded over the years. Our communications are brief, but often soul baring. I’m hurting for her today, but I’m extremely honored that she would reach out and let me bear witness to some of her story.

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I’m going to visit my uncle — my godfather — in the hospital today. He’s had a precarious week. My cousins, who are practically brother and sister to me, have spent a long and awful week schlepping back and forth to the hospital, doing lots of worrying and lots and lots of waiting. Thankfully, my uncle is doing well at the moment and hopefully the worst is past.

This uncle is my dad’s brother. My dad has been gone a while but I can still see traces of him in my uncle. I can remember my childhood, when things were secure, the family was solid, and I had a sense of where I fit in the world, in the shadow of these powerful grownups.

Earlier this week I had a dream that I was in my grandparents’ kitchen. Although I didn’t see them, I knew my dad and my grandmother (who passed years ago)  were there. I felt like they were telling me, “Hey Trish. We know what’s going on. We got this. We’re on it.”

So if that’s what they were trying to tell me, let me just say thanks Dad. Thanks Grandma Sammer. I appreciate the visit. Thanks for looking out for Uncle Bill.

 

Ask Trish: When do I trust my gut?

It’s time for Ask Trish! But first, THANKS for your questions. I actually have a bit of a queue at the moment. How cool are you people? (Answer: Super cool.)

This week’s question is a follow-up from last week’s dating question. As a little update, our doubting dating diva from last week has reported that she’s doing the online dating thing and may even have a date coming up soon! Momma is so proud of her little chick!

But now our darling girl has another question. Let’s get to it.

READER QUESTION:

Is it OK to just read a profile and go with the gut instinct that says no?

TRISH’S IFW (Infinite Fucking Wisdom):

I asked myself the same thing when I first got into online dating. I thought I should give everyone the benefit of the doubt at first. But now I don’t bother. I don’t think you should either.

Why? Your time is valuable. Online dating can be fast and furious. This isn’t Antiques Roadshow, where you might accidentally throw away a guy who’s secretly a real-life Disney prince. You need a sorting mechanism here. If your gut is saying no, listen to it.

I used to reply to everyone’s emails. If I thought they were an obvious no but still in the category of “normal human being,” I would send something like this:

Thanks so much for your message. While you seem like a very nice guy, I think [FILL IN THE BLANK].

The blank could be:

  • we just live too far apart.
  • our political leanings are too far apart.
  • we don’t have enough in common.

 

And then you know what would happen? About 1/3 of the guys would send a rebuttal. So now? Fuck that. I just don’t reply if I’m not interested.

But what about those guys who seem OK but something is just turning you off? For me, it’s usually the “nice guys.” Their profiles read like this:
I’m a nice guy looking for a nice girl. I have a good job and I’ll treat you like a lady. I like to go to restaurants and to the movies. I grill a mean steak and I love watching the Phils. 

All the boys like their beef with a side of anger, apparently.

Then there are the guys who have similar political leanings to yours, compatible media consumption, good jobs, interesting hobbies … but still. Something just feels wrong. Maybe you’re just being judgey. Maybe you’re not giving him a chance. Maybe you’re not that great either and you should wait to decide about this person until you’ve actually, I don’t know, met him?

Well, I’ve gone out with some those almost-but-not-quite guys. And you know what? I have never, ever, ever changed my mind once I was out with any of them.

 

The sniff test

Here’s another sorting mechanism I use. I ask myself if I would want to wear perfume on a date with guy in question. I discovered this little test on my way out the door for a first date last winter. I wasn’t excited about the man at all but we seemed to have plenty in common so I decided to give it a shot. As I left my room, I was going to grab the perfume but then I decided not to. I realized that I didn’t want to invite contact with this guy.

So now I always employ the sniff test before accepting a date.

 

Check yo’self

However, I have one caution for you: Listening to your gut is fine, but listening to your fears and insecurities is not. Dating requires leaving the house. Double-check yourself from time to time so you know where your no’s are coming from. Keep in mind, in the beginning it’s not a bad idea to say yes a little more than no so you can build your dating confidence. It takes practice.

Good luck and keep me posted!
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Ask Trish will be on hiatus next week while I attend the Blogher Conference in Chicago. However, if you have questions that you’d like answered after that, send them to me at trishsammerjohnston@gmail.com. I’ll answer questions on any topic.

I’m glad I’m not black

My regular Thursday “Ask Trisk” feature will be up later today. I just had to post this first. 

I’m glad I’m not black.

Why? One reason: If I were, then my little four-year old son would grow into a black teenage boy someday. Being a black teenage boy in this country has to be a tough gig.

For Trayvon Martin, it was fatal.

It was for  Jordan Davis, too. Have you heard of him? I just did this morning, in this excellent article on Trayvon Martin, the NRA, and racial profiling. It’s an uncomfortable read, for sure, but worth your time. (Thanks to Liz Gumbinner at Mom-101 for writing about it.)

Jordan Davis
Jordan Davis

Jordan Davis was in an SUV with some friends in a gas station parking lot in Jacksonville, FL. Michael Dunn, a 46 year-old white man, pulled in next to them. Dunn asked the teenagers to turn down their music. They didn’t. Dunn felt they were getting mouthy with him. Threatening, even. And, wait! Did those kids have a gun in the car? They probably did. Or at least Dunn felt he had reason to think so. So he did what any good, permitted gun owner in the State of Florida has the legal right to do when faced with black teenagers who were “threatening” him by not following his instructions: He pulled his gun out of the glove compartment and shot into the SUV. Davis was killed. He was 17.

Yes. “Stand your ground” is part of Dunn’s defense. More on this here.

 

You know what would solve this? MORE GUNS!

Or not.

You all know I’m no proponent of the MORE GUNS! solution to any problem. The Trayvon Martin case is a huge example of why armed “citizen soldiers” is a bad idea. Jordan Davis is another.

I’d like to believe that in their hearts, most people are good. But you know what? That doesn’t mean they aren’t stupid. Or wrong. Or racist.

I’ve said it before but I guess I’ll say it again:

Let’s get rid of the idea that there will be a cadre of well-trained, virtuous superheroes living among us who will jump in and save the day when danger strikes. Not everyone is super smart, super skilled, or super heroic. Giving more people guns is a recipe for more Trayvon Martin situations, where some overblown supposed “good guy” takes matters into his own hands, makes a bad assumption, and innocent people get killed.

Think of who you’re saying should have guns:

The dude who can’t manage to drive through a four-way stop sign without hosing up traffic.

The lady who still tries to pay with checks at the grocery store.

Your idiot coworker who always manages to explode his lunch in the microwave and then doesn’t clean it up.

All the people whose photos appear on the “People of Wal-Mart” Facebook page.

And … black teenage boys. (Just imagine if Davis or any of his friends had a gun that night. Imagine.)

 

Cold comfort

Surprise, surprise: I’m not as anti-gun as you think.

But you know what I am? White. And so are my kids. Being white didn’t save those kids and their teachers in Sandy Hook. I realize that. But at least I know my kids probably aren’t going to get murdered for playing loud music in a car or for simply walking in a suburban neighborhood.

If I were black, though … I wouldn’t know that. And I would have no idea how to send my kids out in the world, or what to tell them about how to stay safe when some people would automatically assume that they were up to no good. What a message to have to raise your child with.

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The day I almost put my child in a dumpster

So who else went dumpster diving last weekend?

Saturday was one of those high-intensity parenting days where the kids fought all day — loudly and with much enthusiasm — at home and in public. Mommy (that’s me) had no patience left. Mommy (again, me) had already texted this message to another mom who was bringing her son over for a playdate that evening: There is no beer in my house but if you would like to bring some I wouldn’t complain.

She was all over that. Bless her.

While the boys were happily taking out every toy we own and playdate mom was making a beer run, my already supremely shitty day took a dive. Yes, right into the dumpster. I’d sent Megan out to toss two small trash bags into the trash chute. I had also given her my keys so she could grab the mail while she was over there. (I know. You’re all putting this together already. You’re so smart.)

Yes. Less than a minute later I heard the front door slam, followed by the sound of Megan’s voice yelling, “MOMMY! I ACCIDENTALLY THREW YOUR KEYS INTO THE DUMPSTER! IT WAS AN ACCIDENT! I’M SO SO SORRY!!!”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen her eyes so wide (except for when the ghost spoke to her).

“Boys. Shoes on. Now,” I said as I looked around for a giant claw, like in those arcade machines, with which I could reach into the dumpster chute to retrieve my keys. Oddly enough, I couldn’t find one. Instead I grabbed a flashlight, a shovel and a broom. It felt like I should go with tools of some sort.

Megan apologized a hundred times on the way to the dumpster. “It’s not your fault. You know I don’t get mad when accidents happen,” I said. But I sounded pretty fucking mad. It’s a lot easier to pull off that line when someone spills lemonade on the living room rug.

I have spare house keys and car keys, but the car key — being a “smart key” — costs $300 to replace and it takes about a week to get a new one. (I’m devoted to my Prius but they sort of ass-rape you on that whole “cost of ownership” thing).

It's the key that costs a gajillion times more than a regular key!
It’s the key that costs a gajillion times more than a regular key!

 

I didn’t want to be down to just one car key. What if something happened to that one? What if that key got lost or tossed? Then we’d all starve to death and probably be eaten by polar bears. I had to protect my children. I knew what I had to do.

So I hurled my daughter into the trash chute and made her get the keys since she friggin’ threw them in there in the first place. (Kidding.) Rather, I hoisted her up to see if she could spot the keys while I held on to her.

dumpster2

 

They were on top of a bag, juuuuuust at the bottom of the sliding board thing that propels your junk to the dumpster floor. They were  out of my reach by a couple of inches. The shovel and broom seemed clumsy and useless — and likely to knock the keys further into the trashy abyss. I silently lamented my lack of an arcade claw and made a mental note to look for one on eBay.

“Who’s going to get the keys?” Megan asked with a panicked look on her face.

I did hyperfast calculation. I could boost her up, hang on to her, and with a long reach she could grab them and we’d be outta there in two seconds.

“I think you are,” I said.

“WHAT? MOMMY! I don’t want to go into the dumpster!!! I won’t do it!! You can’t make me!!!” If there exists a book of random and incriminating out-of-context quotes, certainly that one should be included.

Let’s remember that this day had easily been in the Top 5 of Worst Parenting Days of 2013. This kid had pushed my buttons the entire day. She had cycled through every crazy hormonal personality available to young girls and each of those personalities came with a heavy dose of attitude and hatred for her mother. My fuse was not only short, it was gone. I channeled my own bitchy little preteen and blurted out, “Why not? You threw them in there.”

No, not a “win” in the mommy column.

And then my brain slowed down for a minute. In addition to writing about employment law for work, I also write a lot about industrial safety. I have penned many stories about people killing themselves in really stupid ways. (My favorite is the guy who got high before going in to feed the bears at the bear preserve. A classic.) So I couldn’t ignore the fact that while the dumpster chute seemed pretty sturdy and safe enough, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. What I did know was that there was a compactor switch somewhere. I’ve seen the maintenance guys use a key to turn it on, but how did I know there wasn’t an internal trigger someplace? Also, what if she panicked (a big possibility) and slipped into the trash pile and landed on something sharp or disease-ridden? I would never forgive myself.

I could just imagine the maintenance manager, who knows me pretty well after all my years here, visiting us in the hospital and going, “Trish, what on earth made you think sticking your kid in the dumpster was a good idea?”

Also? If I drove by and saw one of my neighbors sticking their kid into the trash chute, I’d be all like, “Way to go, brainiac! I’ll be sure to nominate you for Parent of the Year, asshole.”

So it had to be me. I left Megan to stand guard and make sure no one else threw trash into the chute while I went home to get a stool. By this time, playdate mom was back from her beer run. “What happened?” she asked.

“Can you come spot me while I climb into the trash chute?” I asked.

dumpster1

I hoisted myself into the grody, trash-caked chute. I sat down and leaned far. Then you know what I did? I nabbed those mothereffing keys and jumped outta there.

Then playdate mom and I went back to my house and drank beer in the kitchen like a couple of heroes.

(If and when you ever come here I don’t want to hear any crap about how the trash chute is really short and not scary.)

Later Megan said, “You know when you said you weren’t mad? You seemed pretty mad.” Bright kid, that one.

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