Don’t Drive Angry

Phil Connors: It's just still once a year, isn't it?

Thanks to my inability to comprehend even the most basic math, the end of each year in publication has ended in May, National Foster Care Month. I can’t remember exactly why it worked out this way. I think I wanted to start this thing in May. Maybe I fell behind, should have read the signs, I’d be late about a half dozen times since. Maybe I thought ending on the high note of Foster Care Month would give me a rush of adrenaline that would push me onto the next year…who are we kiddin? I didn’t think this thing would last a year. Here we are at the end of Volume 6. Even my poor math skills tell me I’ve been doing this for 6 straight years. Can that be right? Have I managed to stay afloat with minimal advertising for six whole years? Wow. I’m gonna need a second.

My life has become a lot like Phil Connors’ life in Groundhog Day. No regrets, but this is a pretty redundant life. Though, I am more night eccentric, so maybe Groundhog Night?

Each night after I put my kids to bed (there are three of them), I grab a quick two-hour nap and gear up for the overnight. Necessary tools for this job include (refrain from judgement, I bring you the news); 1 2-liter bottle of Pepsi, 1 pack of Newport cigarettes (I asked you not to judge), 1 working television, 2,013 DVDs at my disposal, 5 hours of silence, 1 set of headphones and 1 laptop. First comes the half hour long email and Facebook message checks. After that has been satisfied, it’s an hour plus of foster care news reading. This is general where I give my eyes and ADHD a break, escaping into whatever is on the TV. Guilt snaps me back to reality as I begin to tool around with magazine layout. This step assumes that I’ve collected all the needed content and art for the issue.

The layout process is a constant circle of changes and adjustments. I start it all out the same each month; blank canvas. I’m old school when it comes to layout. I use the same old program I used through high school, college and my entire professional career. I’m one of a few that still use it. I’m a loyal person. My soda, my smokes, my taste in music have all been the same since I was about 13…you’re judging again. Anyway, blank canvas. I update my pages and throw the article on the pages willy nilly. I write. I come back and layout a column. I write. I layout a feature section, throw in an ad or two. I write. This process continues nightly until there’s nothing left to do but write this column and whatever other feature I’ve backed myself into.

For 6 years, this has been my life. It’s got an origin story too! Some of my favorite movies are origin stories. This one is decent. This wacky schedule began for two reasons; necessity and genetics. My Mom, who has never been discussed in the magazine, was an insomniac. I am an insomniac with exasperated mental health issues. Exhaustion is the only reason I sleep after midnight and it’s a rarity. That’s the genetics. The necessity came in the very beginning of the magazine. Back then, I was working as a salesman at a car dealership. I was very good. So good, in fact, that my employer allowed me to work on the magazine between customers so that I would continue to sell cars for them. The days were 11 hours long. I’d come home, play with the kids, talk to my wife and grab that quick nap we talked about earlier. Inevitably, I’d be awake a few hours later, toiling away on my blossoming publication. This went on for about 2 years. The magazine became a bit profitable and a lot more to deal with so I left the car lot. Maybe that wasn’t as cool an origin story as I thought.

For 6 years, it has been more honor and privilege to live this life as an awkward night owl bringing you as much foster care news and information as I can. It hasn’t been easy. There have been a lot of lean times. I’ve started to joke that I began the magazine because I was sick of money. In all honesty, I’ve managed to keep this thing alive thanks to subscribers like you and a small handful of advertisers. I thought once I established a following, the advertisers would come. That hasn’t been the case. I haven’t cracked the code to sell advertising to an industry that only has ever advertised in conference brochures that get tossed away a few hours after the conference’s conclusion.

For this reason, I will be taking the next two weeks to hunt advertisers as hard as I can. The hope is I will find enough to have a successful Year 7. If I can’t (oh, I will), it has been an honor to serve you for 6 years. I hope to see you next month. Enjoy the issue and thank you for your support.