Blah, Blah, Blah and Papa Black

Sometimes I’ll make a cover for an actual cover story. Other times, I’m exploring an idea. Generally, I explore that idea in these Editor’s Notes (is it pretentious to capitalize editor’s notes? Too stuffy and formal for me, but it is a column title…anyway.).

Other magazines don’t really do it that way. The cover is meant to reflect a cover story. I’m not other magazines (that comes off sounding weird, huh? Oh, we’re doing thought bubbles in the form of parenthesis comments. Now you know. Think Scrubs. I’m J.D. in this scenario. Okay, back to it.). I spent my own money on this the first year and decided then to do things whichever way I saw fit. I gave myself permission to color outside the lines (super strange when someone from America adds a “u” to write colour, right?). And one of those choices was to not always run a cover for a specific story.

I’m artsy, folks. It’s who I am. This is my canvas. I will bring abstract visuals to my canvas when the mood strikes me. But I have reasons (foster kid thing, constantly justifying my decisions).

I love covers. Have my whole life (for real, had stacks of magazines in my room as a kid and through college. This is BEFORE Hoarders, people!). I love to make them. Love to look at them. Love when they move me. But here’s why I wander off the trail; as a Journalist (damn, that is pretentious.), you are taught to get to the point with your visuals. I’ll give you an example; Sports Illustrated covering a league strike, any league, is going to run a cover of a picket line or a face screaming in rebellion. That’s what they’re supposed to do. That’s how it’s always been. My cover would have been of an empty sports stadium as the sun sets behind it. That would move me. That would allow the art to do the work. A headline can still be in play, but it isn’t needed. Get it? (do you ever wonder if I’m sitting over here waiting for you to answer me? I’m not. That would be weird. Come on, stay on task!)

For this issue, I went kind of simple. A pocket watch. Time. My eagerness for everyone to stop talking and start doing something. Pretty direct, for me anyway. You see, I’m bored. I’m bored with all the jibber jabber (Mr. T! Found a way to work Mr. T into the mag. That only took 7 full years).

This is the last issue of the 7th year of Foster Focus. In that time, I’ve heard SO MUCH talk. My ADHD aside, I’m bored with it. The same keywords and phrases. The same (not so) hot button issues. Discussing the same damn problems while offering no workable solutions. SO BORING. All these years and only a handful of actual changes.

You can still play Qbert on the computer software our industry uses. We are antiquated. We are tired. We are oftentimes unsuccessful with our primary job of protecting America’s youth. And, depending on what political party is control, slow with money and ideas for change. Politically, they are all in agreement that protection is needed, but how much to invest and what favors need to change hands, makes for a slow-moving system (again, Qbert!). All that hard work by the advocates? Dies on the floor of whatever congressional or senate floor it finds itself (weird that you don’t have to capitalize those though, right? English is tricky.).

STOP

As I often do, I started this early in the month, got pulled away and came back to finish it. If I was pissy before (awesome thought bubbles aside), I’m Roseanne on Ambien fed up with the world now. My damn Dad died.

I made the point I wanted to make in the beginning; I’m sick of all the talk and we need to start implementing some of this rhetoric or shut up about it. But my Dad died, and I can’t think about anything else. I’m going to write about that now. I might come back sometime and get into a bit more detail about why all the talk needs to end, but for now, I want to write about my foster father, my Dad.

Here at the end of Year 7, I’m tired, I’m broke and I’m burnt out. I continue to fight the good fight, but the chips are stacked against me. One of the last motivators for doing any of this was the man I would sit across the dinner table as often as I could. Richard L. Black was/is my foster Dad. For about 25 years now, I’ve been “Chrissy” who is 15 years old. Some people take you back to a place in your life every time you see them. He was that person for me. A touchstone. I would revert to his kid whenever he was around. I wanted to make him proud. Constantly. This magazine made him proud of me. It’s one of the larger reasons I keep going.

Those talks at his table weren’t life altering, deep insights into the human psyche. They were a Dad talking to his kid about nothing in particular.

I started this with a litany of motivators. There were things I wanted to accomplish, people I wanted to prove wrong and one man I wanted to prove right. I’ve done all that now. Impressing my Dad was the last real thrill that kept me driven. He’s gone now, and I must find a new touchstone.

He was such a good dude. Maybe my new goal should be as loved as he was.

You’re going to learn all about him in this issue. I took over Mr. Villasana’s column. There you will find the eulogy I intended to read. When the moment came, I got up there and turned to Jell-O. My scoliosis kicked into hyperdrive and my legs began to shake in a way I’ve grown accustom. I have been good about keeping this part of my life behind closed doors, but there was nothing I could do. The moment consumed me. I managed to get a lot of the things I wanted to say out, but they weren’t delivered by the national speaker I’m supposed to be. So, I’m taking advantage of my other platform to right that wrong and honor a man worth honoring.

Okay. If I keep going down this road, I’m bound to fall into another one of my depression spells. Let’s talk about this great issue instead. (I apologize for being all over the place, but it is rare that I ever grieve. I’m not sure exactly how to do it.)

This issue has some great topics that I’ve had yet to touch on in the 7 years the magazine has been in circulation. The plight of the black youth in foster care is something I’ve barely scratched the surface of. Fortunately, Florence Edwards has helped correct that lack of coverage. My goal is to bring every aspect of care in front of your eyes. I don’t always do the best job of it. It takes time to cover the many offshoots of care, I hope I can get to them all.

In that vein, a trio of Southern Indiana University students reached out with a great piece about foster care’s poor attention to oral health. What a great topic to cover. It’s really well done. Lucky to have it in the magazine. There are other great articles as well, but I’ve taken up enough space with my incohesive rambling. Best I let you get to it.

Thanks for reading the magazine my Dad liked.