Bumps in the Road

My struggles continue. Not for lack of effort. If you’ve followed the magazine for any length of time you already know I work tirelessly. Stop. What a dumb word. Tirelessly. I’m exhausted as hell! How could I not be tired? Working so hard is the reason I’m tired. Dumb word. Tirelessly. Anyway.

My struggles vary depending on the time of year. This time of the year is full of uncertainty and hope. I’m uncertain of which advertisers will hang on with me into the next year. I’m uncertain where the money for print will come from. I’m uncertain that an all-digital format isn’t how I want to have a career.

Money runs out all over this time of year and it hits me hard.

But there is hope in the form of this pseudo confidence I’ve had my whole life.

I’m gonna figure it out. I’ll find the right set of words in the right order and I’ll rattle off a mess of new advertisers. I’ve been conditioned for this.

I rarely go the route of “I was a foster kid and this is why I’m different from you.”, but I think it applies here.

Time in care, homelessness, having a house burn down, these are all the things that have made me bulletproof. 18, 21, 25, 30 and 35 years of age. These are milestones that I didn’t expect to reach. Beit the environment or my own hands, I assumed something would have checked me out of this rollercoaster ride early. None of it did. I’d have thought the Ritalin in my youth or the alcohol during my time in college would have dulled my mind, sapped my motivation or creativity. It didn’t. I thought that my recklessness as a kid or my self-hatred as a teen would have been the end of me. It wasn’t.

YOU CAN’T KILL ME. And you can’t scare me either. Denzel’s role in Training Day was dark and I didn’t relate to any of it until he screamed those words in the faces of a group set to kill him. No firing squad for me, but that defiance in the face of sure death, that resonates with me.

I aged out. Bounced right back. Grabbed a GED, a place to stay and an admission to college within two weeks of being expelled just two weeks before graduation. I graduated a little behind my class and my diploma didn’t mean the same as theirs did, but I managed to get myself back on the same plane as everyone else I knew.

Then I was homeless. I slept where I could. I took the work I could get. I lived off $1.00 a day. A bag of chips and a bottle of soda (back then, that was around a buck). I lived above a dog kennel. Eventually I found an apartment the size of my present-day living room and I climbed back up to normality. After some time, I moved in with my (now wife) girlfriend. We moved to a nicer place and started a family. I managed, yet again, to be back on the same plane as everyone else I knew.

Then our house burned down. It was 4 in the morning. I woke to smoke billowing around me. I opened the bathroom door and was met with a wall of fire and smoke. When I was a kid, weekends were spent camping out with movies and snacks in the living room. My kids enjoy that same tradition. I calmly walked downstairs and quietly told my wife the house was on fire. I told the kids it was time to wake up and head to Grandma’s. I ran back upstairs with water and the hope I could contain the fire to the bathroom. I could not. I ran back down the stairs to make sure everyone was out of the house and in the car. They were. The moment they turned the corner to head to Grandma’s house, the firetrucks came and my tears flowed. I’d never understood why people cried at a housefire, after all, it’s just stuff. I finally understood.

When these life changing events happen, the foster kid in me escapes.

I slept in that burnt house for over a week while my family stayed with my wife’s family. I didn’t want to live in someone else’s house. I wanted to protect my things that were still in the house. I worked all day and ran electric cords to the neighbor’s in order to watch tv and I slept there, the upstairs still exposed to the elements, the windows laying on the sidewalk just feet from where I would sleep. A couple weeks later I hounded a landlord until he let us move in to a beautiful Victorian home that we still rent to this day.

See? You can’t kill me. And you can’t scare me either.

I have one thing on my side, besides the foster care background and unarming charm (that second one might be an opinion), I have the luck of a thousand Irish.

That aging out problem? Lucky to have had a best friend who had a Mom with a passion for education. She scooped me up, took me to the GED test, signed me up for college and helped me get an apartment with her son. Homelessness? I met a nice older lady who lived in the apartment complex I also lived in during college. I helped her with groceries, chatted her up before classes and just treated her the way I treat everyone. She heard of my troubles and had her landlord son find me and rent me an apartment. Sure it was small, beat up and generally a small step above homelessness, it was mine and I made look awesome. The fire? Like I said, I was driving through the small town I lived in during care, a small drive from the burned down house, saw a house I wanted and walked in. The landlord was painting, so, I grabbed a brush. I chatted him up a bit, told him about my wife and I, then I proceeded to call him daily. I’d drive down and hang out around the house hoping to see him. Finally, he just kind of gave up. This is a great house. I have a great office. We managed to keep our rent manageable amidst several fracking booms over the years in the area. See? Lucky.

So, with my foster kidishness (not a word) and my luck, the magazine should be fine. Some issues might have to show up late. Some nights without dinner for me might have to happen. But we’ll make it. I’ll find away to keep print alive. I’ll figure out a way to get through to an industry that has yet to see the benefits of advertising in Foster Focus. But we’ll figure it out. It’s what I do. I’m conditioned for this.

Whether or not all the subscribers will be patient through my second stint with growing pains has yet to be seen. But you’ve believed in me. So, I’ll believe in you. Stick with me. I’ll get on the same plane as everyone else in the magazine world.

And why wouldn’t I? I didn’t expect to be here anyway. I’m playing with house money.

Enjoy the issue. Hope you had a great National Adoption Awareness Month.