Why Don’t YOU Tell ME What a BJ Is, Son.

Having a kid is horrifying.

You have this little person, and you are totally responsible as to whether or not they turn out an angel or the devil incarnate. I’m hoping for something in between.

Sure, there may be a few other things that impact their development – video games, unattended TV time, sibling rivalry or the converse lack-of-sibling loneliness. That evil second grade little snot that is *this* close to a full on freak out.

But mostly, it’s us.

So when Q somehow combined his lunch with a toilet expedition, we probably should have seen that coming. At least it was merely a song, while Daddy was in the shower.

“Whats…for…lunch?

P. B. J.

PBJ.

P. B. J.

PBJ.

I am peeing, pee pee.

P. B. J. P.P.

PBJ.

PP. BJ.”

He broke of here to talk with his father. “That would be kind of gross, huh Dad. A PP and J sandwich. Glad I left my lunch in the kitchen.”

“Yeah, that’d be gross, son. And never bring food in here.” This, from behind the shower curtain.

“I guess it would really be PPBJ. But that would be gross, too. You know, pee pee and a bj in a sandwich. You know what a bj is, right?”

. . .

Dad countered. “Ahhh, do you know what a bj is, bud?”

“Ues. But you have to know what a bj is, you know – a bj.” Like stressing the word would make it more clear and less horrifying.

So what has unattended time on YouTube borne?

Dad stuck his head out around the curtain to look directly at his newly six-year-old son. “I need you to tell me what it is. I don’t remember.”

The little sighed. A sound of pure exasperation. “You know. a bj. The famous guys that play music.”

BJ…DJ.

Dad stuck his head back under the spray. “That’s a DJ, son. You can’t call it a BJ. Say DeeeJ.”

“Why not?”

“Because they’re not the same thing. And you’re right. A DJ sandwich would be disgusting. You’d be a cannibal.”

Parents should know enough to quit while they’re ahead.

Help Get .Me Over My Domain Hurdle

I’m paralyzed. I’ve got this great, big, far-reaching idea for starting up a non-profit to help people navigate through the storms that can level their world from out of the blue.

This is super important to me. I was given a gift that kept my family from risking our lives, losing our home and possibly my job. We were so close. And the gift saved us.

No one should walk a path like this without a safety net.

scary-bridgeThere is so much to do in order to start a non-profit. I thought I’d start with the easy part. A website. I can do a website.

Except…

Which domain do I claim? Through Triberr’s Brand Ambassadorship, I stumbled onto a little gem—the .me domain registration. The domain thing is ballooning as that whole interwebs thing really takes off. We went from .com, to .gov, .info, .net, .us and this list is growing.

But there are so many concepts where .me is the perfect domain tail. Pretty much every blogger under the sun should consider it. Because at the end of the day, most bloggers blog because they want to. It’s about them. Andi-Roo over at The World 4 Realz had a great post about just that the other day. I love that post.

Another application of the .me domain is the trend of parents buying web domains, registering emails and doing all sorts of other e-prep for their little bundles of joy. Maybe I should register my son’s name, so he’ll have a place to park his individual e-butt when he grows up.

And the Bridge Foundation is a thing that is all about the individual too. So I know that once I settle on a site name, I’ll be registering with .me.

But what should it be? Help.me is taken, which is a giant bummer.

Little-Help.me is available. But do I want to hyphenate?

HelpPeople.me is free. But that kind of seem more volunteerish, don’t you think?

HandUpFor.me is open. That one isn’t too bad.

On a side note, TheOscarGoesTo.me is also open. That one is just crying for a blog. I had far too much fun typing in random things. I was trying to focus, but…squirrel!

But I need to figure this out. I’m a visual person. If I have this empty website staring at me, it will compel me to move, to do more, to add more, to achieve more. To be more.

So I’m trying to find both inspiration and information. To learn what I need to do, and what I need to accomplish (not the same thing). The to-do list is pretty long and paperwork intensive. The accomplishment list is bigger, more vague and more important.

I don’t want to just do this, I want to do it well. So I am looking at start-ups. At the end of the day a non-profit is still a business that rises and falls on the peculiar tides of the universe. I’ve read and re-read Dino Dogan’s Blog To Business post and many more. I’m even spending more time on LinkedIn. I kind of hate LinkedIn.

The domain.me loyalty program fits in nicely with my aims here. I need a web domain, they’re all over that. Once I get rolling, I’ll need exposure. Lots and lots of fundraising exposure. And that means social media management.

But nothing, nothing under the sun irritates me than a one trick internet pony. Tweet about your book. Your book. Your book. Your book. Your book.

Do you do anything else in your life????

Yes. You do. Share a little. About something different. So you don’t become just noise to me, a skipping record I am too lazy to remove from the turntable.

So I share things I like. Interesting things, funny things, useful things. So I’ll share my .me experience to help other people find their own launch pads. And simply by sharing, I’ll earn loyalty points. I could earn a free year of my domain (whenever I finally PICK one!!), or free hosting.

Or, knowing me, I’ll cash in early and get this mug. Is that a paper boat? What’s in the boat? Is it wearing a hat? I need to see it. I’ve click this picture like 20 times. I need to know.

memugYou should check them out. Park your own little bloggy blog over there. Buy your new nephew his own domain. If you earn the mug before I do, please, please let me know what is on that boat.

And if you have any suggestions for a domain name that focuses on help, assistance, safety net sort of premises, I’d love to hear them. I hate being paralyzed. It’s not good for my mental muscles.

It’s About Me. ME. .Me Whatever, There’s Swag.

I’ve been diligently doing my research about this non-profit thing. The Bridge Foundation. You can bring yourself up to speed on why I am trying to fix our collective Give-A-Damn button here.

There’s a lot to it. I have to apply for a name, recruit a board of directors, mission statements, articles of incorporation, file for tax exempt status, blah, blah.

It’s overwhelming. So I am going to start with a website. The easy part. I started this here bloggy blog, I’m building the mammoth training website for my super awesome software company—I can totally figure this part out.

But what should I call it? Because I want people to find it. If you didn’t know it was a thing, you would never Google “The Bridge Foundation.” So I thought about what I Googled a few months back when my roof started to collapse and the boiler started spewing toxic fumes.

I Googled Help in Maine. Aid in Maine. Maine. ME.

And looky there, a segue once again between my real life and my online, imaginary one. Sometimes the Universe does some really cool stuff.

Apparently there is this thing— .Me domain registration. I did not know that .Me was a thing until I was prowling around my Triberr community and found a campaign going on to help promote them. Not just them as a thing, but a loyalty program they are extending as a way to show appreciation for the people in their digital world.

You can earn points for swag like shirts and hosting packages, but their grand prize for this loyalty program was a doozy…passage to the tech conference in Austin coming up in March. Entry for that is closed, but you can still board up on the loyalty program—win free domain names, hosting and other swag.

And they have exactly what I need. I can get a .me domain name for me, for ME and the help foundation I want to begin here. In ME.

So I joined up in the campaign as a brand ambassador.

I tried to get help.me, but that was taken. So were a few other variations. Service.me was suggested, but that seems…not quite right. Makes me think of plumbers and pizza delivery guys and bad music.

help

So I’m still thinking. But when I come up with the perfect one, I’ll be using .me to begin. And when you’re a blogger, isn’t it always about you (me)? Check them out, score your own .me domain.

Maybe I’ll score a shirt.

Fixing the Give-A-Damn Button

So I have an idea. Which is, in and of itself, not particularly noteworthy. I get lots of ideas. Some are good, some are terrible. But pretty much whichever end of the spectrum they fall on, I usually know how to bring them to life.

But this idea is bigger than me. I want to start a non-profit program. A big, expensive one.

But I’m poor. So I’m not really sure how to begin. But poor is the impetus behind the idea.

For those of you that have been following me for a while, you know that I can trip on a gold brick and land in shit like it’s an Olympic event. For those of you that have no frame of reference for my luck and ethic you can get a glimpse by reading through my older posts. Start with Why I Wish I Was on Welfare  and then be sure to read the follow-up post on gratitude.

You’ll get a good grip of where I am coming from.

I got lucky. I don’t know why. But I will be grateful for the rest of my life for the anonymous gift that brought me to tears then and now.

I want to start The Bridge Foundation. Because too many of us are walking the path you see below. And there is no safety net, nothing shoring up that nightmare.

scary-bridgeThere are people like me trying to walk that path because they want so badly to bring their families out on the other side.

There are people staying in abusive situations because that is the only path out, and stepping onto it can be scarier than the fists of the devil they know.

Families are pushed onto the path when one of their own gets a Cancer diagnosis, or has an accident, or has an organ fail. Or if there’s a fire, a sinkhole, a chemical spill, a war injury.

The reasons vary, but they don’t matter. The people matter.

And that is why I want to build The Bridge. Not a welfare system. Not something that requires you to be at the bottom in order to get help. There are structures in place for them. They aren’t completely successful, but they exist.

I want to help people keep themselves from falling to the bottom.

Home repairs, car repairs, clothes for job interviews.

A group of employers that won’t turn you down because you had no job experience in the last 4 years while you cared for your family member as they died.

A dentist that will do a $300 dollar filling for free so it doesn’t turn onto a $1000 ER bill and a prescription that can send a recovering addict back over the edge.

Small loans that don’t come with an 18% interest rate.

I want all of these things and more. But I have no idea where to begin.

To start, I’ll be digging into the laws and regulations for starting a non-profit. But the money and the networking. I’m horrified at the mere thought of that. Kickstarter? GoFundMe? Grants? I don’t even know how much money would be needed to create a viable organization that would be self-sustaining over time. And I’d need a Board of Directors. Where do I find those people?

Then there’s the networking. I’m not one to walk into any room with my hand out and a smile on my face, able to convince anyone of anything. I’m just not good at it.

And there is such a stigma to overcome. A cultural assumption that if you are at the bottom, you want to be there. Our Give-A-Damn Button is busted. To hand out any more is seen as throwing good money after bad.

It will be a hard sell.

The one thing I can think of is to put a face to it. To show real families, to tell real stories. To make people understand that there is no separation between us. We are all vulnerable to the random catastrophes in life.

So for now, I am collecting – information, research and ideas – and if you have a story that you would be willing to share, I would like to collect that too.

If you have a story of a shaky walk across that bridge, or a time when you fell all the way to the bottom, I’d like to talk to you. Please leave a comment, or email me at rantravewrite at gmail dot com.

Hopefully, before it’s over, I’ll have enough to begin construction.

Whose Kid Is This?

I wouldn’t say that I hate jazz, but I kind of hate jazz. There are songs here and there and some artists that I appreciate, but as a whole,  it may be my least favorite style of music. I know, I know, cultural beat, blah blah.

But it just doesn’t do it for me.

My husband, on the other hand, will tell you unapologetically that he hates it, in all forms and venues. Hates it.

This means that jazz is the one form of music that doesn’t make bedtime routine  rotation.

A few nights ago, while we listened to Patsy Cline, Quinn asked why his kitties couldn’t go outside. I explain that although we live in the country, our house is close enough to the road for traffic to be a great danger.

He pondered that, then suggested we let them out to explore at night, when few cars had cause to drive our way.

“Night is more dangerous for kitties, Bud. They could tangle with a skunk or porcupine, or worse, a coyote or fisher.”

“What’s a fisher”

I explained the bizarre cross between a weasel and a bear, and that they are one of the most vicious animals in our area. But the physical description must have been too fantastical for his five-year-old mind to believe.

“That’s not real, Mama. There’s no such thing.”

“There is, Buddy. Uncle Jim had a kitty that was killed by a fisher a few years ago.”

Something about that made him decide that I was speaking the absolute truth.

So he did what he often does when confronted with things that scare him – he hid.

He jumped from beneath the covers and dove under the bed.

“Awww, Bud I didn’t mean to scare you. And our kitties aren’t in danger, because we keep them inside.”

“I don’t want to talk about it. I’m just going to hide here and think about listening to some smooth jazz.”

Jazz? Smooth jazz?

Whose kid is this?

There Are No Words. Just Gratitude.

It is not often I am without words. In fact, I am not sure it has ever happened before.  I have wanted to write this post for days, but couldn’t, because there were no words.

Other senses have left me before – anger once left me sitting on the side of the road in my car, the rush of red behind my eyes making me unable to see. And the day my mother arrived to tell me my sweet, should-have-been sister-in-law was dead, my ears closed to the sound – I saw her lips move, to form the word, but never heard a sound.

This week, I have been rendered mute. Thoughts swirled and my heart swelled, but words just failed me.

We have had a tough decade, my husband and I. There have been too many deaths to count, accidents, loss of income, our bank account was compromised, my mother had a psychotic break due to a rare neurological disease — the list could go on and on.

We have struggled for that decade to get off state aid. There was a lot of it early on, and it dwindled as we took each step up the mountain, trying to reach the peak where we would be allowed room for pride, and rest, and the comfort of knowing we were no longer one catastrophe away from being knocked down to the bottom.

We slid back more than once. Downsizing, injury and unexpected expenses knocked us back. But we kept going.

This Christmas was going to be lean. The compromised bank account and some other nasty, expensive surprises came in 2013. Then on my birthday, exactly one month before Christmas, it began to rain. And it came in – in my office, in the dining room and on top of the dryer. The roof was leaking. Badly.

I waited for my husband to get home from work so I could tell him, but he was late. The tires on our only vehicle had given up, causing a blowout on his way home. We’d planned to buy tires with the Christmas bonus I was hoping to get two weeks later.

The little Christmas money we had tucked away slowed the leak in the roof, but didn’t stop it. It needs to be replaced, and the estimate made me sick to my stomach.

My husband pumped up the lousy spare tire every day so he could get to work.

A friend of my sister-in-law heard about these things, and to help out, bought Q some gifts. Great gifts. One of the two things he wanted most. I was overwhelmed with gratitude to think that this woman I barely know would be so giving.

One week later I nudged the thermostat up against the cold and nothing happened. The boiler was working, our hot water was fine. But no trickle of warmth moved out into the baseboards.

Another unexpected expense. But when the repair man came up from the basement several cold days later to show me the electrical control unit in his hand that needed to be replaced and told me how much it was, I blanched.

I called the company and begged to have them hold a check until the following week. They agreed, but I still felt sick because the only way to cover that check was to skip the mortgage payment. Again.

The unit was installed, the heater ran through a cycle, and for the first time in 4 days the house began to warm. But at the top of the stairs he paused to turn the emergency control switch off.

The unit was fixed, but the boiler was corroded, posing a carbon monoxide risk. He couldn’t legally turn it on. And the estimate for that did me in.

An old friend from high school shipped Q the other main want on his Christmas list. I was stunned by her gift and my heart swelled at the thought that my son would believe in magic for at least another year, not because of me, but because of the generosity of others.

Then I got a check in a Christmas card from a mostly online friend. Again, the generosity of people got me. My bonus had bought the tires, but that check got them mounted and installed. And$15 of it filled my son’s Christmas stocking.

And then we were pummeled some more. My mother in law’s trip to spend Christmas with us was cancelled – she was in the hospital. My husband’s work hours were cut. The power went out in a storm leaving us with no way to heat our house. It stayed out long enough to ruin all the food I had bought to last us through until January 5th.

In the middle of it, on the Winter Solstice, we got a priority mail envelope with a check inside. Nothing on it to identify the sender, just a short handwritten note saying it was from a friend, because they could do it. Then I got another. And another.

Three checks, drawn on three different banks, all with no identification. All for oddly specific amounts. But added together, they equal a singular number that makes me believe that one person enlisted the help of two others to give us what is the most important gift we have ever received.

They rescued us, and I can’t even thank them.

We had gotten to the point that I had only one idea left. But it was a terrible, awful idea. I was going to stop making the house payments altogether. I was going to squirrel away that money towards a rent deposit and let the bank take the house.

I was going to move – away from the vegetable garden and the orange kitchen and the yard big enough for the St Bernard. Away from the school my son loves, and my husband’s job and the big tree that my husband hates, but that I adore.

We need a safe pace to live. A place where I don’t constantly ask my son how he feels, or freak out when he claims a headache and make him sleep with a window open. And we simply couldn’t fix this one.

Now we can. Someone, somewhere gave us this gift. They kept us from tumbling all the way down to the bottom of the mountain.

My gratitude is immense. There are over 1000 words here, but still, not enough.

Thank you. Whoever you are, I hope you see this. You have given us a gift that goes beyond dollars. You have given us our home, faith in people, and the hope that maybe, before it’s over, we’ll come out on the other side.

Thank you.