Kickstarter for Father is Always With me!

I never imagined the day that I would use KICKSTARTER for anything. It was simply a site for those much more creative than I was. There was no chance on earth that I would ever create something worthy of being funded by people around the world. But, then I decided to create a book.

One which I spoke about at lengths during my last article here in WordPress.com titled “Father Is Always With Me”. Yet, here I am today writing, asking, sharing with the world in order to garner enough support to make my dream a reality. I can’t do this alone, I know that much, but perhaps together with the help of hundreds of strangers, I can achieve anything.

Now, this is my first foray into the world of crowdfunding and it has been scary to say the least.  It’s very nerve wracking, the idea of exposing yourself out there to the world and trying to make them care about your goals. My video recording of the KICKSTARTER video was designed as a heartfelt story to each of those who serve, their relatives or even retired from the military. It doesn’t hide my intentions or try to make a bigger deal of what it already is. This book after all is a love letter to all of the “military brats” we know and adore.

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Look, I’ve said it hundreds of times already; most of the literature available for children in the military is aimed at telling them how great their parents are. But, that’s not enough for me, I want to let them know that we understand how difficult it is to be on the other side of the coin. Spouses who remain back from deployment will relate to me on this topic. But, when I say it is awful being the one staying back while knowing their loved ones are enduring so much stress and pain. It’s so hard to know you can’t comfort those you care about in their time of need. If it’s like this for us adults, can we imagine how bad it is for those who only know a parents love?

Children in the military have it even worse, a parent is their whole world to them. Yet, it seems like they’re simply observers in these stories, side-characters to watch in astonishment as their parent becomes part of something greater than themselves. I want to change this. We need to note the importance of telling these children that their emotions are normal, and those feelings of uncertainty and sadness are part of what makes life a beautifully chaotic work of art.  But, without the support of the community it will take probably longer than my natural life, to get this book and the multitude of books I have planned out into the market.

If this campaign succeeds then every parent that has asked me for a physical copy of the book will be able to purchase their own book. To share the story of Leonardo, a boy who has experienced many things in his 3 years of life. A story which many children in the military will relate to very closely. Friends, I need your support!

 

 

Military Children and Books.

There is a whole sleuth of books for military children out in the market. But, when you ask parents in the military about books for their kids, they will typically not be aware of them. I’ve also noticed a trend in these books which is really interesting. They all put the military parent in a sort of pedestal from which the military parent is the main focus of the story. While I don’t mean to demean the value of our service members (being one myself) it is important to understand that the focus of these books should be the children.

Cover

Thus I kept this in mind when venturing into the foray of becoming an author. A few months ago I began working on a little pet project called “Father Is Always With Me” a small little military book, by a military member which details the life of a small toddler called Leo through his first PCS and parents deployment. In it the focus lies within the domain of the child. Leo is the one who is experiencing the majority of these events for the first time and as such he’s learning to cope. Through his journey he realizes that home is not a set location, but rather the place where his loved ones and himself reside. It’s made with all branches in mind and despite the majority of the uniforms being Navy oriented it is universal enough to be understood by all kids and parents of other branches.

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The illustrations are adorable professionally made with a lot of care and detail. These were made in a cute art style that simulates paper cut-outs and the characters are all beautifully made. “Father Is Always With Me” is certain to catch the eyes of any person who adores cute characters and wants to read a solid amount of story to their children.

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You see a lot of children books are short and simple reads, but they can leave parents feeling unsatisfied (I know I am when reading books for my son). However, in order to alter the status quo this book has a good amount of words (basic words which can be easily read) designed to fulfill both parents and young readers.

Finally, perhaps it’s time to start creating more books for military children by military members who can relate the stories of their own experiences with their families. But, it can’t happen without your help. Support a fellow military member and perhaps we can start a movement that actually realizes the value of the children that are our future. The children of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. Check out this book on Amazon Kindle!

http://www.amazon.com/Father-Always-Me-Emmanuel-Barbosa-ebook/dp/B01DFY08G8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458965908&sr=8-1&keywords=father+is+always+with++me

Ladder Wells the Apex Predator

Living inside a naval vessel involves an extremely high amount of risk tolerance. “Ships have killed, and will kill again” is a very common saying among U.S Navy sailors. After all, we deal with many threats out in the sea, which include the risk of exposing ourselves to other countries whose intentions might not be so noble. But, also sailors run the risk of having a fire inside (or on) the galley, aircrafts, munitions bay, fuel lines, work spaces, perhaps even falling overboard and drowning in the ocean. What people aren’t aware of however, is the true enemy inside a naval vessel exists in locations so common, that you might even be walking on one every day.

Ladderwell

Ladder wells, two of the scariest words which could be used in conjunction for any sailor that has been aboard a ship. The ship has an extreme amount of these, and they all have varying degrees of danger to them, which range from: regular stairs to Mt. Everest in levels of steepness, yet they are all equally deadly. But, what makes this so dangerous Dash (you might be asking yourself)? To which I’ll answer: allow me to explain. When you are walking up regular stairs, there is always the risk of losing your balance and hitting a sharp corner, but it’s very unlikely (due to how simple it is) now imagine walking up those same stairs during an earthquake (suddenly, it’s not as easy). Ships are in constant motion; the constant rocking of the ship can throw any sailor’s sense of balance out the window in a heartbeat. You couple this with having to walk up the riskier stairs and you got a recipe for broken hands, feet, knees, and in some cases death. There are also, very few manners in which you can mitigate the risks involved, you might walk slower, but then you’ll inconvenience others who are trying to pass, perhaps even hold on to the railing, but I’ve tried this one and still fell down knee first (earned me a nasty scar with that event). I am convinced that these stairs are cursed, and or sentient.

At the very least I am convinced that the former is true. They have to be cursed to explain some of the events that have happened to me while traversing through them on the way to my office. I have fallen, lost my balance, tripped on them, and generally feel like they will eventually cause me PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I have probably gotten hurt on those ladder wells more than I have throughout my entire life. These ladders, probably account for more injuries on the ship than any other high-risk activity/object, and I think the reason is clear. It’s obvious that ladder wells are apex soul stealing predators which run rampant throughout the ship. They run no risk of ever being eliminated because they are necessary for travel; as such, they have claimed the lives of many sailors, each one adding an extra soul which assists in taking even more lives.

Now you might be thinking to yourself that perhaps the insanity of life in the boat has taken a hold of me, but how else can we explain the almost preternatural ability for these ladder wells to hurt sailors. I have heard some of the most horrific tales from other sailors, which include the one female who lost her balance and landed with her legs between the handrails, another sailor fell down and landed head first in those same handrails (he had a concussion). Most of these reports never go outside of the need to know basis, so civilians aren’t aware of them, but we are! We live our lives in constant fear that the spirits which live inside the ladder wells don’t choose us as their next victim. The reason for this fear is not unwarranted either; we have to live inside this boat for 6 months out of the year at minimum. We walk upon these cursed objects approximately 50 (or more) times a day depending on which location of the boat your work station is located. Every single day we wake up with the knowledge that if we take one single wrong step, the ladder wells will claim our lives. Read this carefully, every single step we take upon those ladder wells could be our last. This dear readers, is the definition of living life on the edge of a knife.

For reference, every single time I see a ladder well, the music in this scene plays out in my head: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks7Pjl8kM10

This article was a blast to write, I wish I could convey the emotions that are felt every single time that I have to walk through one of these. It’s terrifying.
***DISCLAIMER***
I am not the owner of the images utilized for this article, but I am the owner of the blog and article.

The Lonesome Departure Aboard a Naval Carrier

I’ve been in the Navy for 7 1/2 years now. It’s certainly been a roller coaster of good and bad events. Last year, around this time frame, I got orders to the USS Ronald Reagan, a ship that has been recently posted at Naval Base Yokosuka in Japan, a fact that made the news due to protest by the local Japanese populace. I was not very happy with the orders that had been issued to me, but what was coming could not be anticipated by someone who has not been in a naval vessel prior to his arrival.

I was originally meant to be flown into the vessel after receiving some basic courses and orientations for living aboard a vessel as well as for being a newcomer in Japan. But, due to some unfortunate circumstances in which I prioritized my family’s well being instead of the basic living in Japan courses they took me to the boat earlier than anticipated (approximately a full month before expected). I had barely enough time to gather my essentials and uniforms (who needed new items patched on due to my change of station) but, could not grab as much as I’d have liked. This meant I had to prioritize and instead brought with me living essentials such as shampoo (which I lost) and toothpaste (this one, I actually lost twice) that were purchased in case of emergencies (I was smart enough to have anticipated some crazy change of plans). However, the short notice meant that I left things behind (important things like a much touted sleeping bag). At night the ships don’t have much in the terms of insulation and it meant the difference between freezing and sleeping well. This however, was the beginning of a true nightmare.

I believe that it is unfathomable for civilians to imagine how awful life aboard a naval vessel truly is. Indeed most people don’t have to imagine what it is to live/sleep/eat/workout/work/shower/crap/exist within the confines of the same relatively small location. Some people would think it’s prison, but let me tell them right now that calling this a prison would not be doing it a favor (the prisoners have it much better than sailors at least they get better hours and more time to work out). A person once described life on a boat to me as taking a dumpster, painting it gray and living on it for 6 to 10 months every year (this is approximately the closest and most truthful description that could have been said). Needless to say, that being a sailor aboard an U.S. Naval vessel is one of the crappiest circumstances in which a person can find themselves in. But, in order to explain just how bad the circumstances of a U.S. Navy sailor is, an explanation of our life is required.

First of all, the good-byes are some of the most heart breaking events that you will ever experience. When I left my house, there was barely any warning about what the chain of command had planned. I was simply told to get on the vessel and leave. This meant that my wife had barely any chance to prepare herself emotionally for my departure (she originally wanted us to have a nice family dinner the day before). My son who was about to be three, did not quite grasp that this was mandatory and asked me not to say good-bye to him “no say good-bye, father”.  It’s heart wrenching when the last image you have of your loved ones is their crying faces in the prospect of such uncertainty (every time we leave, there is a silent understanding that we might never come back). To them, they were totally unprepared for the coming months (and so was I).

So I left, no more words were uttered, and no big celebration was thrown (unlike the home-coming which is a large event , whereas departure is simply packing and leaving). Next thing we all knew, all 5000 were aboard the ship waiting to come back to our loved ones. This is even harder for all of us who were new to the shipboard life. We had no friends, no-one we could confide in, we were completely on our own. It was one of the loneliest moments in my life, and I had to endure (for the sake of my family). The first few weeks on the ship, were the most depressing, you’re not sure of what place you belong in, despair can easily take over and in the face of these scenarios and you can be easily dragged towards depression. From the uncomfortable living conditions, to the horrible work hour schedule (we will speak about these in future articles). It almost seems like a really long and bad nightmare at this point, however unlike in those, we couldn’t just wake up during the especially stressful moments. Yet, somehow we all made it back home.

But, this story does have a positive ending, we all returned alive and well. People are surprisingly resilient creatures, we adapt and overcome. While I don’t think that the shipboard life is something anyone should ever get used to living, it’s good to have that experience under your belt. I have gained a newfound appreciation for my family life, and I’ve gotten a lot more writing material. My wife is happy to have me home, and my son can’t seem to want to stop playing with me. I’ve had a chance to go visit some awesome locations in Japan (a chance that was taken from me due to my departure). I have a thirst for life which had not been there for a long time. The experiences gained on that boat helped shape me into a better person because now I know the definition of terrible.

Take it from me readers, if you want to truly change your perspective in life. Go aboard a naval vessel and live there as the new-guy. You will never be the same person again.

 

 

Folks, the sailor has returned and I’m so happy to be back. I got lots of good stories to talk about including an interview with a Korean war survivor from my visit to Busan. I can’t wait to see what the responses are and I hope you’re all having a swashbuckling day!