LSS: iShare +

In the hullabaloo that has been the week we’ve just known, too many of us have been piled under so much stuff that a periscope would have been handy to see what was at the surface.
But in between all the madness of traffic and trying to take care of too many details in too many places, modern day magic and marshmallow miracles have happened one right after another.
As a part of the Do Good Project, the iShare Concert is happening tonight at 6 p.m. at the Blue Moon at 215 East Convent Street. Admission to the event is a new or gently used iPod, three CDs or $10. We’re donating all proceeds to The Extra Mile, who will give the iPods to area youth who don’t have a whole lot to look forward to under the tree this year. My prayer is that those kids who receive the gift of music are blessed in some special way.
The outpouring of support for this special event has been overwhelming.
Local musician Kevin Sekhani jumped on board from the word go. He recruited other musicians—including The Mercy Brothers— who instantly got what we were trying to do. The Specklers, a folk/rock group, and Jonathan Herron will also perform.
But the person who inspired this whole event is Cole Pham—or Cole Train Pham, as he refers to himself regarding all things music. I’ve known Cole since shortly after we moved to Lafayette. He was a little boy back then. Now, at 15, not only is he a super cool/smart sophomore at Lafayette High, but he’s also got a level head on his shoulders. Plus, he’s courageous. He knows how to laugh at himself.
I learned of Cole’s rap ambitions earlier this year when he started tutoring our 14-year-old daughter in math. When I listened to his music, I was—for lack of a better word—enchanted.
Sounds strange, I know, but there was something about his super-clever lyrics that made me smile (and even want to rap too, on occasion). Frankly, with Cole’s math-wizard skills, he was one of the last 15-year-old kids on the planet I expected to be aiming toward a rap career. Maybe that’s part of the appeal of his music—and this whole thing, in general—someone wanting to and having the guts to do something that isn’t logical. He’s going for his dream by coming at rap from an atypical perspective. In doing so, he creates a strange and wonderful intersection of lyrics and musical accompaniments with a hip-hop sound.
But enough about him. You get it. It’s the stuff of dreams.
To make a dream happen requires a lot of hard work and some help along the way. That help-along-the-way part of this project has been amazing and uplifting. So many people have just picked up and done what they could do to help.
As far as I know, the people who offered to help have and continue to do the stuff they’re good at doing. It started with Kevin Sekhani who got the potential coolness of this event immediately. Then Mark Falgout at the Blue Moon, and his wife Nicole LeBlanc joined the cause. Tim Landry and Lindsay Dreher designed the poster. Jeanette Toups Chavin printed the posters. Debra Taghehchian is cooking gumbo…and the list goes on and on.
So many others have helped spread the word all over. Support, both moral and financial, has come from near and far—from strangers at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center downtown to friends in the land of the didgeridoo.
As this season of giving and joy continues, I encourage each of you to be a part of Doing Good. You’re invited to come to the concert at Blue Moon this evening at 6 p.m. Just bring a working iPod or make a $10 minimum donation at the door. Again, all proceeds go to The Extra Mile. You’re welcome to call them at 237-2060 if you’d like to donate directly or for more information.
Then again, maybe you’d like to do your own good. Take $50 (or more or less) and come up with some good to do—or give each member of your family or a group of friends some cash to Do Good on their own. Compare notes and see what happens.
Watch the circle of love grow.
Claim your place in it.

Jan Risher’s column appears on Sundays. She’d love to hear all about your efforts toward Doing Good. Really. She would. Email her at Jan@janrisher.com.

LSS: iShare

About a week ago, Aileen Bennett asked me to be a part of the Do Good Project, a brilliant idea she has put together that involves giving 22 people $50 each and asking them to Do Good.
There were lots of options to Do Good. Narrowing the field has been a challenge. Ultimately, I had to go with my gut (and heart).
Here’s some background:
My 14-year-old daughter is not a fan of math. Neither is her mother. We decided a math tutor was in order. At the advice of a friend, we have hired her son, who happens to be a 15-year-old math wizard. About that, I will say this: If ever you’re looking for a math tutor for a 14-year-old girl, a 15-year-old math-wizard-genius-boy is an off-the-charts good idea.
All math comes easy for this kid. He doesn’t miss a beat in explaining it in terms she can understand. I really don’t know if he’s ever missed a math problem in his life. I hear there are others, even stronger math wizards, but math wizardry is a difficult thing for me to comprehend. The interesting thing about this particular math wizard does not lie in his mathematical prowess.
The interesting thing is that what he really wants to be is a rapper—and not just any rapper, but a really good, clever rapper.
In his words, he “works hard for his rhymes.” He gets frustrated at lazy rappers who don’t do the same.
I have never been a big fan of rap.
But this kid’s rap makes me enjoy a style of music I didn’t expect to like—it’s clever. It’s fun. It’s good. It’s smart. He rhymes words like Uncle Sam/Vietnam or meet that quota/small Toyota/Master Yoda.
Here’s are a few lines from one of his songs:
I’m tall like a giraffe.
Strong like a bison.
I eat so many ears of corn.
They call me Mike Tyson.
The hard work he puts into his rhymes pays off. He’s got a few YouTube videos and facebook fans, but he’s never performed live.
So, I thought, “With my $50, I’ll put on a concert and ask some other local musicians to join us and give this 15-year-old future rap sensation the chance to debut his live music.”
We’re going to call the concert iShare.
To attend the performance, concertgoers will bring and donate new or gently used ipods (yes, there is a generation that gets new, improved, better ipods when their old ipods still work). For the rest of us, we can donate music CDs. (In full disclosure, the ipod idea was the rapper’s.)
The Extra Mile, a local non-profit, will give the ipods and appropriate music to teens and pre-teens who may not be receiving anything else this Christmas.
“We get stuff for the babies and the little ones, but for our older kids…nobody knows what to do for them. This is perfect!” said Linda Boudreaux, executive director of The Extra Mile.
Of course, the non-profit will also accept money to buy the gifts, as well.
I’ve spoken to established, professional musicians. They are on board to make this concert happen—including the fabulous Kevin Sekhani.
On the other hand, the 15-year-old rapper is having second thoughts. He’s just not sure he will be able to perform live. He’s nervous. He may opt for a video performance. Either way, we’ll have a concert and Do Good.
As my column deadline approaches, details for iShare are being finalized. The concert will be at 6 p.m., Dec. 18—one week from today. We’re finalizing the location. Stay tuned or email me to learn more.
What I can tell you is this; there is a lot of opportunity to do good. Ultimately, I decided that music and the fulfillment of dreams could make a big difference in the lives of many.
Getting other people on board to Do Good is remarkably easy. People want to help. They want to Do Good too. Being a part of something good that takes on a life of its own is the stuff of dreams that stays with you for years to come and warms your heart when it’s cold outside.
If you’d like to help with this project in any way, please contact me.

Jan Risher’s column, Long Story Short, appears on Sundays. Email her at Jan@JanRisher.com.

Long Story Short Challenge

For this week, I’m offering an opportunity for readers to challenge me for next week’s column. I will do my dead-level best to find a way to work in the first five suggested words to me — no holds barred (unless it’s vulgar and unprintable). Other than that, fire away. We’ll see what happens. I have no idea what I’ll be writing about so this should be interesting!

LSS: Untangling knots

She reached into her jewelry box and pulled out a tangle of necklaces.

“What am I going to do with this?” my friend asked with a sense of gloom.

I tried to conceal my glee.

As strange as this may seem, untangling a nest of jewelry knots is one of my favorite things to do. Knots are my cup of tea and have been since I was a kid. Way back then, I figured out the same method I use today.

My knot untangling technique:

Whether it’s a mass of knots or a single snarled strand, I place the necklaces on a flat surface that won’t scratch, making sure I’m in good light. Then, like a surgeon, I assemble my tools — which amount to two straight pins or toothpicks, or one of each. Then I start poking and prodding and gently pulling. Using minimum preparation and that method, getting the knots out is ridiculously easy — and very satisfying.

The most important part really has very little to do with skill. The most important part is to place the necklaces on a flat surface, rather than holding the clump or letting the chains hang. The flat surface takes away the gravity factor of the knotty problem and relieves the pressure that keeps the knots intertwined.

Taking the pressure away from different ends of the predicament is the most important part of getting the knot undone. Once I have the chains flat and spread out, I simply poke around the entanglement with the straight pins and separate the crossed wires, and in a few minutes, the lumps and clumps of chain begin to disappear.

As I worked on my friend’s thicket of gold and silver, I thought about how aspects of untangling knots of cast-aside jewelry have a lot in common with untangling the knots we come across more often.

When pressure is pulling both sides in opposite directions, untangling the predicament is nearly impossible — regardless of the skill or passion to repair the situation. Even if the pressure is relieved from one end, but not the other, the knot just gets tighter and tighter as one end gives and the other end takes in the extra length. The trick lies is figuring out and providing what both ends need to relieve the pressure.

As I worked to untangle the knots in my friend’s necklaces, my thinking went from considering both sides of political arguments and what it would take to relieve the pressures of those disputes to closer to home and the knots my daughters get into with each other.

I wonder if those kinds of knots need simply to have the pressure relieved on both ends. While I know sibling squabbling is, for the most part, just a way of life, I wonder what I can do improve my children’s relationship. Would relieving pressure from each of them help to untangle the knots between them? What is it that they need? Is it something I can provide? Or do I need to do something more for my daughters to realize and find whatever it is they need for themselves, so they can relieve their own pressures?

Sometimes parenting has me in my own personal knots. I vacillate from over-thinking it and trying to orchestrate too much to a laissez faire approach, on the opposite end of the spectrum. Figuring out the amount of pressure to place on kids is the most difficult part of parenting for me. I want my daughters to be self-starters, conscientious and productive. Yet, I also want them to appreciate the value of taking time, on occasion, to do very little and not be in go-mode.

Sadly, untangling the knots between siblings cannot be solved with a level surface and a couple of toothpicks, but I do recognize my responsibility as a knot-surgeon to alleviate the pressure and give them the best space to untangle themselves.

Providing a level playing field or a safe breathing space is really the extent of helping others solve their messes. For any real truce to last, I can’t do it for them. They have to do it for themselves.