Well, it is here. The first day of spring, two thousand eighteen.

Twenty-four hours ago — give or take, but almost on the nose — I promised myself that today, the first day of spring, would be the day I’d start writing. Again.

I recognize that I’ve been quiet for quite a while. I know it’s been so long because I have personally, on at least a dozen occasions over the past decade, discouraged myself from even attempting to begin again. How does one begin when one has already begun?

But spring brings renewal, right. Theoretically, my marketing brain could have ridden the coattails of a day already marked on everybody’s calendar. Instead, mere pragmatism demanded I tell this one story before any other. Not because this story contains perfect words or unimaginable revelation but just capital-B Because. 

A lot of crummy things happened in 2017. Perhaps you noticed this as well. Our incredible first year of joyous memory-making with 45 aside, I suffered many personal and professional setbacks. No. That is an understatement. The personal and professional setbacks I suffered in 2017 arrived with alarming regularity, almost encyclopedic in scope. Whatever. Point is by mid-year I was mentally tanking.

And then.

An overcast summer day at my in-laws’ place. I remember where I sat: the chair that squeaked as I swiveled in it, then swiveled more, the swiveling intervals shortening as my movements tightened, the squeaks sort of like Morse code dashes turned all into dots. I remember studying the kitchen island countertop, annoyed at how impassively the taupe slab hosted a laptop chock-full of bad news. I let my eyes slide from the screen to my cell phone, picking my ass up out of the chair to urgently call…who? Am I overreacting? Is this much dramatic build-up ever warranted by a rush to the phone to call GoDaddy?

If you spend even a small part of your life creating new websites then you already know the answer is YES. I will try not to GoDaddy-bash in this post. Kinda easy and plenty of other people on the job. Plus sometimes the people that pick up the phone are nice, even when they’re delivering bad news.

But here’s the thing about GoDaddy. Well, really there are several things:

  1. GoDaddy sends bazillions of automated emails to their customers.
  2. Approximately 96% of them are not even close to urgent and inspire either inaction or a vague sense that something might need to be done three months from now. The remaining 4% are do-or-die.
  3. Both types of emails are designed and delivered with the same basic GoDaddy look and feel. (Soaring ignore-ability! Complete delete-ability!)
  4. Since they like to come at their mailing list from a million different directions and since their customers are mere human people who share a common propensity to ignore repetitive HTML/CSS, GoDaddy hosting and/or domain problems can go from zero to a hundred real quick.
  5. As I waded through our family’s summer plans, I missed at least two GoDaddy emails of the 4% variety.

 

If you’ve known me for longer than 9 months,
you know I have a successful freelance consulting firm called Both is Better LLC .

If you’ve met me or talked with me at length in the past 9 months,
you might know I no longer have a successful freelance consulting firm called Both is Better LLC.

 


To the obvious > skipping ahead:

I’d lost my domain name. My beloved bothisbetter.com was gone, and I didn’t even realize it until I was at my in-laws’ for our annual August visit, a visit during which my husband Kris and I escape to celebrate our wedding anniversary; we’d just returned from the getaway. I learned I’d lost my domain name on August 11th, over coffee, a morning I set aside for some long overdue inbox housekeeping. The fateful GoDaddy email that instantly burrowed a pit in my stomach is still in my GMail (just looked), and it’s dated July 11th. It says I have until June 30th to contact them, and it’s dated July 11th. It says I have a 12 day grace period after June 30th to pay them an $80 fee to restore the domain, and it was sent on day 11.

The phone call confirmed the suspicions that took root when I typed the URL — That I’d owned since 2004! The only address anyone knows to the online home of Rachel making a living hello! — and hit ENTER.

At first all I saw was green, which is already and definitely wrong. When my eyes focus (too fast): A computer-scripted ad-packed…dog blog. Not my website or my work portfolio or a way to contact me. Just a whole bunch of adorable dogs and some astonishingly canine-specific advice, like: “Having the time to train a dog is what is required of pet owners who buy a puppy.” I like how they’ve used too many words to make the simple even simpler. You honestly don’t need the time it takes to train up a dog if you are a pet owner who buys a goldfish.

Incidentally, bothisbetter.com was not the only domain on my life’s cutting room table. I waited to write this part because it exposes me as being very dumb sometimes.

I have something of a domain name impulse buying problem. So first I have an idea. I become convinced it is a superb idea, full of potential, and — if it’s really good — worthy of a name. I find out whether the name and/or a slight variation are available as domains. If they are, usually I buy them.

I have a lot of ideas. These domain names man they stack UP. Their renewal dates stagger drunkenly across the calendar (a problem I could solve, theoretically — and if only I didn’t keep having so many damn good ideas!). Some of my domains had auto-renew turned on and some had privacy added and some had the right contact information associated with them. Unfortunately for me, there were not many direct correlations to be found on my account dashboard between the whiches and the whys. Remember how I said my life was messy last year?  The very nice GoDaddy customer service agent was, after much fanfare and hundreds of dollars goodbye, at least able to help me retrieve MY ACTUAL NAMES.COM, both maiden and married, good Lord thank you Jesus.

She also informed me that bothisbetter.com was good and gone, purchased by someone in Indonesia, a person named Yogie who apparently owns or rents property just a short walk from a muffler shop, a McDonald’s, and a cafe called Choco Latte. “This is what they do,” she said.

Her suggestion? I could hire their hundreds of dollars (no refunds) service to bid to win my name back from this person who clearly isn’t in it for the puppies. “The bid should be strong,” she said. At least a couple thousand, or like $1,500 if I’m really on a budget, lest I risk the hundreds of dollars (no refunds) service fee. I told her I would think about it and when I hung up turned to see my husband, who’d been hovering nearby, awaiting word. I imagine my face crumpled like a dollar store napkin. Red cheeks. Hot tears. Business. Money. Livelihood. All those years. Apples and oranges. This is what is happening.

But before I could fully get going, Kris headed me off — just a few provocative words that showed me how to break a proverbial tackle like the brilliant running back that’s still in him. This is why you want to marry the right person. He looked right into my raised-by-wolves wild eyes and he said something so simple and so perfect that you might think I’m making it up. I’m not.

All these years. All these years!

He said: “Well. Maybe you’re not Both is Better anymore.”

Peace be still. No listen I FELT it. I knew in an instant. Not “maybe.” I didn’t need that name anymore. I didn’t need it because people wanted me, Rachel, not some cute or possibly clever brand name I dreamed up over a decade ago. I didn’t need it because people would still look for me, because my incredible clients still talk about me and because my work is in the world and because my work is good. I didn’t need it and besides that website was WAY overdue for an overhaul anyway. In the midst of my 2017 of sorrows, my husband pointed me to a stream in the desert. Not a mirage. Real water. As fast as I was crying I was smiling because it occurred to me that I would recover; I would take a hit, sure, but I would build a new business website, as quickly as I could — and all I really needed to chart my path forward was a new URL to point people to this reincarnation.

Thankfully, I have something of a domain name impulse buying problem. ■

 

 

PSA: DO NOT LET YOUR DOMAIN EXPIRE.

OR: IF YOU DO ACCIDENTALLY LET YOUR DOMAIN EXPIRE, IT MIGHT BE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL GROWTH, AND POSSIBLY EVEN THE BIRTH OF A NEW COMPUTER-GENERATED BLOG-BOT THAT IS IN SOME WAYS ABOUT DOGS.

(And if you don’t like your current registrar, taking your shit OFF auto-renew because “I need to think over my commitment to this relationship” is a) passive-aggressive behavior that will b) eventually come back to bite you. Just make the switch NOW. And THEN put it on auto-renew. And make sure you’re being honest with your therapist.)