And She Said, “I Refuse to Change”

I typically caution anyone who interacts with me that I am who I am. If that’s an issue, it doesn’t bother me; that’s not my problem. I wish I could say that this was because I’m 34 and I’ve learned who I am. No, I’ve known who I am for a long time. My epiphany came at some point in high school when I just decided, “who really cares?” I said whatever I wanted, and if people didn’t like that they could choose not to hang out with me. I refused to change. Correction: I still refuse to change.

The belief that I have to fit into some ideal norm bothers me. This takes any autonomy away from me. Just assuming that you are one way and I have to be that way too is a terrible assumption. I’m never going to fit in at any office place. I may never fit in outside of the house, working in my own little corner of the world. I’ve always been much more successful at things when people just let me be and do things my own way. More often than not in those cases, I exceed expectations. I don’t fit into any normal box. I can’t manage a store or an office. Hell, half the time I can’t even manage my own household and I’m supposed to be a “supermom/stay-at-home goddess”. My house never looks like a museum. In fact, I can guarantee that even if I do clean it to the best of its ability, it will still just look like a house that has 2 boys and a man-child. Part of being confident is knowing these things and being okay with it. My house isn’t a museum; it’s a home where my boys and dogs run around and play, leaving a trail of Legos, candy wrappers, and chip bags. Yes, my kids eat junk food. I’m a terrible mother.

I’m okay with it. I’m okay that I just turned around to see 100s of Nerf bullets on the floor. I’m okay that my teenage son wasn’t listening to me so I shot him with a Nerf gun to get his attention. I’m okay that I’m 6-year-old spent an hour screaming about how I was the worst mother on the planet because despite my telling him not to do something, he did it 5 more times and he ended up losing his computer time. I’m okay that people lecture my parenting or decide that just because I can’t keep a house clean after the tornado and hurricane known as “my children” come home, I’m somehow less than. I’m okay that people think because I stay home that I’m not actually working. That my streaming video games is just me playing around, not as part of a way to build up my brand because it’s not easy being noticed as a writer and you need every little bit of attention that you can get.

I refuse to change my shortcomings. In most cases, there’s nothing that I can even do about them. They are part of my personality. I’m sarcastic and abrasively rude. I go crazy if I’m not using my mind to create something. These are things that make me who I am. And I’m not that bad. Maybe.

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Pay to Win Gaming and Why It Ultimately Fails

This isn’t a conversation on games like World of Warcraft, which has proven that people are willing to subscribe to a game to play it if the game remains interesting enough. What this is a conversation about is whether or not games that require you to pay real money to play will win in the long run. These mobile/online games seem to follow a tactic similar to ones done by Magic. You can buy packs and packs of cards hoping for some incredible, unbeatable card or end up going online to buy a rare card that will tilt the game to your scales. The difference is a game like Magic has some staying power. People still play it. People even play Hearthstone and put money into it to win. I’m also not talking about these games.

I use an app called InboxDollars, where you do surveys and other things to get real money in your spare time. One day, I get this: “Play Final Fantasy: A New Empire to earn money”. I bite. It’s a free game and I could bank like $15 so why not. So I do. And I did. The game was interesting enough. Then I got attacked for the first time. No big deal. Rebuilt, refusing to spend money on pixels as I often do. (I won’t even buy that really cool mount on the Blizz store for WoW because of this refusal. If I win the lotto, maybe I’d consider it.) Joined a guild, then another guild. Then another guild. It seemed stable until the a bigger guild declared war on us until we decided to join them. We did. It’s just a game and I still refuse to spend money.

Then the top guild in the realm (NIC3) decided to just start ransacking everything. Which is fine, it’s a war game, only the problem is the idea of Pay-to-Win. A game that touts itself a “war game” kind of accomplishes that. The group with the most amount of disposable income and time on their hands is going to win. The problem with that is this: people in my guild have decided to leave the game. Other people will probably follow. I may stick it out because now I have a journalistic curiosity about how this is going to play out. What happens when this guild that probably spent thousands of dollars on a game so far gets everyone to stop playing? They will end up turning on each other and start outspending each other, until there is 1 lone person standing. There may be a surge of money for the time being, but is this a sustainable business model?

Probably not. I say that because how long do games like this actually stick around? If they were willing to pay people to start playing this game, the answer is probably “not much longer”. People get bored very quickly and even more quickly if they don’t have a fair shot. That may be why people are more willing to spend money on Overwatch loot boxes than they are other things. These are cosmetic items that look cool, but you gain no advantage in playing except for “wow, cool skin bruh.” That is exactly why these games don’t last and will eventually fizzle out.

What We’ve Learned Since That Tragic Day

Tragic days are not the ones where your hair just won’t cooperate or when you can’t replicate that one good day you had a successful cat eye. It isn’t when your coffee order is wrong or they gave you a plain bagel instead of an everything. Those aren’t tragedies. Those are minor blips in the day that prove your self-fulfilling prophecy of today being the worst, most tragic day ever. Sure they suck, but I guarantee you won’t remember it next week, let alone 17 years later.

I could go into the events in detail. How we were in school thinking it was a joke until we saw the video being replayed in every class. Living in the “Era of the Internet”, you could see videos online that honestly still haunt me to this day. I remember how busy work was that day, being a MEPS waitress but also handling all of the military that was relocated there from the base for precautionary measures. They were somber, not the rowdy groups I was used to in there. I remember what happened after. I remembered a sudden hatred for not just the terrorists, but anyone who just “looked Muslim”. I remembered that everything was suddenly turned upside down. I remember that now as an adult who watched these events unfold my senior year of high school.

Those aren’t the important things to remember about that time. What’s most important is that in the face of the worst humanity has to offer, we saw the best in humanity. Our country always comes together in these times. The terrorists participated in these horrific acts on 9/11 or at the Boston Marathon hoping to break us. Unlike some things that are broken, we always came together stronger than ever. We helped each other through the madness. Emergency officials, both active duty and retired, joined forces to help with whatever they could. Our country stared back at these cowardly acts in defiance; no one was going to break us and if they tried, we would show them the strength in unity.

What we learned about ourselves during this time is a lesson that we seem to be forgetting again. That’s how history usually happens, right? We learn a valuable lesson and somehow keep losing it, only to relearn it again. We are stronger as one. No one can tear us down if we stay strong as a unified force. It doesn’t matter what political party you are, what religion you follow, who you go to bed to at night. None of that matters. We are Americans. We want our country to flourish and fight back from those who want to do us harm. We want to laugh in their faces. “You think you knocked us down? Think again.” The minute we forget these lessons is the minute that we become weak to these types of attacks again.

Today, remember all of that. Remember the lives that we lost today, especially the ones who sacrificed their lives to help others. Remember how strength in unity makes us unstoppable. Remember this now, in a world where people keep trying to divide us. This divisiveness will break us if we let it. We can’t let it.

Overwatch: OWL and OWWC

I admit, as a biased Boston Uprising fan, I’ve been rooting for Team Canada because NotE is my D.va hero these days. I bought my youngest a NotE jersey only to be jealous I didn’t get myself one. (He also wanted a Sleepy from San Francisco Shock, but children have their own individual personalities.)

I was upset at the announcement that NotE was merely a sub. That was until he showed his true skills and ended up being seen on the world stage as we see him. Since then, we saw a lot of “this sub” and he continued to rock it out there, making Uprising fans proud that he is ours at least for now. He will be back at the World Cup playoffs and hopefully finals at Blizzcon in November. There were a lot of other notable performances, including ZachaREE’s bastion play on Hanamura. This stage wasn’t as intense as the Korean stage, but it was certainly a joy to watch.

USA ended up in 1st for the stage, with both USA and Canada joining South Korea and Finland in the playoffs so far. The next 2 stages of the qualifiers will take place over the next 2 weekends.

Now to the discussion of Boston Uprising and their roster. The only announcements that have been made so far was the release of Snow, Avast (noooo, meme king!), and Kalios. Later on, Mistakes joined the group of the released Uprising players. The fact that they released Snow, Avast, and Kalios wasn’t shocking. Snow only played once on the big stage in the regular season. Kalio only played a handful of times. Avast was never out there. Kalios seemed a bit salty about it, calling the team “pollution”, but quickly apologized saying that he shouldn’t have taken his feelings about the management out on the fans. It’s too late, at least for this fan. I found it to be a slap in the face as a fan, especially one who did root for him to succeed on the team. Avast was a good morale booster, but I get letting him go. Snow, in the little play I’ve seen from him seemed more solid than Kellex, but there must be a reason why Kellex got the spot over him. In Patriots Nation, we say “In Bill We Trust” so here I will just say “In HuK We Trust”. Hopefully.

There haven’t been any new announcements, which is a bit scary when you consider the opening up of free agency. Gamsu, NotE, Neko, and Striker are solid players that need to stay. They have to. Please don’t let them go. Aimgod seems to have excellent skills, but I feel as though the team just does better with Neko. Mistakes was another excellent player. However, he had mostly the same character pool as Striker without as much skill (not to say he was skill-less, he is a very talented player who I could see doing great things). Letting him go to play as a main DPS on another team that needs a good Tracer was a smart move. NotE and Gamsu are totally underrated tanks that seem to be the core of this team. If they leave, it could be pretty bad.

What Boston needs is a flex DPS that doesn’t overlap so much into Striker’s pool. If they had someone who could be a good Widow/Genji/Pharah, this would be ideal. The speculation that Colourhex could fill that role is something that I wish could happen.I would even be happy to take Agilities or pick up ZachaREE, who may overlap a little with Striker, but has shown to be solid on quite a few different characters. Also a better Kellex. There were so many times I screamed at the screen “what are you doing?!” You can’t heal if you’re dead all the time. I’m not sure if this means Kellex working to improve his survivability or finding a support that lives more. I think Kellex is a cool dude and a good fit for the team. I think he’s talented… when he’s alive long enough to show his skill. But another solid flex dps and a reliable support is all Boston really needs to make it and even win the Grand Finals this year.

As a Patriots fan, I worry about these things though. The Patriots have told amazing players to go because of money issues. Who’s to say that Uprising won’t take this same model? They currently have only 6 out of the 8 player minimum for their roster. These players haven’t been officially re-signed yet, which is scary. I stalk the pages for news religiously, hoping for some good news. A lot of things are going to be happening soon and I have a feeling that the news is going to come all at once.

 

 

Did I Do the Best I Could?

“Did I do the best I could?”

That is the first question that I ask myself as I’m pulling back the blankets on my bed to attempt that sleep thing people keep telling me all about. I sit up, then flip on the television to see who’s streaming Overwatch or WoW since I ditched the cable box in the bedroom. I sit on the edge of my bed, watching them play and taking mental notes of “I didn’t think about doing it that way” or “I could never pull that move off”. Then my mind wanders back to the original question: “Did I do the best I could?”

Every day I ask myself this question, and it’s a general question. I want to remember if I drank enough water or if I did enough to exercise that day. Probably not, is the answer. Did I do anything that would help me be more successful as a writer? I didn’t. I probably started 5 mental projects and 2 “Google Drive” projects, maybe notes on NaNoWriMo with it coming up in 2 months. Those are the passing questions, ones that I don’t really bother to reflect on as much as I should.

When I ask myself this question, I have an understanding with myself that I’m talking about my kids. Did I do enough for them today? If you ask me, the answer is usually “no”. Maybe I didn’t feel like cooking them a healthy meal from the heart.. or any meal and I just got them fast food because I was too busy. Then I guilt myself into thinking that I have cheapened their day because I was too lazy. You’re a mom, you’re supposed to do it all right. The sink has dishes that I never washed, pushing it back a day so that I could have a 10 minute breather. Those dishes make me feel guilty. Seeing a mess in the house makes me feel like I’ve failed my family for the day. I think to myself “so what if the laundry stays in the dryer a day or 2, my kid wanted to go to the park so we did that instead.” Did I do enough?

When I’m trying to wrangle my very active son in Target while he races around trying to figure out which toy he wants, I get those looks. You know the, control your child looks. He’s not unattended. He’s not being disrespectful. He says “excuse me” and “sorry”. But he wriggles out of my hand. Did I do the best I could? When they don’t go to sleep when they’re supposed to, I wonder what I could have done differently. The answer usually comes back to: I’ve failed as a mother and people should take my kids because I’m obviously inept. I expect my children to do chores, then get angry comments about how I’m raising my children to be slaves. I failed again. I didn’t notice that my child once again has dirty ears, because for some ungodly reason I could wash them 20 times before we leave the house and it still happens. They don’t know about those 20 times, they just know my kid is dirty and I’m an incapable mother. I didn’t pay close enough attention that my child had a moth hole in his shirt, so I’m obviously neglectful. It doesn’t matter that I was doing what I could to get my child to wash his hands after using the bathroom before putting his hand in the cereal box while picking out his clothes for the day. Maybe I should have inspected the clothes before putting them in the closet.

It’s amazing how none of these failures are really failures. These are failures that other people have put in our heads. Our messy home means that we were too busy playing toys with our kids or engaging in conversation with them. Maybe we don’t have the time to clean, then chasing around our children to clean after their every move. Try that, it doesn’t work unless you have a nanny or maid helping you out. I try my best every day and I still come short of these goals, most of which have been placed on me by society and other people. I’m not perfect. I yell at my kids. I hide in a room in the house, wondering what horrible act I have committed for a day to be this horrible. I don’t sleep at night because sometimes I think about all of the ways I failed as a parent that day, then I think about past failures as a parent. Some nights I even fall asleep resigning myself to the fact that maybe I shouldn’t even be allowed to raise my kids because I’m obviously not cut out for it. That’s reality. That’s the reality that you don’t see on TV.

I’m not a perfect parent. Can anyone truly say that they are? All you can do is try. Guess what? You are going to fail sometimes; it’s what you do next that matters. You will lose your collective poop. There will be tears, most of which will be your own. That’s why you need to ask yourself “Did I do the best that I could?” If you did, that’s all that matters. Your kids don’t remember those little screw ups of having their hair not combed before getting on the bus or that time you accidentally zippered their face while walking to school because you were in a rush and they were still throwing a tantrum. They will remember that time they had stitches and you held their hand the entire time. They will remember that time you were the most “embarrassing” cheerleader. They remember the trips to the museum or the random walks to the park. They don’t remember the time you didn’t do the dishes because your child wanted to do an art project. They remember doing the art project and having that special moment with you. Stop worrying about what other people think, because they’re clueless. They don’t know your struggles that day to even get your kid to school. They don’t know you. What matters is your child giving you a hug and kiss, smiling as they say “I love you, good night.”

The First Day Hoax

It’s Back to School time in the LaRochelle household. The first day was an uneventful one, sending my youngest off to first grade. We held it together. I came home and my oldest made jokes about how quiet the house was without the youngest. I laughed. “Imagine how quiet it is without either of you.” We played some Overwatch and just enjoyed the day together. He would be starting his sophomore the next day. It was a fun last day.

The next morning, I heard him woke up just before 6. He wanted to take a shower to get rid of the smell of “teen boy”, just in case. He wanted to make an impression on his first day. When I went into the living room, he stood dutifully in front of the door for the obligatory first day photo that I was inevitably going to force. I wasn’t ready but he was, so I did it anyways. I wanted to start my coffee so I could pretend to function in the morning. I left the room to get my youngest son’s clothes out for the day. While in his room, I heard the door open. I screamed “What are you doing?! Wait!” I heard his laugh and his exasperated “Oh Mom.” He did wait. I looked at this not-so little young man with pride. “You have a good day. I love you so much.” He muttered “Ok Mom”, at least that’s what I heard. I yelled at him. “Really? That’s it.” I said. “What? I said I love you too.” He laughed. I told him to make me proud. He always did anyways, but I always want to make sure that he knew. Teenage years can be rough, after all.

After he left, the day went pretty uneventful after this. I got some work done, worked out lightly as my mouth still hurts a little from my last dental procedure. I played a little WoW. I looked at the clock when I went back to work to check the time. It was almost time to get my youngest from school. My oldest took the bus, so I didn’t have anything to worry about. I got out of my “work” sweatpants and put on some jeans and shoes. I then went on Facebook as I normally would to waste time before getting my youngest. I noticed the local police department had a post about an active crime scene. I thought about how many times I’ve seen that recently. I almost didn’t even pay attention to it until I noticed that it was at my oldest son’s school. A news alert came to my phone shortly after. My chest felt like an elephant just sat down on it. The pictures of cops everywhere and SWAT teams with full tactical gear on terrified me. All I knew was my kid should have been on a bus home and there was a “suspicious person”. I knew that this looked terrifying for me and I wasn’t even there.

I immediately texted my son. Nothing. I kept texting, hoping for something. I have never been this scared in my entire life. While waiting for my younger son at his school, I listened to everyone talk about what they knew. I didn’t know anything. They were talking about a shooter, injuries. I was getting more scared, clutching my phone hoping for something. Facebook messenger popped up. It wasn’t him, but I was happy to have a distraction even for a moment. Every second that passed without any news made me more anxious. I kept checking on Facebook, hoping for an update. For something. Finally an hour later, they were evacuating the school. I texted again. Still nothing. I decided to try my nephew, who also attends the school. “Oh yeah, I have him right here with me. We’re okay.” Those words have never sounded sweeter to me. The teacher made him leave his bag and phone in the classroom. At least I know why I couldn’t talk to him. My nephew told me not to worry about picking him up. He would bring him home for me. “Family first”, he said to me. He’s right. A short time after that, around 4pm and 2 hours after the incident first began, I finally got a call from the school. Pickup would be at the elementary school next door. Their stuff would remain in the school. It was still an active crime scene after all. They would let us know when the kids could get their stuff. I didn’t care about the stuff. I wanted my son home.

I waited, standing in the doorway in between pacing around the house. He is going to be 16 soon, my oldest son. I wanted to hold him like he was my little baby again. This time though, it would be more for my comfort than his. I saw him and his cousin pull up. I ran out and hugged him so hard. I wanted to cry. But, this was his traumatic day not mine. My tears could wait until he wasn’t around. That’s the thing though, right? If something is traumatic for our children, it ends up being almost as traumatic to us.

After all of this, it turns out the whole thing was a hoax. Some terrible, pathetic excuse of a human being just wanted to get their kicks and cause a scene. That may be true. Or it may just be a troubled kid who needs help. I don’t care. I want to punch this person so hard in the face. Because I’m angry, not stupid. That kid (let’s face it, it probably is some dumb teenager) for whatever reason, made me imagine such awful situations. I’m a writer. I have a very creative imagination. And I watch a lot of Criminal Minds and ID. Those aren’t things that mix well in times like these. I hope the book gets thrown so hard at this kid. I hope they go to jail for a very long time. The State police showed up. Full SWAT, a substantial amount of police, and EMTs were there. The wasted resources that could have been life or death if there was another problem in the city, for what? It doesn’t make any sense to me.

I’m fortunate though; it was a hoax. My kid wasn’t getting slaughtered as people have been far too often lately. My kid came home safe without a physical mark. I’m not sure if there is anything emotionally wrong with him right now, but I will keep a very close eye on him. My kid came home. That is everything. This hoax wasn’t funny. Hours later, I write this and I’m still anxious. I’m still terrified and shaking. By the time this posts on Tuesday, I will still be wondering if I should send my kid back to school. I have enough of an education to home school; I nearly was a teacher after all. I can do this right? I can’t though. I can’t protect him forever, and that kills me.

As a final note, the local and state police responded quickly. Had there been a real threat, they would have made the incident less tragic. I’d love to thank them for the amazing job. Our kids are that much safer because of your amazing strength and courage.

Let the Grind Begin

Now that Overwatch League is over, I can adjust my focus to the other game that drives my life: World of Warcraft. (Though next week, I’ll take a look at all of the latest on OWL releases and free agency with a special focus on my team the Boston Uprising.) This week I can begin streaming again after the holiday, now that my face doesn’t feel like it’s on fire. For added enjoyment, I can let people watch me fail through Overwatch competitive placements prior to WoW’ing. I think I can handle the trolls now. Maybe, until a troll makes me cry. It could happen.

I hit 120 in only a few days. I would have been quicker had it not been for life, namely emergency surgical tooth extraction. But I did it quick enough that the grind began. My first goal: getting the Pathfinder part 1 achievement. I want the faster mount speed and to get my flying mount as soon as possible so that I can start the alt grinds. It’s more efficient that way. (Though this week on the stream, I will be doing a lot of Nightborne leveling. I really want to be a Nightborne.) I also want to farm up 7th Legion rep so that I can unlock the Dark Irons. This is probably the only Dwarf race that I actually want to play. They just just much cooler than the Dwarves of Ironforge.

The problem is that the grind for Champions of Azeroth and Tortollan Seekers (aka: Turtle Rep) seems to be a more difficult grind. Sure, they offer more rep per quest, but they are much fewer of them. Even with human rep increase racial, you can only do so much when only 2 or 3 of these quests are up at a time. I know that they don’t want people to just breeze through these, but it’s almost as annoying of a grind as fishing is. Still, you kind of need to power through it anyways because these two reps are essential parts of the Pathfinder quest.

There is also the mythic grind, getting as geared as possible for when the first raid is released tomorrow. The gear grind is real, especially when RNG hates you as much as it hates me. That’s really all WoW is: one big grind. You grind for rare mounts, rare pets, achievements, gear, alts. But we always do it because that’s what we do. I actually love the grind, but I also figure out the best ways to manipulate the system to maximize results. For instance, when my characters hit Legion I wouldn’t do anything with them except farm Legion invasions. You saw this from my streams, if you watched. That way characters would get rested XP for a faster leveling grind. It’s all about knowing the most effective way to grind what you want.

Tomorrow also comes the release of Warfronts, which I loved more than I do Island Expeditions. (Which I walked away with the Surf Jelly mount and a pet from completing.) These are great additions that I wish came sooner, but came before I lost total interest in the game. Not that I have ever lost total interest in the game. It will be interesting to see the changes that they made to warfronts on live and if there will be even more incentive to farm them other than the weekly and the world boss.