Happy Thanksgiving

I don’t get days off, but don’t expect some long and poignant post today. Well, maybe you shouldn’t expect that most days. Today is Thanksgiving, a day that people set aside in hopes that it makes them feel grateful for everything that they have for at least one day a year. It’s a day that politics should be left out of. I’m sure Halloween has pretty gruesome history behind it, still going to celebrate that. It’s not about the past; it’s about where we move forward.

I’m thankful for every day. I’m thankful for my beautiful boys. I’m thankful for their successes and their struggles, because both make me a better mother and human. I’m thankful for my supportive family, who’s always there when I need them the most. I’m thankful for my husband, who always lifts me up when it feels like everyone else wants to take me down. I’m thankful that I have a house, food, and loved ones. I have a lot to be thankful of, which I’m very thankful for every day. We don’t need a single day to be grateful. We should be grateful every day.

If you are lucky enough to spend the day with family, remember how lucky you are. If you are working today, putting your life on the line to ensure the safety of others, thank you for your service. We are thinking of you, grateful for your selflessness. If you aren’t fortunate enough to be with family, be with the family you choose. Blood doesn’t mean family. Love does.

Happy Thanksgiving and remember the lessons of today every day of your life. Even in darkness, there is something to be grateful for.

Social Media Help For Esports

Some teams have an awesome team behind their social media accounts. As a Boston Uprising fan, I feel as though they have done an amazing job. The Overwatch/Overwatch League teams (and Blizzard team in general) also have a knack for getting information out and actively engaging with their fans. This is just one of many things that I personally love about Blizzard. The problem is that PR on the social media front tends to be a problem for these teams/stars, especially in the Overwatch League and apparently now their Contenders teams.

You may have heard that there’s a new team in town: the Toronto Defiant. I cried a little on the inside when they had Neko in their video releasing info on 2 of their new players. The reveal was well-produced and the hype around it was perfect. This was social media used in an effective manner to achieve awesome results for the team. Even though this worst kept secret was something some Boston fans were hoping was fake. (Which quickly disappeared when Neko referred to HuK as a lying bastard on the internet, but still some of us clung onto hope that Neko would be our fearless Zen/Ana once again.) The Neko incident of calling HuK out on and it going viral on social media is just one of many ways that the PR team has failed players on the social media front. I could go into real life examples of how social media can give people a negative impression on you without the polish of an experienced professional, but I really don’t like to talk politics on Gaming Day.

Way back when DreamKazper did that terrible thing, I pointed out that this was just one of a few examples back then that you have these kids who are impulsive and inexperienced socially (in most cases) who need help navigating the finer points of engaging fans and social media strategies. As an Uprising fan, I can point to NotE and Gamsu as evidence that when a player uses social media properly can grow a massive following without any drama. Gamsu posts images of the beautiful views when he hikes or hilarious images of him missing his flights. Then there is NotE who goes the puppy route and keeps up this wholesome and goofy image that he has. These are players that have either been coached properly on social media PR or ones who just are personable and relatable people with a talent for social media.

Then you have teams like, I don’t know, the Toronto eSports Club who went full nerd-rage on Twitter. “We were told we couldn’t have our name so we quit Overwatch”. They sounded like petulant children. Does it suck that they had to change their name because of the Toronto Defiant? Absolutely. I don’t think it was right that they had to change their name. Throwing a childish fit on Twitter? Probably not the best way to go about it especially if you want sympathy over the situation. Plus, I mean just flat out quitting the game and bashing how awful it is? That brought up a lot of concerns for Uprising fans (and potentially even their players/staff) of what this meant for them since this seemed like a rash overreaction one the part of their academy team. When HuK comes off as a reasonable party in a situation, then you know you’re wrong. This is another case where someone who shouldn’t have a Twitter account while representing other people makes everyone look bad. (Applies to politics today as well.) In case you’re wondering Toronto eSports doesn’t actually own the academy team, the Uprising do. So, this really means nothing.

These teams and players need better social media coaching. Fissure has an awful reputation due to his social media presence. xQc has a reputation due to his online persona where you either love him or hate him. Social media today can make or break your brand if you let it. In a lot of these cases, they are letting it break them. I’m no expert on social media, but I have done enough where I don’t utterly squash the brand I’m trying to build up. If you don’t have the funds or means to get social media professionals to manage the more difficult people, maybe it’s a good idea to at least train them better in these areas. In most cases, the Overwatch League players are freshly 18 with their own income, living on their own, coming into a massive fan base. It can be easy to get caught up in the fame, not realizing the consequences of your actions in the grand scheme of things.

When Talking to Your Child About Death

The first time I had to discuss a death with my son, it was my aunt who had passed away. He was still young enough where he didn’t exactly comprehend it and it didn’t ultimately have an impact on him. (I want to say he was 3ish at the time?) The second time I had to discuss a death with him, it was my paternal grandfather. This time he was in Kindergarten. Still, he was too young to really understand. I asked him if he wanted to go to school, if he wanted his birth father’s family to take care of him (it was just before his Christmas break started) while I attended the funeral. I missed the wake to take care of my son. I couldn’t miss the funeral.

My son, who even still is a lot older mentally than he should be, decided he wanted to come with because it was the right thing to do. I reluctantly agreed that he could go, thinking that he was too young to be at a place like this. But I figured if he was mature enough to ask and understand what was happening, that he was able to attend. He wanted to come up to the body with me. I held his hand and we prayed together while kneeling in front of my grandfather. We attended the Catholic mass afterwards, where people were crying and remembering my grandfather. I stayed stoic, as I tend to do. Probably why I have the reputation for being “cold”. I stayed stoic until out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my son was trying to be like everyone else. He asked for a tissue, and started dabbing his dry eyes because everyone else was crying. He started forcing sniffling noises while doing it. I didn’t want to laugh during a somber mass, but I chuckled. He didn’t understand what was going on, but he knew the motions that he needed to go through and he just wanted to make sure he was doing it right.

It was a long time later when I had to tell my now older son about a death in the family. This time, it was his biological paternal grandfather, a man he maybe met twice? I remember failing at this opportunity, making a joke because that’s who I am. “Dylan, you know what sucks more than your computer dying?” Yeah, you can finish the joke. I said it. I should be ashamed of myself, I know. But you have to be me and my son to understand. He didn’t react. He didn’t even really know the guy. He was confused as to whether he should go to pay his respects, be alone among a room of people who he didn’t even really know. Ultimately, he decided that it was better for him not to go. He was 15; that was entirely his choice.

My youngest son’s school was doing a project about Veteran’s Day. We decided that it would be cute to write about my maternal grandfather, who served in the Navy and passed away when my oldest son was about 2 or 3 months old. We named our youngest after my grandfather, so we thought it would be cute for our son to learn about him. It was cute until he asked why he didn’t meet my “Grampa”. I calmly explained to him that my grandfather passed away a long time ago. “He’s dead?” I nodded. “Did he die in the war?” I explained that he died of cancer and that cancer sucks. “What happens when you die?”

I stopped. What was my approach here? What do I say to him? Do I say what I believe? That he’s just dead and there’s a body in the ground and that’s really it? I couldn’t do that. I found myself saying the words I’ve learned through all my years of Catechism. “Well, he’s in Heaven watching over us to make sure that we’re okay. He’s protecting us.” My son went on. “What’s Heaven?” I found myself getting wrapped up in a lie that I didn’t believe, as parents often do in so many situations. “Well, it’s where good people go. And your great grandfather was a very good man.” He nodded, asked a few more questions, and that was the end of the conversation. Until he kept bringing it up. “How can he protect us if he’s up in Heaven?”

I wanted to say to  him “Mommy doesn’t believe in God or Heaven or angels, I just lied to you because the truth sucks”. There was no right answer here. I had to keep going with this lie to protect him. Just because I didn’t believe, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the right to believe if he wants to. It’s a loaded topic dealing with death, especially when discussing it with your kids. I worry about the day when I have to tell them that someone they were close to died because I’m the last person I’d want to tell me if someone passed away. The last. I’ve done it before. I’m not very good at it. I blurt it out without softening the blow. I answer questions honestly. I’m brutal and cold. I admit my faults. I have no idea how I would tell my child that someone they loved died. I could barely make it through a conversation about telling them how someone they didn’t even know died. Did my child need to know that my grandfather died of cancer? Was that too much to put on him? Did I screw up my oldest by telling  him the news through a joke?

I’m a mom trying to figure out this hard stuff just like everyone else. My way probably sucks and I don’t know how to fix it but it surprisingly has worked up until this point. I’m numb to the death thing and admittedly that has hardened me. My first thought it never “oh that sucks”, it’s always “okay, what needs to be done next.” I hope that I figure this out because as you can see, my gut instincts are not great here.

Will This Patch Bring BFA Back to Life?

Tides of Vengeance Part 2 is coming out tomorrow. While a casual like me probably won’t get into a raid until LFR opens up later on (especially since Uldir was boring to me so I only did the first wing before saying “nah”), there are some exciting changes that I can’t wait for. For instance, being one step closer to the Zandalari troll that I so desperately want. This also brings me closer to earning flying in the expansion, something I desperately need to start leveling up those pesky high level alts. Yes, I’m addicted to alts. They are fun and I enjoy the grind more than I ever enjoyed raiding.

BFA does seem like a dead spot. It started off strong with an interesting story, but because of inconveniences and the coolness of new features like island expeditions wear off, it seemed to fizzle out. I liked the story, but there are so many unanswered questions. Will Sylvanas be locked away when Saurfang and the Alliance finally beat her? Will she join forces with Queen Azshara to continually plan out Azeroth’s demise? Will the resurrected Calia Menethil take rightful command over the Forsaken and Lordaeron? It could be interesting to see where these still open story lines go, but they need to make sure the game stays interesting enough for people to stick around for the answers.

This new patch, being touted as “Season 2” seems exciting but it seems like a much needed attempt to bringing this game back to life. This expansion did fizzle and while the Night Warrior new design and story was interesting enough, it was quick and over with. Then you were just left to farm Darkshore for new items that you’ll probably never get. The final question remains then: Will this patch be the one to bring Battle for Azeroth back to life?

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The Internet Lies

You see the funny memes, witty comments on things that they want to pass off as facts. Rather than taking these funny memes as what they are, people tend to take them as facts. The big one going around right now is about lettuce killing more than illegal immigrants. If you took it as a funny meme just like I did, you laughed and ignored it. But then… there are the people who share this as a fact. Then their friends share it thinking it is facts. Both “sides of the aisle” are guilty of doing this. (Remember the toilet challenge that didn’t exist?) The sad truth is that the internet lies and people still believe it.

It’s our fault for not educating ourselves. We get upset when people point out that the meme is a lie. We ask for facts, then dispute the facts because it didn’t come from a news source that you recognize as news, aka whichever one you believe is biased towards the other side’s agenda. I agree that there is a major bias in the mainstream media. That will never be addressed because news organizations like CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News are businesses. They do what it takes to get ratings, regardless of their job as journalists. The ones on those channels that do the unthinkable, you know reporting the news, get called names or are ignored because people may not like what they are saying. They get dismissed as “the other side”, and their facts are dismissed as bias.

To help with this, I figured I’d let you in on a little secret: memes are devices of humor, not fact. If you think there may be truth to the meme, do yourself a favor and research it. If it’s fact, then you can pass it off as such. If not, don’t get surprised when people call you out on it. I’ve done it to my friends on social media. And they haven’t unfriended me yet for it. The world is complicated and divisive enough as is. We don’t need to add to it by resharing lies. This brainwashes the masses and it isn’t a good look. We should be focused on what we can do to improve the future.

So remember: the internet lies. Trust no one and educate yourself because no one else will. Don’t be a lemming that follows blindly. Be your own, kind and intelligent individual.

Those Pesky Mid-30s

Is 35 even a milestone? I guess since it puts you closer to the dreaded 40s, maybe. But at least I can take comfort in the fact that some of my older brothers are closer to 50 than they are 40. It pays to be the baby. I don’t think I dreaded that number any more than any other year. But I have heat this year on my birthday and I haven’t been vomited on yet, so we’ve already improved since last year.

Everyone seems to reflect on their life on their birthday. It’s normal. Did I accomplish what I wanted to? Am I closer to my goals than I was last year? These are those nagging questions that just need to be answered on your birthday, especially as you get older. We want to make sure that we leave some sort of legacy behind us. What will people say when we’re gone? I’m sharing these answers with you.

Did I accomplish what I wanted to last year? I finally published my first children’s book, which is something that I’m very proud of. I even finally figured out how to make a physical copy of the book. (Shameless plug: Check out “Dear Child” on Amazon. See the sidebar for links to my Amazon Author Page.) That was a feat, considering I’m one of the least tech savvy people I know. I didn’t complete NaNoWriMo, which helped lead me on a dark, downward spiral that lasted a few months. I finally got out of that funk and hopefully I won’t go back down there anytime soon.

Am I closer to my goals than I was last year? I think so. I think that I’ve started to grow a presence online. I created more plans to help further boost my site. I can’t wait to get started on some of these new projects and finish some that I’ve already begun. It takes time and patience to breakthrough, I’m just hoping it’s going to be my time soon. I don’t want to make celebrity author money (though that would be sweet), I just want to be able to better provide for my family. Even if I make $20,000 a year doing what I love, I’ll consider that a success.

What will people say about me when I’m gone? That’s a loaded question, but I’ll give it a try. I’m sure a lot of them will say I was a terrible human being, and that made them either love me or hate me for it. I accept that. I’ll have some of those closest to me mention about how I was always there for them when they needed someone. They’ll remember my dark sense of humor. My kids will remember me singing and dancing around the house. They’ll remember that no matter what, they were loved and supported. I don’t care if I don’t have a greater legacy; I care that the people I care about know that I cared about them.

That is my birthday blog. I hope that you enjoyed reading this and I hope you guys have a great day!

Every Ana is Now Bastet… and Other Things Overwatch

The Bastet Challenge was released and completed by most people already. Which means every Ana is now a Bastet Ana. Makes sense, considering this is (in my opinion) the only cool Ana skin in Overwatch. The short story itself was very well done, even if people are complaining about the fact that Soldier was announced as being a proud member of the LGBT community. I love the fact that this game represents the diversity that exists in the world. Go Overwatch! Plus, this was a backstory I felt like we needed. There is such rich lore in Overwatch that I would start reading novels or watching an Overwatch show. Or movie.

Before getting into the big news in Overwatch, a sincere congrats to Fusion Academy for yet another championship in Contenders. The games were thrilling to watch, and even more hilarious to listen to Bren’s play by play of it. You made me question some of your comps, but I can’t argue with results. Here’s to more Symm in OWL?

The first thing that should be discussed is the XL2 academy team deciding to get rid of their roster in favor of “Hometown Ladder Players”. Players like Mangachu were pushed aside in this move. Something I’m partial happy about, as a fan of the Uprising who desperately needs another flex DPS to join our team. Was this move a way to make them appear to be more of a “local team” to represent NY? Or was it a budget thing that just made them look good for PR? Though, honestly, it seem to do more to hurt their PR, not help it. Everyone is making fun of this move, rightfully so. It really seems like a silly play without a lot of reward to it. It makes them seem like they don’t care about the Path to Pro or even acquiring their academy players. With SBB and Pine, it’s easy to see why they just want to keep the solid players that they have.

The next topic of discussion is the PTR changes in Overwatch. The D.Va matrix nerf may be a nerf, but it just means that you have to get better at using it. You can no longer just hit it whenever you want. It’ll be an adjustment but it’s hard to say definitively if this is a nerf yet. I say this as a D.Va main. The Brigitte nerf seems like it would be more effective at slowing her down, something that she desperately needed. Especially if you went against 2 Brigs in Mystery heroes. Or more. It’s scary. The real talk of the town is the Reaper changes, something edgelords felt like needed to happen for a long time. They gave him a boost that may have been way more powerful than it should have been. Will they tweak it? Probably not. But all of these changes do have interesting implications as we head up to the next season of Overwatch League. Will we see more Reaper and less GOATS? I guess we’ll see.

Overwatch Discussion: Hero Bans, “Ellie”, and More

The holidays are over, which means I’m back to the Monday gaming posts. For today, it seemed most fitting to discuss some of the latest topics in Overwatch right now. I won’t talk about GOATS. Not really, though it may come up naturally in the conversation about Hero Bans. But GOATS is a tired subject and the only GOAT I want to talk about is Brady before he fades away into retirement somewhere. So, let’s get into this.

The first topic is all about Hero Bans for Overwatch League Season 2. The supporters of this feel as though it can offer more diversity in games, making them more interesting for both players and viewers. People against them worry that bans like no Rein or D.Va will be put into place all the time, which can hurt teams. Where do I stand on it? I’m honestly indifferent to it. There has always been a meta in place. There have always been players who play whatever they want without caring about any meta. Hero Bans will only prevent certain GOATS comps, not get rid of this meta. Metas come and go. Who knows what will happen after the next balance patch? Only Jeff knows. Well, I mean I guess his entire development team knows too… but, you know. Hero Bans could be fun during All-Star Weekend, but otherwise I’m not entirely sure the league should worry about doing this just yet.

Then, there is the whole “Ellie” thing. In case you haven’t heard, Second Wind attracted a lot of attention for signing an relatively unknown female player known as “Ellie”. Seemingly as quickly as she was announced, she resigned due to “toxicity” among players. This lead to an uproar about women in games, a topic I have discussed a few times on here including my own quitting comp due to harassment over being a girl. Rumors started popping up about whether or not this was a real girl, as some things seemed odd about her. (Things such as delayed coms in chat, avoiding public attention…etc.) It turns out she wasn’t who Second Wind thought she was, allegedly a “social experiment” by another unknown player Punisher.

What was this social experiment? No one knows. But what this really does is make things look even worse for girls in gaming, not help us. There are those who think that girl gamers are loving playing the victim, that we are making excuses for our bad play. It’s real; and it sucks. All this does is make it a topic of conversation again for people to ignore and mock. It’s an awful situation to watch unfold and I doubt we’ll ever get any real answers about what went down here.

We are over a month out of Overwatch League Season 2, so let’s start looking forward to this. What are you most looking forward to? Do you think hero bans should exist in OWL? Which team has your support? Here, I’m all about Boston Uprising, with my side support of London Spitfire. (Seriously, Fury is just too amazing.)

C’Mon 2019

Happy New Year!

The new year always brings in a hope for a better year than the last. Professionally speaking, 2018 was a decent year for me. My blog is getting more attention, so thank you to the readers who have joined us this year! I released my first children’s book, which has been well-received by the ones who have checked it out. (Shameless plug inc…: Check out my “Where to Buy My Writing” section on the sidebar to get a physical or eBook copy of “Dear Child” and find my other books.) I may have failed at NaNoWriMo this year in the sense of the actual challenge, but I did get 25,000 words for some solid bones for my next novel. I started a stream, which consider the times is starting out pretty decently.

Personally speaking, 2019 has been a bit of a rough one. Things going wrong like car issues, dental bills, and expensive home repairs did put a sour twist on my year, especially since those came right around Christmas time. Those are the breaks with adulthood though. You win some, you lose a lot. But my family is alive and happily together, so I really can’t complain. I lucked out with my immediate, extended, and “married” family, especially with a husband like mine. Who understands I don’t need fancy things for my birthday, but knows I love sweet, thoughtful gestures like having one of my favorite Food Network personalities (Justin Warner) tape a Cameo wishing me a “Happy Birthday”. Unfortunately for him, now he’ll also have to get me the cookbook I’ve been begging for. Fortunately, my husband is also a huge fan and seemed just as excited over the whole thing. My birthday is in 2 weeks, but my husband can’t keep a secret about presents to save his life.

I don’t make resolutions for the new year. I never keep them, that is if I even remember them. But I will discuss what I hope for this year, at least on a professional level. I hope that my blog continues it’s upward momentum. I hope to hear more from my readers. I will finish my new novel, even if that means waiting for NaNoWriMo again to bang out another 50,000 words. I have a few ideas for more children’s books that I will be working on, which I’m more excited about than I thought I would be. But that’s not all on my agenda. I am considering options like adding a podcast and/or a comic strip to my site. Both of those would be really fun to do, but we’ll see if it’s feasible. If I can start making the same amount from my own work as I do my freelancing ghostwriting gigs, I’ll have significantly more time to dedicate to these other projects. I will be continuing my stream starting tomorrow, with the amazing new updated look the husband designed for me a few weeks ago.

We’ll play this all by ear, but I look forward to seeing you guys on this journey with me. As usual, I will announce any new projects here or on my social media pages. You can follow those also on the sidebar there. My Instagram is a little bare, but I promise I’m trying to social media better. I wish all of you an amazing new year and thank you for making last year so great for me.


When Raising Adults

There comes a time, a very sad time, when your babies are no longer babies. You spend so much time raising your children and then they don’t need you anymore. But remember…. they do. It’s just instead of raising children, you need to start raising adults. Parenting is about the long game; the war, if you will. That’s the important thing to know about parenting. Getting through the day is about picking your battles. Winning the war is about standing strong on those battles that matter most. Bribing your kid with a smoked sausage firecracker treat to wear pajamas to school on Pajama Day is fine. Bribing your kid on the regular sends a message. Again, it’s picking your battles.

Earlier this year I wrote about raising teenagers. About how this is the time to let them sink or swim, hoping that you taught them enough to help them stay afloat. How you move more into an advisor role rather than an authoritative role. You can’t fix their problems for them anymore; you just hope that they have learned enough to figure it out or trust you enough to help guide them to the answers. That’s what you are doing when you are raising adults. When your child hits high school, they need to have the skills to “adult”. Trying to cram everything in with just 4 years to go is nuts, but a gradual lesson as they age into this milestone will make a huge difference.

For instance, when my oldest was tall enough to use the washing machine, probably around 12, he was expected to do his own laundry. I taught him how to do it, supervised him for a while, then I just trusted that he could do it. This is a life skill that he is going to need. I let him help cook in the kitchen growing up, teaching him recipes along the way. Now, he can do a decent enough job cooking some meals on his own though he’s never cooked supper for us (but I’m confident that he could pull it off). These are ways to raise an adult. I don’t want to raise him in a way where he expects his partner to take care of him. What if he never has a partner, loving the bachelor life? I’ll be damned if I’m doing laundry for my 30 year old child.

I started to “raise an adult” when they are a little younger. I was focused on how to make them into self-sufficient adults. I wanted to raise them with a solid work ethic but with compassion. It’s about the long game. Whether we like to admit it or not, everything we do as parents has an impact on the type of adult your child will become. It’s an insane amount of responsibility with an insane amount of pressure. This leads us to always second guess what we are doing. Guess what? We’re going to screw something up. Our kids are going to grow up just as flawed as we are. It’s about accepting those flaws and hoping that they learned enough from you to use their strengths.

Even in high school, our kids need us even if they don’t want to admit it. You can be firm about expectations for behavior or grades, but you have to be compassionate about the social issues that they are going to be struggling with. There’s peer pressure, bullying, and all sorts of things that will have a huge impact on your children for the rest of their lives. I can remember every bad bullying event that happened to me growing up, and it’s haunting sometimes. We have to make ourselves available to our teenagers, listening without judgement. They may not “need” you anymore, but they want you to still have their back. They still need to know that you love them. They need your support and guidance. They are not-so little adults right now and in 4 years, they will be entering college or the workforce and you need to do enough to prepare them for that.