It All Starts with a Character

There are so many current, relevant topics I could be discussing right now. Like how countries are seeing a resurgence in cases because they opened up probably way too soon. How if you need a 10 step strategy on opening up, it may be too soon to. People have the right to feel terrified because no one really knows anything about this virus, except for the fact that it’s death toll keeps rapidly rising and there’s no real treatment or vaccine to help people through it. Or how people who ignore these guidelines for staying safe are the reason why we’re still dealing with this.

But I don’t want to. It makes me sad and angry and all types of negative.

Instead, I will work through my brain’s struggle to come up with a story to start a series of children’s stories. I have a character that I so desperately want to see come to life. I have her personality in mind. I’ve envisioned what she looks like. But I’m not a children’s author. Aside from “Dear Child”, I’ve struggled a bit trying to get back to the genre because I know there are stories there. I know that my character is going to be a flawed character, but I want to send a message of empowerment not to just other girls, but to all kids. I have all these great hopes for the story.

Unfortunately, I have no story. I’m not sure if it’s my workload breaking into my brain’s creative side, draining any will of creativity out of me. I’m not sure if it’s anxiety over what’s going on in the world that is hurting my brain. I just know that I have a great character, but she’s just sitting there smiling at me through my rough sketches of her. It’s frustrating. I’ve never had this long of a dry spell in my personal writing.

It is probably a combination of being burnt out from writing due to my workload and the fact that with the kids home all the time with no break while juggling said workload as well as my new “school of mom”, that I don’t have that quiet time where ideas just flow from me. With everything going on, I don’t see that changing any time soon and that does make me a little sad.

Writing may seem like an easy task. But words are hard. Stories are hard. Having the will to type endlessly is hard. Writers don’t have an easy job. We are tasked with inspiring emotions and getting people to relate to a fictional character. We need readers to connect on some level to the story. And we don’t get the ability to tap into the nuances of body language and inflections that can often only be heard. We can try, but we can’t reach everyone and we know that. But you need to be able to reach someone.

Maybe over the weekend I can get the chance to sit down and work on something. Maybe.

Using Gaming to Cope

Normally I would talk about the weekend of Overwatch League, then end in a rant about how poorly mismanaged my favorite team is, but I’ve opted against that this week. I would have ended up in a rant about how the Vancouver Titans obliterated their team, rounded together what T2 players they could in a short time, then spent the weekend bullying the Uprising while still losing their 2 matches this weekend. First of all, the Uprising get bullied enough. Joining in on that doesn’t make you the cool kid. Secondly, win a game, then you can talk.

The last time I left my house since everything happened was probably sometime in mid-April, when I helped my mom with something. Before that, was probably mid-March when I braved the stores early on to stock up on meats. I’m an introvert that doesn’t really enjoy going out too much. I like hanging out in smaller groups of my friends or family, but larger events can be overwhelming. In general, I like the fact that I can just stay home all day. But I do miss taking our family adventures to the park or doing something fun.

But I have video games. I’ve worked my butt off grinding hard in World of Warcraft, retail, leveling up as many toons as possible due to their XP boost that they are fortunately keeping until Shadowlands release. I’ve probably easily leveled 20 110 characters since the boost was released and I intend to keep going. That sounds insane to people, but it’s not to me. Not because I’m a gaming addict, but gaming does something to make you feel in control when there’s not much else you can control in the world right now.

I like that I can just put on music and mindlessly level away, without having to worry about how this pandemic has uprooted my life. I can talk to friends that I’ve made over the years playing as well as my “real” friends that also play WoW. It’s a connection to the outside world that even an introvert like me needs sometimes, when it just isn’t safe for me out there in the world. If I get sick, it’s because my husband brought it home with him by going to work or the store or other errands he has to take over because I can’t.

Gaming is the perfect escape in a world where everything seems so crazy. It has helped me stay more sane than if I didn’t have some sort of distraction to occupy my brain, which honestly isn’t a place anyone really wants to occupy. I can play WoW or Overwatch while working or sit on the couch relaxing with my boys while playing Animal Crossing, teaching my little one about the game. People who don’t game probably will never understand the incredible ability games have to offer social connections and distractions at a time when we need it the most. No matter what else is going on in the world, I still know what the outcome will be playing my video games.

In a few days, I may be picking up streaming again as I level a bunch of low level allied race toons in World of Warcraft. I’m interested in seeing how fast I can level them with the new XP boost, because I did level pretty quickly before that. I hope everything ends soon, but at least I know I have my video games to help me out.

A Writer Who is at a Loss for Words

I was sitting around thinking about what I should write about. Should I be celebrating that I’ve only gained 5 lbs during this coronavirus time of eating whatever you can get your hands on and mindless snacking out of stress and boredom? Should I go on a rant about people being irresponsible and how dumb I think the protestors are and how I not-so secretly hope that they get it and learn a major life lesson? Should I lament about how I’ll never think to myself that homeschooling would be much easier than sending my kids to school in a world where school shootings are so on trend?

All viable topics. But what does it matter? I could discuss how you’re not only protecting yourself but you’re protecting others by staying safe and following these rules. But I won’t change your mind about it. I won’t change your mind that it’s selfish to ignore mask rules or social distancing measures or how you shouldn’t hang out with family just because you miss them. This is your time to show how selfless you are. And you’re failing at it. But, it doesn’t matter because my opinion doesn’t change anything. I have a right to my opinion; you have the right to yours.

The virus topics are all played out. No one wants to read another story about how this sucks, because people read things as an escape or to find something that they relate to and find solace in. My pessimism has taken over; there’s no solace to be found here.

I have no topic. This post is just like the Blues Traveler’s “Hook”. You’re reading because I’ve engaged you. I’ve captured your attention. But there’s nothing of meaning. Of substance. It’s words, and I’m struggling to find them right now.

A writer without words. That seems crazy. What good is a writer if they don’t have the words? But they say that “you should create a schedule and stick with it, even if you have nothing to offer”. It seems silly, but this routine is as important for the writer as it is the reader. It means that the reader has something to look forward to. It makes the writer sit down and write. It forces creativity, though not necessarily in the right way. But it does.

I just have to keep up the mantra of “It could be worse”. Things could be worse. I’m told this too shall pass, but the problem is that it’s either not going to pass fast enough or it will pass too fast and we’ll just end up right back here hoping that no one you know gets sick or dies.

Why the Mask Bro?

I’m pro the right to protest. Whether you agree with what people are protesting isn’t important. It’s our right as Americans to protest any injustice that we see, regardless if other people see it too. Do I agree with these recent protests about opening states up amid a pandemic where there is no vaccine, medicine, or adequate testing? Absolutely not. As someone with a terrible immune system, I’m not okay with that. But Brianne, that’s why you stay home and stay safe.

That’s kind of the problem though, isn’t it? My husband already still has to go out to work sometimes on anything he can’t handle remotely as a sys admin. He washes his hands and gets changed as soon as he enters the house, but that’s not a guarantee he won’t bring it in with him. If the state opens up without mask or safety restrictions, first of all we’ll end up dealing with a second outbreak and we aren’t even prepared for the first one yet. And he will be out of the house more often, increasing the risk of bringing it home with him. So it doesn’t matter if I stay home if no one else does.

That’s not the point. The point here is about the protests. Sure, going into state buildings fully loaded with guns without any repercussions for these in normal situations very illegal actions is a major jerk move. But peaceful protests, I’m all for. But my question is, if it’s safe enough to open states without any regulations, why wear a mask? Are you afraid that you are going to catch a deadly illness that you believe is a hoax meant to control the masses and isn’t any more deadly than the flu? Are you hedging your bets in case you’re wrong? Why are you wearing a mask if this isn’t really a big deal?

I’d really like the answer because you can’t have it both ways. If it’s not safe enough to protest in masses, maybe it isn’t safe enough to get back to normal. Maybe deep down you just want to be a lemming even if you don’t actually believe that this is a hoax. I’m not a scientist or health expert, so I’m not going to argue if it’s safe enough not. But the logical person that I am says it’s not a good idea until testing is more widespread or there is a vaccine to protect us. So, why the mask bro?

Do I think that if people play stupid games, they should win stupid prizes? Absolutely yes. However, in this case it’s not just their lives. It’s the lives of their families and kids and everyone else’s lives that are at stake. But, I mean, if they get it and bad things happen there’s a reason for Darwin Awards, right? Actions have consequences… so is that why you’re wearing a mask while protesting a virus that’s a hoax?

Then, the Boston Uprising Shows Some Vague Signs of Life

It’s hard to catch all of the games with the new format, because I need sleep and all. But I do catch the games that I can, especially the Boston Uprising. This week was going to be especially exciting because the new hero Echo made her debut. It was really interesting to see the comps that played around Echo and watching people who I thought would be amazing Echo players do well. But how would a team like the Uprising with Echo?

The match wasn’t going to be a win. It was a rematch against the Florida Mayhem, which was an embarrassing slaughter last week for us. When the other team starts spawn camping you like you’re playing mystery heroes, you need to really re-evaluate your situation. The match looked like a professional team went up against a gold team that magically ended up in the Overwatch League. It wasn’t pretty for fans.

Going into the match, my husband and I debated who would end up being our Echo. My theory was Colourhex, who is pretty absurd at projectile heroes. My husband, who is very much team Jerry, thought he would be the better choice. I was right about Colourhex playing Echo and I was right about him doing pretty well at it. Was he as good as someone like Danteh on it? No. But I was happy with it and it looked much better than his Mei. Even Fusions, who I always refer to as a “GOATs Rein One-Trick” didn’t do too terribly on Winston as he usually does. Jerry seemed slower on Tracer than his other characters, but he made some big plays. Myunbong was ridiculous and landed some disgusting nades. But what went wrong?

The first thing that went very wrong was that we were up against the Florida Mayhem again. The thing is, that wasn’t the only problem. There was some signs of potential in this team last week. You could tell that they had something to prove. And what they did prove was that Hollywood is their best map this season. They proved that Colourhex is better than we’ve seen, especially when he’s on characters he’s comfortable with. They proved that Myunbong is a fantastic support pickup who has just as much carry potential as Jerry does. They proved that Fusions is slowly getting better on other heroes.

Unfortunately, they did prove some other things. Like, Jerry isn’t an immortal and he does have weaknesses. They showed that there’s something wrong and I think it’s the coaching and/or management. Why play a Zen/Brig when there’s no real healing there unless everyone’s together, but play dive tanks that aren’t ever where their healers are. They should have run a Brig/Bap or a Brig/Ana if they were going to stick with the Brig choice. Which ended up working better for us as we saw later in the match. Then there were the tank choices. While other teams opted for double shield, we went dive. Which got destroyed by their Echo/Ashe combo.

I get that we only have 6 players that can play right now. But that’s a management problem. Why didn’t they pick up other players to help them get more flexibility? This team can sit around and blame their bad luck all they want, but other teams ran full 12 man rosters to cover them in those bad luck situations. Why do we still stick to strats that obviously aren’t working? There are so many questions that the fans want answers to and we are getting almost as frustrated as the players seem to be right now.

Zoom: It is Our New Way

This morning, I get to argue with my child over wearing pants because he has a Zoom meeting with the rest of the class. Zoom is apparently our new way of life. The last time his teacher had a Zoom session, my son was too sick to join in the fun. It will be nice for him to get that experience, at least seeing his classmates. This whole thing is finally wearing on him, making him sad he doesn’t get to hang out with his friends. I promised him he could have his friends over after this was all over. If this ever ends. It feels pretty endless right now.

Next week, I have to try out the Zoom thing myself for a meeting with his 504 team. Which is always super fun because I’m terrible at technology. You’d think for someone who freelances, streams (maybe starting up again next week some time), and games as much as I do, I wouldn’t be so terrible at figuring out new programs. But I am. Here’s to hoping. Though, let’s be honest I’ll probably fail at something.

Zoom has almost become a meme at this point. It’s like a false sense of normalcy at a time when nothing seems right. Does this new program open up doors after this whole thing ends? Probably not. Despite this current situation proving that some people can actually successfully work at home, employers will still insist on going back to normal. But for now, this gives us the opportunity to pretend that everything still goes on. Except our sanity, that’s long gone.

Families are using Zoom to stay in touch. Schools are using it to have classes, giving children some type of connection with their teachers and peers. Businesses are using it for meetings. This has become the way. As technology evolves more, maybe more people will get to enjoy working from home on a regular basis which can save everyone time and money. But, right now I’m just hoping that we make it out of this healthy and safe.

Upending the Lives of Children

My child thrives on routine. Due to his many difficulties, routine is something that is sacred to him. If things don’t go to an exact routine, his entire day is destroyed and that’s the reality of having a child like him. Even my older son prefers to stick to a routine and gets a little antsy if things don’t go according to plan. But he’s far more flexible when his routine is shaken up. This is probably one of the biggest challenges I have so far.

I do have as strict of a routine as I possibly can for him, while also managing my own work expectations. This is something a lot of parents are trying to manage right now: juggling their work commitments to their home commitments. That’s not a new concept; working parents have been struggling with this for a long time. The problem is now we are trying to do everything at the same time. Spoiler alert: We’re all failing at it. It’s okay to admit that. It’s okay to admit that my son has failed every science project that we’ve received because he doesn’t follow the instructions, such as “work with a parent”. I’m honestly not sure how his teachers manage to get him to listen. His teachers are saints and magicians all at once.

Their lives are, and I don’t mean to be dramatic here, ruined. They aren’t getting that social interaction with other children that they need to thrive. They don’t get to run around at the playgrounds. Seniors are missing their year-end events. Juniors are missing out on prep time for their things like college tours, college fairs, and exams. These are experiences that they aren’t going to get back. And that’s sad. My heart hurts for them. Just because I didn’t care about these events, doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the milestones. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel compassion for those students missing out on this. You only have your youth for so long and to have these major moments not be a part of them, that does make me feel bad for them.

That doesn’t mean there’s no reason for it. I keep seeing petitions about how people should be at risk to put these events on anyways. I agree about the importance of these events, but to put lives at risk for them? Until there’s testing made more available and a vaccine created, it’s never going to be safe out there. That’s science. There’s more evidence of the probability of reinfection than there is that there’s no risk of it. But this is so new that no one knows anything. If this were my kid, I wouldn’t be able to attend the ceremony because it was too risky for me, nor could my parents who have a very close relationship with my son. There are safe ways to do things and there’s being completely stupid.

Some places have setup schedules where an individual student can bring a couple of family members to see them do the walk and the students get that experience, even if they can’t share it with their friends. That’s a safe idea. That’s a good approach. That allows for social distancing, while giving the child that experience. It won’t be the same as the grand graduation ceremony students usually get, but it’s better than a Zoom graduation.

People are making rash decisions because they aren’t thinking logistically; they are thinking selfishly. Your want to do something doesn’t take over the reality of the situation. The reality of the situation is that there are over 50,000 people across the country who have died and that number doesn’t seem to be slowing down. I’d even be willing to bet that those places who have decided to say “eff it” and reopen are going to make those numbers jump even higher. Do I like it that I’m in charge of providing barely adequate education to my children? No. Does that mean I think the schools should open up just because I don’t want to deal with it? I’d rather have my children alive, I’m silly like that.

In a time when we should be growing closer together, helping each other, we are bickering like children. We are stubbornly following whatever our political affiliation wants to spoon-feed us and doing so blindly. This was a test to see if our country could unite to do the right thing and make the changes to become better, and I’m sad to say we failed.

What’s Going On, Uprising? A Sad Look at My Beloved OWL Team

As a lifelong Boston fan, rollercoaster journeys that eventually lead to heartbreak. In recent years, we’ve been spoiled by watching all of our important teams take home championships. I remember being in college when the Red Sox first won the World Series. My very old history professor joked at the beginning of the year that if the Red Sox won the World Series, we’d all get automatic A’s on our finals. Apparently, that was the joke he made every year of his career. It turns out, they did win and by the tenure Gods, we all did get A’s on our finals. We still had to go through the motions, but he did it.

The most exciting of these to follow was the Patriots, who was my favorite of the sports teams. The second was the Bruins, though I stopped watching hockey after their strike because I hold a grudge. Watching the Patriots just win over and over again in the Super Bowl was something I felt that I deserved after so many years of watching all of my Boston teams fail. My kids only know them as champions. (A painful realization is about to hit them and the pink hatters though. We’re in a rebuilding year.)

The above shows that I have a willingness to stand by my team. I love and support my team, whether they get rid of my favorite player (Wilfork, NotE) or if they win or lose. They have my support no matter what. I’m loyal to a fault. Did Brady and Gronk leaving sting? Yeah, but I support the team not the players.

This brings me back to the Boston Uprising, an underdog team going into the league that managed to end up in 3rd place that first season. They were no longer a team that would be dismissed. Except, season 2 they got rid of about 90% of their players and ended up in the bottom of the pre-season rankings to again be dismissed as an awful team. We weren’t good, but we weren’t the worst either. It wasn’t a great season, but we knew the team would be traded away and we’d start fresh again. Because we are a meme team that trades all of our players for money and sees no real return for that as fans.

Season 3 started and we eventually only had 3 people from last year’s roster: Fusions, Axxiom, and Colourhex. I was happy because Axxiom was a better tank and when he played, he showed that he was the better tank. We had fresh new talent in Swimmer, Mouffin, Myungbung, and Jerry. On paper, we weren’t going to be a top team but we definitely had some bright spots. Until Axxiom needed to take a leave of absence due to an undisclosed medical issue. Then, Mouffin did what he did. Then Swimmer left. Now we have 6 eligible players to play and honestly, I’m surprised Jerry’s back hasn’t broken from carrying this team yet.

It wasn’t fun watching us get spawn camped. It wasn’t fun watching us bang our heads against the wall because apparently the team only practices one strategy every week. That has to be the only reason why we are watching our team bang their heads against the wall failing over and over again, because why else would we stubbornly stick to strategies that obviously aren’t even working? As a fan, I would have no problem watching them lose if they looked like they had some fight in them. If they changed their strategy to try something new to at least pretend to care about winning a match. I support my team win or lose.

But, why should I support a team that doesn’t seem to care? Why haven’t we signed someone else to at least have, I don’t know, not the bare minimum on our roster? I mean, they obviously don’t care. They don’t care about the fans. They don’t. I’m not talking about the players here, because this is a case where I actually support the players and not the team. If you’re not going to make any changes, then you don’t care about winning. You don’t care about giving your fans any sign of life out there. Why not put Jerry out there on Sombra or Reaper instead of McCree or even Ashe? Why not put Colourhex on anything but Mei, because as talented as he is that Mei-play is not great? Why not have more than one strategy?

For instance, on Paris they kept making the same play of rotating to the right, which failed every time. Which they expected every time and Bqb was just sitting their waiting and destroying them. Then, Bqb switched to the other side anticipating that Boston wouldn’t be that stupid again. Which they weren’t and he slaughtered them. Is it a coaching problem? Is it a management problem? Those poor players are the laughing stock of the league and they don’t even deserve it. We have talent on the team, but none of that matters if the guys in charge aren’t harnessing that talent. The matches yesterday looked like something I’d see in my gold matches, and that’s not a compliment.

If you’re doing this for money, it’s going to fail. Because eventually you are going to lose out on those fans who want to support you. Who would support even the worst team in the league if there was something worth supporting. But why should I care about the team when the people running it don’t seem to care about them or the fans? If there was ever a time to start doing Q&As again to face the fans and encourage “transparency”, now is the time. Because the fans deserve some insight.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

I’m not a particularly positive person. I’m more of a jaded realist. The thing about being a realist is that you are often accused of pessimism. Am I guilty of pessimism? Who isn’t? Hope is the most treacherous of human fancies, after all. A motto I lived much of my teen years following.

Some time after becoming a parent, I lost the need for pessimism as a crutch though I still mention how my class voted me the class pessimist with my dear friend. We deserved it. I started more towards realism, still careful not to hope. Hope leaves you open for disappointment. I prefer logically considering things and determining the most likely outcome. Things didn’t turn out how I would have liked? I started living by “It could be worse.”

As it turns out, people hate that phrase. I like it because it centers me. It puts things in perspective. Sure, school is officially cancelled for the rest of the year leaving teacher Mom in charge. But, it could be worse. At least I know they are safe. I’m not going to be worried about them contracting the virus at school. I don’t have to worry if their schools become a statistic for school shootings or being bullied. I just have to worry more about whether or not I’m enough for them. And my never getting a moment of quiet time until this lockdown ends. Send help. By “help” I mean “wine”.

Does this new normal suck? Sure. I can’t take my kids to the park. I have to juggle trying to help with 2 sets of remote learning plans plus an OT learning plan. But we’re safe. Aside from the stomach bug that took over our house, we’re healthy. I don’t have as much time to clean because I have to juggle teaching, my own work, keeping them quiet so they don’t bother my husband as he works in the makeshift office in the basement. But, it could be worse.

Whenever someone vents to me about something, I try to remind them that sure things suck but life’s too short to stress over everything. That’s how I remain so seemingly emotionless. It’s not that I don’t care about the Patriots getting rid of another player. It’s just in the grand scheme of things, is that really something worth my already limited sanity? This is something we should appreciate now more than ever. Yes, you are validated in feeling emotionally done. But looking at how things could be worse doesn’t dismiss those real feelings of stress and anxiety; it helps puts things in perspective. At least we have a roof over our heads to stay safe during these difficult times. We have food in our fridge. Because there are a lot of people who don’t have these luxuries. They don’t have the luxury of remote learning capabilities. It could be so much worse for us.

Most importantly, we have each other. And as long as we each do our part, things will get better. We just have to do what needs to be done. This may be considered a war time, but do we have to go to war? No. We have to sit on our asses playing video games, catching up on our reading list, binge-watching whatever we want. Some people have to still go out and work, my husband being one of them. But he wears his mask, uses his hand sanitizer, and washes his hands because it’s more than just about him getting sick. This is our time to shine. This is our time to come together and ask for help and put a smile on another person’s face. Because they probably need it. We all do.

Being a Joiner

I’m not a joiner. I don’t like the idea of just following along just because. I’m my own person and peer pressure doesn’t dictate anything that I do. If anything, I’m usually the bad influence. Not on purpose, but I’m not going to lie that it ends up that way. When it comes to social media, I usually stick to that. I don’t want to offend people when they invite me to do those challenges on Facebook, but I’m not going to post 10 selfies of myself. I probably only have 2 or 3 selfies and only a handful of pictures of myself. I’m okay with that. Photographs steal the soul, or something. I’m not going to just participate in something, because that’s not who I am.

I did end up in a Facebook “challenge”. Not because I felt compelled to by peer pressure. It was because the concept was intriguing to me. 10 days of posting album covers that shaped my musical upbringing? The challenge of picking just 10 albums from my younger years, even in my late teens and early 20s, was interesting. There are so many bands, songs, and albums that have touched my life. That I have related to so strongly that they are the only things that can manage to get my hardened heart to feel strongly enough to cry.

It’s also interesting to show off, as much as possible, just how eccentric my musical tastes are. People would be confused listening to my most listened to playlist on Amazon, where my playlist is so varied that it jumps around practically every genre. I’m okay with that. I don’t care if people laugh at my music. I like what I like and people being closed-minded and judgemental don’t bother me. Mostly because I don’t care. I’m not out to impress anyone. If a song has hit me in the feels in one way or another, I like it. I don’t think I need to defend myself or my choices, and if people want to make fun of me for that, it says more about them than me.

Will I do another challenge? Probably not. This is a one and done. I like the challenge of sharing my favorite music. I don’t like the stress of trying to pick people and not make them feel like they have to or whatever. Plus, I don’t like having to do the posts every day because honestly, that’s more work than I want to put into social media.