Just Breathe

I say this far too often on a daily basis. Before, I would say it to myself. Now, I have to say this to myself and my youngest son. Sometimes, when I use this affirmation for both of us when I’m trying to pass it off as using it just for him. I’m okay with that if you are. When breathing doesn’t work, I shrug it off until I get my 15 minutes alone in the shower after my workout. Crying in the shower is the most effective approach. If anyone asks, I could say I just got soap or shampoo in my eye again. It happens a lot naturally, so it’s pretty perfect. I’m a clumsy person.

My son doesn’t have a diagnosis of anxiety disorder. He has a “sensory integration disorder”. I’m certain that if I mentioned it to my doctor, which will probably happen at his yearly, that he would get the diagnosis. My own experiences, in addition to everything I learned in college in my child development/teaching/psych classes, make me very certain of it. He picks his eyelashes and eyebrows out and sometimes pinches himself. After suggesting that he didn’t do these things, he started to obsessively pick his nose. As disgusting as that was, it was better than the alternative. I chose to pick my battles. He freaks out over seemingly bizarre things, like when we were fixing a light in the house he suddenly thought that the house was falling and going to explode. (Anxious with an active imagination? He is my boy.) I answer “What happens if…” questions all day long. I’m not an expert, but the signs seem pretty clear to me.

In the past, he had crying fits that, no exaggeration, could last for up to 4 hours. Sometimes longer. The original thought was these were caused by his inability to communicate with us. (In my book, “A Special Place for Noah”, these parts were true.) It was stressful. If my husband and I didn’t have a strong bond before having kids, I think this would have easily broken us. He had another neuropsych eval, got a diagnosis of sensory integration disorder, and that was that. It was never mentioned again. His anxiety was just caused by being overwhelmed by his surroundings. He’d grow out of it when he was around 6 or 8 they said.

He’s 6 now. The past few days have been rough. Going to school causes tears suddenly, reverting him back to those fits from back in preschool. He won’t let go of my leg. I’m no longer allowed to walk with him behind the school due to “safety concerns for the other kids” (which is funny considering they cut back on attendants outside) so I have to leave him right before the back. Instead of leaving, I stand there while my 6 year old cries and won’t let go of me. This has caused the new part-time VP and one of the paraprofessionals to have to take him back for me. Every day he’s fine until that point. He has focusing issues in school and has had more of these moments in class.

This leaves me in a terrible position. I know this needs to be addressed. My worry is that too many doctors jump straight to drugging my child. I’d rather solve the problem as much as possible without medicine. I’m not anti-science. I’m pro-vaccination. I’m anti-potentially giving my child medicines that could actually alter his brain’s chemical makeup while it is still developing. How many studies have been done on the end result of medicating young children? I mostly manage my own anxiety issues through my work and through my hobbies, like exercising and knitting/crafting/art things. Being able to focus on those things occupies my mind so I don’t have to medicate. I don’t want a zombie for a child. I want my child to be as active as he’s supposed to be. I want to do whatever I can for him. But I’m at such a loss right now.

Now, it’s a waiting game. I have to meet with the teacher, scrounging up what I can from his old IEP in case she couldn’t find it in his records. Maybe listening to her and figuring out what his trigger is to help him cope better with it. (It’s my experience that you can’t avoid everything that makes you anxious, though I do this as often as I can get away with. I’m an emotionally unhealthy person. I’m okay with this too.) His physical is scheduled late due to a new system at the office, which caused me to be too late to schedule his appointment even though it was 6 months out like normal. Hopefully he lasts until November. I have to hope that maybe a switch will just flip again like last time, where it suddenly stopped happening. Instead, I have to sit around worrying about what I’ve done wrong. Did I not give him enough attention? Do I spoil him with too much attention? Was I too strict? Was I not strict enough? That’s what we do as parents, isn’t it? We sit there and blame ourselves when it’s really just how they are. We all have to adjust. In fact, parenting is equal parts constantly adjusting and psychological warfare (which I also say is a huge part of marriage as well).

The point is… all of our kids have their own issues. You could sit down quietly about it and pretend your kid is perfect on social media and feel alone about it. Or you could talk about it as much as possible. My kid may not have issues as serious as others, but he has them. He’s smart, sarcastic, lovable, and funny but he’s anxious and compulsive and impulsive. He may get judged for his actions. But he’s mine. And I love him.

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They Tell Me It’s Voter Registration Day

I have been registered to vote since I was 18. Our civics teacher, I’m not even sure what the name of the class actually was but it was a popular one for the seniors, handed out voter registration forms to class. Prior to that, we took a quiz about our political ideals to see where we fell in the grand scheme of Republicans and Democrats. I, not surprisingly, fell someplace in the middle of the void though it seemed I leaned more left due to my stance on “social issues”. That obviously meant I had to register as a Democrat as a young almost 18 year old. He handed out the registration papers to the class to take the knowledge that we had just learned from that ideology quiz to register to vote. If you weren’t 18 yet, the registration would kick in on your birthday. It did. Maybe a week after I turned 18, I got my card in the mail to confirm that I was now a registered voter. I’m pretty sure I said “cool”, then threw it away. I didn’t vote in that first election, or the first several after that.

For a long while, I didn’t understand the need to vote. My 1 vote didn’t matter. In Massachusetts, even if I wanted to vote for a Republican candidate, my vote ultimately wouldn’t have mattered. The state 9/10 times goes Democrat anyways. My voice wasn’t there to be heard. My first election I even bothered with was when Obama was first running for president. There wasn’t anything too significant about it, but I felt pressured by everyone to go to the voting booth. It would be an experience at least, so I did it. I nervously entered into the booth and was clueless as to what was going on. I didn’t know much about Obama, but I knew that there was something about Sarah Palin that I didn’t like and that I thought McCain was up there in age, so I didn’t want her as president. But I didn’t know anything about Obama either. Biden seemed like a cool dude, and I decided to go with that. So I did.

It wasn’t until after that first election that I decided to actually care about voting. Things mattered more. I knew my ideals. I quickly learned that no one else in politics does, only voting where the money tells them too or who whatever news channel they watch tells them to vote. It was  still is pretty disgusting to me. I decided from then on that I would only  vote my conscience, because I wanted to be okay with myself and my choices. I vote across party lines, voting for the person I honestly could back. I wanted to believe my defense of voting for a politician, not stuttering over talking points someone told me to say. Soon, I realized that I didn’t want to back a political party. I didn’t vote for Trump or Clinton. I thought they were both shady criminals that had no business representing our country. Turns out, I was probably right on both fronts even if no one wants to take their blinders off to see that.

I don’t want to support a party that sweeps things like violence against women under the rug. I don’t want to support any party that tells me if someone is one way, I should hate them (spoiler: I’m referring to both of them). I don’t want to support a party that believes guns have more rights than people do. I don’t want to support a party that is more concerned with celebrity star power than it is about doing the right thing. I don’t want to support A party.

I’m completely against the 2 party system, which has only caused harm to this country. Today, on National Register to Vote day, I’m changing my current affiliation to Independent. I’m not the Democratic party of today. I’m not the Republican party of today. These 2 parties just want power, not change. They want to tell us what to do with our lives, based on their own ideals not ours. They are life-long politicians who are more concerned with lining their pockets than being concerned with the people who voted for them. The only way that this will change is if WE change it. I choose to be the Independent party of tomorrow, which is exactly what this country needs. They need more people to stand up, not more to follow them blindly as they take us to a place I have no desire in going.

Dark Irons, New Torb, and other Interesting Blizzard Gaming Topics

Even though I already have the coolest, the bluest, costume for Sombra in Overwatch, there is something even cooler about the Demon Hunter skin. It almost makes me want to willingly play Sombra to learn how to not suck at her. (Because really, not sucking at her would really be my best case scenario here). I should learn to play a DPS hero that isn’t a mediocre Junkrat style or easymode Soldier style, but I just can’t. I do much more DPS as D.va and I find it far more fun. All this rant is totally not the point.

Easily one of the biggest bits of information from Overwatch this week are the Bride of Junkenstein and the Torb changes. I’m not sure what Bride of Junkenstein is going to be but I have a feeling I’m going to love it. I think I live off of the Junekstein event when it goes live and I think between me and my boys, we could pretty much dominate. I do hope for some really cool new skins. Ana, Winston, and Moira are desperately hurting in the “Cool Skin” category, so I would love to see something that doesn’t suck for them. The Torb changes seem to drastically change who he is as a character, despite the fact that they didn’t want to fundamentally change who he was as a character. I’ll be streaming a bit from the PTR before I get into WoW stream today, especially since I want to see the Orisa changes as a partial Orisa main. Torb, as you probably know by now, can now shoot lava out during his Molten Core. According to Reddit, you can even get more out of it if you shoot it up in the air first but I have a feeling that this is going to be fixed soon.

In the Overwatch League, Danteh has unsurprising joined the Outlaws. They needed a strong Tracer/Sombra/Genji and he certainly fills that role. That lets Jakerat go back to what he’s good at and makes it so they have a better shot in Season 2. Ark, one of the most personable supports in the entire league, was rumored to be looking for a new home. If he is, I would strongly suggest heading to Boston. That would be awesome, as a huge Boston fan. There still hasn’t been too many announcements about the final rosters for teams yet, but I predict we are going to be slammed with all the exciting news soon enough.

Lastly, Dark Irons. Sometimes in WoW, you get a new race and you’re super excited about it only to be let down. The Highmountain Tauren: nope. Nightborne: a little disappointing so far, but I’m only level 30ish (coming from someone who has wanted to play  one since the Suramar quests opened up for me). Void Elf: Love. Lightforged: Kinda love. The Dark Irons, I wasn’t so sold on. Mostly because I never played a Dwarf race because I never wanted to. The voices are annoying.. and I want characters that look cool. They definitely don’t look cool. But then I found out that Dark Irons had a Mole Machine. A MOLE MACHINE! Yeah, that needed to happen. No regrets, I hit 60 over the weekend and today on stream, I will bore everyone by searching for all of the mole machines I can. They are fun. They are cool looking. And their home is in a freaking volcano. With elemental changes coming in the next patch, I may not even totally hate playing it. I highly recommend them to anyone who wants a cool new option.

This was just my brief overview of interesting topics from this past week in gaming. Don’t forget to check out my stream and my YouTube channel for past streams. Links are on the side.

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.

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.