The Challenges of Being a Mom of a Teenager

In our house, these past few weeks have been emotionally challenging. Not because my oldest, who’s 17, is a challenging child. He’s not. He’s actually extremely and unusually easy to deal with. Somehow, he managed to keep his sweet and mature nature even after the dreaded puberty hit. Sure, now he’s more confident in himself and isn’t afraid to show his more sarcastic side, but he’s only stepped out of line once with his mouth and it wasn’t even that bad. It’s because the reality is coming that next year, he will be graduating.

This week, he starts lifeguarding training, something that he’s been wanting to do for a while but then talked himself out of it. After passing his initial online course and learning more about it, I watched him become more confident. He was afraid of the importance of his job. The fear of being responsible for the life of another person was overwhelming to him. I told him I get it. Try being responsible for keeping 3 people alive at the same time. (Husband included in the number. Those boys don’t make it easy.) He wanted a job that didn’t interfere with his school work and would help him pay for this swim team that his coach recommended that he joined in the off-season. His fear turned into excitement this week as he headed off to do the hands-on portion of his certification, but really he’s just happy to be in the pool again.

We also just signed him up for the SATs and next week, he’ll be all signed up for his 2 AP exams. I half joke with my husband that I’m not ready for this. I’m not prepared. I pass it off as a joke, but we both know it isn’t. Now’s the time where I just hope that I did more than just an adequate job of “momming”. That my jokes about being an adequate mom are really just jokes. The first years of his life before high school were his training; now I just hope he can finish the job successfully on his own. Be free, blackbird.

After signing up for the course, it turns out that he may potentially miss out on our mini-weekend away during his school break. I gave him his choices and refused to give him the answer: either he skips it and finds another course or he misses this mini-vacation and stay with family while we’re gone. (The vacation was a free trip that we won and was scheduled long before this.) He asked me what he should do, hoping that I was going to make the choice for him. I wasn’t. Kids never learn if you make their choices for them. I gave him advice. “Well, you get it done now or you hope that you don’t miss the next one.” Ultimately, he decided to take the risk of missing out on the vacation because this was something he needed to do.

It was the mature decision. I agreed, it was the right call. It was the cheaper of the courses and you get more from it than others. I’d say there will be plenty more vacations, but the reality is that he’s going away to college soon. Who knows where he’s going to go. Who knows if he’ll even come back to the area. One of the schools he’s looking at is close enough to the cape where he may decide to take up lifeguarding over the summer at the beach instead of coming home. He may end up renting a place off-campus with friends or his cousin. It’s really hard to tell what will happen after he graduates.

That’s where raising adults versus raising kids makes the difference. At least I know hope that I gave him the tools that he needs to make the right choices for him. I have a good feeling about him, but he’s been mostly sheltered. It’s hard to say what it will be like for him out there in the real world. I can’t read the future. I just hope that I did enough that I become this nagging little voice in the back of his head, steering him towards the right path.

Overwatch League: Season 3, Week 2

The Battle of Brotherly Love took place over the weekend, with Gritty and the Philadelphia Fusion showing that their homestand could be just as energetic as the New York one. This week, we only saw 4 teams play: Washington Justice, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, and of course the Philadelphia Fusion. How’d things turn out in week 2? Probably exactly how you imagined it.

The first match up was the Florida Mayhem against the Houston Outlaws. These are two teams that are known for chronic under-performance and I still can’t get over when they pulled out the Bastion on Gibraltar last year when they went up against the Outlaws, mowing down the green team handily and winning that match in the completely wrong way. When you pull out the Bastion in that move, you know you’re desperate and played terrible. Who wants to win that way normally?

The match was an easy 3-0 victory for the Mayhem. This team seems significantly better than last year, but the versatility was supposed to be so great on the Outlaws. Only it wasn’t and Meko could really only carry so hard. I was a big fan of blasé last year on the Boston Uprising and was a little disappointed in his departure. I felt like if he could just play “his characters”, he’d be great. But he was always put in a different role. I’m surprised at some point he wasn’t on Lucio over Kellex. His first performance in green wasn’t impressive, granted McCree isn’t “one of his characters”. Why not have Linkzr or Danteh out there instead of the DPS duo that obviously wasn’t working? Maybe they’d learn their lesson before their next match against Washington…?

…Only, they didn’t. They stuck with practically the same set up, except they put Rapel in over Rawkus for some maps. As if you didn’t think Hydration and blasé could do any worse… they did. Later on, the coaching staff put the blame on the flu and later took the blame for the loss. It seems very plausible that they had the flu, so maybe next week we’ll see a different team. They can’t disappoint their fans for a 3rd season in a row. (At least as an Uprising fan, I might only be disappointed for a 2nd season in a row.)

All the other teams seem to be very impressive. Philadelphia went 2-0 in their matches. Though I am disappointed I didn’t get to see my off-tank role model out there. I imagine with Fury over Poko, the Fusion would have reigned even more destruction upon their enemies. Carpe is still showing off why he’s one of the best DPS in the league, destroying everyone in his path. It’s really impressive to watch.

As for next week? The Uprising are facing the Houston Outlaws in their one match next week. Which means they are going to have a very easy win or a very heartbreaking loss. Remember that time that Shanghai got their first win over the Uprising? Granted, the team was significantly better than the past, but it still stung being the first. Let’s not repeat that.

It’s All About Freedom of Religion

In the State of the Union address (yes, I know that was so long ago), President Trump declared that he would fight for religious freedom and allow prayer in school. This goes right along with the Republican talking points of everything is wrong with the world because they took away prayer in school. God is the answer to all of the problems these days, at least that’s what they tell us.

But, which religion is he fighting to protect? Which God will be prayed to at school? Because Freedom of Religion doesn’t just mean “Freedom of Christianity”. In the speech, he distinctly said protections for “pastors and reverends”. What about rabbis? What about imams? What about agnostics or satanists, or those who pray to the Flying Spaghetti monster? Because right now, it only sounds like “Freedom of Christianity” that he’s going to fight for.

I remember, and this was so long ago so I could be wrong, that people came over to America for religious freedom. They didn’t want to practice the same religion that they were forced to where they were, so they came here. The founding fathers made it a point to protect religious freedoms, the freedom to practice religion as you want to. It didn’t say that you had to practice a form of Christianity to have a right to this freedom. It didn’t say that someone else’s religious beliefs can dictate how another lives their life. It said that people had the freedom to celebrate God as they choose to.

Forcing prayer in school is a slippery slope. There are so many different religions or non-religions that it seems impractical to make any laws about prayer in school. I’m of the belief that if you want your child to pray in school, send them to a religious school. Heck, since you want to push for-profit schools then this can be more reasonable. But to force it in public schools? I would tell my child to do what he felt was right for him and if he decided not to pray and got in trouble for it, they can come to me about it. Because he has the right to practice religion as he so chooses, even if he chooses not to.

I’d make some grand statement about how I don’t need God to be a good person because I’m not all that great. I’m morally questionable, at best. But that isn’t because I wasn’t raised in a religion; because I was raised Catholic. I’m just human, who has some great days and some not. But the idea of forcing religion on people will only make them run further away from it. Forcing prayer in school, especially on those who aren’t even Christian or religious, won’t help people find God. People need to find that on their own, on their own terms and in their own time. If they don’t, then they don’t need to. That doesn’t make them bad people. People should be more focused on one’s actions and less on judging them because they “believe in the wrong God”.

Overwatch League: Season 3 Opening Weekend

They said that the traveling aspect of Overwatch League would be its downfall. That they wouldn’t pull it off. Sure, there were some production issues, but it was the first day of home/away games. It was their first weekend on a new platform. But, if the Dallas and New York homestands count for anything, it shows that this model that was dreamed of by the Overwatch League team could work.

As a fan, the crowds made everything more exciting. Sure, there was always a crowd with some fans in it, but the majority were LA fans. Now, it’s everyone else’s turn to shine. Hearing the boos as you would watching a Patriots game, hearing the excitement of the crowd. It made the viewing experience for me as a fan even more intense. It added something that I discovered was missing from the league when they first tried out homestands. It even made me consider the trek to Boston to see the Uprising, though I really wish they would just play in Foxborough for us Western Mass fans.

My pick rate was about 50% for both days. The outcomes weren’t really too shocking. Some teams did have a stronger performance than thought, such as that map loss the Shock had to the Dallas Fuel. Otherwise, I think matches went how most people saw them going. Spitfire had a consistency problem, as did Fuel. Shock showed their dominance, but still showed that they had weaknesses as well. The Titans also did about as well as people predicted.

Now let’s get into the Boston Uprising, who played their first match this week against NYXL, a team that no doubt was going to beat them. But the question was “how well will they do?” When I first saw Axxiom in the lineup, I was excited because I’ve been calling for him as the main tank role since last season. I had more faith in Axxiom as a tank than I did Fusions. They went double tank, something that some teams found successful on certain maps. But, when that wasn’t working as well as they’d hope, why didn’t they switch to the off-tank? The answer is because Boston hasn’t learned. They still refuse to do substitutions. They can’t adjust on the fly. They should’ve dropped Fusions Orisa and went with Brussen at least when Hotba was just unstoppable. They didn’t have the same mobility without the D.Va. Why didn’t they switch out one of the DPS for Jerry? Something wasn’t working with the DPS and instead of seeing if Jerry was going to make the difference… they stuck with it.

The first point of the first map, they looked so good. Until NYXL did what Boston couldn’t: adjust. They let SBB and Nenne just walk all over them. They let Hotba just walk all over them. They had no answers to anything that NYXL did, or at least they didn’t care to try something else that would offer answers. Unless Boston learns the crazy concept of “substitutions”, they won’t win. They won’t prove anyone wrong. They have raw talent. I was hoping with the new coaches, they would opt for trying new things (like substitutions). HuK needs to explain this to the fans. Did they just assume they would lose and they didn’t want to give any strats away? The off-tanks were in NY and seemed healthy enough as they toured the city, why not try putting one of them in to see if that helped? Why did they so stubbornly stick to something that wasn’t working? Were they trying to see which main tank was going to be the best choice moving forward since they knew they were going to lose? We have questions and I think it’s fair that we get answers for them. Especially since there was a promise of more transparency.

The Boston Uprising doesn’t play again for 2 weeks. I hope in this time they finally learn from their mistakes. I’m a loyal fan and I will root for them no matter how well they do. But love doesn’t need to hurt. It’s time to do this amazing thing called “change”. Sometimes you need to make a change if things aren’t working. Sub in players on different maps. Other teams do it. It’s not a foreign concept to the league. But let’s not just give up and stick with things that obviously aren’t working. And go Axxiom.

That New Teen Drama “SOTU” Was Really Great!

Oh.. that wasn’t a teen drama. Those were grown ass adults acting like children in the roles people elected them in: our government. It played out like an episode of (insert teen drama here). One person did something wrong. Another person did something wrong. Weird things happened that you didn’t get. You get that one heartwarming moment that makes you go “awww”. Then everything goes to hell. That’s how those teen dramas go and that’s apparently how the State of the Union went as well.

It started off as normal with all of the insane pomp and circumstance that we have grown accustomed to. One that is very… regal in nature. Yes. Regal. As in “royal”. As in they are treating every one of our presidents as if they were monarchs, deserving of celebrity status just because they are presidents. How dare you criticize the president! They are presidents because God declared it so. Just like the kings and queens who just happen to have the right bloodline.

Then it was the “non-handshake” heard around the world. Sure, was it awful of the president not to reciprocate the gesture? Absolutely. He should be held to the highest standard of civility and morality and everything else. Did she put out her hand knowing that the president was a petty child who doesn’t know how to behave when mommy and daddy tell him to dress up and be nice? Absolutely. This was a smart move that gave her some moral high ground.

A high ground that she managed to keep as she seemed to scold her party for acting up, like the grumpy grandmother who knew her kids were going to be stubborn brats but brought them along anyways. A high ground that she kept when she stood up and applauded at various parts during the SOTU. A high ground that she lost when she tore up her copy of the speech right behind the president for the cameras to see. To do it again, just to make sure people got the hint. It was spiteful, maybe deserving, but spiteful. She’s the distinguished speaker; she also should be held to a higher standard.

Sure there were some amazing moments there, albeit selfish strategies that were solely there for his campaign and not the morale of the country. The best of those moments is when the soldier came home from his deployment and surprised his family. That was the best moment of the night. It wasn’t the student he gave a scholarship to and discussed how he was going to orchestrate the downfall of public schools by giving money to for-profit schools that just want to make money and don’t care about their students. It wasn’t the moment he gave Rush Limbaugh a Presidential Medal of Freedom in the middle of the SOTU, when he could have done it before or the next day. Glorifying a man who spends most of his time spewing hateful untruths. It was this moment where a family were so happily reunited that will be the best moment of the night.

Did I believe anything he said? Of course not. Some things seemed factually impossible or half truths. Yes, the rich are doing much better since they are getting money back from taxes instead of having to actually pay them. I’m not doing any better since his election. His tax cuts give us a whole $10 extra a paycheck, which means we lose $2400 in refunds at the end of the year. I’d rather the extra money at the end of the year than have that extra $10 that means I can splurge on the fancy toilet paper. Nothing is better unless you’re rich enough to line the coffers of the party in charge.

Pelosi’s rationale was that she ripped up the speech because it was a “Manifest of lies”. It was. She’s not wrong. But the problem is that most people either don’t care because they so blindly follow this man without a care of facts or because they so blindly hate this man without a care of facts. He’s done nothing to make the country more united; but he has done an amazing job of making sure that we stay as divided as possible. People follow his lead, whether they support him or not, lacking any sort of civility or free thought. I was never really good at blindly following anyone. What I am good at is being rightfully cynical of everyone who represents our country right now, except Romney apparently.

It’s a high school drama that we have watched unfold for nearly a decade and it’s only getting more dramatic twists and turns every year. The problem is that we seem to be okay with that because we’re the ones casting this drama, not some overpaid casting director. We’re the ones that are okay with settling with the way things are when we should be rebelling and fighting to make things right.

I’m Brianne: A White, Straight, Female and Boxed Color Ginger Author

That title probably stirred something in you. It seems kinda silly that I distinguished myself using not only my physical traits, but also my sexuality. It’s silly because what do any of those things have to do with me being an author? These aren’t things that can determine my skill. It may be interesting to someone who wants to know read works by female authors, but there’s no other need for that. Knowing all of that about me is unimportant to my adequate talents at words.

Every time that I read something, it seems important. “Gay Actor _____ stars as _____.” “First Female Lesbian Coach in the NFL.” “Transgender soldier gave WikiLeaks confidential information.” Why can’t it just be “____ actor stars in _____.” Why do we have to use these labels as titles, as if that’s all they are? It doesn’t matter. Him being gay doesn’t make him better or worse as an actor; his talent does. I’d like to live in a time when none of that matters. Where instead of “First Female Lesbian Coach”, we get “Katie Sowers is the offensive assistant coach of the San Fransisco 49ers”. It shouldn’t matter that she’s female or a lesbian; it should matter that she’s a person who does a good job at what she does. That’s what matters.

I get it though. When you’re a ground-breaking figure. You are shattering ceilings that really shouldn’t be there anymore. They keep telling us that times are much different now and people are more accepting. But they’re really not. I like that they featured Katie Sowers so much because it shows women that there is a place for them in their dream jobs, even if it’s in a male dominated world. I like that if I ever am blessed with a daughter that she could see these women running for president and coaching in the NFL and doing whatever the hell else they want so she can be inspired to follow her dreams. But we should focus on the important things, like talent or morality. Are these good role models? It doesn’t matter what they identify as or who they love. It matters that our children can look up to them.

I remember the first time a friend came out to me. He was nervous and scared about my reaction, which was “I don’t care.” He was pissed at me and I didn’t get it. I didn’t care. He was my friend. He was kind to me. Who he loved meant nothing to me because I didn’t care. He took it as I didn’t care about this struggle. That I shrugged this momentous occasion for him off because I didn’t care about him. I understood that. This was a big moment for him and the idea that I dismissed it was rough. He understood that I didn’t dismiss it because I didn’t care about him; that what he said to me was insignificant to how much I loved him moving forward. He was my best friend; that’s what I cared about.

There are moments when making note of their gender, sexuality, and race matters. It’s fine to say that Katie Sowers was momentous because she was the first. But that shouldn’t be the focus of every article. It’s fine to say “Lil Nas X is the first gay rapper”, but does every article have to say “Gay Rapper Lil Nas X…” Maybe it should say “Rapper of that Annoying Effing Song that I Can’t Escape”.

Maybe by changing this narrative, we are getting rid of glass ceilings. We aren’t pressuring a woman to be the first female president. We aren’t telling people that they have to come out because it’s really not our business because they should succeed based on their talents. Sure, let’s celebrate those momentous occasions that are worth noting, but let’s not dwell on it or focus on it. Let’s let the ceilings shatter and focus on making sure there are none left to break.

Overwatch League Season 3: Is This the Uprising’s Year?

This weekend, the Overwatch League opens for Season 3. The Uprising play on Sunday, with their first match at the New York Excelsior homestand. Because for some reason, the league is still pushing a NY/Boston rivalry. It’s not happening. You’d be more likely to get a Houston rivalry due to Danteh’s trolling of HuK than you would an NYXL/Uprising rivalry.

Back to the main point. Is this the Year of the Boston Uprising? Every year, this team ends up at the bottom of the power rankings. Their first year, they ended up in 3rd place. Last year… well, let’s not really talk about that dumpster fire. After again nearly gutting their entire team, we end up with a roster of 3 people from last year, and some major unknowns. Will this group come together to pull off another miracle season, or will they crash and burn?

I honestly feel more confident going into this season than I had in the past. First of all, our support line seems stellar as far as I can tell from watching their streams. Swimmer is just incredible to watch and Myunbong is a silent but deadly force. Colourhex was impressive last season when he finally got to play in a DPS role, and adding Munchkin to the mix was amazing. This Jerry guy though… who was that? Apparently a sleeper DPS god because holy cow watching his stream is amazing. Plus, he’s got a fun personality that reminds me of the mischievous but unassuming Striker. The DPS and support line is amazing and I’m very confident that they will do very well this year.

What about the tank line? Well… that’s the problem. Last year, I was very much pro-Axxiom being out there instead of Fusions. This year, my feelings are the same. Especially with a mixed roster, putting Axxiom out there is a great idea. But it’s not just because he can speak Korean and English. I still think that he’s a superior tank to Fusions. In fact, after watching some streams, he’s not only a superior tank but his game sense is infinitely better. He seemed like a solid shot caller. I would feel much more confident with him as our main tank than Fusions. Will that happen? Only time will tell. But they should at least play him a lot more because he is so talented that I think he might be the key to winning.

Then there is the off-tanks. Mouffin and brussen seem pretty solid. Mouffin is definitely capable of making those big plays and brussen just seems like a reliable OT that we could really use. I think that having both players is the best thing that we could do. I don’t think you could really go wrong with either player, but the only problem with Mouffin is that he really hasn’t had a lot of stage time. He might need a bit more experience to be really great.

So is it our year? I have a great feeling that we are going to do decently well this season, as long as the team does a couple of things. First of all, they shouldn’t be afraid to sub people in and out as needed instead of stubbornly sticking to strats and players that obviously aren’t working for them. Secondly, I definitely think that trying Axxiom as the main tank for a while should be a thing. He might surprise everyone and surpass Fusions in skill.

This is still my team and hype-mode is activated here. Overwatch League is coming back, but not soon enough.