#179: The Rest

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At the school I work at, they’ve instituted a really awesome policy before students take the SBAC or any major standardized assessment. They call it “Rest Before the Test,” a day of absolutely no academic work at all, where students can bring their pajamas with them and sit and watch movies in class all day. It’s a great idea, first of all because it’s exceedingly difficult to rest and relax before a huge standardized assessment, but secondly because the students deserve it. They’ve worked so hard in school for so long, and the idea that they can just chill for a bit is perfect.

Right now, I think the science room is watching “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse,” another movie I wish I saw in person that I didn’t get the chance to watch fully. Instead of watching the movie with them downstairs, I’m upstairs writing blog posts and filling time, doing what I can.

When I was in school, we never had a “rest before the test” sort of day. We weren’t even able to relax after the test was done; we just went right back to school as normal, like nothing big had happened. The ultimate irony: acting as if nothing important took place, while also constantly hyping up the importance of said event. It’s a typical double-standard in education, and so I really appreciate how this school works to take care of students’ social-emotional needs. It can be very stressful for people to take standardized tests, especially considering all the times they’ve taken this same test in the past. The SBAC is taken all throughout middle school, and that’s not the only test students take while they’re in middle or lower school too. There’s a test exclusive to ELA students, which was before this one. I just sympathize a lot with these kids.

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#167: The Easter Holiday

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What a weekend, am I right? This past weekend was one for the history books, with a combination of Dungeons & Dragons, Monster of the Week, Telestrations, Heroes of the Storm, Magic: the Gathering, and much more played between groups of friends and family during the past couple days. It brings me so much joy to see people come together and enjoy the small things together.

Easter is that time of the year when I start to feel like the year is fully in swing. The stride hits around June or July, but right about now, as I enter the last leg of the school year, I definitely feel that 2019 has arrived. In a sense, I’m relieved because we’re one step closer to the next presidential election, and everyone knows how important that’s going to be. But on the other hand, I’m not so relieved because I feel old, like my early 20s weren’t very much.

We used to have larger family gatherings involving Easter, and all the other Christian holidays, but nowadays our Easters are just at home with a small group of close family around the table. We eat, drink, and feel merry with each other. There aren’t any more Easter baskets from the bunny to expect when we arrive home; instead, there are dishes we love and people we don’t get to see often. A different kind of present, offered only during the holidays.

This Easter, I sat around the dinner table with Alex and family and we talked about my (relatively) new job, my nieces, and Alex’s job. We tend to talk about Alex’s job and commute a lot whenever we’re together. Also, getting engaged was brought up by both sets of parents, which Alex and I both know is something we’ve heard a lot about.

#124: Suramar

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In continuing my trend of talking about something I do quite a lot, here’s a blog post about a zone. One of my all-time favorite zones in World of Warcraft history is Suramar. Considering the sheer number of zones that are available in the game, it’s a great feat to be on this list!

(The picture above is not of Suramar; you can google it and get a good image in your head of what I’m talking about, if you’re curious.)

Suramar is noteworthy primarily for its aesthetics; when you first step foot into the city, it completely floors you. More than any other city in World of Warcraft, this one actually feels like a vibrant, alive space where people live, breathe, eat, and commiserate together. Sometimes the cities in this game feel empty and powerless, but there is a certain magic to Suramar that makes it stand out from the rest.

There’s also culture to Suramar. They live off of arcwine and the Nightwell, and without the Nightwell’s power, the Nightborne (the residents of this city) are powerless and slowly degrade into the Withered, a race of wretched, mana-starved elves that roam around waiting for someone to fill their hunger, until they eventually just die from starvation.

But what remains interesting to me about this space is the storyline, how it stretched from one patch to another and then some. I enjoyed the variety of stories being told through the characters. Seeing the characters evolve from wretched Withered beings to fully-fledged Nightborne again was a worthwhile treat. And then to cap it all off, the Nighthold raid took place after the story line and really rocked. It’s probably one of my favorite raids of all time, and that’s also saying something!

#58: Multiplayer & Solo

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Continuing the spirit of talking about things that I talked about a long time ago but want to dedicate more thought to, here’s Overwatch again, but in a different context! (The enclosed picture is not related to Overwatch at all, but that’s because there aren’t any free pictures on the internet of the logo, so this will have to suffice.)

In case you didn’t read my last blog post on this subject or are living under a rock, Overwatch is a first-person shooter (fps) video game for the PC, Xbox, and PS4. It features quick movement, a massive pool of heroes with different niches and styles, and solid, reliable run-and-gun gameplay built around teamwork and cooperation. Six heroes make up a team and have to complete a single objective in order to win a match; however, opposing them is another team of six heroes with the sole objective of making sure the first team does not succeed. It’s a back-and-forth, chaotic, fun multiplayer game built for pre-made teams to dominate together. When I find myself hanging out with my friends, we always end up playing at least one or two games of Overwatch before the night is over. Bringing our laptops or computers together to play games is a classic tradition of ours, to complete the LAN party atmosphere, but venturing online to Battle.net to play some Overwatch is almost an inevitability.

Despite all this talk about the game’s multiplayer prowess, I also enjoy playing solo from time to time. The Quick Play mode is painless and, as its name implies, quick, a simple way of entering a game with like-skilled players but without any major competitive stakes attached, except for a small bit of experience gained at the end of the match for the winning team. There are different virtues to extol while playing the game online with friends versus online by myself, and I’ve learned to enjoy both. The fact that every match is multiplayer does not necessarily mean I have to play with other people I know in my party to have fun.

 

#19: Falling

Sometimes you feel like you are falling, like the whole world around you is disintegrating and you are left to watch it pass away. Those are frightening times, made to test and train those much stronger and bolder and reckless than I am. A trial by fire not designed with the weak of heart in mind.

When I first realized I was falling in place, it was a few months ago, when I fell asleep under the same ceiling as always, yet could hardly see it any more. All I saw, upon looking upwards, was a derelict, disappointing future, one where I drove every morning of every week day wondering what horrors I would be grappling with in my head seven hours from now. I saw morning Dunkin rushes, a necessary quick breakfast run to set the day, and a finished packet of hash browns left on the passenger seat. I saw temporary, early-career bonding, and then a door slammed shut and never reopened, not once. I saw an endless gallery of amused and aloof faces lining the hallways, too preoccupied in their individual solitudes to see that mine was tearing me apart. I saw nothing worth saving except those who reached out and reached in. I saw minefields of memories, postcards and potholes from the days and weeks I missed. I saw time slip from me as if I was stuck in one room, in one time for the rest of my life. I saw conversations with innocent strangers about topics that will never be relevant again outside of this building, even this moment. I saw the same faces that watched me cry after the first day, and I watched them watch me.

Can never be too sure of one thing, but I am sure of this: my life was twisted and malformed by a time and a place I didn’t belong to for more than a year, and even then, it’s arguable I didn’t belong there even when I was there. It can be hard to admit weakness, but when one is rendered so weak that they need to ask for help, it’s a sign. Not everyone is heartless, but those who are upon first impression rarely disappoint.