The Day I went to Prison… and Didn’t Even Know It.

happy easter

It’s weird to think my best Easter was spent in prison.What’s even weirder is that I had no idea. I can’t remember the logistics of it but it was a large event for minimum risk prisoners to spend Easter with their children, grandchildren, ect. I think they brought us in through some magical tunnel so that the sight of our loved ones, and strangers behind cold bars, didn’t frighten us. Now it obviously wasn’t some magic tunnel but I had NO CLUE that is was a prison until a couple of years ago.

Yeah, apparently my grandma was a notorious drug dealer, and finally got caught.  I thought she was the sweetest woman who always had the best treats; funny how things work out like that. These criminals behind bars aren’t all bad people; they just do some not so good things. I don’t think less of her for her crimes, I actually think it was badass but I’m glad I didn’t know where I was.

We were taken to a large field with a basketball court in the middle. I remember nothing else but a couple of worn wooden benches. The sparseness struck me even then, I thought it was a crappy place to have an Easter hunt but hey, at least I was on one. I could see a couple of the elderly or lazy guardians lounging on the benches, the slightly sunny sky giving them this hazy glow.

I glanced over at the my grandma, waiting for the cue to hunt. I was a competitive brat even then and I would find the best chocolates.  Sadly, I was right and this was a crappy place to have an Easter egg hunt. You can only hide so many eggs in tall grass or under a bench. Regardless. I won. Ha.

Owned

Owned

Easter wasn’t over yet, now was the time to potato sack race, egg race and three legged race.  We gathered on the cracked cement that was supposed to be a basketball court and suited up. My grandma told me to go easy on them, but I scoffed in her face and bolted past the short legged, unstable twits. I won all three races, and I suppose some credit is due to my three legged partner for not being a complete nincompoop.

After the utter humiliation of all the small children, and the refreshments had been consumed, we left without my grandma, and I never wondered why. I was busy reflecting on my day of successes. I don’t normally get birthdays or Easters with family so I got to show off in front of them. Make them proud. One last time.

When I finally found out that I had been to a prison unbeknownst to me and the reason why, my jaw dropped, I hope you’ll excuse the cliché but that is how it felt. My sweet, innocent, baker of a grandmother was even more badass than me and I made her proud.

How could that not be the best Easter ever?

No, this its not an picture of my actual grandma. Wish I had one

No, this its not a picture of my actual grandma. Wish I had one

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Hello my friend, I’ve missed you.

Hello.

I know we haven’t spoken in a long while. Probably since you decided that pink floral jumpsuits were not your style after a very unfortunate event with a side-walk and an elbow. How such an event caused such a revelation I don’t know. Regardless, I was happy to see you old friend.

I’m not here to reprimand you for your absence. I get it. If any one gets it, it’s me. I’m here to greet you and to welcome you back. Or perhaps it is a first welcome as you are not that little girl in a horrid little jumpsuit, are you?

You’ve grown so much; you must know, I’m so proud of you. Even if I never told you, and even if all I did was hide in the shadows while you perished. Even if I thought you’d never make it out and even if I thought you’d flounder through life. I was proved wrong, and I’m so thankful to be wrong.

Not that I want this to go to your head, but you should know. You are strong, beautiful and talented and I never should have left you. I was so scared. So scared. I missed everything and I’m so sorry you went at it alone.

I will never ever leave you again and I will always be there to support you and lift you back up. Always.

I’m here now, to introduce, to remind you, of your best friend – you. And boy have I missed me.

Welcome home.

I need two days, please.

If we were to have coffee, at least for today, I might tell you of my struggle to be meaningful. I would ask if you ever had days where you felt meaningless? Where you felt as if there wasn’t much to be proud of, that you hadn’t done much worth meaning.

I would spew my jumbled and erratic thoughts your way, hoping some of it rang true for you as well, so maybe you could offer advise, or you could relate; because relating with another human being, makes things seem less raw.  You’d be a layer of skin to help me move forward

If we were to have coffee tomorrow, at least,  I would l tell you what I did to be meaningful the day before. I would ask if you ever had days where you felt  meaningful? Where you felt as if you had done so much to be proud of, you stumbled but you rose and created something meaningful?

So thank you for meeting with me twice, and being my anchor to reality, for seeing me through my days.

 

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5 Reasons Everyone Should Play Video Games

From surgeons to bus boys, everyone can benefit from playing video games. Like the people who can benefit, video games range from shooting people in the face in a historical setting to spinning in the middle of flowers to get some currency. A lot of people take a lot of games at face value; they see first-person shooters (FPS) as violent or fun, puzzle games as a challenge, and role-play games(RPG) as make belief. While all these things may stand true, there is much more to it.

1. Motor Skills
Motor skills is a pretty obvious one and one touched on a lot; for good reason. Many games teach you hand-eye coordination, a notable example being first person shooters such as Halo. Shooting your opponent in the face faster than he can shoot you in the knee and stop your adventuring all together requires fast, small and accurate movements. What does this mean to you? Well if your surgeon plays an fps regularly, it could save your life. Finely tuned motor skills are a bonus no matter what you do, whether it’s sports, surgery, or busing those tables. You’ll be faster and better than those who do not.

2. Leadership
Leadership can’t be easily taught outside of real life every day experiences. Most of the time, you either have leadership skills or you do not. Many video games help establish leadership skills, games such as World of Warcraft (WoW) is a prime example. In WoW a main component is the guild structure. Guilds are groups of people working together to establish a common goal, in many cases in WoW, successful raids is that goal. Being in a guild allows you to step into a leader ship role where you need to properly delegate, structure and organize, otherwise you get a whole mass of chickens with no heads. Not pretty – very bloody. It’s pretty clear that leadership skills teach you how to be a better, more patient leader. Thank’s chickens.

3. Teamwork
On the other end of the leadership spectrum, you get teamwork – Yay! I’m not going to get into how to spell team, but rather get straight to the point and use the guild reference again. If you don’t want/have time ect. to lead a guild or raid, you get to be one of those who gets led. For a raid to be successful, you need a leader who knows how to approach a boss or scenario and a team of people who can listen and think on their feet. Dying twenty times to the Lich king in a Pug (group of random people) can teach you how to beat it,sure, but hey, if you can cut that down to half, why not? If you work as a team you can learn from each other as well as gain knowledge from those with experience so you yourself make less mistakes. Teamwork skills will teach you how to survive in a lot of life experience where your in a group and need to work together to accomplish something. Teamwork also goes hand-in hand with leadership. With both those skill sets under your belt, you’ll be a rock star in no-time.

4. Strategy
Strategy is a part of almost every game regardless of its categorization. My favourite example, and game, is the Zelda series; an infamous rpg series that really started it all for me, (sorry Mario.) The games are essentially about saving this princess, Zelda, time and time again. In order to save this damsel in distress, one must complete a series of temples (Water, Earth, Fire Ect). Completing these temples is no easy task, you cannot simply swipe your sword at all the enemies and be done with it. You’re forced to think outside the box due to the various puzzles that litter the place. You cannot progress without completing each puzzle and these solutions are not always obvious. You need to fiddle, tinker and open your mind until viola! you get that magical sound that means you did it! Taking this “outside the box” approach to life is a major plus, it opens a world of doors and opportunities to you that you never would have seen had you not learned a thing or two from all-mighty Link.

5. Stress/pain relief
Last, but certainly not least, is that playing video games can ease many of life’s burdens. It’s been proven not only to relieve stress but pain as well. Video games can be a form of escapism, a place to steal cars while running over hookers or a place where you hop through portals so you don’t die from a malignant computer. You can do all of these things, legally might I add, as well as in the comfort of your own home aka in your underwear. Everyone could use a stress relief and video games provide an excellent platform in a rich array of styles.

All-in-all, games provide many benefits in life that get overlooked, so the next time your learning about the French Revolution in Assassin’s Creed or honing your motor skills in a game of Halo, think about how much more awesome it’s making you.

The Race

“I find my calm not at the finish line looking back,but rather as I am: on the run,out of breath, chasing something eternal”

– Vanessa Rousso

People chase this idea their entire lives. The idea of the prefect resting place, filled with a spouse, 2.5 kids and a retriever. From birth, you are told you need to do this and that. Good grades to a job to a family – The End. You’ve reached the finish line, time to rest. Now what?
This idea is so ingrained into the minds of the masses, there is no escaping, ever. You don’t want kids? Too bad. You don’t think school is for you? Too bad. This sense of finality has overwhelmed me my whole life. For most, this is the greatest thing that can be accomplished in life, this family and security. What about the rest? Are we wrong?
This is the question I asked myself in my adult years. I spent my high school days secluded, I thought and acted differently. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, but I knew I didn’t want to find my calm at the finish line. When I started out on my own I floundered and flopped and failed. I had all these crazy ideas and schemes of how I was going to make my life work the way people wanted it to. I even believed it was what I wanted for a short period, because it was a sense of normalcy, calmness. I grew restless and angry and I fell. Hard.
It was only recently that I found my peace, or at least a road to peace; and it’s covered with pot holes and steep hills. A road most would intelligently avoid because it’s clearly a bumpy road. For me, those pot holes are bumps to go 4x4ing over and those hills are like roller coasters. Hard to get up but damn is the ride down fun. This moment of clarity happened in a most unusual way. A single person, who I’ve never met and probably never will even speak to changed my life with a simple message.Her words effected me not because I saw her as this goddess of perfection, but because she found her place, not by fitting into this mould that’s expected, but by following her own idea. This idea that not everyone has to go to the finish line to be happy. Some of us are just happy racing. And again, this idea, was the spark I needed, it was confirmation that I didn’t have to figure everything out now, or ever, it was the idea that I could be happy, “on the run, out of breath, chasing something eternal.” And so I am.

Writer’s Block Boot Camp – Day 3

WBBC – Day 3

Mystery Cookie
One Day you come into work and find a cookie mysteriously placed on your desk. Grateful
to whoever left this anonymous cookie, you eat it. The next morning you come in and find
another cookie. This continues for months until one Day a different object is left—and this
time there’s a note.

I walk into the frigid office seeing my cookie on the desk, as it is every morning. It’s funny how I call it “my” cookie now. It started months ago, sometime in early February; I came to work as I always do, at the same time and in the same cramped cubicle. I’m early, as usual, and slump down dramatically in a chair. I go to place my coffee down on the desk and finally realize the oddity that lay there. I calculate that it’s shortbread based on the look of it, one of my favourites. I’m starving and don’t question it too much, I figure who would break into an office and send a malicious cookie? So I give it a curious sniff, look around like I stole it, and take a nibble. My first thought is, “I was right! It’s shortbread,” the next is that it’s delicious and what the hell is it doing on the desk. That really should have been my thought as soon as I saw it.

I immodestly assume it’s from a quirky admirer who doesn’t approve of wrappers, and think little more of it until the next morning. I really wasn’t expecting another cookie the next morning, but there it was, staring at me. Taunting me with it’s buttery, rich crunch. I don’t even look around this time, I noisily scarf it down and drain my coffee like some sort of savage. “I need to start eating breakfast”, I think to myself, and sit down for another day’s work.

The next morning I feel like some type of animal of prey as I slowly stalk the cubicle. I suspiciously peak around the corner and, when I realize my prey is unmonitored and waiting, I pounce on it and snatch it up. I run away to the coffee room before whomever left it for me comes to see if I’ve eaten it. I want to savor this one, and as I didn’t have time to buy a coffee elsewhere, I had to use the machine of crap coffee. Cookies make everything better.

After months and months of a morning cookies, I come to call it my own. I expect it and desire it. I have come up with so many scenarios of how and why my cookie comes to me every morning – they range from far fetched alien signals to a shy co-worker leaving me a token. Regardless of how or why it is there, it is mine.
My astonishment one morning, upon not seeing my cookie on my desk, was loud and visible. I can tell by random grunts and gasps that I shocked a few co-workers out of pre-work cat-naps. Instead of a cookie on my desk there is a note with a large rock on it. I pick up and unfold the note, “To whomever is stealing my cookies – I put ex-lax in the last one – hope you enjoyed your morning!”

A while later, after some thought and a brief epiphany of why yesterday morning was so terrible, I start to ponder who it was that sat here. I realize this was Ted’s cubicle, one of the nicest but most reserved people I’ve ever met. He will stand behind you for hours just so he doesn’t have to excuse himself to go by. Ted put up with his cookie being stolen for months before he snapped. I’ll make sure to have a word with him about his rude notes.

Writer’s Block Boot Camp – Day 2

WBBC Day 2

“You bump into an ex-lover on Valentine’s day – one whom you often call “The One That Got Away.” What happens?”

Ironic. It seems another one of life’s cruel jokes. It’s Ironic that today of all days, Valentine’s Day – the anniversary of our first date, is when I see him again . The one that got away. The one whom I haven’t seen in 5 years. The one I haven’t spent a day not thinking about, at least that’s how it feels. My stomach tightens and dashes into my throat. My whole body burns with adrenaline. My finger tips literally sting with the sensation.

It was a cloudy day with little rays of sun flickering down on my converse shoes. I have a nasty habit of staring at the ground when I’m nervous, and buses always make me nervous. I know it’s cliche but I feel like a sardine trapped with stinky, rotting fish; everyone stares because there is no where else to look and almost everyone has some sort of stench. The bus saunters on its way, and makes yet another stop. Shoes pass by as they always do but something catches my eye this time and makes me look up. I recognize them as the shoes he wore of course and anyone could be wearing them, but I was right. It was him.

With my heart pumping every drop of blood a mile a minute through my body I glance up at him, wide-eyed and frightened – he is stony and cool. I realize all too frantically that this is my stop as well, and the few seconds that seems a lifetime were almost up. Almost. I have a few steps, seconds, breaths to do something. I panic but do a mental snapshot of my outfit – looked pretty cute – and choke out a “Heeeg”, not at all the light and airy “Hey!” I had envisioned. I throw in a twitchy nod and walk off the bus with every ounce of me wishing I hadn’t gotten off the bus. But I had. “It’s for the best,” I repeat. Over and over again until I almost believe it. Almost.

Writer’s Block Boot camp – Day 1

This is a two-week boot camp  program that is supposed to help with writing, both the motivation and the creativity. So today is obviously the first day. Let’s see what comes out.  The link for the site follows: http://www.writersdigest.com/wp-content/uploads/V7705_BootCampOfWritingPrompts.pdf

Day 1 – “Breaking Up With Writer’s Block It’s time for you and Writer’s Block to part ways. Write a letter breaking up with Writer’s Block, starting out with, “Dear Writer’s Block, it’s not you, it’s me …” – WBBC

Dear writer’s block, it’s not you, it’s me. Everything has been foggy lately. Disorientating and in a whirlwind. I lack motivation and persistence, so I blame you. You’ve been daubed “writer’s block” for a reason, have you not? Even now, I struggle to lose hold of you. The words seem forced through a too small strainer. All the good parts just sit in a pile watching the liquid and small particles fall into the sink. You can try and press firmly on the remainder, but you just ruin it. You can’t force matter to do what it doesn’t want to do. So I am dumping you out, and searching for a bigger strainer. So long. It’s not me…it’s you.