Tuesday, September 12, 2017

2017 Update

I know. I haven't written in ages.

Here's the deal: I'm now diving deep into a whole new blogging adventure!
You can follow along by visiting LearnExploreAdore.com - and you can subscribe there to make sure you don't miss any of our new adventures in homeschooling and potentially even road schooling. (A little scary, right?)

Anyway,

Thanks for following me here for so long.

Hope to see you at the new site,

Candace

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Potty Training Resources



Yesterday, a couple of my dear friends posted a video to Facebook. They had helped with a cosplay Avengers Potty Training video. I immediately called my 3 year old son into the room to see what he thought. He LOVED it - which means I love it because it gives me one more potty training option to rotate through.


This got me thinking, I'm about to embark on potty training my third child. I've been around this block a few times. I'll share what we've found success with. 

Disclaimer: No two children are the same. They respond differently to different approaches. Please keep in mind that if one of my suggestions isn't working for you, that's perfectly fine! Move on to the next one. Keeping a positive attitude is a big part of keeping your sanity during potty training. 

Here are some of our favorite potty training helpers: 



Even if your child isn't familiar with "Bear in the Big Blue House", I highly recommend the Potty Time with Bear DVD. It has been the most effective training DVD for our kids.








Looking for less obvious potty training helpers? I've got you. 

No need to pay for overpriced potty targets for your little boy
when you've got good old fashioned Cheerios.
Toss one in the potty and you've got a target.




Does your child get nervous about the smell of poop?
Got you covered.


The travel size is ideal for when you have 
to leave the house with your potty trainer.




As for a potty seat itself, I reviewed many options before settling on this highly rated seat that can be taken apart so the seat rests on a regular toilet.




I'll be adding on additional resources in the upcoming weeks, 
so check back often! 


Friday, February 26, 2016

Why We Love "Fuller House"

If it seems like everywhere you look, there's someone talking about "Full House" or singing the theme song, you're probably right. Netflix released the perfect gift to twenty and thirty-somethings everywhere early this morning: The long awaited, highly anticipated sequel to "Full House", "Fuller House". In this 13 episode season, DJ Tanner takes over her father's old home and prepares to raise her 3 sons by herself, after her firefighter husband's untimely death. When DJ is overheard to be struggling with the idea of being alone, her younger sister Stephanie and best friend Kimmy decide to move in and help raise the kids. Kimmy brings with her a teenage daughter, Ramona, who acts as the new Gibbler. The crew soon adopt a golden retriever puppy, Cosmo; a descendent of the Tanner family's former pet, Comet. 



The jokes are mostly light. The new series is reminiscent of "Full House", with Disney-esque updates needed to appeal to families in 2016. The first few episodes seem to follow the themes of the early episodes in the original series. By the time we slip into episode 7, however, the show has found its legs. It reveals both the reason we love it, and the reason we fell in love with "Full House" all those years ago: It creates an idealized version of life wherein your biggest problems can be resolved in 30 minutes or less with a big hug. Remember: If anyone gives you grief for loving "Fuller House", just say, "How rude!" and cut them out of your life. You don't need that kind of negativity. 




Tuesday, February 23, 2016

PTSD & Jessica Jones

This is the first installment in my PTSD series.
Look for more in the upcoming months.
(I'm already working on Kimmy Schmidt.)




Does the portrayal of PTSD in Marvel & Netflix's 
"Jessica Jones" ring true?

Let's start with our criteria. In this article, I will be using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (aka: The DSM-5) as well as comparing my own experiences with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to those of Jessica Jones. Using the DSM-5 is incredibly important because PTSD takes many forms and it is many different things to many different people. The DSM-5 is the tool used by psychologists to diagnose their patients. 

Heads up: Spoilers abound in the entirety of this article.


Jessica Jones and Me

I originally approached Jessica Jones with caution. A friend had asked me if that's what PTSD is really like. The series had just debuted and he felt that he had misjudged my reluctance to face my triggers head on. With this in mind, I sat down to watch a few hours of what turned out to be a jarring, but accurate to my experience, depiction of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

While my case has not led to binge drinking, I can completely understand how a person would want to numb themselves from it. Many years ago, I found out that the man who had hurt me when I was a child was returning to live in my neighborhood. The flashbacks and hallucinations hit me hard and I turned to my psychiatrist for help. The meds were nearly worse than the symptoms they were treating. Luckily, it was all temporary. I adjusted and the medication was no longer needed. During the time when I was waiting for medication to kick in, I can tell you that I often felt my attacker creeping up behind me. My back could be against a brick wall and I could still feel him; still hear him whispering in my left ear. The first episode of Jessica Jones includes a scene where Jessica approaches a hotel room where she may or may not come face to face with Kilgrave, the man who hurt her. Krysten Ritter's performance here felt real. It took me back to that time and I had to use every coping mechanism available to me in order to keep myself from slipping back to the worst of my own PTSD experience. 

You may think that I would hate that. I should, perhaps, hate it. I actually love it, though. It is rare to find media that so accurately depicts what I've been through. It makes a nice reference point when I tell people I can't go to certain events. "If you're scared, shouldn't you face that fear?" Yup. In a healthy, controlled way. Not in a way that can leave me cowering in my room for the next two weeks. 


Jessica Jones and the DSM-5 

By the time you make it through the last episode of the series, you're on board with this idea that Jessica must have PTSD. She says she does. She has flashbacks. Isn't that was PTSD is? 

It can be, but it isn't strictly flashbacks. People self-diagnose all the time. I wanted to go back to the first episode and use the limited information within it to see if this glimpse at Jessica's life was enough for a formal diagnosis. If this were her first visit with a psychologist, would they be able to say that she met all criteria for the diagnosis? 

Let's review. 

The criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder per the DSM-5 comes down to 8 factors. 
(I'll be paraphrasing here for ease of understanding.) 

1. Was she traumatized? 
Yes. Clearly, she was directly traumatized by Kilgrave. Furthermore, by the end of the first episode, we could also conclude that she had subsequently been witness to the traumatic deaths of Hope's parents. 

2. Is her past intrusive? Does it mess things up for her now? 
Yes. She's using coping skills (repeating childhood street names, drinking) to manage it, but it's a problem. Additionally, we see that she is experiencing sleep disturbances to the point that she avoids sleep when possible. 

3. Does Jessica avoid reminders of the trauma? 
Yes. She's been avoiding seeing Trish for months and she tells Trish that she has no interest in returning to therapy to talk about her past. When she approaches the restaurant where she had dined with Kilgrave, she had to steady herself before she could enter. Her alcohol use could be seen as avoidance, too. 

4. (This one needs to come straight from the DSM-5) "Negative alterations in cognitions and mood associated with the traumatic event, beginning or worsening after the traumatic event occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following:" 

The relevant items from the list: "2. Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others or the world." - as expressed in the very first monologue in the very first scene of the series. This is also expressed in the first line of the official trailer. Now, I'm not about to count the trailer, as I've already stated we're diagnosing purely based upon episode 1, but this is as good a place as any to share it. 


Also relevant: "4. Persistent negative emotional state" - which we clearly see throughout the episode. 
                       "6. Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others." - Trish. 

Jessica easily meets this criteria. 

5. (Again, I quote the DSM-5) "Marked alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occured, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following:" 

Relevant line items: "1. Irritable behavior and angry outbursts (with little or no provocation) typically expressed as verbal or physical aggression toward people or objects." - There were multiple ways she could have completed her job from Hogarth. She chose to be forceful. 
"2. Reckless or self-destructive behavior." - The very nature of her employment speaks to this. 
"4. Exaggerated startle response." - Reaction to nightmare
"6. Sleep disturbance" - Again we look to her nightmare. 

6. Has this been going on for more than 1 month? 
Yes. Per the conversation between Trish and Jessica, it's been going on for about a year and Jessica has been reclusive for approximately 6 months. 

7. Is it significant enough to mess up her social life or her job or anything else of great importance?
Yes. Hogarth comments that she had offered Jessica a full time job as a private investigator. Jessica refused, noting that she prefers "freelance, no ties". She's been avoiding Trish. In general, things are not going so great for Jessica Jones. 

8. Are her symptoms actually from substance abuse or a medical condition? 
No. Now, before you fight me on this one, please note that there's nothing telling us that her alcoholism began BEFORE the trauma. Her behaviors are a result of her trauma. The trauma causes the drinking; the drinking didn't cause the trauma. Follow? Great. Let's keep moving. 

Jessica clearly meets all 8 criteria. She can be diagnosed with PTSD with just the information available in Episode 1. 

If I were doing a full diagnosis of Jessica, I would also note that this is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder with Dissociative Symptoms, though we are not given enough information to determine if these symptoms are depersonalization or derealization. The scene in the hotel hallway clearly exhibits dissociative symptoms, but the viewer cannot know if Jessica feels that she is a part of this slowed time and odd, dreamlike state. The same can be said of her reaction earlier at the restaurant. 

Furthermore, I would definitely include F10.20 - Alcohol Use Disorder, Moderate in my diagnosis. In episode 1, she meets only 5 criteria. 6 criteria would be needed for the disorder to be considered Severe. There are a few other codes that could be assigned including Discord with a Neighbor and the past sexual abuse by Kilgrave. I wouldn't readily rule out a comorbidity of Conduct Disorder, either. 


For the next installment of this series, I'm currently working through "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt". If you'd like me to come back to Jessica Jones to determine whether or not 
Kilgrave can be diagnosed with either PTSD or a Personality Disorder, comment below. 




Citations

American Psychiatric Association, & American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

ABC Studios, Marvel Studios, & Netflix (Producers). (2015). Jessica Jones[Television series]. Netflix.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

"How to Train Your Dragon" vs. the 7 Forms of Ableism



I've included the information in this post after receiving many requests for it. 
It's a topic I've covered multiple times at Salt Lake Comic Con.
I'll warn you, dear reader: Thar be spoilers ahead.


Ableism is discrimination against those with disabilities. 
Historically, there have been 7 major forms of Ableism. 
These are the versions we see over and over and over again.



Subhuman Organism
The idea that those with disabilities are incapable of being "like normal people"

Menace to Society
Disability = Evil

Object of Dread
This one comes from the medieval myth of the changeling
People believed that a normal child was spirited away by evil spirits in 
the night and replaced with a disabled, soulless child

Object of Pity
Compassion devoid of respect
Think of those telethons and charity advertisements
that use the visual image or the idea of a disabled
person to make you feel crappy

Diseased Organism
Belief that a disability is a temporary state
and that it can be easily cured by medication or psychology
(This one is rampant in online communities)

Holy Innocent
(aka: Eternal Child)
This one is a bit tricky
It tends to be exclusive to those deemed "Mentally Retarded"
They are considered incapable of sin
It's often a religious belief and it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy

Object of Ridicule
The best example of this is old timey freak shows
Disability is viewed as something disgusting




So how does 
"How to Train Your Dragon" 
stand up?

The books are full of Ableism. 
Ableist language, 
Ableist behavior... 
It's pretty bad. I can't recommend them.

What about the movie?

"How to Train Your Dragon" 
is the first movie I have 
found to specifically 
counter every one of the 
seven major types of Ableism.

(That's a pretty big deal. I've evaluated about 1000 films for instances of Ableism.)




How?

Let's go back over the list.

Subhuman Organism
Dragon Defiance:
Even though Hiccup is considered to be less heroic and brave than the other vikings, he is expected to contribute just as much as everyone else. He is not viewed as less capable. Furthermore, Hiccup's mentor, Gobber, is revered for his contributions to society. Gobber has had multiple amputations and is sporting some pretty hardcore rudimentary prosthetics.


Menace to Society & Object of Dread
Dragon Defiance:
Disability is revered by the vikings when it comes in the form of injury. Hiccup is given a job where he can be of use to his community even though his father believes him to be unable to behave like the rest of the community.



Object of Pity
Dragon Defiance:
Disabilities are not allowed to define any of the characters.


Diseased Organism
Dragon Defiance:
Hiccup & Toothless are prime examples of this! They ADAPT to their limitations. They are NOT cured.


Holy Innocent
(aka: Eternal Child)
Dragon Defiance:
This goes back to Subhuman Organism a bit. Hiccup is deemed to be less able to show bravery or to 
help defend the village, but he is still expected to try. He is still given a job and he is expected to do it. When Hiccup experiences failure, it isn't written off.


Object of Ridicule
Dragon Defiance:
Ridicule of the disabled is never featured. In fact, the end of the film takes this a step further by showing how awesome prosthetics can be!


BONUS:

#TeamVishpla

Queen Vishpla was a warrior queen in an epic poem, the Rig Veda. The Rig Veda goes back to a couple thousand years B.C. It tells the story of a great warrior queen who, after losing her leg, continued to lead her army by strapping a large iron early prosthetic to her side so she could continue to ride her horse.

It's the first historical reference to prosthesis. It's a pretty big deal in the history of disabilities.
The hero loses her leg. The hero fashions a suitable replacement so she can continue to ride her steed and lead her army. 

Sound familiar?

It should.
Hiccup does the exact same thing.

In fact, Hiccup does the same thing Vishpla did while riding on a Dragon that is also missing a limb,
has a prosthetic, and continues to lead.








Citations

DeBlois, D., & Sanders, C. (Directors). (2010). 
How to train your dragon[Motion picture]. 
United States: Dreamworks.

Understanding Human Differences: Multicultural Education for a Diverse America
by Kent L. Koppelman with R. Lee Goodheart
Copyright © 2005 by Pearson Education, Inc.
Published by Allyn and Bacon

Nooten, Barend A. Van, and Gary B. Holland. 
Rig Veda: A Metrically Restored Text with an Introduction and Notes
Cambridge, Mass: Dept. of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard U, 1994. Print.


(Disclaimer: I'm not certain that this last citation covers Vishpla. I'm making an assumption because I can't find better way to directly cite the Rig Veda.)









Parenting & Autism Journal - 6/17/2015

I found this old Autism Journal entry
that I wrote on June 17, 2015.
Now is as good a time as any to share it.



Let me preface this by explaining that I am sick today. I am stay in bed, play Fallout all day, desperately try to stay hydrated sick. I know I look like hell. I got up to get another glass of water. 

My 14 year old daughter:

Ewww. 
You look... eww. 
(Long pause) 
Are you okay? 


Other Mothers of Other 14 Year Olds would likely be upset by this. Not me. 


Me:

Yeah, I'm good. 

In my head: 

Be cool. Play it cool. Don't screw this up. Just stay calm and get back to bed. 

This is followed by the biggest smile I'm capable of and dancing a (sickly) near jig all the way back to bed while I try to contain my excitement. 

I don't know if her therapy is working or if she's just reacting positively to being home again, but this is huge. SHE NOTICED ME. She noticed I was in the room and she said actual words to me! She made eye contact! Zoey is on the Autism Spectrum. She's designated as "High/Low", which means that her level of functioning shifts between (you guessed it) high and low. When her routine is screwed up (say by traveling, as we did last week), she shifts to a lower level of functioning. This means we have to skip out on planned dinners, leave parties early, pull over to the side of the road for seemingly no reason for indeterminable lengths of time. It means we will do crazy things like hunting down a specific brand of toothpaste or Easy Mac or buying an entire bottle of laundry detergent and visiting a laundromat on vacation because we aren't willing to fight over how her (notably clean) socks smell to her. We pick our battles when things are low functioning. Safety is key. It's one of the first things to go. 

A new friend that I work with online met us in Anaheim on Friday. Or rather, she met me and my younger daughter and my husband. Zoe had just given herself second degree burns with hot cocoa and was recovering in the hotel room. Her reflexes go first. We can see it. She stops making eye contact and then... yeah. When it gets bad enough, it's impossible to hide it. We've had people think we hide it because we're ashamed. That's not true. We hide it because it can make her a target for people who would do unspeakable things to someone who could not and would not defend themselves in any way. 

Low functioning days are awful. They rob us of our Zoey. I don't hate my Autistic daughter. I hate Autism. 

Today she's coming back up and the Autism is quelling back down. She's making eye contact and saying rude things.

I couldn't be more delighted by anything in the world. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

How to be a Disability Advocate

I'm a public speaker.

For the last 3 or 4 years, I've found myself being asked to speak at more and more conventions on the topic of my understanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA) and on Disability Advocacy.

Now, let's get one thing abundantly clear: I am not an expert. I'm an advocate. 

For a little over a year now, I've been a panelist at a Salt Lake Comic Con and Salt Lake FanX panel called "Disabilities in Pop Culture". At Salt Lake Comic Con 2015, I moderated the panel and curated a special video for it from some members of the HitRECord community about one of our community members who lives with disability, but does not allow it to limit her art.

I've been called an expert several times. Once again: I am not an expert. 

Why? I never want to believe that I know all there is to know. Once you get caught in that falsehood, you stop listening and start talking in a vacuum. Advocates cannot do that. The first thing I want to teach you is this: LISTEN.






"But shouldn't an advocate be the voice for the voiceless? Aren't advocates supposed to be loud?" 

I get this all the time. The short answer is yes; an advocate needs to be heard. The longer answer is that an advocate needs to be educated about what they are advocating for - and disability is a HUGE thing to try to be educated on. Disabilities run a broad range. Being disabled doesn't necessarily mean that you can speak for everyone else. Being an advocate doesn't even mean you get to do that. Being an advocate means that you try to learn everything you can so that when others need your help, your voice, your guidance... you're prepared. This is going to require a lot of listening. 

Now, when I say "listening", I do not necessarily mean that in a literal sense. The ability to hear does not limit your ability to listen. 

I put an emphasis there because I want to point out that I am... let's see if you can guess... not an expert. I make mistakes. I try to learn from them. Many years ago, I realized that my own disability advocacy had a big blind spot: The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community. If you don't already know this about me, I have an obsession with the advancement of prosthetics. It's fascinating to me. When I learned about the Cochlear Implant, I learned that I didn't know nearly as much as I thought I did. I learned that something viewed by part of the population as a benefit or a tool for overcoming adversity can be viewed by another part of the population as an oppressive hinderance. Confusion overwhelmed me. My own ASL abilities are lacking. I've attempted to learn on 5 separate occasions from 5 separate instructors. My ASL is still terrible. 

As you can guess, this made listening pretty difficult. Luckily, difficult does not equate to impossible. I delved into books and film looking for answers and understanding. "Sound and Fury" (2000) and "Children of a Lesser God" (1986) left me feeling sick to my stomach. Here I was, telling people how prosthetics are so amazing... completely oblivious to how callous and cruel and, ultimately, ill-informed I was. To make matters even worse, I had never even attempted to secure an ASL translator for my events. 

You will make mistakes. 

Don't beat yourself up over them. Learn from them. Study and volunteer for any opportunity that grants you greater understanding. I told you felt pretty sick about my lack of understanding of the Deaf Community. The powerful voice in my head - the one that was always so determined to shout out loud for those who couldn't be heard? That voice shut up for a bit. Self doubt rushed in and I refused to speak at the next 2 events to contact me. If my own direct experiences with my disability and my with my daughter's disability hadn't shaken me back into action, I may well have given up all together. 

This is where I finally learned the most important facet of my advocacy. You ready? 

It's okay that I am not an expert. 

I'm still learning. I will be learning until the day that I die. That's a good thing. It keeps me listening. It keeps me hungry for a perspective beyond my own. It keeps me humble. It keeps me motivated. 

I am not an expert; I am an advocate.

I hope beyond hope that this inspires you to start today. Don't wait until you know more. Dive in. There are places you can help; things you can do. Start by being honest about what you do know and what you do not know. Avoid assumptions.


"Can I be a Disability Advocate if I'm disabled?" 

Hell yes. Most of the advocates I know face their own disabilities or the disabilities of their loved ones every single day. Besides, who gets to tell you that you can't? If someone tries, they know less than you do. Shake it off and find out what you can do. Maybe what you can do is different than what someone else can do. You know what? That's totally fine. 


"Where can I start?" 

Let's break down your advocacy into three camps: 
1. Increasing knowledge 
2. Increasing awareness 
3. Public service

1. Increasing knowledge: What do you know about disability? What questions do you have? Are you familiar with the ADA? Choose what you want to learn about. Many colleges offer courses on disability. My Study of Disabilities course was one of my favorite classes. If you aren't familiar with the ADA, go to ADA.gov and get familiar. It's of the utmost importance and it will lead you
to ask questions that will tell you where to study next. After you're familiar with the ADA, I recommend this book to give you an alternate view of the legislation:


Penn & Teller also did an episode of their show,
"Bull$#*T" all about the ADA. 
If you're easily offended, don't watch it.
If you're not, it's worth watching.

2. Increasing awareness: Are the groups you belong to ADA compliant? Are they readily accessible and open to including those within the disability communities? How can you help to make your school or work a better place for differently abled people? Does your college have a Disability Awareness week? If not, talk to the student government and see what can be done. Are there any local groups you can volunteer with? Get involved. Once you're involved, you'll know what it is you want to say with that powerful voice of yours. 

3. Public Service: Learn ASL. Offer to help local event organizers make their events more disability friendly. If you see someone struggling, be willing and open to helping them - but don't force your help on anyone. Get in touch with your local Special Olympics group and help them fundraise! The Special Olympics fundraiser I organized was one of the highlights of my entire life. I'll never forget it as long as I live. 



Have more questions?
Don't hesitate to ask.
(It's kind of what I do.)



Thursday, February 18, 2016

Silent Protagonist: Why I Banned Gaming Headsets in my Home

The voice comes from a child. Can’t be much older than 8 or 9. The words chosen imply a parent or older sibling has been less than diligent in watching their words around this kid. Maybe.

Maybe it’s not that at all. Maybe this kid is just a gamer who has spent too much time listening to what other gamers say on their headsets.



In the end, it doesn’t matter. The result is the same. My daughter looks at me, I nod, she turns the volume all the way down and moves like the stealthy Siren she plays to turn on our playlist of alternate gaming songs. We’re playing Borderlands 2, so the list includes some Cage the Elephant, The Heavy (of course), Phantom Planet, Muse, and Metric. The list also includes some NAS. Contradictory? Not at all.


I’m not offended by the language. If we were playing TowerFall Ascension or Smash Bros, I could easily out curse this child. I am no saint. So no, it’s not the language. I’m offended by the ignorance.

A few years ago I was the Artist in Residency at an animal sanctuary in Costa Rica. Within the first week, the guys in their early 20s pegged me for a gamer. During the hottest, most unworkable hours of the day, I’d slip into the office and take a look at their rigs. My first attempt to watch them play was cut shorter than I had hoped. Online co-op. No headsets. Nevertheless, the vernacular of too many hours absorbing the negativity of other players came shining through. I won’t repeat exactly what was said, but I will say that it included violent threats including rape and several homophobic remarks. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

Even gamers living Costa Rica’s “Pura Vida” can’t escape it. Damn. He sees my smile fade and tries to make things better. “I’m not like that in real life. It’s just a game. I would never do anything like that. You get that, right?” If the words are meaningless to you, why do you need to inflict them on someone else? Why do you use them? You are eliciting a response. You are using hate to get someone to feel or think or respond the way you want when you behave like that over a mic. It had become so much a part of the gaming experience for these men that they continued the behavior with or without the headset. It’s the worst type of manipulative ignorance, and these guys didn’t even register that they were participating in it.

It doesn’t have to be like this. I have frequent, vivid dreams about gaming with a team of strangers communicating over a simple headphone and microphone setup. Someone asks for cover. I respond that my Phaselock is at the ready if they need help. The game is the thing. We work together in harmony to take down Terramorphous. I don’t even bother to collect any of the valuable loot; I just restock my ammo and wait as the rest of the team runs around like kids in an unattended GameStop.

When I wake, I mourn the loss of the dream. Hope dictates that I turn on the console and get back in there. What if things changed while I was sleeping? Sound is up. I start a game and leave it open for online players. The first person to join insists upon duping guns. Booted. Play or don’t play. I don’t have time for that nonsense. The second to join is on a headset. He can see I’m not. His Psycho and my Siren make short work of the path to Tiny Tina’s. He asks if I have DLC. I type back a reply, “Yeah. I’ve got all my maps.” He transports us to Tina’s DLC and moments later, another player joins. Assassin. Perfect for this campaign. I’m optimistic. Then she speaks. I freeze. My heart pleads with my current companion to just be cool. He’s not. He laughs first. Then it’s the standard “Get your girlfriend off the mic.” I rush a group of skeletons to try to keep them focused. I Phaselock one just as it nears the Assassin and I toss a singularity grenade toward the group approaching the Psycho. She starts in at him about how she’s no one’s girlfriend. He starts in with the ignorant name calling. He’s down just as my Phaselock is ready for another go. I’d rather not save him. I’d rather go back to the dream world. I back out to the main menu and start anew, offline.

This is why I don’t own a headset. This isn’t going to happen to my daughters. They get enough of that crap at school. Gaming is a way to relax and get away from the world for a bit. The archaic sexism streaming through online play isn’t welcome. There’s effort being made by a small group of stubborn, pure-hearted players to stop this type of behavior, but we need more people to step up and recognize that it needs to stop now. Studios are recognizing this, too. Recently, Riot has been applauded for their efforts to reward LoL (League of Legends) players who keep pristine records. Those penalized for negative behavior do not receive the sudden and surprising rewards Riot is doling out. I think it’s brilliant. I also think they shouldn’t have to come up with incentives to keep people decent.

Let’s all just take a moment to be a little more aware of the way we treat people. Are we perpetuating nonsense that we don’t even believe in? It can start and stop with us. Please help me make the dream a reality. I’d really love to own a headset.

I wrote this article for LordoftheLaserSword.com during Spring of 2015 after I spoke as a panelist at Salt Lake Comic Con's Fan X in January 2015 with some of the writers for the site. I posted it here after they took their site down. 

METRIC at The Depot - SLC, Utah 2.17.2016

My husband & I saw Metric play at The Depot 
in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah
on February 17, 2016

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"The Shade" was my favorite performance of the night


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