Cartoon Bears and Dealing with 2016

Huff-Post-WTF-GOPThe world has become super depressing in recent months.

Not that this breaking news for anyone who happens to be plugged into any type of media these days.

Every few weeks the profile photos of my Facebook friends change to pay tribute to the latest victims of devastation. Outcries for justice, law reform and just civilized humanity continues to trickle into all walks of life.

As I’ve shared before, acts of terrorism and public shooting sprees have always been part of my life as I am the generation  that was in preschool during the Oklahoma  City bombing, elementary school during Columbine High and junior high during 9/11. But as a 27 year old living in a major US city, recent weeks watching the evening news as left me nauseous.


orlandoA man (if you can call him that) has become a presidential nominee because of support behind his asinine ideal of building a freaking wall to shut refugees out of our country, in addition to calling for a registry of an entire population based on religion. Apparently he and those who support him are totally oblivious of what happened during World War II.

Innocent young men are being tasered, beaten, assaulted and shot to death by those who are supposed to be charged with protecting our freedom through ensuring safety because of the color of their skin.

Police officers who drastically differ from their disgraceful rouge colleagues now face increased fear for their lives while enduring open hatred aimed towards them, serving as the scapegoat for the sins of dirty cops.  Memorials around blood stained sidewalks are the new norm serving as a reminder of the fate of so many who made the decision to leave their house at the same time a mentally unstable, terrorist acted on plans of destruction.

webarebears_promoWith the heaviness of the news being almost panic-attack inducing, I decided to take a break from the evening news. And what better way to break from reality for a brief moment is to watch the complete opposite? This past week while eating dinner, my television has kept me entertaining with the hijinks of We Bare Bears.

Incase you don’t have any kids or haven’t made a recent break from reality, the 30 minute cartoon on Cartoon Network is about three adopted brothers who are fond of the internet, eating and scheming.

cn_cee_we_bare_bears__cn3__wallpaper_01_1600x900As much as the word lol is written in my daily text messaging, nothing has made me actually laugh out loud like watching this show- so much so Annie Cat was quite startled (we need to work on her sense of humor).

In case you’re wondering, my favorite character is Ice Bear because of my soft spot for polar bears (stemming from the Coca Cola Christmas Bears), and how he refers to himself in third person. Also, he sleeps in the refrigerator and for most of my childhood I tried to come up with a workable way to figure out how to sleep in one without suffocating. Spoiler alert- the puzzle was never solved.
tri-movie-postersDuring the 30s and 40s movies, especially cartoons, were massively popular because of their cheap ability to allow people to escape war and poverty plaguing the world. And while the movie theater has become a site of mass murders, the concept of becoming lost in a clear-cut world for a bit of time still remains therapeutic almost a century later.  

As an active adult who is plugged into to social media and the real world, a full escape from reality would never happen. Besides, in order to be part of the solution there cannot be retreating and avoidance. However for a brief hour each day while decompressing after work and everyday human-being stressors of the 21st century, We Bare Bears is unexpected soul food.

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And Somehow It’s July 5th

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Somehow it’s July 5th and my desk calendar is still on April. This pretty much sums up my frame of mind while trying to figure out what the hell has been going on over the past few months. Winter felt as if it was going to be around forever and now Philadelphia is in the middle of a heat wave.

In between the madness of starting spring by moving into a new apartment, then trying to juggle filming for my freelance project on top of a full time job, capped off by the abrupt hospice/death of my grandmother at the end of the season, summer kind of just appeared.

Honestly, there hasn’t been any exciting plans so far besides the Weezer concert I’m attending tonight (my first concert in three years) and writing. Actually, the main priority for summer 2016 is getting the first draft of my book completed by the end of season. While I’ve been dabbling with writing the book for over a year and half now, over the past two months my commitment to seeing it through with a deadline is has materialized.

13621465_10157017988190063_1506263234_oMaybe it is because I am now closer to 30 than ever before, or that as a writer who has been fortunate enough to be published in a variety of places, there is something inside me that is craving to dive deeper into my storytelling ability. And the fact that I was at Barnes and Nobles the a few months ago and became unexplainably furious to see that Snookie had a book featured in the New York Times Best Sellers section, and I did not.

Despite my silly notion that my brain should be able to write and create quality content at least 17 hours each day, it cannot. Between growing in my abilities as the Digital Content Program Specialist at work, which has been exciting and rewarding, while working on my first (and highest paying) video project as a side hustle- writing for my book has been increasingly hard to manage.

But with the filming complete for the side hustle video (cannot wait to share it on here when it is live), my free time outside of the 9-5 has been redirected to sitting down with my Google Doc and typing. Some days my hands cannot keep up with the thoughts and emotions tumbling out of my head and it is a struggle to get it all down on paper.

Other days it is a struggle to lift up my fingers to write a complete sentence that has an ounce of redeemable quality. But recently, I have made myself slodge through the heaviness of my thoughts and the clumsiness of my fingers to get through the other side of writer’s block. At the moment, my manuscript has 60,000 words that will be become my first book- which is even bizarre to type.

In order to continue to gain momentum and to organize the mammoth of words that have been strung together in my Google Doc, I enlisted the help of Julie Lenard, from The Storyologist. When I attended as session Julie ran at the PHL Blogger Conference back in April, the notion of a writing coach become appealing.

13588799_10157017988140063_1651447305_oAfter several emails and a meeting, we decided to work together to help reach my goal. I’ll eventually go into more detail of how a writing coach has helped me organize my thoughts, and push myself to write topics that may not come as easily to me as others. Also, for the first time in my personal life since I was a kid, I am being held accountable for doing something.

With work, it is easy for me to not drop the ball since my accountability impacts others in the office as well as my potential paycheck. For my own personal work, the only person that is affected by my lack of action is myself which never really matters to me most of the time. But with Julie, there are multiple check ins each week to see if I actually did my writing during the times we talked about, which she can go in and read in our shared Google Doc folder. Knowing that her email will be coming and that she is expecting to be reading new content, there is a refreshed sense of urgency of me committing to writing.

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Other Things That Have Happened So Far This Summer:

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Roller Derby: Much More Than Skating

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Last weekend, a spectacular gathering of sportsmanship, community, and innovation came together for a weekend-long event in the most unsuspecting place. At a sports center tucked away in Bucks County, Feasterville to be exact, that’s 45 minute drive from the heart of Philadelphia, the roller derby community gathered for the 10th annual East Coast Roller Derby Extravaganza (ECDX) produced by Philly Roller Girls and the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA).  

In just over a 48 hour span, 44 roller derby bouts were played across three different rinks providing non-stop game viewing. Athletes and their fan base took planes, trains and automobiles to get to the event- literally. The variety of accents and dialects that could be heard during the weekend were plentiful-and included travelers who journeyed from Canada, England, Australia and beyond.  

For many, the Roller Derby strikes thoughts of the Ellen Page, Whip It, film. But for the hundreds of attendees that participated at ECDX, in addition to the thousands who listened to the bouts from home via online streaming, roller derby is a way of life.

As a disclaimer, I am not a roller derby player. Nor do I lack any coordination that would allow me to function on wheels.The sport appeared on my radar back in 2012, when my co-worker, Erica, began talking about her involvement with the sport.

IMG_8429Over time Erica (known as Double H in the derby world), became one of my best friends, and I began to hear all about this female-dominated sport that has been continuously growing around the globe. Through it, she shared about the amazing friendships created through the sport, and her own derby-themed love story.  My 1st time watching roller derby was 2013, when she asked me to attend a bout she was announcing so that I could keep an eye oh her young son. While babysitting, I took in everything that was going around me. The derby names everyone goes by(some of them still make me blush), passionate fans waving handmade signs while screaming their hearts out, and women who willingly lace up skates to participate in a game where it is a strong possibility to end up with a bodily injury. Still even knowing that the impact looks worse than it actually is, I wince and get concerned when I watch Erica get knocked around on skates. Being a spectator of roller derby is not for the faint of heart.

Since that initial experience, I have evolved from derby babysitter to multimedia volunteer for ECDX. 2016 marked my 4th time at the event, making it  my most engaged involvement. Throughout the weekend, I worked with the legion of ECDX volunteers who put their blood, sweat, tears and talents into the annual event.

Most, if not all, people who made ECDX possible sacrificed hours of their personal lives to bring the event to life- encompassing multi-faceted roles including photographers, announcers, referees, merchandisers, broadcasters, recreational planners, and maintenance. To say that their dedication to making the experience a memorable one is a labor of love is an understatement.

Throughout the weekend, I was able to work alongside another creative mind, an event volunteer and skater named Taco Cat, to capture video and photography. Each day, we worked on producing and posting short 30-90 second video clips for fans following along on Facebook. Additionally, we worked on producing Facebook Live reports throughout the weekend, all made possible by using an iRig microphone and my iPhone 6s Plus.  You can check out some of my favorite shots and video clips below, and also by liking the ECDX Facebook page.

 

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Honoring a Little Boy’s Legacy

2015-12-06-1449371408-4855880-12309778_10207021908739042_4033955049441326037_o-thumbI want to punch March 23rd in the face. That is the initial reaction I have towards March 23rd- since 2014. The date sticks out like an eyesore on the calendar, an anniversary of a day full of memories that replay in my mind more like a disjointed nightmare.

  • It’s the day where I received the text message that my buddy Weston gained his wings.
  • It’s the day where I witnessed two of the strongest people in the world, Weston’s parents, Julie & Adam, spend hours consoling a hospital reeling from the lose of their little boy simultaneously grieving themselves. Rather than being isolated with their own grief, they welcomed a steady stream of mourners from the hospital who had also fallen in love with the Keeton family. They gave hugs, dried tears and thanked staff for their care. The true meaning of family and community was demonstrated as they mourned alongside others grieving their son.
  • It’s a day where I walked inside a Jimmy Johns and demanded the man at the counter make us a sandwich tray even though the store was about to close.
  • It’s a day where I carried a little boy’s teddy bear outside of his hospital room, because the arms that once held it tight was no longer here.
  • 11894578_10155916357870063_7526162772039543462_oIt was the day where walking out of the hospital after saying my final goodbyes to Weston brought me to me knees. I put my hands over my mouth to try to make the sobs stop but they were too strong. It hit me that not only would I never see Weston again but I would lose the sense of family that I had found in the unlikeliest place
  • It is the day 7 year-old Weston Keeton gained his wings after putting up one hell of a fight with pulmonary hypertension & a heart & double lung transplant.

Instead, it will be a day where I deliver cookies & chocolate covered strawberries to the superheroes that care for the children on the 6th floor of the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at CHOP- where Weston was cared for throughout his transplant journey.

image1 (1)While there are many others who would also like to punch March 23rd in the face, they will be delivering baked goods, meals, supplies and love to firehouse & service workers across the country. All as part of the 2nd annual ‘Feed the Fire’ day of service in honor Weston Keeton’s 2nd year angel-versary.

Feed the Fire is a call to action for people from across the country to adopt their local fire house or a group that provides service. Weston adored firefighters & dreamed of being one when he grew up. During his lifetime, firefighters from across the country took time to send him letters, photos, gifts & even to make special visits. Julie & Adam Keeton made the decision to honor Weston’s heroes, and asked that all of those who had been touched by their son’s story to do the same.

In 2015, 102 firehouses were adopted nationwide with local heros being treated to potluck dinners, donated supplies, and care packages full of treats (including Weston’s favorite, Hot Cheetos). Even more firehouses & heros will be honored tomorrow, which is an incredible achievement for the 2nd year of Feed the Fire.

You can learn more about Feed the Fire by visiting www.westonswarriors.com or by v1185909_10153899978620063_58327903_nisiting the Weston Warrior’s Facebook page.

 

While March 23rd will still be a difficult day for so many that miss that sweet little boy, there is comfort knowing that his legacy continues to bring the best out in people. Without a doubt Weston changed the course of my life for the better. I often say the little boy with the broken heart taught me how to love again.  Forever, I will be grateful for the Miracle on 34th Street.

In 2012 when I first met Weston as part of my coverage for Gift of Life, little did I know that it would turn into a privilege of chronicling his legacy. Below are links of feature pieces that I have written about Weston & the Keeton family.

Playstation Network On The Naughty list


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Video game enthusiasts eager to start using their new Playstation products Christmas morning encountered a glitch that appears to be something The Grinch would orchestrate.

PlayStation Network (PSN) (the online gaming network that is used on systems such as PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation Vita) has been experiencing technically difficulties since early Christmas morning, specifically in the creation and retrieval of log-in information. With widespread issues being reported across the globe, an excited Christmas morning for many turned into a frustrating afternoon and evening.

While several outlets reported the possibility of cyber hackers being behind the outage, users are still waiting for a solution. However, according to Forbes Online, threats of this issue were known before the holiday. With the warning of a potential threat to the network, coupled with the the anticipation of new users to the network on December 25, why weren’t there more proactive measures in place?

I had a first hand experience of the impact the PlayStation Network outage while at a friend’s house. Both parents frantically scoured the internet on their iPhones trying to find some sort of solution to make the very expensive gaming system ‘Santa’ brought a functional present. With both of them being tech-savvy , even they were stumped until word spread that their dilemma was not an isolated issue. For parents who may not be as internet/gaming literate, attempting to salvage a child’s Christmas present must have resembled more of a horror story than a holiday tale. 

When it became evident that all of the troubleshooting in the world wouldn’t make a difference until Sony repaired the network issues, disappointment turned into disgust. The kids were left unable to play while their parents fumed that the high-priced purchased intended to bring joy to their sons’ faces did the complete opposite. A lump of coal would have been more usable.


As a former gamer myself, memories of Christmas’ past cause me to sympathize for the crestfallen users. I can recall the rush of adrenaline the first time plugging in my Super Nintendo in 1996, and the way my eyeballs burned from playing Pokemon Yellow 13 hours a day during Christmas vacation of 1999. While it went unnoticed during my childhood, as an adult I appreciate that my parents spent a good portion of their pay to deliver quintessential childhood joy to their daughter on Christmas Day. 

Screen Shot 2015-12-26 at 11.24.02 AMWhat transpired yesterday to those boys, along with other users, was unfair. Over 36 hours later, gamers are still reporting issues accessing the PSN. Playstation has acknowledged the problem, with their Twitter account preemptively thanking users for their patience while they work on a resolution. Unfortunately, this fix will require more than some Christmas magic. But one thing is certain- if the jilted gamers had any say- Playstation would be placed on the naughty list for next year.

Have you or your kids experienced this issue? Tweet me your experience at @Patrice_Bendig and use the hashtag #PSNruinedChristmas

 

 

Favorite shots from 2015

 

Below are a few of the most memorable photos I’ve taken over the past 365 days. From capturing the resiliency of the human spirit at my job at Penn Rehab, experiencing childhood through my nieces eyes, enjoying year two as a crazy cat lady,crossing off items off my to-do list and watching two of my best friends walk down the aisle- it’s been a year for the books- photo books that is!

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Syndication, Thanksgiving and Dino

Somehow it’s the the week of Thanksgiving. Maybe between the flurry of wedding activities for two close friends, the dizzying amount of projects at work the unseasonably warm weather knocked my concept of timing off kilter.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 4.28.24 PMEarlier this month, I was dumbfounded to find out that my article was syndicated by Yahoo, thanks to YourTango. Over the past year, my writing has been able to be experienced by a whole new audience because of the syndication from YourTango, Yahoo, Thought Catalog and Psych Central. No matter how many times an article of mind gets published, the surge of joy and excitement is still as strong as it was the first time it happened on in my high school paper back in 2006.

IMG_7280 (1)Don’t worry, in the middle of the fall chaos of a full social calendar, Annie still celebrated Halloween. Yes, it was emotionally painful for her and physically painful for my hands, but now I can say that my orange tabby cat was Dino the Dinosaur from The Flintstones. It boggles my mind that this Christmas will mark two years since I’ve had my furry partner in crime.

In addition to everything else, I’ve finally taken the plunge and began writing my book. And to be quite honest- it’s freaking hard. But the words are slowly coming to life and forming some sort of embodiment of what will eventually become my first book. When discouragement creeps into my head, all I have to do is remind myself that Snooki is a New York Times Best Selling Author. That is motivation enough to bang my fingertips against the keyboard until carpal tunnel syndrome sets in.

 

 

14 Things Overthinkers Say And What They Actually Mean

Thought Catalog

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1. “Thank you.” (After receiving a compliment)

What did she mean by “good work?” Is that sarcasm? Is my work so blatantly awful that saying it’s “good” is obviously a mockery? Does she secretly hate me? On what level does she hate me? Is it like, I-hope-you-die-in-a-fiery-car-crash hate, or just I-hope-your-internet-goes-out-at-a-crucial-moment-and-on-your-way-to-a-nearby-coffee-shop-to-use-their-Wi-Fi-you-get-stuck-in-traffic hate?

2. “I’m really sorry.” (After hurting someone’s feelings.)

I genuinely apologize and if it makes you feel any better, I’ll spend the next 1-15 years sporadically thinking about this moment in which I’ve upset you, full of regret. Seriously, rest assured knowing that whether you accept my apology or not, this will not soon be forgotten.

3. “Hey, give me a call back ASAP!”

I just called and because you didn’t answer, my mind is playing out a bunch of horrible scenarios in which you’ve died. That’s right, if I reach your voicemail, I…

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18 Signs You And Your Friends Are More “Golden Girls” Than “Girls”

Thought Catalog

1. You’re less likely to greet each other like this…

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2. Than you are to greet them like this:

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3. You no longer respond to relationship drama like this:

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4. You prefer to take this approach:

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5. Giving each other advice is less like this:

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6. And more like this:

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Or this:

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7. When one of you is doing something stupid, the rest of you are more than happy to set them straight.

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8. When any of you flirt with men, you don’t approach it with caution…

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9. You cut right to the chase.

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10. When any of you are feeling particularly sentimental, you rarely express your feelings like this:

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11. But might do something like this:

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12. You all own your sexuality, and don’t give a flying f*ck what anyone…

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