She died before we could fall in love. But she taught me one important thing.

Beth Atkinson died. She was one of the best first dates I ever had.

It was a long time ago, so we met the old-fashioned way — on Match.com. We had coffee at Mercury Cafe on Chicago Avenue. We laughed so loudly we made the other patrons blush. You could tell they were merely pretending to study or work, peering up from their books and laptops to witness the splendor of a first date gone well.

After that, we rode our bikes to a taco place and talked about our dreams. She wanted to move to France someday. I did this thing I sometimes do where I look at someone I’ve just met and mentally picture what they might look like in 30 years. Where will the wrinkles settle around that smile? Then we went to my place and made out on my couch.


"When can I see you again?" she asked me. This was what I liked about Beth. Most people were too busy protecting themselves to be direct. Beth made unflinching eye contact when she spoke to you. I envied the congruence she conveyed between her internal and external worlds.

I was moving to another apartment in a couple of days. So, we’d have to wait until after that.

We exchanged text messages for a couple of weeks, delaying our second date due to minor inconveniences and somewhat-full schedules.

Then, Beth stopped responding.

Beth’s roommate, Julia, happened to be a barista at a cafe I frequented. "I haven’t seen you for a few weeks. Did you take a vacation?" I inquired. I fought through the embarrassment that Julia probably knew I had gone out with Beth and that she knew what horrible thing I must have said or did — or what gaping personality flaw or physical deformity I must have had — to make her stop returning my messages.

While removing a biscotto from a jar, tongs in hand, Julia froze and turned ghost white. "You didn’t hear about Beth?"

I hardly knew Beth. But I knew her in ways that her closest friends didn’t know her.

Normally, when someone you care about passes away, you have friends and family in common to commiserate with about the departed.

I didn’t have those outlets as I grieved Beth. The funeral had passed. It seemed perverse to try to talk to Julia because she had been riding with Beth during the bicycle accident. It felt selfish to seek solace from a near stranger who had known her so deeply and experienced the tragedy so closely.

As I sat in my dark apartment with a glass of gin by my side, I read Beth’s mother’s wailing Facebook updates. The contrast in loss was cartoonish. How much of my grief was for Beth, and how much of it was just grief for myself?

I wrote to Match.com to let them know what had happened to Beth. Her profile was gone within 30 minutes. I wondered about the other guys who might be disappointed to see her disappear.

When I see people treat each other flippantly, like e-commerce items they can customize with a swipe, I wish they could learn what I learned from Beth:

Whenever I’m tempted — by what I think I want from the world — to forget someone’s humanity or to fool myself into shying away from a real connection, I remember Beth’s blazing blue eyes, patiently locked with mine, awaiting my response.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

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