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Why the Guys at Zero Gravity Rock

Yesterday was a really long day and by the time I got to the "almost end" I was feeling totally worn out, then by the time I got to the "actual end" all was right with the world.

From starting out early and driving an hour to the west to compete in a taekwondo competition first thing in the morning then crossing back in the opposite direction to support my valley girls in a different kind of competition in Saratoga that evening it was already a long day before I tacked on an additional half hour drive to get to the laser tag center (which, incidentally, will be my go-to spot from now on whenever I am in the Albany area).

This has nothing particular to do with anything, but check out my nails for this day...

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(belt stripes or laser decide)

I arrived just after 10:00 at night and asked how many games I could get in before they closed at midnight. I was told by the staff member that a game would be starting in two minutes, but that he would hold it long enough for me to change my clothes. I had arrived straight from the earlier event looking very ill-prepared for laser tag in a long polka-dotted dress, ballet flat shoes...and to top it off, my air cast, as I have been pushing my ankle hard this week against all good judgment. So anyhow, with a quick change of clothes Donna Reed went in and Tivia came least in terms of apparel. However, "Tivia" was in hiding for the first couple of games where I played some of the absolute worst laser tag I had in a long time!

On a Saturday night I was expecting more people, but it was getting late by the time I arrived so the main rush had passed. I went into the first game with a group of maybe ten people, college aged guys and their girlfriends it appeared to be. I picked out a pack that I probably should have put back, but I didn't. This particular pack just didn't seem to sit right on my body and I felt like my shoulder sensors were sitting a bit high, but I went with it anyhow. Now, to avoid being an open target, especially while on the bridge where I like to get a height advantage, you really have to keep your sensors low as you move behind the barriers. That is not generally a problem for me, but between favoring my ankle and crouching down in a way to compensate for a little extra sensor height my back was KILLING me! It wasn't great. I thought I did ok that game, but not my best by far. My score reflected it. I came in second, but it was a far trailing second as I was a couple of thousand points from the number one player that game. OK, I thought. Let's just do better in the next round. So I went into the second match and basically felt like a really old lady. More back ache, more ankle ache, and getting worked over even though this was not a particularly competitive game. Sheesh! What was happening with me tonight? My position and score that round were so weak I didn't even let it register...maybe I was fourth or possibly even fifth out of ten?

Paul texted me "Is Tivia kicking ass?" To which I replied "No, WTF? I'm playing lousy!" ...and that right there illustrates the lousy mindset I was in after those two embarrassing losses. Was I tired from this day? Sure. Does that matter? No. I came here to play the game. I honestly feel like the mental attitude you take into the game is really just as important as your actual skills. But I was worn out from practically nothing and coming off two really pathetic games. I so needed to turn this night around.

While waiting after the second match I mentioned to the manager that earlier in the week I had told the refs at the tournament that I would be playing in Albany this weekend and they basically flipped out with enthusiasm at hearing that this center still played using Zone Infusion. So if they get a group of guys showing up from Syracuse area they will know why. We chatted for a bit while waiting to see if anyone else would look to do another game as the place had gotten was somewhat late by now. In some centers that I go to that might have simply been the end of my night. And that would have been a shame because I really needed to play at least one game well this night. I was ready for a mental reset...unfortunately, nobody else was there. And here's where we get to why the guys at Zero Gravity rock...

At this point, Mike (the staffer, not the manager...both named Mike...every laser tag center I go to has at least one Mike) said that if nobody signed up that I could do a one on one with him. I actually really love to play one on one and the opportunity doesn't come up all that often. However, the staff here all seem to be really good sports and willing to jump in. I got this same opportunity with Dominick the first time I played at this center. This is really very cool of them to step up to because I have had the experience of walking into certain places, even centers where they know me (maybe especially at centers where they know me...ha!), and not having any staff member willing to go in. In a way it's a bit dumbfounding that at some places the staff would let a player wait or walk before putting on a pack and going in for a round themselves. So for that I thank each of the staff members at Zero Gravity because I drove a bit out of my way to be there and am glad I got to take advantage of the experience for the full course of the night. I played a second one on one round with the other staff member working that night (though, apologies for not catching his name). Both games were solid, both went in my favor.

Each of these one on ones we played stealth (at my request) and it felt like a total turnaround from earlier in the night. My mindset going in was completely different. I like to prove myself and I think that playing well against a game master on their own turf is a good test of this. I also have to thank the guys for playing sincerely. I've never gotten the sense that any of them weren't playing for real when we did this. Although there was an inherent disadvantage for the guy cueing up the game because I already had the time to find myself a good starting position. The first game I barely left my perch on the bridge, figuring at some point he'd try to force me off, but that didn't actually happen. By the second game it just didn't feel sporting to stay up there any longer so I took to the lower level for a really good cat and mouse chase. When you are trying to move with absolute silence it is a completely different vibe than when you are in a regular game and that manifested the best when we were both on the ground level. Awesome energy in both games...this was the experience that I got by the end of the evening and getting some quality game play in was a great way to close out the day. I thoroughly enjoyed both one on ones and the mental reset to boot. Thanks guys, I'll be back!

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