New Toys and New Beginnings

I will be returning to my short series on my adventures at PEI whenever I please.  Basically, I realized that reading about some other person’s vacation may not make for very exciting reading week after week.  So, instead, I have decided that I have something else I want to talk about.

Originally, I was going to write up a blog about Whodunnit, a competition reality show that recently ended.  Then I was going to blog about Pokemon Platinum, a game I just finished for the first time.  (I will undoubtedly make a blog about each of those in the near future.) However, last week, the week I didn’t find the time to blog,  was all about preparation.  For what?  Two fairly major things in my life.  One less major than the other.

Being able to use a computer is pretty much a necessity nowadays, at least in my case.  First, school requires computers in order to do basic homework assignments.  This is especially true now that I’m going for my Masters in Writing.  (I’ll talk more about that in a bit.)  Secondly, being in a long distance relationship, I need Skype just to be able to see my girlfriend.  So, after I graduated high school, my mother decided that my graduation would be a new laptop.  Not just any laptop, but a Mac.  See, I had had many issues in the past with viruses and because Mac viruses are rare (usually), she wanted to make sure I had a safe and brand new computer.

Long story short, I now own a MacBook Air.  While I have used Macs in the past in classroom situations, I have never myself owned a Mac computer.  Still, thanks to my fleeting experience, I’ve been able to adapt to the Mac pretty well.  If I may, I’d like to give a brief review of my new MacBook Air which I have nicknamed Snow.

This laptop is the thinnest, most light-weight laptop I have ever seen.  It’s lightness makes it very portable to suit my needs.  The desktop is fairly easy to use if you know what you’re doing.  However, if you’ve never used a Mac before, it might be more than a little daunting and confusing.  Still, after a few hiccups while trying to install some software, I’ve finally got the hang of this Mac thing.  It’s a good laptop and I’m having a fine time using it.  I assume I’ll be used to it soon enough.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, the reason I have this shiny new laptop is because I’m going into graduate school to get a Masters degree.  I’ve chosen Writing because, well, I love to write.  I hope to one day have a career that involves writing for a magazine or editing for a publishing company.  I think I’m a decent writer and can thrive in that world.  However, since I’m starting at a brand new school with completely new people (to me) and a whole new set of rules and mannerisms to learn, I find one phrase going in my mind over and over.

I’m terrified.

All my life, I have had two consistent fears.  One, bugs (which has nothing to do with what I’m talking about now.) The other is Failure.  I am absolutely terrified of failing.  I don’t mean to sound like a bragging asshole, but I haven’t gotten a lot of Fs in my life.  That’s because I work as hard as I can whenever anything is asked of me.  I try my best to do whatever is asked of me in a satisfactory way.  When I eventually did get my first F, though, I basically formed this instant feeling of regret, sorrow, shame, and fear that I now feel every time I receive one.  Basically, an F, for me, screams the following phrases in my head:  “You’re not good enough.  You tried your best and your best sucks.  You will never be good enough.  You may as well lay down and die.”

I know, I sound like an overly dramatic prick.  My problem is that failing even once makes me think that my future is crumbling.  It makes me feel like I will never amount to anything.  It’s irrational, but that’s the way fear works.  Now, my fear of failing feels like it has tripled or quadrupled.  This is because now I only have classes that represent the career I have chosen.  I feel like, if I fail now, there’s nothing else I can do, nothing else I’ll be able to do well.

I know that I shouldn’t be jumping the gun like this.  I should be optimistic, saying I will do my best and persevere.  This is a new school with a chance at a new beginning.  It can’t be as impossible as I’m making it out to be in my head.  Honestly, I WILL do my best.  I will work as hard as I ever have to pass all my classes and get that degree.  I just hope that my best is good enough.

Prince Edward Island: Day 2 or The Girl With Imagination and Bright Red Hair

Part 1 of this series can be found here and Part 2 can be found here.  Now, onward to Part 3!

All my life, I have been proud to be an avid reader.  I have read every single Harry Potter book, I’ve read more than my fair share of Goosebumps, I even have a small library of books in my room.  Despite all of that, I had not once heard of the Anne of Green Gables series until this vacation.  If you’re like me and haven’t heard of it until now, let me give you some background.  Anne of Green Gables was written in the early 1900s by a woman named L. M. Montgomery.  It is about a 13 year old orphan named Anne who is adopted by a sister and brother named Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert.  The book basically follows this girl around as she gets into mischief and adventures thanks to her wild imagination and running mouth.  If I never read the book, how do I know so much about it?  Well, it’s all thanks to one of the best tourist attraction spots I have ever been to.  Let me tell you about Avonlea Village.

Based on the main setting in the book, Avonlea Village is a place where fans of the book can come and meet the personifications of the memorable characters of the book.  Some key scenes from the book are played out throughout the day to give those uninitiated a taste of what could be in store.  When the characters aren’t on stage, they’re hanging out around town to show visitors a good time or just pose for pictures.  Before I move on, I just want to say that each and every actor was magnificent.  They owned the roles they were put into and quite obviously were having fun with them.  All of them were fun and professional.  Special mention goes to the guy who played Moody, by far my favorite character and actor of the day.  He was extremely funny when giving the announcements after each story segment, he was hilarious while hanging out with the visitors.  Although I didn’t witness it, I’m told he had some fun with my girlfriend’s mother, hugging her and just being a little flirt.  I’m told it was very funny and cute and to tell Moody that Susan had a wonderful time and you were fantastic.

Besides the actors and characters, the village itself was very quaint, not being very large at all.  In fact, a person could probably walk around the entire thing without going into any stores in maybe 5 minutes tops.  The small size of the village, however, does not at all detract from the amount of things you can find to do.  There was a chocolate shop where everything looked absolutely delicious.  (Except the chocolate covered potato chips.  That looked revolting.  Sorry, Avonlea, that just sounded and looked awful.)  There was also a building that had period costumes for men and women to dress up and take pictures.  While I didn’t take part in that, it did look like a fun and funny idea.  The only restaurant in the town was the Moo Moo Grilled Cheese Diner, which served many types of sandwiches.  The place was pretty quick with the food and the food was very good as well.  There were two stores, a special clothing shop and a souvenir shop.  The stores were fairly good, though the only thing I bought was a small snowman ornament for my mother’s birthday.  Honestly, it was pretty pricey at $30 for a small trinket, but I don’t regret buying it at all.

All other buildings were reproductions of buildings from the book and the times.  A small church, a barn, a school house, that sort of thing.  Most of the buildings were used for activities and other things, so not a spot on this small amount of land is wasted.

One of my favorite parts of the day is the “country fair” portion.  Basically, it’s a series of events set up on a field for both kids and adults.  I participated in a potato sack race for the first time since I was a kid.  All that was in my head was “I don’t want to come in last.”  And I was about a foot away from meeting that goal when I fell flat on my face.  I didn’t get hurt and it was actually pretty funny.  I also took part in “manure tossing.” Basically throwing a bag as far as you can.  I failed miserably but had a blast.  They also had other activities for kids, including a relay race and scavenger hunt.  Only suggestion I have is having some sort of a tug o’ war game.  You had the ropes, Avonlea, but you never used them like I thought you would.  Maybe it’s a safety issue or something, but some tug o’ war would probably be fun if you added it.  On the other end of the spectrum, the pig races, while hilariously narrated by Moody, were just kinda lame.  It was over in 2 seconds, and I felt it was unnecessary.

In the end, this was a fantastic day.  As an experience of watching a book come to life, it’s absolutely amazing.  I wish more of my favorite books would get this type of treatment.  The characters and actors are all spot on, the activities are plentiful and great.  The story segments that were acted out were very enjoyable.  And to the actors who sang at the end of the day, fantastic job, especially Moody.  Who knew you had a beautiful voice?  I will definitely be returning to Avonlea Village in the future.  Bravo, you have gotten me interested in the story.  Even if it’s one I probably won’t read.  Maybe I’ll just watch the movies.

(Nothing much else was done for the rest of this day on the trip.  Mostly, Laura and I went to the pool at our cabin and hung out.  But we did a lot more on Day 3.)

The Time Apart

I’m interrupting my little mini-series about my adventures in Prince Edward Island to get some things off my chest.  It’s going to get a bit serious in this blog for this post.  Laura, I know you’re reading this, too.  I think this blog may make you emotional.  I’m sorry if I get you teary, but I have some things to say.

As you may or may not know, I am currently nearing the end of a 3 week long vacation visiting my wonderful girlfriend, Laura, in New Brunswick, Canada.  It’s 1 of 2 vacation times each year in which I get to see her in person.  Yes, we’re in a long distance relationship made possible by the miracle of the Internet, Skype, and phones.  In my opinion, Laura and I have a very strong relationship.  We are open and honest with each other, sometimes even brutally for the other’s own good.  We support each other as much as possible whenever needed.  We laugh together, cry together, we talk.  We talk a lot.  Being in a long distance relationship, the only thing we have consistently with each other is communication.  This is why I think our relationship is so strong.  We are able to talk to each other, say what we need to say, and work with each other if something is wrong.  While in the past we’ve had trouble saying things that needed to be said, we have been able to overcome the habit of keeping things bottled and are able to open up more than ever before.  Neither one of us carries this relationship alone.  This relationship is strong because we both work hard at it.

The downside to our long distance relationship is, well, the long distance.  You might think, “Well, of course.  You’re long distance.  You probably don’t trust each other, right?  You both think that the other is screwing around when the webcam is turned off.”  To this, I tell you, WRONG.  Laura and I both know what happens to families, to couples, that don’t trust each other or aren’t faithful to each other.   Neither one of us, never, would ever be so stupid as to ruin what we have by sneaking around behind each others’ backs.

The distance problem has everything to do with physicality.  And, yes, that does include the intimacy things, those passionate moments where we just can’t seem to keep our hands to ourselves.  But it also includes those simple things.  Eating together, holding hands while walking through a mall, gazing into each others’ loving eyes instead of a cold, brightly lit video stream.  When we’re not together, we desperately miss the simple things: kissing (even if only on the cheek), hugging, a loving shoulder to cry on when things are bad, someone to dance with when things are happy.  We can’t go on dates, share desserts, sit next to each other at the movies.  Let me just some it up simply.  Long distance in a relationship just absolutely and one hundred percent sucks.

However, we make it work. We keep talking, loving, laughing, crying, everything together.  We take the moments that we can get together for now and cherish them with every bone in our bodies.  We work through this hard time apart with a brave, hopeful smile for the future.  Why?  Because some day, and some day hopefully very soon, the distance won’t exist.  Some day, I will make this woman my wife.  Because I love her and I need her in my life, some day, this woman will be a full blown citizen of the US and she will be able to legally live with me.

Leaving her side, like I will have to do within a few days, is the hardest thing I have to do every time I do it.  I will miss being next to her and able to hold and caress her whenever I want.  But I did love being with her physically, even for this short amount of time.  And the next time I am with her in person, I vow to put a ring on her finger and pop that question.  Maybe, just maybe, that will make our time apart worth it in the end.

Prince Edward Island: Day 1 or Shopping, Ripley’s, and Mini Golf

The introduction to this short series of blogs can be found in this post.  Please feel free to click and read that if you haven’t yet.  Some important information is given in it talking about why I went to PEI.  Also, be sure to visit my girl, Laura’s, blog on a small aspect of PEI (which I will talk about in my Day 3 blog).  You can read Laura’s blog right here. On that note, allow me to dive right in to what I did on my first day at PEI.

We got up for the 3 hour drive at 10 and, after a good breakfast, started driving to the Island at around 11.  The drive was basically uneventful with the only interesting parts being the lingering smell of skunk stink on certain parts of the road.  I basically slept for most of it.  But Laura made sure to wake me up for something she wanted me to experience:  driving over Confederation Bridge.  This is the only bridge that connects PEI to the mainland of Canada.  And this is one very long bridge clocking in at about 12 miles long.  It was impressive to look at, to say the least.

Across the bridge, we entered Gateway Village, the small shopping center that greets all people driving onto the Island.  The shops here were the normal tourist fair with T-shirts and knick knacks you can take home to prove to everyone that you were really there once.  The shops were fairly good, though I didn’t do a huge amount of shopping.  We ate lunch at a nice little diner with slightly over-priced food then got chocolate at this little local franchise called Cows, which is basically a chocolate and ice cream place that also sells merchandise based on cow puns.  As an example, I got a shirt with a cow wearing a fez and bow tie climbing out of a Tardis.  It’s titled Doctor Moo.

After our pitstop, we headed for our commode for the next few days, a place called the Cavendish Country Inn & Cottages.  Laura’s parents had booked a small cottage for the vacation.  And it was one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed.  The cottage, while small and non-air-conditioned, was very clean and very nice.  It never got too hot, the cable was fairly extensive, and the beds were extremely comfortable.  Only downside, really, were the countless flies everywhere.  Luckily, the cottage was supplied with what looked like a well used fly swatter.  It served us well.  But I digress.

After settling in, we went to another small shopping center called the Boardwalk (even though it wasn’t on the beach or near the ocean) for a nice dinner and some more shopping.  After that, we decided to stop at a well known tourist trap that’s a franchise all across North America, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.  I had only been to one Ripley’s before, and that was when I was about 8.  As a kid, I was basically a massive coward, so I shut my eyes through most of it and had to be dragged along by my parents.  In an attempt to redeem myself, I wanted to go through another one.  For those who don’t know, Ripley’s is basically a Museum of the Weird.  People find weird, fascinating, odd, and impossible things around the globe and gather them in one place.  There were full sized stock cars made with toothpicks, pictures of people who used to be circus freaks in the old days, optical illusions made with smoke and mirrors, it’s all there.  And this was a really fun experience.  It was cool walking through a creepy museum, looking at weird things and learning some little known facts.  I can’t really put the experience to words, it’s just something you have to see for yourself.  And if you’re saying “Oh, I read one of those World Record type books once, it’s gotta be the same.”  No.  Reading and experiencing something are totally different.

Next to the museum was a small Mini Golf course called Mariner’s Cove.  It was a fun and simple set up with basic Mini Golf holes.  While neither of us kept score because we both suck at the game, we both had fun there, laughing when we missed or when we accidentally got holes in one.  It was just a fun little game between the two of us.

Anyway, that’s all we did on our first day at PEI.  All in all, for a first day, it was definitely a good introduction for me.  Just driving along the main road, we got to see a lot of the tourist attractions on the island.  Revisiting a Ripley’s was fun and the mini golf, while very basic, was a blast.  Now, join me again in my next post where I tell you how I was introduced to a 13 year old girl from the 1900s that had bright red hair…

(Oh, side note.  A little drinking game for those of you who go to PEI.  Every time you go into a store and you see a section, large or small, dedicated to Anne of Green Gables, take a shot.  I guarantee hospitalization for you by the end of the day.  Explanations for that will come tomorrow.)

Prince Edward Island: Introduction and Backstory

You may all be wondering where I have been the past few weeks.  Well, if you haven’t been paying attention, I’ve been visiting my girlfriend, Laura, for the past few weeks.  We’ve been having a lot of fun on my vacation, enjoying each others’ company, buying each other stuff, and other usual couple stuff.  Being in a long distance relationship, we don’t get to do a lot of those things together very often.  Because of this very pleasant distraction, I haven’t really had my blog on my mind.  Still, I don’t want to let 3 whole weeks go by without a single word from me.  On that note, I have quite a few things to say regarding a little trip I recently took while on this vacation.  Before I get into that, though, I need to give you a bit of backstory about myself and my wonderful woman.

At most, Laura and I get to see each other twice a year.  This is because of the distance, the cost of plane tickets and accommodations, time being short due to college/her having a job, etc.  Anyway, whenever Laura comes down to visit me, I am usually on Winter break.  As such, I always tried to think of new things to take her to each time she came down.  The first time she came down, it was really simple: an afternoon at Miami beach.  Each time I tried to give her something new: A trip to Disney (where she always wanted to go), a drive to MegaCon in Orlando (for her first convention trip ever), a cruising vacation for a few days, etc.  Laura, feeling very appreciative of all the trips I gave her, wanted to return the favor.  So, after some careful deliberation, she decided to take me on a trip to one of her old childhood vacation spots, a place I had never been:  Prince Edward Island.

Being an American that lives in Miami (about as far away from PEI as you can get on the East Coast), I had never really heard all that much about PEI.  Sure, I was aware of its existence but that’s about it.  As such, in the days leading up to my arrival to the Great White North, Laura would talk it up as much as possible.  She told me about all the things she had planned for us to do while on our stay in this famous Canadian island.  And I was excited as hell.  Since this little mini-vacation was smack dab in the middle of my 3 week vacation, I’ve decided that I’m going to do a 5 part blog (including this one, so this would be 1 of 5).  Why 5 parts?  Well, this one is introducing the concept and giving some background information.  And the rest of the blogs will be talking about each separate day I was there.  So, sit back, relax, and let me tell you about PEI.  A place loaded with cows, beaches, and little red-headed girls with pig tails…

Part 2.