My Long Distance Relationship

I was having a conversation with a friend/former coworker this week when the topic turned to my relationship and my annual visits from the cold of Canada to the heat of Florida. I have to thank her for giving me a topic to blog about that I’ve been considering since starting this little blog. And no, this is not some handy how-to guide on long distance relationships. These are my opinions based solely on my own experience.

Yes, my relationship is a long distance one. My boyfriend and I have spent the majority of the past nearly 5 years communicating over the phone and on Skype daily. We arrange visits every year where I travel down for a few weeks during the colder months and he visits me in turn during our breezy summer. So, suffice to say, despite the distance we have a good, strong, fully communicative relationship.

Of course, people make assumptions. Other coworkers would often ask me about the one issue that tends to crop up: Trust. Conversations tended to go like this:

Coworker: “How can you trust each other when you’re living so far apart?”

Me: “Um… Because we just do.”

It’s really that simple. We come from completely different backgrounds: Him growing up with divorced parents, me with my parents together even now. Cheating is a topic we’re both familiar with and have seen the toll it takes on people respectively. With the level of communication we have, there’s a level of love and respect that goes with it. Distance is never going to make things easy in any long distance relationship, but it takes dedication and trust to make it work.

Speaking of which, I’d like to address the two things people don’t seem to take into account with this kind of relationship. One, it DOES take dedication. A whole lot of it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a half hour or 14 hours away from each other. Both people have to commit or it will fail. With my boyfriend and I, we’re aware of the fact and have had to cope with the bad things distance brings. You can’t just say, “This is too hard and it’ll take forever for us to be together.” Both people have to be committed and willing to put in the effort to MAKE it work, just like any relationship.

Two, sometimes the hardest part isn’t the time apart, but the time spent together. The times we’ve been together, we’ve dealt with the hardships of family, grown accustomed to being in the same room together, had to deal with our own bits of bickering, and felt the painful blow of having to say “See you later” once our time was up. All of these, however, have helped us both grow as people and as a couple. You always have to take the bad with the good. But it is always hard to leave, and that will never change no matter how many times we do it. We may fall back into a routine of chatting on Skype a couple days later, but it’s only human to miss someone once you’ve seen them. That, in my opinion, is the absolute hardest part about all of this. Well, that and waiting for the day we CAN be together. So, patience is also important as well and is something I keep in mind day after day.

Granted, long distance relationships are definitely not for everyone. Not everyone realizes how much effort goes into it until they try it, and it can really mess things up if they’re not willing to keep up that effort. Whether you end up in a long distance relationship or know you’re going into one, know what you want and your level of commitment before you attempt to continue it. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but for me, if it means getting any time whether online or in person with the man I love more than anyone, it’s definitely worth it. 🙂

*Dedicated to my wonderful boyfriend, Richard.*

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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword review

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Before I get into this review, I have to mention three things. One, buckle down ’cause this might be my longest post to date. Two, the only reason I’m reviewing this now is because I only just got around to playing it over the last couple weeks. And three, while I’ve played some of the 2D Zelda games, I mainly grew up on the 3D ones starting during the N64 era. So, keep in mind that while I’m not a diehard fan, I do enjoy the series overall.

That being said, of all the games I’ve played, Skyward Sword was the first one to invoke an emotional response out of me. I was near tears by the end of the last cutscene. That’s not to say I didn’t feel anything for other Zelda games – there was always a sense of pride taking down Ganon, not to mention completing the adventure overall. But Skyward Sword felt more…realistic. I’ll get into it more as I cover the main components of the game.

Story:

As with most Zelda games, the story can be boiled down to your basic “save the princess” plot. However, with Nintendo having put this game as the origin of the series, it felt a bit more than that. As usual, you play Link, who is best friends with the princess Zelda in their floating hometown of Skyloft. Through an unfortunate event, you must ultimately travel to the surface to save her, along the way dealing with an evil demon known as Ghirahim. Through your travels, you bring about the creation of the legendary Master Sword and take control of the Triforce itself.

I honestly thoroughly enjoyed the story, a lot of that attributed to the cast of characters in the game. They felt more human to me, both in facial expression and personality. I connected to the characters and therefore got more invested in the plot as a whole.

This game in particular solidified my love for Zelda. She’s easily my favorite video game princess to date, and this game made me care for her more than the others did, partially due to the fact that she has an immediate connection with Link aside from fate. Link himself was very expressive, though ever his usual silent self as we’ve come to expect. Bad guy Ghirahim was the kind of villain you love to hate, kinda foppish and very vain, but also threatening despite his weird appearance. And the supporting characters were all great; full of personality, wisdom and lots of humor.

Graphics:

Earlier I said that the game felt realistic to me, and I’ve already praised the facial expressions of characters. Graphically, this game is very pretty, with a bit of a cartoonish style. I’m not sure if it’s the best the Wii has offered, but I thought it was very colorful and nice to look at. I did take a little issue with some character designs, but eventually they grew on me as the plot and characters pulled me in. The environments all represented their respected regions well, with the forest looking lush, the volcano looking rocky and hot, and the desert looking extremely sandy.

Sound:

The music here was fantastic. This was the first time an orchestra was used for a Zelda game and it just gave the whole thing this epic feel. I enjoyed hearing many of the classic sound effects updated for the game as well. I do have a couple gripes, though. I did find a couple pieces of music a bit irritating, namely during a segment in the first desert temple. And the beeping. Oh, the beeping. Even when you get down to around 5 hearts, the beeping to show you’re in danger of dying kicks in. Normally this happens only when you’re down to 3, so it tended to get annoying after a while. And while she wasn’t as loud as Navi, your partner Fi will beep at you over every little thing, including when your hearts are low and already beeping! It was obnoxious, though I did improve over time just enough to have fewer instances of this.

Gameplay:

Now we come to the biggie. This is the first and so far only Zelda game to rely solely on motion controls, in this case the Wii Motion Plus. It took a lot of getting used to at first, I’ll admit. To attack with your sword, you swing the remote and to brace your shield, you shake the Nunchuk. Your other items, such as the bow, bombs, slingshot, etc. are equipped by selecting them via the B button. As a minor gripe, I did find attacking with the remote to be finicky at times, but by adjusting my swings, it soon became natural to play using the motion controls.

I joked with my boyfriend that this game has a “3” motif. You start off going through 3 dungeons to find Zelda. After that, you then traverse 3 more dungeons to collect flames from the gods to create the Master Sword. During this, you must complete 3 Silent Realm trials, wherein you collect 15 tears per trial in your goal to become a hero. After all of this, you then must visit 3 dragons in your efforts to create a song to lead you to the Triforce, And finally, after all of THAT, you must collect the 3 pieces of the Triforce. See what I mean?

Throughout the game, there is a lot of variety in what you do through your adventure, not just in the main story. There are various sidequests you can complete either toward 100% completion or to collect lots of goodies. This includes anything from item upgrades to better items in general. You also have the traditional Heart Pieces, of which there are 24. Your life bar does cap off at 20 as in most Zelda games.

Two new features in this game are the Stamina meter and ability to upgrade items and even potions. I did like the Stamina meter solely for being able to run quicker than walking, even if it was only for a few seconds at best. Item upgrades involve collecting treasure and potion upgrades involve collecting bugs, both which I found a little tedious but turned out to be highly useful in the end.

Beating the game will give you the option to erase your save in order to start Hero Mode, which is essentially New Game+ with the game being harder overall (I have yet to play it). Overall, the game can take you at least 40+ hours to complete, depending on if you get stuck or choose to get everything in the game. While I liked having a lengthy adventure to play, my one other gripe comes with the pacing. Around the time I had to visit the dragons, I started feeling like the game was going on a bit too long. It felt like either the game could have been shortened a little or had a segment removed altogether. The pacing felt a bit off toward the end in terms of slowness, but once the credits rolled I felt satisfied with the experience overall.

So, in conclusion, I think Skyward Sword is a worthy edition to the Zelda series and I would easily put it up there with some of my favorite past Zelda games. While the motion controls and game length aren’t for everyone, it had a solid story, great characters and fun gameplay to keep me going to the end. Feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments, but my rating for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a solid 9/10.

 

The Internet is my TV

It all started back in 2007 with the start of my 2-year college course. During both years, I boarded with two nice families and spent a lot of time between school and “home” getting acquainted with my new desktop computer (later made obsolete by my new laptop). And, as you can imagine, school left little time for sitting down to watch TV.

But as time went on, laziness became a factor as well. The shows I used to follow almost religiously fell by the wayside as my time was taken up more and more by my computer and the wonders of the web. By the time college ended in 2009, I’d practically stopped watching TV altogether. Call it an addiction to the internet, but with the advent of YouTube and Facebook, there was more to see than I imagined, especially since I’d only really experienced the web during my high school years (when we FINALLY got a computer at home).

Four years later, aside from the occasional nights that I’ll watch TV with my mom and boyfriend, online shows have become my staple of video entertainment. My time reserved once for shows like American Idol and Ghost Whisperer is now filled with the likes of Let’s Plays, sketch shows and reviewers. Many of them even have quality programming that I’d expect out of a TV show. It’s become a thing where all the convenience of a computer has drifted into my viewing habits. I no longer feel like I have the time or energy to keep up with 20+ episodes week after week of a TV show. Like I said, some of that is due to laziness and I make no apologies for it.

There have been exceptions, though. TV with my mom mostly consists of the news, which I haven’t kept up with nearly as well since college ended (I studied Journalism at the time). TV with my boyfriend has been more substantial. I’ve sat through the majority of the first season of Grimm, which was lackluster. I’ve seen reruns of the Simpsons and Friends, two shows that became a part of my late childhood. And, thanks to him, I’ve caught up on and followed the resurgence of Doctor Who.

Aside from my own laziness and computer convenience, many TV shows are now available (especially older ones) to watch online, so the act of sitting down in front of a TV becomes even less important to me. I guess my laptop being basically my TV is just an evolution of technology for me. And while I don’t indulge normal TV as much as I used to, I’ll always have fond memories from growing up with it.

Young at Heart

During my late teen years, I often wondered if there were things I should feel embarrassed about. Things like young adult books I read as a child and still enjoyed, or the multitude of stuffed animals that even today sit in my room. Basically, things that would be considered “childish” when referring to an adult.

This had come to a head recently when I, now 25 years old, found and purchased a book for kids at a Gr. 5 or so reading level. The book, which tells tales of dog rescues, was one I borrowed many times during my youth from the local library. And, happening upon it, I decided mostly out of nostalgia to own it for myself. And as an adult, I don’t feel one bit embarrassed about it.

Why is this? Because to me, there is a difference between being young at heart and being immature. Being young at heart is a motto my own mom has said to me – she being in her early 50’s now and still able to have a good time like any person in their 20’s (within reason). It’s that mixture of love for your childhood coupled with being able to find fun and joy in life despite the constant presence of responsibility in adulthood. Being immature is the inability to move past the carefree living of childhood and take on those responsibilities. Granted, there are other reasons for immaturity, but that’s the one I’m focusing on here.

Like many people my age, I have adult interests, be it in films, books, video games, etc. And like many people my age, I’m stuck living at home striving to build up an income for a future home for myself. While it’s not quite a “nerd in the basement” situation, my room would come off as “childish” to some people due to those aforementioned stuffed animals as well as a few toys scattered about. But for me, they are there for nostalgia and sentimental value. They may be passed on some day to my nieces, but for now they represent the part of myself that can still have fun and enjoy the carefree moments life gives.

Though I may live at home, I’ve had responsibilities like any adult: Looking for work, household cleaning, occasionally making meals for myself, budgeting money, etc. I will always have those, plus many more in my future. But being an adult does not mean losing perspective on the sometimes silly things you enjoy. While the immature among us might clutch onto those things for dear life and throw out all need to be responsible, I won’t be one of them. And if anyone says the silly things I hold dear are childish, well, maybe they need to get back in touch with their childhood.