One More Flea Market Visit

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It’s become a thing as my time living in Canada winds down before I move to the States, but I’ve been trying to enjoy the little things that I won’t get to do once I leave. One of those things is our town’s yearly flea market, and while the weather could have been a little better, I tried to make the most of it.

As part of our usual tradition, I went with my dad after having spent the early afternoon at my job. We managed to go when it wasn’t raining and quickly set things off right by grabbing our favorite treat – some chocolate/vanilla twist ice cream from an ice cream van called Meg’s. The next two hours after that were spent traversing the huge baseball field filled with tables and tents of various goods. My dad surprised me this year by buying quite a few things, such as earrings for my mom (she prefers to avoid the flea market), a couple brand new shovels and chainsaw chains.

As for me, I normally don’t buy many things on account of there being tons of things to pick from and me only having so much money to spend. This time was no different, but I was also taking into consideration the fact that I didn’t want to move even more stuff than I already have to. Thankfully, my fiance had given me the suggestion to look for the Super Nintendo game “Zombies Ate My Neighbors.” He’s always wanted to play it since he discovered its existence and it’s something we can play together to boot. I got super lucky and managed to find just TWO copies of the game in the whole market. I ended up buying one for $65 and I still don’t care if that’s too much for it or not. I’m just proud I found it since you never know just what you’ll find in that place. I also picked up my usual helping of flavored cotton candy (this time was chocolate – pretty good!) and the next season of “The Simpsons” that my fiance and I have to watch. All in all, I spent about $80, but it was more than worth it.

Finally, before we left the market about three and a half hours later, we had our yearly meal of curly fries with a couple cans of Pepsi to wash them down. My dad also tried out a buffalo burger (verdict: good), and right around the time we were about to finish, the rain started up again. We were both prepared as I had a coat with a hood on and my dad was wearing his cap, but we were still quick to duck inside the local rink to check out more merch and avoid the rain. All in all, we zoomed through the flea market pretty quick. The threat of bad weather played a minor part in that, but we still had a lot of fun and even saw/talked to a few people we knew from town.

I’m going to miss going every year. If my fiance and I manage to come up next year, we might be able to arrange it, but if not I’m hopeful that I’ll get to go back at least in a couple years. I know he’d also love that seeing as he really enjoyed when I took him there in 2014. I’m glad I got to treat this as a little send-off for the last of my summer traditions.

A Hectic Weekend

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So, last weekend was probably the busiest I’ve had in a long while, but most of it was worth it. Early on Friday, my aunt called to ask if I wanted a drive to the city to pick up my visa, which came in the day before. I went with her and one of other aunt’s to get it, though we ran into a bit of trouble once we got to the post office in the form of a kinda rude attendant. He and I didn’t realize my package had been sent as a Flex, so he disregarded my driver’s license thinking my visa wasn’t there yet. Thankfully, I knew better and had written down the delivery number, so I was given my visa/passport immediately afterwards. I also went to try on dresses (I’ve since bought one) and had to deal with a slightly obnoxious, pushy saleswoman in the process. But the main thing I’m happy about is that I have my visa at long last. It feels great knowing that I’ve secured my chance to be with my fiance.

On Saturday, my mom and I did our yearly summer tradition of visiting a nearby Buskers festival. Thanks to some overcast weather without rain, it was the perfect day for it. I had my usual tutti-fruitti snocone and gave some money here and there to the various acts. I got to revisit some returning acts (both from Australia) and also enjoy a new favorite in the form of Toronto’s Mighty Mike. He was a take on the classic strongmen and even had the outfit to match. He was funny, gave a few inspirational speeches, and could juggle three entire bowling balls and later two torches along with a 10-pound sledgehammer. I’m not sure if I’ll get to be back next year or when it may happen, but I’ll miss it. I’m hoping one day my fiance will get to experience it as well.

Finally, Sunday had me up bright and early to do my weekly cleaning job at a dentist’s office. I spent a total of five hours there with my mom only being able to help me quickly finish the job within the last hour. It was also the hottest day of the whole weekend, so I was quick to blast the air conditioning and dreaded when I had to eventually go outside. I then spent a good chunk of my evening at a family barbecue just up the road from our place. It was to celebrate the long-awaited visit of my cousin Brad, who my parents hadn’t seen in at least 30 years. You can imagine how weird it was for me considering he’d left home around the time I was born. Still, he was nice enough and my family thankfully didn’t drill me too much on my wedding plans. Plus, free hamburgers, hot dogs and dessert is always appreciated.

At this point, I’m still slowly working away at getting things done before I head to Miami in September. While most of those things are centered on my wedding, I still have my financial situation and other important stuff to sort out. I’m also hoping to visit the flea market next month for what will probably be the last time in a while. But until I get around to all those things, I’m just relieved to have reached what’s essentially the end of my visa process.

Nintendo at E3 2017

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Another year, another E3, and that means another blog post from me. As with previous years, I went into the whole thing, not just Nintendo’s part, with few expectations. While I found some of the releases from Sony/Microsoft/Ubisoft intriguing if a bit unsurprising (though, hey, “Beyond Good & Evil 2” is actually coming), my heart was set on Nintendo like always. This year, I had the strong feeling going in that their main focus would be on the Switch, and I was quickly proven right by their Spotlight/Direct. I won’t be reviewing that in the traditional sense, as I’ve already made my stance on preferring the Treehouse segments to the initial presentation, but I was still a little surprised that it focused solely on the Switch and excluded 3DS games and indie titles.

Speaking of the Switch, while I don’t own one yet, my fiance and I fully intend to pick one up. I already want to play “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and a lot of what I saw at this year’s E3 was just as enticing. The biggest one was, of course, “Super Mario Odyssey” which looks like a blast to play and full of goodies to collect. I loved the emphasis on exploration and the lush environments, but it was the possession ability that sealed the deal for me. Besides that, I knew immediately that I’d want to play both the new Kirby and Yoshi games coming out next year. They’re so adorable, colorful, and I can see myself enjoying them whether playing alone or with others. But the biggest surprise for me in terms of something I wasn’t sure about before E3 was “Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.” I’m one of those people who don’t mind the Rabbids, even though Rayman is far better, but what I was immediately drawn to was the core idea behind this game. Matching the usual Mario exploration with tactical-style battles sounded bizarre at first, but seeing it in action was awesome. It’s just such a cool, fresh concept to attach the Mario franchise to.

Now, if I had to make complaints, I do feel a quick blip of gameplay or CG trailer for “Metroid Prime 4” and the unnamed Switch Pokemon game would’ve been nice. I also would’ve liked to see some titles for both eshops, even though I’m currently low on funds. My biggest gripe, however, was the lack of 3DS games. I know the system is old now and it’s hard to say how much longer it’ll last, but I would’ve loved to see that extra bit of support for it. Aside from Nintendo showing some additional gameplay for “Ever Oasis”, which comes out next week, we only got four new 3DS titles. “Sushi Striker: Way of the Sushi” is a quirky puzzle/matching game due out next year. I liked how cartoon-y and fast-paced it was, though I can’t see myself playing it. Still, it was a brand new title and was at least different from the usual Nintendo fare. There was also the Mii-centric RPG “Miitopia”, which came out in Japan already and is coming here this summer. I tried the demo but felt it was better off as either a Mii Plaza game or something to be bought cheap.

The other two games were remakes, with “Metroid: Samus Returns” being one for the Gameboy “Metroid II” and a revamped version of “Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga” from the Gameboy Advance. I don’t have plans to get “Mario & Luigi” as my fiance and I own the whole series in its original form, but it had updated graphics like those in “Dream Team” and an additional game mode called Minion Quest. As for “Metroid: Samus Returns”, I was actually pretty impressed by it. I haven’t attempted to play a Metroid game since the original on NES and still have to try my copy of “Metroid Prime” (the first one). But what I like about this remake is how it cuts down on a lot of the backtracking these games are famous for. You can mark out locations that you’ll need to revisit once you have better abilities/equipment, and, even better, a teleport system to fast travel around maps. These elements combined with the pretty slick graphics and gameplay I saw actually has me considering picking up the game this September.

So, overall, this year’s E3 was alright. Despite a disappointing lack of 3DS support and no new eshop reveals, the games they DID show have me wanting a Switch more than when it launched. Like last year, I also enjoyed perusing the Treehouse’s demonstrations and hearing each developer excitedly delve into their games. And, as a nice treat for both Ubisoft and Nintendo fans, it was great to see Miyamoto having a blast on an E3 stage for once. So farewell for now, E3. It’ll be fun to see what you’ll offer up next year.

Post-Trip Recollections

Well, after four-ish days of going from Montreal to Cornwall, Ontario to Ottawa, my parents and I returned home Friday night. It was a nice if too brief trip and I thought I’d share it here.

Tuesday was easily the busiest day, of course. We had to fly out by 7:15am and bummed around Montreal’s airport until my aunt could pick us up before noon. From there, we got a little lost as we made our way to downtown Montreal. My aunt’s boyfriend had put in the right street but wrong number, so we ended up backtracking to Medisys (the site for my medical exam). After being forced to park along the street (pretty packed area), my parents joined me as I headed to the 11th floor and waited at reception. Since they’re a clinic that also does general exams besides immigration ones, it was a little busy. After filling out some general health forms, I was soon called by a doctor for a physical examination. It was quick and not too in-depth, which was nice. From there, the next hour or two was spent alternating between waiting and going with doctors for an x-ray, bloodwork, and eye exam. I thankfully didn’t have to get any vaccinations done, and when I went up to pay, I opted to have them mail the results to me. I’ll be checking on that this week just to be safe, but I’m just glad the whole process was pretty smooth sailing.

After getting out of some insane traffic, we made our way to Cornwall and basically relaxed at my aunt’s house the rest of the day. Wednesday was also a laid back day. My parents went for walks to some stores and an outdoor market, while my cousin and I spent time talking to each other and surfing on our computers. I even got some sun and took a walk down to the closest gas station to pick up munchies and some slushies for us. We wrapped up that day playing Phase 10 (a card game) with my mom, and my cousin easily beat us. She’s had way too much practice (lol).

Thursday, much like Tuesday, was also pretty busy but in a fun way. We took my cousin to a care home after lunch (she’s in a wheelchair) and met some of her friends there. They hang out and make things like stuffed animals, scented candles and jewelry. It gives them something to do for an afternoon and they even get to sell their stuff for a small profit. My mom was more than happy to oblige and picked up some gaudy rings and a stuffed Detroit Red Wings bear for my dad. We left the place around 3pm, and after picking up my aunt’s boyfriend, we made our way to the US border. There’s a reserve just past it that houses an enormous casino, easily the biggest one I’ve been to so far. While my aunt’s boyfriend went to gamble after helping us sign our for memberships, the rest of us grabbed food in preparation for the casino’s nightly bingo. It was also the biggest bingo I’d been to and it was a bit hectic to keep up with, since the caller was fast and you could look at TV screens to see each ball as they came up. It also didn’t help that my mom had convinced me to try playing 18 cards at once, so those games were kinda stressful. Still, we had a lot of fun and even found a little time for the casino. We didn’t win anything in the end in either case, but I’d definitely go back if given the chance.

Finally, my aunt drove us out with my cousin in tow to Ottawa’s airport the next morning so we could catch our flight back home. We weren’t too sad to leave them as they’ll be visiting us at the end of August, but it was a quicker trip than we normally would’ve liked. Despite this all initially being for me to do my medical exam, I’m glad we made a mini-vacation out of it. Now I’m just excited for the 24th to get here, ’cause my fiance and I will get a mini-vacation of our own.

Owning Up

While I’ve been extremely excited to pursue my fiance visa, there is one thing I’ve still been worried about. It’s a thought that tends to pop up once a month (usually during that time of the month) that highlights the one part of my life I’m still not happy with: job stability. Moving to the States will be exciting and scary for various reasons, but one thing I’m both happy and worried about is getting a fresh start on the job front. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, but I want to take this time to clear the air.

I’ve mentioned my job woes on this blog a few times, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized just why I’m so unhappy about my situation. Sure, I have my regrets about not being able to afford to move or not bothering to get my own vehicle. Either of those options might have allowed me to find work in the city or at least commute there. And yes, I’ve been consistently down about the lack of work I’ve found. My resume is spotty at best and mostly consists of entries from fast food restaurants. That’s definitely NOT what I had in mind after my college years. Adding to that, I’m still sad that I haven’t been able to really dig deep and use the skills I acquired from taking journalism courses. I can live with only having two years under my belt, but I’m pretty sure many of the things I learned those 8-9 years ago are outdated by now.

But the thing I feel is the source of my unhappiness is a lack of confidence. When I first started working, even though I hated being at McDonald’s, I did my best and was confident that I’d find better work. Over the years, that confidence has start dwindling. The first real blow I felt was during my second last fast food job. My boss was condescending and I felt uncomfortable working there. I made mistakes (the kind where you get physically hurt – it was a kitchen after all) and often felt like I couldn’t do anything right. From there, I eventually went on to yet another fast food job and… Well, unlike all my prior jobs, I didn’t leave of my own volition. I was let go, and it devastated me because that was the one job in that field I was actually enjoying (mainly because of my coworkers).

I never had the best self-esteem growing up, but I feel like it’s at an all-time low when it comes to my job situation. I’ve reached a point where I question whether I’m even good enough to do the job. Anything I can do, someone else can do better. Now, I try my best to overcome these thoughts. Everyone is good at something, even if others might be more skilled or experienced. But I still sometimes feel like I’m not good at any one thing. My current job involves cleaning, and while I’m good at it, I know my mom (who has always had cleaning jobs) can do it faster and still make things look good. I edit videos for my fiance and, while I’m proud of the work I do, I know there are better editors than me that aren’t necessarily professionals.

Again, these aren’t thoughts that constantly go through my head day after day, but I feel that I owe it to myself to own up to them. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get a job that’s more worth my while, but I’m prepared to make ends meet if there’s no other option. I’ve started focusing on being more positive about all of it, because I don’t want this to beat me down. I’m trying to build my confidence and self-esteem back up, and I’m hopeful that being somewhere new will give me the boost I need.

Internet Personalities and Alter Egos

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It’s become something of a cliche or trope lately for some internet personalities to make videos or storylines based around alter egos. Granted, in the world of TV and movies, this isn’t a new idea. But for the world of internet videos, I can’t recall when I first came across this concept. My fiance and I utilized this idea when we made our first internet review show, but we were inspired to do so by others like Doug Walker, aka The Nostalgia Critic, and Lewis Lovhaug, aka Linkara. Both of them use exaggerations of themselves for their review shows, as well as dress up to bring in other characters. In Doug’s case, it’s for comedy or to branch out into other shows. In Lewis’s, it’s mainly for an ongoing story in his show. I even like it when creators apply a personality to something that doesn’t normally have one, such as watching TeamFourStar make up stories for their Pokemon in their various Nuzlocke series.

One thing that fascinates me is when a fandom either creates or gives backstory to alter egos. Most of the time, this is just something done within the community and without the input of the person or work surrounding it. I’ve always been a fan of lore, so I appreciate interpretations of alter egos and/or characters that aren’t given a backstory or have a vague one at best. For example, until recently, the fandom-created evil alter ego of Jacksepticeye, dubbed Antisepticeye, existed through stories and artwork that people built a backstory around. But I especially love it when the original creators get into these alter egos and make something of them. Markiplier has a plethora of them created mostly for skits that he recently brought back, and Jacksepticeye took the aforementioned idea of Antisepticeye and made it a video-based reality starting last October.

I can understand why alter egos wouldn’t be for everyone, but I personally love it when internet personalities use them. I’ve always been interested in the concept of alternate universes and by extension characters. I think it might have started with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “Animorphs”, though I’m positive there were other influences between those. In the case of Doug or Lewis, I enjoy both usages of their various characters for the little bits of backstory we get as well as the storytelling aspects. As for producers like Mark and Jack, I adore how they’ve made a compromise between fleshing out their alter egos on their own and also incorporating ideas from their fans. There’s a bit of audience interaction there that I can get behind. At the end of the day, I’m a sucker for both some good lore and entertaining videos. Put them together and, for me at least, you have a winning combination.

Progress Report #2

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I didn’t expect to be blogging about this again so soon, but so much has happened in the past two days that I can’t help it. On Wednesday, our immigration lawyer sent off the last of our documents to the consulate as part of the third step of my visa application. Within the same afternoon, the consulate immediately sent instructions for the next step to myself, the lawyer, and my fiance, Richard. We were shocked at how quickly this happened and immediately started making plans with our lawyer.

To clarify, this fourth step involves me setting up appointments for my medical exam and eventual interview at the consulate. Because I wanted to make time for each thing and didn’t mind waiting a little longer, both of my appointments are scheduled at the beginning and end of June. I’m super excited and nervous, but mostly excited. I’m now that much closer to being with my fiance and it feels like it’s taken less time than I expected.

It’s hard to believe we’ve made it this far. In the course of our relationship, we’ve cherished our temporary yearly visits. However, we often talked about when the day would come when we could see each other permanently. And even though we’ve been engaged for over three years, neither of us were sure when that could happen. It’s just surreal to know that we’ve reached a point where that might become a reality.

I think this will be the last update I make on the subject until I know if I’ve been approved or denied for my visa. I’m being optimistic that I will be approved, mainly because we’ve had no major issues with this process so far. Wish us luck!