Waiting for Prince Charming... or Gilbert Blythe?

Anne Shirley is one of the closest literary heroines I relate closest to. My black hair and tan skin contrasts to her fiery red and freckles, but we are both dreamers. Isn't there a bit of Anne in all of us? By personal choice, I'm not open to have an romantic relationship in high school, but bits of my soul emulate thoughts of a hopeless romantic. New scenarios and "perfect" characteristics belonging to Prince Charming formulate each time I toss in bed. He'll probably be tall, brooding, sweeping me off of my feet. He's the dream guy everyone looks for.

The truth?

There's no such thing as Prince Charming. Stepping out of fantasies and waking up in cold reality is generally a constant struggle. I watch my friends, courting and dating, while I stand on the sidelines, probably making an assortment of Valentine's Day related crafts during my volunteering job, making sure that the relationships they have are healthy and happy. My friends, who are all of the good sort, are respect my decision about abstaining from the romantic scene and remaining single as a solitary pringle at the bottom of a can, but they always tease that I'll miss the right guy as I frolic away in a dreamy state. A little part inside says that they're probably right.

If people had to find a define a "perfect guy" in literature, it would probably be no other than Gilbert Blythe. What's there not to like about him? He is tall, with curls, with intelligence, an insane amount of charisma, and immense understanding. Gilbert loved Anne so much he waited two years for her before she finally stated yes. He waited for a long time. Suddenly, Prince Charming converts into this literary character, from a general faceless character to someone concrete and almost real like. Anne and Gilbert's relationship, like everyone else's, has their faults, but in terms of realistic standards, it's perfect.

Here's the problem.

To take out all of the good parts that this fictitious relationship holds and demand that the relationship I want has to have every single functioning cog in place in order to deem the relationship compatibility is just wrong. First, ideals and realities are not the same. Someone who is redecorating a bedroom could have some aspects of their dream design unavailable for use. The same concept applies here! To impose such high standards right away and force them to meet all of them is unfair to the person on the other end. It's better to take the most desired qualities, particularly the intrinsic qualities, see if they have those with some room for improvement, and then build from there.

Secondly, relationships do not necessitate nor require one-hundred percent compatibility. Any relationships, romantic or platonic, does not require a full-on equivalence in everything an individual does. Compatibility in the important things (especially those relating to morals)  are things needed to be in sync. Tiny stuff, like who's taking out the garbage or what movie to watch-- those can be heavily debated on.

Face it: not everything is going to be perfect. There will be some things the two individuals will clash on. Take a dreamer who is romantically linked to someone more grounded that clash on the mundane things because the former isn't doing their share of the chores. When people embark on a relationship, I don't think it starts off perfect. We try to be perfect together, but we're still far off the mark. As single separate entities, we too fall from the mark.

Isn't the point of any kind of relationship to experience growth, hopefully for the betterment of ourselves by the interactions we have with other people? People change people, and if there is change, it should be for the better.

Finally, what's all this waiting for true love business? Love does not just solely exclusive to romantic love. It's the easiest thing of all to forget. There are other relationships people can dedicate themselves to-- friendships, families, acquaintances wanting to maybe reach closer to the friends level-- love can be applied to all of those relationships. Instead of dedicating all of our time to Prince Charming and Gilbert Blythe, why don't we improve the current relationships we have in our life right now?

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day, whether it be with a significant other, a group of friends, or by little kids doing arts and craft. As it was once said, "Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside."

Four Year Blogiversary (+ Major Changes?!?!?)

It's my blogging anniversary today, friends! And guess what? I’ve been blogging for four years.

I’m not entirely sure what to say. Much of the days go by pursing the little moment gems tucked away in the sea of mundanity—today, it was texting a friend snail jokes. When momentous occasions happen, I’m rendered speechless. I am thinking everything and nothing, a paradox with repelling forces existing where it shouldn’t exist. Uncertainty lingers longer. Things go timey-wimey, according to the Eleventh Doctor.

If I had to say anything, it would be this: wow. I’ve grown from a middle school child who created a blog during a time artistic spontaneity to an individual stepping outside of the house for the first time, and all up to someone who has learned to experience what life has thrown in front of them, one day at a time. Now? I’m a high school student who’s looking on readily at life after I graduate. Plus, I also have much shorter hair than I did in middle school and more food photos on my camera than I can count. Growing up is scary. No matter what the future may hold, this blog is always going to be a part of who I am.

Some major changes are coming up here on the blog. I heard this analogy of people constantly changing. The atoms which compose us slowly change, and every second, we are becoming someone new, still with the same initial core, but a new individual altogether. The two major changes that will be coming up relate to names and tie into the analogy well. Change is hard. It’s been a feuding battle for me to make these decisions, but hopefully they are for the best.

// My blog title, The Ups and Downs of My Not-So-Average Life, will still formally hold, though stylistically it will be referred to as Ups & Downs. My naming skills in my youth were okay at best, and the blog title is somewhat of a mouthful to state. The core of the title will still hold, although it will be referred as Ups & Downs. What each reader wishes to call it to be up to them.

// Secondly, the even scarier decision which still terrifies me as I type this. In life, people have many names, whether they are adorning nicknames from friends or a shortened version of their actual name. MorningTime4 has been a name that has been around for such a long time, but now, I am going to change to my real name, Abigail. If you're confused by all the bloggers with the same namesake, you can call me Abigail Lennah. This decision is made due to thinking about the future and college, and if I would like to remark that I have blogged during high school, this is the place to go. MorningTime4, like my blog’s name, still is a part of who I am—in fact, the nickname “Morning Time” has stemmed long before my blogging days—so if you still wish to call me by screen name because you get confused by the other Abigail bloggers or if you're too stubborn on calling me by anything else, by all means, go on ahead. I’ll still refer to myself as Morning on many occasions.

Now, away with the sappiness! Here’s a well-known fact: bloggers tend to have a ton of food photos on their camera that they simply cannot use for blogging. That logically makes a lot of sense. So, to make up for that, the section below is dedicated to all the delicious, scrumptious food that now have their chance to shine.

Before I close out for the day, I would just like to thank all of you for sticking by these past four years. I know that I haven’t returned to stamina my blog’s golden age had because of other life commitments, but it’s because of you all that I keep this going. There are so many countless people I want to thank, but just remember—you all rock my world. Now go and join the comment party on the Guestbook page (and maybe suggest to be part of another blogging project I'm brainstorming, I don't know).

Morning Wins Not One, But Two, Silver Keys in Writing

HI, FRIENDS! For the past several hours, I have been screaming, flailing, and crying mixed emotions because something happened in the writing world after months of waiting and waiting, and it has something to do with this little writing competition called the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Okay, perhaps it is not as small of a deal as it appears to be, and yes, this is the same competition which I entered in last year and received a small award in, and once again, I won something. I worked increasingly hard on these pieces to the point of being stressed with gray hairs appearing on the ends! It’s been such an insane journey.

This morning. I was greeted by my AP Language teacher, who I discussed all the setbacks and waiting I encountered. “I’m stressing out. See, the forms I had to mail out had the wrong address—well, right address, just the wrong department—and I don’t know if they received them or not. Plus, waiting all month in January is excruciating. My brain is internally screaming.”

“I don’t think your brain internally stresses, Morning,” he remarked back.

I nodded. “Yeah. It’s probably actually just me stressing out over little details that really shouldn’t be a big deal that I stress over anyway.” Who wouldn’t be shaking with nervousness if the envelope was sent to the wrong address and kept refreshing their email every ten minutes to see if results were released anyway?

Today, third and fourth hour passing was nerve-wracking. The blue lunch bag perched on my right wrist struck my stomach several times, and in my right hand was my phone. A list of one-hundred sixty-nine pages of names and columns overwhelmed my brain. Thoughts scattered my mind. The jolting feeling of a dropped stomach from first hour’s email notification rang my body once again. I typed in the first three letters of my last name—over one hundred results popped up. Fingers scrolled down through the page, and as I entered the choir room, I realized that my name appeared on that list, plastered with the Silver Key Regional Award.

A Silver Key.

I screamed in the classroom, hands flailing in the air, heartbeat pulsating through. A Silver Key wasn’t enough to enter nationals, but it was a set higher than an Honorable Mention, which was what I received last year. People gazed upon the scene oddly (as I hardly EVER scream in that class). I perched in my chair, glanced at the list twice, and saw that not one, but TWO of my three entered contest pieces received Silver Keys in the competition.

Fast forward running into a classroom and screaming congratulations to a friend from the book competition team who also entered the competition but was unaware of the results coming out. We spent roughly ten minutes screaming and hugging and crying and jumping around the classroom, congratulating one another. It was like we invented the cure for cancer and miraculously saved a litter of puppies. Fangirling screams that appear when new book releases come out did not match up with this—this was ten times greater than whatever Green, Rowling, Stiefvater, and Han book hybrid that ever came out which also included free chocolate in its purchase, because unlike waiting for a book by another author coming out, the work being celebrated was written by our own hands.

Yes, this is celebratory cheesecake.

What were the two pieces that received recognition? A personal essay / memoir piece and a flash fiction piece entitled “Parents, Listen to Your Children,” and “The (Starving) Artist’s Dilemma,” respectively. I took a ton of risks this year, for two main reasons. One, both pieces were written in second person. Second person is hard to use because its riskier. It’s imperative that if second person is being used, the author can convincingly allow the reader to portray their feelings due to the direct usage of “you.” Secondly, the subject matter was risky.

“Parents, Listen to Your Children” does not necessarily denote the relationship down to its two titular subjects, although it does heavily focus on that. The moral of the story was incredibly important to me and was something that I desperately wanted to share: relationships, specifically those revolving around friends and family, involve two people, and for the relationship to work, both sides need to be open to listen to one another, even if their ideas may clash at first glance and one side wants to shut the other right away. Because it was a personal essay / memoir, it was a very honest and emotional journey that just hits the feels constantly.

“The (Starving) Artist’s Dilemma,” unlike its sister entry, was fueled with a more frustrated look on art and social validation, and was an idea I’ve had for some time now after thinking about indie artists with some of the most amazing songwriting not having a larger audience. It almost seemed paradoxical to be sending something admonishing to the art community about social validation through a contest, but with the use of strong language, it was also meant to point out the imperfect, cracked edges of the community, which was the main point I wanted to get across.

What am I going to do now? Because I want to edit my pieces and give them more time to shine either in my senior portfolio and other writing contests, I will not be sharing them publicly online. Also, because Gold and Silver Key recipients are eligible for a summer scholarship in several writing programs in the country, I’m going to see if I’m able to apply.

Now, excuse me, I’m going to retreat into my room and perhaps scream and be happy some more.