cor autem dracones

My camera is in its bag. My Jeep is ready to go. I think I’m all set! Never in my life have I been this excited about something. Going on a cross-country road trip has been on my bucket list for such a long time, and it’s finally coming true.

I throw the rest of my clothes in the back of my Jeep and start it. I run back inside to grab my dog Jake. Jake is a wonderful seven-year-old German Shepherd. Jake runs ahead to the Jeep and jumps into the passenger seat. I slam the door to my house closed behind me and don’t look back. The top is off the Jeep, and it’s a beautiful summer day. “Ready to drive?” I called over to my furry travel companion. He enthusiastically barked back like he understood what I said.

I turn the radio up and blast “Chicago” by I Fight Dragons, since that’s our first stop. I have missed Chicago-style pizza more than you could imagine. Everything goes smoothly and we arrive in Chicago around 4 in the afternoon. I dial up an authentic pizza place and order three deep dish pizzas for carry-out. A girl and her dog… and three pizzas. What more could you want in the world?

We drive out to the Navy Pier for a phenomenal sunset. Jake enthusiastically begins eating his bone that I brought from home, as I begin on a pizza. We happily sigh and lean against each other in the Jeep- this is exactly what we wanted.

As the night comes to a close, we realize we need to find a place to park. We find a small lot on the outskirts of Chicago that has free overnight parking. Jake and I slip the fabric top onto the Jeep in case it rains, and recline our seats. We slowly doze off.

We are awoken in the middle of the night by a low-pitched growling noise. Jake and I jump awake, thinking there is a bear. We’re ready to drive away, when we notice a figure behind the bushes that is definitely not a bear. “Hello????” I call out. Jake begins sniffing at the door. I calmly warn him to please stay in the Jeep.

The figure saunters closer to the Jeep, not seeming intimidated by the humanity of it whatsoever. “What… is that?” I mutter to myself. Even my big, brave German Shepherd perks his head up to look what the heck is approaching us.

“That’s…. a DRAGON!” I loudly whisper to Jake. The green figure hears me, and turns as if it is heading back into the woods. I quickly make my way out of the Jeep and crouch down to the right of my headlights, in plain view of the little creature.

He was the most marvelous thing I’d ever seen. He had green, scaly skin and small green wings. His feet were webbed like that of a duck, but significantly thicker. He had the most beautiful blue eyes.

I had Jake come next to me and brings a can of veal from the backseat. I pop it open and lay some on the palm of my hand. I gently ask the little reptilian creature to come closer, and whisper words of support to him.

In the blink of an eye, the little guy comes forward, takes the veal off my hand, and returns to his spot about 50 feet from me. “Holy shit” I whisper to Jake.

Suddenly, the growling came back. I realized it was coming from the 3-and-a-half-foot-tall reptile in front of me. I then realized… He’s clearing his throat!

The creature pranced forward joyfully, and sat three feet in front of me and Jake. He began to speak. In the deepest, most majestic voice I’d ever heard in my life, the little guy said: “hi, my name is Dexter. But you can call me Dee for short. I’ve always wanted to travel cross country, but I’ve never found the courage to approach anyone before. You and your furry… what do humans call it..?”

“Dog!” I interrupted.

“Ah yes, dog” continued Dee. “You and your dog seemed so friendly, I thought I’d give it a try. May I join you?”

Jake and I looked at each other for a second, but we knew exactly what we wanted. “Absolutely!” I smiled back at Dee. Jake barked enthusiastically.

The next morning, Dee, Jake and I departed Chicago and headed west. “Let’s go to Reno!” Dee suggested. The little guy had a strange fascination with cars. All he wanted was to see the National Automobile Museum in downtown Reno. Jake and I agreed, and off we went. Following the Interstate 80, we drove through a bunch of states. We saw Iowa, Nebraska, Utah, and quite a few others. Every now and then we’d pull over and we’d stretch our legs (and wings), take a few photos, and enjoy the fresh air. On the border of Nevada, we decided to take the top back off the Jeep. Dee was a fantastic help in doing so. He had wings, so he could fly. He flew kind of like a chicken since his wings were incredibly disproportionate, but he flew nonetheless.

We were munching on cold pizza when we arrived in Reno. The weather was warm and the sun was shining, and our odd entourage was more excited than ever. Dee pulled on a Hawaiian shirt and a baseball cap that he found in the back of my car. Jake was wearing his bandanna with cactus prints, and I was wearing a short white skirt with a crop top. We were ready to hit the road.

My camera hung from my neck and Jake’s leash loosely wrapped around my arm, the three of us approached the Automobile Museum. That’s when everything changed. Dee disappeared.

I called his name. Jake barked. We asked around to see if anyone had seen a 3-and-a-half foot tall dragon with blue eyes, a Cubs baseball cap, and a Hawaiian shirt. Everyone looked at us like we were insane. I looked through the photos on my camera. There was nothing there. All the photos of Dee were gone.

I panicked as Jake pulled me back to the Jeep. “I finally met a friend” I whispered, hyperventilating.

I noticed the most beautiful red charm laying on the dashboard of the Jeep. Next to it was a small note, scribbled on the back of the pizza receipt.

Written in perfect cursive, it read:

Dearest friends,

Thank you for taking me to Reno. I am afraid this is where our journey must end. You see, every year a dragon makes its way to Reno to star in a movie when we’re older. They raise us, they train us, then we’re eventually cast in a movie. I am going to be starring in a fantasy movie, much like Harry Potter. I sadly will be slain in the end, but so is life for a dragon. I was afraid if I told you my real intentions, you’d never take me. 

I am also very sorry about your photographs. If the council of the dragons found out about my means of travel, I’d be slain right away. I am the 346th dragon to take part in this program, and there are very few of us left. I am going to start a revolution, to save my kind. 

Left for you here is a piece of my heart. Thank you for helping me follow my destiny. Please don’t try to find me, or you’ll only hurt me.

I will remember you always.

Love,

Dexter

I was sobbing into Jake before I knew it. We decided to drive to California to get our minds off of Dee. I hung the pendant around my neck and proudly wore it. I proudly displayed that I was one with the Dragons- that I had Dee’s heart and I would never let it go.

 

March: Envision a dragon. Do you battle him? Or is the dragon friendly?

I hope you enjoyed this freewrite! I’ll be back-tracking and posting February’s soon. It’s in my drafts, I promise.

~E. 🐉

Not Going Through the Motions Anymore

I was never very popular in high school. Back then, I was quiet. I went along and got decent grades. I graduated with a decent GPA. It wasn’t the best, but neither was my effort. I spent my time looking for excuses to spend time in the band room with my best friend and the band director. All I wanted was to be around the field I knew I would end up in- music education. I was so passionate about music, and that’s where I was the most social. I wasn’t afraid to get up in front of a group of students while job shadowing a local band director and talk. I wasn’t afraid to mentor my peers on sight reading- or anything altogether. I participated in bands and ensembles outside of my high school and met a bunch of new people, several of them who would be around for quite a while and leave a large impact on my life.

Nevertheless, in high school people didn’t know me. I was that “band girl”- if I was anything to them at all. A few of the more “popular” people knew me because I did track and field. That was it.

I used to look back and wonder what I did wrong- why I never fit in with them. Everyone was friends with everyone in third grade, why didn’t that last?

In high school, I constantly stressed about college. I -hated- math, and I’d be damned if I ever had to take another math class in my life. I didn’t think I was smart. I didn’t think I could do it, in all honesty. In a way, being a music major was my soft landing. I was comfortable there. I knew EVERYONE I would be going to college with. Did I really want that? I thought I did at the time. I was incredibly passionate. I really was.

It was a hard decision, and not an easy one to make. Many blog posts, late night talks, self reflection, a bit of self loathing, and a lot of self love helped me make the decision I did.

Today… it really hit me. I made the right choice. 

I’m in a place I’m happy. I’m doing better than I ever did in high school. My GPA for this semester so far is a 4.0, and I’ll be damned if that goes down. I love college. So many people told me it’d be tough. That it’d be scary. That I wouldn’t meet new people. That it sucks for shy people. Well, they were wrong. This is a whole new world. A whole new place of opportunity. Is it a lot of work? Absolutely. But I love it more than anything. I love where I am today.

Yesterday I helped someone with some ridiculous algebra class’s homework and I HAD FUN WITH IT. I took a moment to reflect on that. Here I was in high school, ready to bash my head against a wall because I hated math so much. Because I thought I was bad at it because I wasn’t the valedictorian. College is so much different, and by god I love it.

I have plenty of friends. I guess you could consider me popular, these days. It’s nice. I still have the few people that I’d trust with my life over anyone else, but it’s nice to have a group to walk to classes with. It’s nice to see smiling faces in most of my classes that will actually enjoy sitting with me. College is so much better than high school, and I’m so glad I chose the path of getting a STEM degree.

I couldn’t be happier.

~E.

Second Star to the Right, and Straight on ’til Morning!

A small brick house with the number 25 on it sits hidden cleverly behind a tall tree. It’s not a free-standing house, but it’s still roomy enough for my mom and I. A giant curtain cascades from the ceiling onto a little blonde girl hiding in it to “scare” her mother. The blonde girl carefully runs up the stairs to her room, which is skillfully decorated in yellow and blue. One of her favorite things is her Lion King rug, the one with baby Simba and Nala. She runs over to her mother’s room and admires the round pink lamp hanging from the ceiling over her bed.

Her mom calls her downstairs to eat dinner. They sit down at the yellow table in the small kitchen dining area and laugh about something that happened that day. The girl refuses to eat cucumber, and dinner concludes. She flops down on the green-and-white-striped couch and props her feet up on a round papasan chair. She daydreams about what America will be like. She tries to imagine away the boxes that surround her and the feelings she’s having. She’s very excited. But also nervous, and almost a little sad. She has so many friends, something she doesn’t ever believe will change. She glows with joy to think about the email address her mom allowed her to get to keep in touch with her countless companions.

On her last day of school, she proudly goes from classroom to classroom with a poster of two red cats for the teachers to sign, a Dutch tradition for when a student leaves school. She knew the whole school knew her as the girl moving to America, and everyone thought she was so cool. She couldn’t help but grin. It was bittersweet, saying goodbye to the students she grew up with, but she promised she’d come back one day.

Her Lion King rug had disappeared to somewhere, and eventually the young girl and her mother boarded a plane. A plane to America.

I’ll never forget the feeling of stepping outside of Pittsburgh international Airport that August of 2005. The air was warm and welcoming, a feeling I’ve happily associated with that airport and landing there in the summer months. It’s something I often look forward to when flying; feeling that welcoming, warm, American feeling once more.

I know we drove “home”, but I don’t remember too much of it anymore. I wish I could put smells into words better, because that’s really all I remember. The scene is this: a big white house on a corner of an intersection in a small neighborhood.

The young blonde girl opens the door to her new house, and is immediately overwhelmed. She was excited, but she wasn’t sure how to feel. “The doors are really hard to open”, she thought to herself. She went exploring in this new, unfamiliar place. There was a small, enclosed space on the front of the house that captured her interest. It was incredibly warm, and smelled like an old book store. She immediately started fantasizing about turning this space into hers, her playroom. She ran up the stairs and pulled doors open. The door to the right was awkward to open, and probably the hardest in the house. Inside was a room with the ugliest carpet you’ll ever see. Red clad the floors, with some sort of pattern of black color sprawled across like it was natural. The only furnishing in this room was a black couch bed thing- something the girl later learned was called a “foo-tawn” and to stay away from it because she could get her fingers caught in it. She found her room next door to the weird red room with the strange bed-couch-thing. A closet with squeaky doors greeted her, looking over a tall twin sized bed dressed in pink flowery sheets.

Fast forward some time, and our little girl starts school. She starts in Second Grade, with the knowledge that she’ll probably do it twice because of her age and her lack of any English speaking almost whatsoever.

The little girl proudly, but nervously, walks into her new school building. She knows what to expect a little bit, because she’d been given a tour the week before. She even got to ride a school bus for the first time ever, and that was super cool. She read the numbers on the walls of the school building carefully. She stopped at 38… and went inside. That was her “homeroom”, whatever that meant. She went inside and sat down, keeping her head low and staying quiet. Other students were fascinated with the shy blonde girl who had just joined them. They’d never seen her before. The teacher introduced her, and immediately other students came up to her and asked her all kinds of questions about her home country- most of which she didn’t know how to answer. She quickly became friends with a girl named Erin, and the two young girls were soon inseparable. She befriended a few more people- to include Sarah and twins Taylor and Tiffany. Her first sleepover party was at the twins’ house, and Sarah became a close friend as well, often spending time with her at Truck Night with her father’s monster truck.

Befriending Erin (and the other girls) showed me that it was possible to move on, that I could make new friends somewhere else. I stayed friends with Erin pretty consistently throughout the duration of my general education, up until senior year of high school. I still don’t really know what happened, but genuinely I hope she’s doing well. She’s in the Army now, and I hope her life is going great. Throughout the years of being friends with Erin, one time her mother told me that when I first moved, she thought I was from “Neverland” and how excited young Erin was to meet a girl from Neverland. Sarah and I still talk occasionally, but I’ve practically lost complete contact with the twins. It’s funny how you grow up, and eventually move separate ways.

For the longest time I always blamed my mom for “ruining my life” by dragging me away from the friends I had in the Netherlands and moving me to this country. It wasn’t until about two years ago that I truly appreciated America for what it is, for giving me the opportunities I have today, and for allowing me to have some of the greatest friends. Opportunities, experiences, and friends that will actually last no matter where I go. Realizing the bigger picture, realizing that the world is a small place that with modern technology is easily traveled, and realizing that those who truly care will always be there helped me close the door on this chapter of my life. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t not relate to that Miranda Lambert song about the house that built her… and if I had the chance I’d absolutely go take a look at what my old house looks like now. But I accept that I’ve moved on- and I realize how happy I am where I am now.

January: Think back to a moment where you’ve come to the end of the road with something important in your life—a relationship with a lover; moving out of your childhood home; graduation from school; etc. Write a scene wrapped around that moment, describing how you felt (good and bad) and how you closed the door on that chapter in your life.

 

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”

~E.⭐

Oh NASA, My NASA

My fascination with The Challenger and Christa McAuliffe started as early as third grade. Doing a presentation on Christa McAuliffe, dressing up as her and really understanding how she lived, brought to light a whole new viewpoint for my younger self.

Here we have a young schoolteacher who was chosen to be the first teacher in space. Understanding the training she had to complete to be qualified, her normal life, and her students really showed me that she was a person- just like myself. I carried a creative journal leading up to my final project one year of middle school, writing “diary entries” as Christa McAuliffe.

The Challenger, even though I was not alive, impacted my life greatly. I was always the first to educate my fellow students on o-rings, on how many seconds into flight the accident happened, and most importantly, the astronauts we lost on 28 January 1986. The people we lost on 28 January 1986.

Columbia. Challenger. Apollo 1. 

The people behind those names that were lost. That left their loved ones behind.

Today, on NASA’s day of Remembrance, I wanted to take a moment and pause to think about the 17 astronauts who have lost their lives doing what they loved- being innovators in their field; space.

Because of them, work continues to make spaceflight safer- learning from the past catastrophes and observing the brave men and women who were all integral parts of their missions.

NASA has this page on their website in case you want to read more: https://www.nasa.gov/specials/dor2018/index.html.

“In an age when space flight has come to seem almost routine, it is easy to overlook the dangers of travel by rocket, and the difficulties of navigating the fierce outer atmosphere of the Earth. These astronauts knew the dangers, and they faced them willingly, knowing they had a high and noble purpose in life. Because of their courage and daring and idealism, we will miss them all the more.

All Americans today are thinking, as well, of the families of these men and women who have been given this sudden shock and grief. You’re not alone. Our entire nation grieves with you. And those you loved will always have the respect and gratitude of this country.

The cause in which they died will continue. Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by the inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand.

Our journey into space will go on.” 

These words, said by President Bush in 2003 regarding the Columbia disaster, still ring true today- and every day.

“We’ll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue.” -Ronald Reagan, 1986.

The world stopped for a moment when these three disasters happened. We can continue to honor the legacies of these lost men and women by fulfilling the missions the astronauts set out to do…

The Columbia – discovering new varieties of Microgravity.

The Challenger – spreading STEM education.

Apollo 1 – putting a man on the moon.

“Together, we will go where no man or woman has gone before.” 

~E. ♥

When Did This Happen?

Leadership and followership are words that have been a large part of my life since February 2014. When I attended my first Civil Air Patrol meeting in January of that year, I was absolutely terrified. Petrified, even. The only thing I knew was what my friend who “recruited” me had told me the alternate uniform was- a black shirt, jeans, and a belt. A belt? I didn’t have a belt. I borrowed a belt from my neighbor for that night. I had to fill out a form about why I was interested in CAP, and how I found out about it. I answered “I’ve always been interested in airplanes, and am planning to go into aerospace engineering. I think this would be a great opportunity to meet new people and learn new things that could potentially benefit me in that field as well as in life”. I went into the day nervous, but excited. That night, my mom drove me to the base where the meeting was. Building 113. We have to find building 113. We found it, and went inside. We were a few minutes late, but that was no issue at all.

I walked inside and was ushered into a small room to the left by a guy in a blue uniform. He looked incredibly intimidating, and I was so nervous still. My mom and I were forced to sit up front, since everyone else filled in from the back. A Power Point was shown about the Civil Air Patrol. I was nervous- but excited. I wanted to learn how to fly. I wanted to travel the world with that one program no one remembered the acronym for. I wanted to be like the girl standing against the wall, the one that was clearly in charge. She was blonde, and wearing little circles on her shoulder. I knew that meant she had to be pretty high-up, since everyone else I had seen was wearing something on their collar.

The cadets took my class- a group of myself and six others out of the smaller room into the large room across the hall, where all the other cadets were. In my class, there were four other girls and two guys. One girl was wearing heels and a lot of makeup, and seemed to not want to be there at all. The other people all seemed to know what was going on, either because of prior family being in Civil Air Patrol or military knowledge. One girl stood out to me, because she did incredibly well. The instructors- a female cadet second lieutenant and two male cadet chief master sergeants- lined us up in a line and started explaining drill to us. We started with a right face. Then a left face. And finally, an about face.  I was next to the girl wearing heels and she grabbed me so she didn’t fall over. She mumbled something along the lines of “I hate this”. I wondered to myself why she was there if she hated it so much.

The weeks progressed and the girl with the heels stopped showing up. We did activities like memorizing the cadet oath, and learning the ribbons and insignia. I had a lot of trouble, so I went home and made my own flash cards to study. One girl was doing very well, and I remember wishing I was her. She was athletic and smart- the opposite of how I felt when I was there. I befriended her, and she quickly turned into my first friend in the Civil Air Patrol. At the end of the training period of six weeks, we “graduated” into the Civi Air Patrol. Everyone but me from my class already had their first promotion. I was a cadet airman basic, while they got airman insignia pinned on. I was a little discouraged at first, but quickly saw it as a challenge. The athletic girl and I would race each other to promotions, and eventually were neck in neck.

We both went to encampment holding the rank of cadet airman first class. At encampment, a girl from my squadron who usually taught aerospace lessons was my squadron’s executive officer. She had led the class about model rocketry just weeks before encampment. She was a cadet major, and she was everything I wanted to be. I knew major was a high rank, and she was serious and seemed to know everything. I looked up to her. I also looked up to my flight sergeant. She was a chief, and she was exactly what I wanted to be. Calm, collected, and smart.

When I came back from encampment, I had made many new friends. I’d race them instead of the athletic girl- who seemed to have a different attitude after encampment. She ended up leaving the Civil Air Patrol not long after. I met Kat at that encampment, and we’re still incredibly close today.

I held various positions at my home squadron- things like element leader and flight sergeant; even public affairs NCO. There was always someone I looked up to; someone I wanted to be like. Time progressed, and I attended two more encampments. I attended three national activities (okay, it was the same one that I attended thrice). I moved up on my squadron’s staff- even holding the position of cadet commander briefly before moving to Europe in 2016. I was active in the state- starting out on the cadet advisory council as a representative, then eventually being voted Vice-Chair. I represented the entire Wing to the Great Lakes Region on the Cadet Advisory Council.

This year, I am the Chairman of the Cadet Advisory Council. I am the Cadet Deputy Commander for Operations at Encampment. It’s my second run as Cadet Commander of my squadron. Somehow, I became the person I used to look up to. When did that happen? I don’t remember a big change. I don’t remember waking up one day saying “okay, people are going to look up to me now”. But yet- they do. There is at least one cadet that I know of for sure that looks up to me, and I find that the weirdest concept.

I’m that major that knows what she’s doing to some people, and I find that amazing. I have the opportunity to be an influence to people’s lives. I have the opportunity to be the reason they keep learning. That’s such a great responsibility, and I won’t let people down.

I no longer want to be an aerospace engineer like I originally thought when I signed up for this wild ride called Civil Air Patrol. But through Civil Air Patrol, my love for all things cyber flourished. Participating in CyberPatriot showed me what I want to do. Through CyberPatriot, that guy that was so intimidating that first night quickly became a friend and mentor- someone I’d often end up going to for advice.

Coming up on 4 years in the Civil Air Patrol this February, looking back at everything I’ve done is almost unbelievable. Quiet, shy, young cadet me always dreamed of attaining the Spaatz award one day. On average, only five cadets in one thousand earn the Spaatz Award. Since the award’s inception in 1964, Civil Air Patrol has presented the Spaatz Award to only 2103 cadets nation-wide (as of today).

Now, that seems attainable.

If I attend a region cadet leadership school or go to cadet officer school, I can get my Eaker- that’s cadet lieutenant colonel. I’m planning to go to Michigan’s RCLS this summer after encampment. After that, I can test for Spaatz. It’s never felt closer. It’s never felt more attainable. I know it won’t be easy, but it’s finally hit me that this goal might actually be something I can do. That with everything I’ve learned, I am good enough. I have accomplished a lot. Am I still learning? Absolutely.

I’d always struggled with self-confidence, something that time and time again was mentioned to me at form 50 interviews and things like that. I think I finally get it. I think I’m finally confident in myself, confident in what I’ve learned, and confident in what I can do.

So here’s to Civil Air Patrol, and the 2 and a half years I have left as a cadet!

You Get There By Realizing You Are Already There

Where am I getting, now? What’s with the weird inspirational quote for a title? All I’m really here for is to read your goals, weird blogging lady.

2017. MMXVII. Twothousandseventeen. 2k17. There were indeed plenty of ways to refer to the year of the rooster. It’s been a long 365 days, and it’s been a long year of goals. The year honestly seemed to fly by. Moving back to America, visiting the Netherlands twice, finishing my first semester of college, advancing my CAP career, developing my hobby of photography, living on my own, and figuring out who I am are all things of 2017 that made this year unique.

In January, I set ten goals for myself to accomplish in the 365 days of 2017. I suppose it’s time to reflect and elaborate on 2017.

My Goals for 2017 Were…

  1. Love myself and be happy. Do things because they’ll make me happy. I think I came a long way on this goal. I’m still not the most in shape, or the skinniest girl, or whatnot. But you know what? I don’t really care. I’m going to work harder in order to do things for myself, to prepare for encampment and possibly even my Spaatz exam one day. But as a whole, I don’t feel guilty for eating anymore. I don’t feel like I have to exercise until I’m dead or else I’m a terrible person. I bought clothes that make me feel pretty and are comfortable. I accepted clothes that didn’t fit anymore. I’m doing good. I’m happy.
  2. Go to college and study where and what I want. Kent State University has been an amazing fit for me so far. The Digital Sciences major is fantastic, allowing me to study towards a Bachelor of Science and do what I love. I’ve learned so much and met some really cool people. 
  3. Achieve at least C/Lt Col in the Civil Air Patrol. Well, this one is impossible this year. I did not have time or money to attend Cadet Officer School or a Region Cadet Leadership School. However, I am not in the least discouraged. I may not be on a “perfect” promotion schedule anymore, but I’m exactly where I need to be. Having been the Cadet Commander of the Maryland Cyber Defense Training Academy in its inaugural year, being a crucial part of planning the Great Lakes Region Conference, overcoming difficulties at the squadron level, and now accepting the position of Deputy Commander for Operations at the 2018 Ohio Wing Encampment have given me the experience, training, and valuable lessons that I am so incredibly grateful for. I will be a Cadet Major until I attend an RCLS, which I will likely be doing in July. Spaatz is attainable in 2018. Spaatz will happen in 2018.
  4. Learn to stay calm and manage emotions, as well as being able to express these to others. (This one may not make sense to you as the reader, but it does to me. I’ve already started working on it!) I still lose my cool sometimes. I still argue unnecessarily sometimes. But, I’m doing okay. I’m doing well, actually. I greatly underestimated how much stress college would put on me, however, I kicked ass. I got through it. I did it.
  5. Learn something new. Whether this is learning a new language, something about computers, anything. I learned a lot this year. I learned about myself, mostly. However, I also learned how to become comfortable with JavaScript. I learned how to use various Adobe softwares. In May, I learned a bit of Russian and a significant amount about cryptography. I learned more about my leadership style. I learned how to read regulations, and I learned to be able to use them efficiently. I became comfortable writing memorandums and official correspondence. I learned some job-specific things, such as using Team Dynamix. I’ve learned a lot and it’s been a great year.
  6. Make money. Save money. (Already working on the saving money! #AdventureFund) I got a job, so there’s that. I love my job, and I love making my own money. I transfer $20 a month to my savings account, and it’s a smart thing to do, I think. So while it is not a whole lot, it’s my money and it feels great. I took some money out of the Adventure Fund to pay for some miscellaneous small stuff, but that’s okay.
  7. Stay hydrated. All year. I think there’s a water bottle around here somewhere… But really. I’ve done terrible and great with this one- depending on the month. 
  8. Read my whole James Patterson series. I got stuck halfway through book 13 in August, and I never picked them back up. I brought book 13 with me to the Netherlands… maybe I can make some more progress before the new year. It won’t be the whole series, but it’ll be okay. I read more than usual. During the last two months of school I also really got into Ernest Hemingway, voluntarily reading “Farewell to Arms” and “Hemingway on War”. For class I read “The Sun Also Rises”, and reread “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was a decent reading year. 
  9. Travel. Throughout the year, I went to the Netherlands twice. I went to Germany. I went to CDTA in Maryland, and visited Dayton a significant amount of times. I went to Erie, PA twice to visit the Lake Shore Railway Museum. I flew through Reykjavik, Iceland flying to the Netherlands (even though we spent all of 15 minutes in the airport because the flight was boarding as we landed). Traveling has been fantastic, and I can’t wait to plan something big next year… I still can’t wait to go see New York City again. 
  10. Write more. (Whether this is blogging, letters, cards, journaling, it’s going to happen!) I mean. Sure. I did blog more; I blogged at least twice every month. I wrote more physically, and I took a lot of notes in my classes. I need to write a few postcards still, but I’ll get caught up soon. 

It’s been such a great year. Family and friends were a big part of it – as was college. Joining Kent’s Chi Alpha (the Campus Ministry/Christian Fellowship), breaking out of my shell and hanging out with people (I went to a party too??), making new friends, attending a Green Day concert, volunteering with FIRST robotics, progressing as a photographer, and Civil Air Patrol activities have been huge highlights.

IMG_0137Getting to drive my car again when I came back to the USA, getting to take trips to Conneaut to see the beach and enjoy the water, watching the United States Air Force Thunderbirds fly, meeting the crew and pilots of the Thunderbirds, planning a conference for over five months (and learning some interesting leadership lessons along the way), organizing Great Lakes Region’s first ever Region Color Guard at the Region Conference, and serving as Cadet Commander at the first ever Maryland Campus of the Cyber Defense Training Academy.

Being voted as Chairman of the Ohio Wing Cadet Advisory Council, taking part in the Wing Commander’s promotion and Change of Command ceremonies, becoming my squadron’s first ever cadet rated to be a Mission Scanner and aircrew member, wearing a skirt, running a 5k, painting a rock, going black Friday shopping for the first time, getting the cutest little bunny rabbit, and even getting groceries on my own.

_EKB0790

2017 has been a year of surprises, of love, and of losses. A lot was accomplished. I made a bunch of friends. People passed away too soon. Megan Grimsic, you were one of the funniest people I knew. You were so absolutely talented, and one of the smartest people around. I met you at TCTC – we had Chemistry together. That class quickly became my favorite that year. I know we may not have been very close after you graduated, but thank you. Thank you for always making me smile and always being there for me, and everyone, no matter what. You were one of the coolest lab partners, ever. We’d try to match our lab goggles, and make jokes about the pennies we’d “boil”. You always pushed me to follow my dreams, and your photography always inspired me. I can’t believe you left the world this soon, you are loved by so many. Your funeral was beautiful, and I’m so glad I attended. Finally meeting your father was wonderful – you were right. He is pretty cool. I met your boyfriend, too. When I told him about you, he hugged me and quietly cried. You’ll always be loved by everyone, I promise you. We won’t forget you.

Sixty-seven blog posts to date, a custom domain name, and eleven categories –  this blog has come a long way since April 2016. I’ve done a countdown to my birthday, I’ve done these goals, and so often I will blog about random things. So what will my theme for 2018 be? After much consideration and debating, I have decided I will do a writing prompt every month.

The Writing Prompts will be as follows:

  • January: Think back to a moment where you’ve come to the end of the road with something important in your life—a relationship with a lover; moving out of your childhood home; graduation from school; etc. Write a scene wrapped around that moment, describing how you felt (good and bad) and how you closed the door on that chapter in your life.
  • February: You’ve been going to the same bar every night for the past five years. In fact, you’re such a regular that when you enter the, the other patrons yell your name and the bartender already has your drink waiting for you. But then one Friday you arrive and no one seems to recognize you, not even the bartender. What’s going on?
  • March: Envision a dragon. Do you battle him? Or is the dragon friendly?
  • April: Write a short story that takes place in a world where there are no insects left. Aside from no longer needing to clean bugs off of car windshields, what are the repercussions given the integral role that insects play in the ecosystem? Does your story include a movement to bring insects back?
  • May: Write about not being able to see ahead of you.
  • June: If you had to escort a visitor from outer space for a 30-minute tour of your community, where would you begin and end?
  • July: What makes you proud to be an American?
  • August: Imagine yourself as a teacher.  What type of student would you like to teach and why?
  • September: Imagine that you are an animal in the zoo.  What type of animal are you?  How do you feel about being caged?  How do you feel about people that visit and watch you?
  • October: You find a genie that gives you infinite wishes with only one catch: before it grant any wish, firstly you’ll need to fulfill one of its wishes.
  • November: You lost the ability to hear at a young age. One day, you’re with your friend and you suddenly hear a noise.
  • December: Write a short story inspired by one of your favorite sentences from the year, perhaps read or heard in an essay, speech, social media post, poem, song, or work of fiction. You might decide to use it as the first or last line of the story, or allow your plotline or characterization to be more conceptually informed by your inferences of the sentence’s implications or mood.

I’m super excited about these writing prompts, and what they’ll add to my blog. I can’t wait to work on my fictional writing again, and I know they’ll help me be more creative. I have created a category called “Writing Prompts, 2018” for all these prompts, and in case anyone wants one place to view all of them. I have also created a category for my 2017 Goals, called “The Year of the Goals”.

I hope everyone has a fantastic rest of 2017 and a great start to 2018!!! I can’t wait to blog again for all of my readers super soon.

Thanks for a fantastic year of She Became a Lion!

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.

~E. ♥

The Bells Were Ringing Out…

For Christmas Day! It’s the last month of the year, so naturally my blogging wouldn’t happen as scheduled. So far, December has been fantastic. 

T’was the nizzle before Christmizzle and all through the hizzle… Oh wait. I should probably elaborate on the month itself. Last monthly goal reflections is a go! Let’s see… what were my goals?

  1. Keep an eye on my finances and be smart about it. I mean. Sure. Yes. It went… better.
  2. Finish my online course early (because the weekends are great when there’s nothing to do) I mean, the semester ended so there’s that
  3. Further my Civil Air Patrol education. Recently, I attended a Mission Scanner course and will be getting my aircrew wings upon completing two sorties. I’ve also completed more of the FEMA training, and I just. I want to learn everything I can. SUPER COOL NEWS COMING IN THIS POST OMG
  4. Be more organized. This continues off of finding a routine. Jetlag is a… bad thing. Organized? Yeah. I did that. But routines? Meh.
  5. Apply for scholarships. Tuition is a little important. Tuition is indeed important.
  6. Keep a close eye on what I eat and when I eat. I can eat without getting sick again! And screw feeling bad about eating. I have been healthier, though. So it’s lit. 

Since November, plenty of things have happened. My first semester of college came to a close, I stepped out of my comfort zone with CAP (and it paid off), and life is great. 

I finished my first semester strong and confident. I got all As with the exception of a B+ in English, setting my first semester GPA at a 3.823, something I’m incredibly proud of. My classes were pretty challenging. My Story on the Web, the class where I had to create a website and tell a story online, taught me an incredible amount about various Adobe softwares. I had a super fun time creating my Audio Story and Video Story, all about the Civil Air Patrol. The lab was an open lab style instruction, meaning it was completely optional to come to class (except for the mandatory once per unit). Myself and a guy named Max attended almost every class, often being the only ones. I didn’t know his name until about week 13, but him and I would always hate people together so that was pretty cool. I also took a class called “Destination Kent State”, a class targeted at first year students. It was a requirement and very… interesting. English was pretty neat, but wayyy too much writing. My final project was a research paper on Ernest Hemingway and his literature as anti-war. The people in that class were pretty cool; Julia and I talk sometimes. I also took Computer Science, which was… stressful. I scored fantastically on the second midterm though, and after much panic ended the year with an A anyway. The last in-person class I took this semester was Society, Culture, and the Digital Sciences. At first, it started out a little rough. I couldn’t grasp how the professor would teach, and missed a lot of points on the first few assignments. 

HOLD UP IT’S TWO MINUTES UNTIL CHRISTMAS OKAY WOW (we’re watching The Santa Clause 2 and bun is asleep) (surprise I’m in the Netherlands for Christmas) 

OKAY WOW IT’S CHRISTMAS HI 🎄❄️❄️❄️❄️ MERRY CHRISTMAS ❄️❄️❄️❄️🎄

Alrighty so, SCDSCI, as we abbreviated it. I ended with a 102% A. The professor was pretty awesome. I also took an online class, called “Media, Power, and Culture”. It was interesting. Somehow I pulled off an A in that too. Overall, I think it went great. I had a fantastic first semester, and my scholarships and grants covered everything. I took 17 credit hours last semester, and I already registered for Spring 2018. 18 credit hours, here I come! It’ll be good. 

Last year’s Christmas Post talked all about my visit to the States, as I was living in the Netherlands. This year, I’m spending Christmas in the Netherlands with Andrew and my family, and it’s pretty cool. 

ALSO OKAY GUESS WHAT okay. I mentioned cool Civil Air Patrol news. I applied for 2018 Ohio Wing Encampment Cadet Deputy Commander for Operations… AND I GOT THE POSITION. Applying was incredibly out of my comfort zone and writing the letter of intent was pretty stressful, but in the end, it really did pay off. Andrew applied for Cadet Deputy Commander for Support, and he got that position. Encampment is going to be pretty awesome. I’m super stoked. The Cadet Commander seems pretty cool too, and I truly think this encampment is going to be fantastic.

How is it almost one a.m. help

Okay, I’m being sent to bed so “Santa” can go put gifts under the tree ( @ mom). I’ll be posting at least once more this year to reflect on my goals for 2017 and announce my theme for 2018. I can’t believe it’s already the last month of the year. It’s been a great 12 months of goals with y’all. So on that note…

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! 

~E.🎄

My Story on the Web: Audio Story

Hey y’all! So, as you all know by now, I’m in college! (whoa? what? really?)

For one of my classes, “My Story on the Web” we had to use Adobe Audition to create an audio story… and I’m super proud of the end result. while you can view all my work for that class on “She Became a Mountain Lion” (yes, that’s an iOS pun), I’m posting what I submitted for my audio story here, too. Enjoy!

Civil Air Patrol… The official United States Air Force Auxiliary. I started out working on this project by brainstorming words that describe the Civil Air Patrol and asking others what words came to mind about Civil Air Patrol. Together, we put together a long list of near fifty words to include “honor”, “patriotism”, “leadership”, and many more. At my Squadron’s CyberPatriot competition, the Air Force Association’s Cyber Defense Competition, I asked our members to say these words and I used my iPhone to record them. The result was an approximately seven second long audio clip from nine different CAP members of their words. I compiled these into Adobe Audition, and split every word apart to the smallest audio clip it could be with the razor tool, to avoid any flow interruptions. The hardest process for me was ordering the words into a sequence that not only sounded and flowed well, but made it sound like a continuous string of people saying words- not one person saying all of their words, and so on. To begin, I gave every person their own track in the mixdown. I then spread out the words so that it looked almost like a staircase, one person saying their word, then tracks 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9… then back to track one for the next cycle. When this was finished and I was happy, I added my music. Keeping in mind the Creative Commons and Copyright laws, I found multiple songs I thought would work under my story collage. Eventually, I settled on an excerpt from “The Sands of Windhoek” by Art of Escapism. Finding where in the song I wanted to begin was also hard, because I did not start playing the music from the beginning. Once settled on this, I added a track 10 and made this the music track. This was then my draft audio story. I knew I still had to do something. All those words may not mean a lot to someone, and it was hard to stay attentive even for me, the creator of the story.
Time came for peer critiques, and something I hadn’t thought of myself was said by one of my peers. “I liked the variety of people you used and all the different roles they play. It really shows how vast the field of work is”. I really liked this viewpoint because, as a CAP member, you realize all the things that happen. It took a non-CAP member to point out to me that CAP indeed has such a vast span of programs and training opportunities, and this was my goal with this audio story. To show what the Civil Air Patrol is.

I added a small narration on my part, importing my draft as an MP3 file and working over that. I said short statements, adding more substance to the words to explain my direction. I introduced Civil Air Patrol as the US Air Force Auxiliary, stated that we have three missions, asked what it means to you, and gave a closing that flowed with the outro of the music, fading out. I asked for feedback from my fellow CAP members before settling on a final story.

Once I was happy with the small edits and re-recording myself saying “emergency services” multiple times, I was actually very happy with the end result. I hope you enjoy!

We are the members of the Civil Air Patrol.

~E.

In the cold November rain…

So, never mind the darkness… We still can find a way…
‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever… Even cold November rain…

November

Sitting in class this morning, it’s the regular four of us that actually show up. Listening to Latvian music and running my name through Google in multiple different forms in preparation for an assignment in my next class. I should probably study for my second Computer Science midterm next week. We’ll get there.

October was pretty great, finishing off happily riding the Haunted Loop and reflecting on Halloweens past in my last post. I turned 19 and celebrated with my roommate and her family and some of our friends. Andrew came up as well, making it super great. I also want to give Alex a huge shout-out for being the coolest and best best friend ever.

The month was great, but how were my goals? Ehhh…

  1. Be healthier. Eat less carbs and less dairy. Work out more. I… ran like… a few times? I eat much less dairy, but pizza and chocolate are so good… I wish I could cut out dairy completely but I just don’t have that ability right now… I really should…
  2. Save money. I budgeted for November on Monday and I am confident I can save more money than I have in the past. I have a good grasp of what I spend money on now, how much I make, and how much is the difference. We’re getting there.
  3. Sleep more. I am sort of sleeping more. The past few days I’ve been getting to bed by 12:30, and I really like that. I’ve been sleeping decently and waking up at 7:45ish naturally.
  4. Find a routine. I am working on this one, and it may be what I struggle with the most. It’s interesting living with someone else to find what works for you. 

Alright, it’s time to walk to my second class of the day. I’ll be back!

Aaaaaand I’m back, coming at you from Kent State Univeristy’s White Hall. Still wearing my hat and scarf because KENT WHY IS IT SNOWING OUTSIDE? Happy November, y’all. Let’s set some goals, shall we?

  1. Keep an eye on my finances and be smart about it.
  2. Finish my online course early (because the weekends are great when there’s nothing to do)
  3. Further my Civil Air Patrol education. Recently, I attended a Mission Scanner course and will be getting my aircrew wings upon completing two sorties. I’ve also completed more of the FEMA training, and I just. I want to learn everything I can.
  4. Be more organized. This continues off of finding a routine.
  5. Apply for scholarships. Tuition is a little important.
  6. Keep a close eye on what I eat and when I eat.

Real quick interruption of our regularly scheduled programming: I just got to wear a Microsoft HoloLens and I never ever thought I’d enjoy that that much. Virtual Reality is so neat! Everybody is really enjoying it, it’s definitely a cool experience for the class. Have I mentioned how cool this professor is? He’s so focused on pushing us to explore our interests and it’s the greatest thing. So many students don’t like him, and to be honest, I don’t really understand why. Anyway, back to our scheduled blogging.

But yeah, those are my November goals. I may already be working on goal #3 because I just scheduled a flight for Tuesday. I’m super excited.

I’m going to eat my lunch now and head to my last class of the day, then I have work and CyberPatriot. It’ll be a good day. I’m not too tired, eating three meals a day has done me very well, and it’s helping me keep track of how I feel when. Health is a strange thing.

Alright, off to class I go. Have a great November, everyone!

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.

~E.

🎃Don’t Let Your Gourd Down | Happy Halloween🎃

H – A – Double L – O – W – Double E – N… Spells Halloween!Image result for halloween

Anyone that attended elementary school with me would be instantly transported back to the music classroom upon just reading that first sentence. Small red chairs, a distinct musty smell hidden by candles and the overwhelming amount of copier ink from sheet music the 3rd graders conveniently “lost”. Autumn colors on the walls and windows and small puddles on the ground from all the kids who couldn’t quite grasp how to play recorder. You’d leave that classroom and have a “party” in your homeroom, usually consisting of an overwhelming amount of chocolate treats and lukewarm apple cider- because no one in their right mind gives 9-year-olds hot apple cider. The “cool” girls would be dressed up as something with a long black wig. There were at least four supermans. I was probably a cat or a witch. There was always the one kid who didn’t have a costume but got candy anyway, probably out of pity. We never really questioned it. Our teachers would herd us outside to be paraded through the front drive of the school and observed by all the parents who decided to come out that day. The parent volunteers would help you line up- but you never wanted to stay where they put you so you’d move anyway. Throughout the years, traditions are created and destroyed for Image result for fall leavesHalloween. Once you get to High School, you don’t really dress up anymore. Except for the kid with the inflatable t-rex costume. He still dresses up, but gets called down to the office. If you’re in the pep band, you get to go play the fight song endlessly while the elementary kids are paraded through the sidewalk and hallway of a building you never had class in.

Things change. 

None of us really talk anymore. So many of the people I paraded over that asphalt drive have gone their own ways. Some are incredibly successful, some are not so much. That cheerleader is now a mother of three. Superman is one of the most well-read students at his respective college studying some sort of complicated mathematics. We all go different directions, and that’s okay. I’m just thankful for all those Halloweens shared with the witches and supermans and cheerleaders and even the toilet paper mummy that we put together half an hour before the parade (shhh, no one tell the janitor). I still use that song to spell Halloween, and I think that may be a consensus many of my high school graduating class will come to.

I’m often asked what my favorite holiday is, and I never give a concrete answer. Sometimes I’ll complain about Christmas, other times I’ll say Halloween briefly and leave it at that. I think I can truly say Halloween is my favorite holiday for a purpose, now. The memories of recorder spit and the mean girls in black wigs make me who I am. All those days spent with those children, teaching me about American culture when I’d just moved to America. It was my first true American holiday.

Today, as a college student, I didn’t give that much thought until I sat down to write this blog post. I spent today following my childish ambitions to ride the “Haunted Loop”, the decorated Halloween campus loop bus.

After getting off the bus that I knew was in front of Haunted Loop and getting on to the Haunted Loop, my childish ambitions were satisfied. I was particularly amused by the bat that hung over my head; it was incredibly cute. Haunted Loop got me to work on time, where I proceeded to eat wayyy too much candy (leaving candy in my desk drawer from the work Halloween party was a great idea!).

So no matter where we are today, if you rode the Haunted Loop, took your child trick-or-treating, or spent the day studying for some kind of complex math assignment that I could never even comprehend: thank you. Thank you for being a part of my childhood. Thank you for being the reason I look back on Halloween so fondly.

Ask not what your Pumpkin can do for you, ask what you can do for your pumpkin. 

~E.🎃