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.

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.

🎃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.🎃

Old Money, New Money, and Modern Society

So, I had to write a “blog post” for College Writing II on a concept from the Great Gatsby. I figured I’d leave it here as well. And yes… I used Bad and Boujee as a reference- and cited it in MLA.

“You know so we ain’t really never had no old money… We got a whole lotta new money though” (Migos, “Bad and Boujee”). This is a theme that is recurring throughout discussions in class, throughout the novel, and throughout everyday modern society. What is old money and new money? Old money can be defined as money inherited, passed on through families- money that has “always existed” even through a family name. New money is money made recently- money earned by a person or persons, in the novel most often made by entertainers in the film industry. The Great Gatsby, set in the 1920s, is  relevant as ever in showing the divide between new and old money. A few names come to mind when new money is mentioned in today’s society. The Kardashians, Mark Zuckerberg, even Donald Trump. They own large houses, mansions even. They attend lavish parties and travel frequently. They are looked on as a huge media icon and influence- much like Jay Gatsby was in the novel. “You must know Gatsby!” Jordan Baker exclaims in Fitzgerald’s novel, similarly to how one in today’s age would react if the Kardashians were mentioned.


But is new money just a modern concept? No. In 1757, The United States of America was a nation on the uprise when a young man- an orphan with no money was born. This man grew up to attend Princeton College by working hard. After overcoming adversity after adversity, this young man took a boat from the British West Indies to New York. “In New York you can be a new man” was a promise made to him (Hamilton: An American Musical). Alexander Hamilton was a poor immigrant, yet he became the first Secretary of Treasury of the United States, and was a key Founding Father. In Cabinet Battle #2 of Hamilton: An American Musical, Thomas Jefferson sings “…smells like new money, dresses like fake royalty” when referring to Hamilton. Hamilton was the newest of money that time period could find- helping start our great nation.

To summarize, the United States of America were founded on the concept of new money. New money has been prevalent in many times, societies, and ages- and is experienced in any culture. It is not a new concept or an old concept, it is a concept that time will never let fade away.

So there’s a little glimpse of what I’ve been up to. Enjoy the short essay!
~E.