A Lion’s First Quarantine

What a time we’re living in right now! It’s March 2020, and three months into this year it’s already been insane. Australian Wildfires, we lost NBA Star Kobe Bryant, and now the Coronavirus, known as COVID-19.

My, how my life has changed since last year. I’ve only blogged once since March 2019, and I do miss it. I’ve just been so insanely busy. I guess I’ll do a quick recap.

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October – I took the Spaatz Exam for Civil Air Patrol the second and third time. I passed everything but PT, and ended my cadet career on my 21st as a Cadet Lieutenant Colonel. While the feeling was disappointing, I am so proud of how far I’ve come. Also in October, I attended the Alpha Lambda Delta National Conference in Niagara Falls. It was over my birthday weekend, and it was amazing to be in one of my favorite places on earth. I also got to volunteer as FTAA at the Curiosity Open off-season robotics event, something I thoroughly enjoyed and learned a lot from.

November – In November, I coordinated the first Orientation Flights for the cadets at my squadron ever. It was a really good feeling as a brand new Senior Member to do something the cadets wanted, that no one else would do for them.  I also volunteered as a Core Values Judge at a FIRST Lego League tournament, and it was so much fun. Last, I went back to counseling. After at least five years of swearing it off, I made the leap to go back. It’s been… nice.

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December – December brought an end to the Fall 2019 semester, and I once again finished on the Dean’s List. I went to a work bowling party, and had a really nice time. It was the first time I’d ever been into a bar, and I guess it wasn’t too bad. It was kind of dak and sticky, but enjoyable enough. Disclaimer, I’m no fun; I volunteered to be the designated driver. Yeah yeah, your resident 21 year old isn’t huge on alcohol.

I spent the rest of December with my family in the Netherlands. It was amazing to see them again. 

IMG_20200104_143818January – In January, my second season as lead coach of an FRC team officially began. With Kickoff on January 4th, a new build season was underway. The Spring 2020 semester began on January 13th, and I started some classes I was really anxious about. January consisted of lots of robotics meetings, lots of work, and school. I also volunteered as a Robot Inspector at the FIRST Tech Challenge Kent Qualifier. I learned so much here, and gained so much confidence.

February – February started off with a military ball with my lovely boyfriend. We got dressed up, had good food, and danced a bit. It was a great night. The next day, we rescued three guinea pigs, that needed to travel to The Pipsqueakery. We babysat them until the early hours of the morning, and they were absolutely adorable.

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February continued the roll of lots of work, school, and robotics. On February 16th, I decided to get into volunteering with a local rescue called Oshie’s Tail Wagon Rescue. They specialize in transporting dogs out of kill-shelters. I transported an amazing senior German Shepherd named Marley. Sadly, my beloved Volkswagen Jetta, Sven, decided that it was done being a car that day. Lots of panic and waiting later, I was towed back home. I spent the next two and a half weeks without a car.

IMG_20200216_131346That didn’t stop me from doing all the things I love, though. I started attending the Kent Citizen Police Academy, an amazing course to learn more about the local police department, police processeses, law, and more. I got to tour AT&T’s central office in Cleveland. I also attended Kent State’s production of the musical “Parade”. It was an amazing musical and story.

February concluded with the Miami Valley Regional. Attending a week one regional for the second year in a row proved to be tricky. It was almost like being rookies again for myself and fellow coach Dave, running the team without a teacher. While we finished very low and definitely had some hurdles to overcome, it didn’t stop the students from learning a lot. Their enthusiasm returned, and they talked to other teams and focused on the future.

It was also a leap day, which I guess is cool.

MVIMG_20200310_081645March – Here we are now. The first week of March I bought a new car! Yay adulting. It’s a Buick Encore Premium. She’s got all wheel drive, turbo fancy things, heated everything, working air conditioning, a backup camera… yeah. I’m lucky. I love her. I still own Sven, and I’m putting off dealing with that shenanigan. Am I too attached to that car? Entirely possible. Oops. We also had a Game Night for robotics, where middle school students spent time with us playing board games and learning about the robot. It was entirely planned by the students, and was a huge success!

The week of the 8th is when everything got weird. Daylight Savings Time began. On Monday, a great thing happened though! My boyfriend was notified he received word that his dream would be coming true- he was selected to be a pilot in the US Air Force. Boy, am I proud of him. On Tuesday, all classes were cancelled and were moved online until April 13th. On Thursday, it was announced that classes would be online for the rest of the semester. Then came Friday the 13th. It was probably the most uneventful of the days.

Since then, everything has been canceled. It’s like life came to a grinding halt. FIRST canceled both Houston and Detroit championships, and postponed every other event. The Citizen Police Academy was canceled. Doctors appointments are online now, for the most part. Grocery stores have weird opening times. People stocked up on food and toilet paper, the shelves in the stores are empty. Mail should be quarantined. Lots of people are jobless and applying for unemployment. We’re under a stay at home order from Governor Mike DeWine. I really wish people would take this seriously. As I’m writing this, there have been over 1,000 confirmed cases in Ohio alone. There have been 19 deaths. It’s not just “old people”. It’s not just “pre-existing conditions”. It’s healthy people. It’s your friends and neighbors. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and STAY HOME.

00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20200325190645899_COVEROh, and, meet Evangeline. I adopted her on Wednesday. She’s the cutest cat, I swear. She’s a five year old Dilute Tortoiseshell cat who loves cuddles. She doesn’t jump much, and her meow is the cutest little squeak. She’s a tad annoying at 4 a.m. when I’m trying to sleep and she just wants to cuddle, but we’re getting better at that. I bought Evangeline the cutest cat tree, and so far she likes it. She really likes just laying on my bed though, which is nice because that’s really all I’ve been doing in quarantine. Yesterday we sat at the window for a little bit and listened to a resident of the apartment complex play her marimba outside. It was nice.

Everything is pretty strange and a little apocalyptic right now. Students left in campus housing all over the country are unsure of their future. My boyfriend is one of these unlucky people. International students, students without a home, students with parents far away, and students in any other situation have all been left without a thought. It’s infuriating. Will they be able to stay in their homes? For some universities it’s clearer than others. Kent State has been doing a great job. Wright State, on the other hand, has not.

IMG_20200227_145804Robotics meetings and classes are online now, and it’s the weirdest experience. Dogs barking through lectures, figuring out a different platform every week, and we’re still having meetings that could’ve been emails. Power keeps going out. Time spent on social media has skyrocketed. The world is full of stress and anxiety. No one is sure of anything. But there is hope.

Me? I’m just trying to keep going, like things in the future are still happening. Encampment is currently still happening, and I volunteered to be the Admin Officer. Everyone’s on a planning hiatus right now though from what I hear, because honestly, everyone expects it to be canceled. This year’s IACE got canceled, and I feel awful for the cadets that worked so hard and will never get another chance. I’m trying my best to focus on school. To do what needs to be done. My days mostly consist of hanging out with Evangeline at home. Having her around has helped me cope. I don’t feel as lonely.

Kent’s already announced that Summer Classes will be all online. I don’t take summer classes, but that makes me wonder when this will end. When life goes back to “normal”. I miss hugging people and hanging out with my friends. I miss driving buses and fixing computers. I miss going to lectures in person. I will say, I don’t miss my networking lab. And cheap gas is pretty cool, but no one is going anywhere. I don’t enjoy the uncertainty. Because at some point, everything is going to crash. Will it be my financials? Will it be the entire economy? Will someone I love get sick? I’m not ready for any of those scenarios. I just wish life was normal again, and I don’t think I’ll ever take mindlessly leaving the house to go to class or to the store or to the gym or to a concert for granted again.

Something I used to frequently write about on my blog was my goals. I’ve done decently on my goals, I suppose. Scrolling back to previous posts, it looks like I accomplished the majority of my “monthly goals”. As for my 2019 goals, well. Here’s what they were:

  1. Achieve the Carl A. Spaatz Award in the Civil Air Patrol. I guess this didn’t happen. But that’s alright. I learned so much about CAP in the process, and I learned so much about myself. I tried my best all three times, and I’m just not a very athletic person. It’s okay. There’s always the disappointment of “I could’ve tried harder”, “I could’ve started sooner”, or “I should’ve done this differently”. Yeah. It’s there. Trust me, I beat myself up, I won’t lie. But I’m happy where I am. I’m happy as a First Lieutenant, and I’m happy doing my operations work.
  2. Obtain my CCW. Man, guns are expensive. I don’t want to do this one until I can comfortably afford my own gun, a nice holster, and proper storage. Yanno, be responsible or something. 
  3. Get a computer certification (CCNA, CompTIA, etc.). This one should hopefully be happening after this semester. I passed my final in Networking Hardware 1 with a high enough grade to get the test discount, but our professor decided to wait since all the standards are changing and the course I’m in now will help us build on our skills.
  4. Obtain a General Class HAM Radio License. Yeah, no, that didn’t happen. I haven’t really touched ham stuff. I went to an amateur radio club with a friend in January and that was kind of neat. And my license plate is now my Call Sign. 
  5. Go scuba diving. It’s cold in Ohio, man. And where am I supposed to go? The flammable Lake Erie? Nah, but really. I’ve been playing with the idea of doing rescue diving. It sounds fun and right up my alley. Just don’t really know where to start.  
  6. Save $1,000Hey look! One I did! Of course, I spent it all on my new car. 
  7. Stop apologizing all the time. I think I’m getting better at this one! It may just be the lack of people I’ve been around lately, though. 
  8. Read at least one book per month. Nope. Didn’t happen. I watched a lot of Netflix though. And I wrote down all my dreams. And I read a lot of robotics documents. Does that count?
  9. Stop looking down on myself and gain some confidence. Working on this one. It’s actually going pretty well. Except for when it isn’t. But hey.
  10. Don’t blame myself for everything. Same for this one. It’s going pretty good, I guess.

So, there you have it. That’s what I’m up to these days. Maybe with my newfound spare time I’ll be around a bit more. I hope to get back into regular blogging anyway, I really miss it. I’ve been catching up on everything on my to do list, and maybe I’m getting my life together. We’ll see. I’ll be back.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and wash your hands! 

-E. 😷

Hiatus, or something.

Hey there! It’s been a while… Since March, to be exact.

It’s taken me a lot to finally be interested in blogging again. I’ve been incredibly busy and honestly just incredibly tired. In my last post, I did a recap of the experiences of my robotics team during “Destination: Deep Space”. I suppose I should give a quick summary of what I’ve done since then.

April – April was a quiet month, with the Spring 2019 semester still continuing. However, there was one incredibly notable thing that happened in April. On April 17th, the Cygnus NG-11 mission was launched from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

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A friend and I took my car and went on a road trip to watch the launch. But, what’s so special about it? Remember Seeker, the CubeSat I worked on? It was launching on Cygnus. My first ever rocket launch, and a project I worked on went to space with it. It was truly a breathtaking experience. The sound… I can’t even begin to describe the feeling. It was truly amazing.

May – May closed out the Spring semester, and I did pretty well. Encampment planning as Cadet Commander was in full swing. I started working two jobs, and honestly it’s been pretty good. Training was really fun. I also celebrated two years with my amazing boyfriend. ❤

June – June was something else… it was beyond busy. Two jobs, hanging out with a friend from high school that I hadn’t seen in forever, conference calls for encampment and IACE, the NBA (yay Raptors), Night at the Railroad Museum, and of course, encampment.

The 2019 Ohio Wing Encampment flew by… and I truly had an amazing time. It was a huge honor to serve as Cadet Commander, and an honor to work alongside all the cadre and staff. From hanging out with the command chief and the a capella camp that was also going on and taking selfies with the sleeping cadre to trying the aardvark sauce and driving the Safety Corolla…

I made some great memories and ate some great paninis.

July – In July, I had the honor of attending the International Air Cadet Exchange as an ambassador to the United Kingdom. This phenomenal three week exchange is going to get its own page on my blog to document my experiences. Watch for pictures and stories, coming soon!

August Screenshot_20190827-193829IACE concluded in August, and when I got home I got to spend time with my family here in the states. We hung out, went on a train ride, went to band nights, and of course: D-Day Ohio. The 2019 D-Day Ohio was my last large-scale cadet activity in the Civil Air Patrol… and I definitely got a little emotional (I can neither confirm nor deny that I was standing on a Higgins Boat crying). I also started my Junior year of college. Two in person classes and the rest online. Two jobs, coaching robotics, Civil Air Patrol (and Spaatz), Vice President of Alpha Lambda Delta, and President of the Digital Scientists. I can definitely confirm that I am crazy busy and probably not sleeping enough. Also, what’s a social life? Asking for a friend. I don’t have one either, but…

September –  It’s September 23rd, and I am writing this from one of my classes. I’ve worked a lot, slept a little, made my first paycheck that was over $300, took my first attempt at the Spaatz exam, and spent time with my boyfriend. He completed AFROTC Field Training this summer, and did really well. I’m so proud of him. ❤

Well, I suppose I’m going to go now. I’ll publish this now, but I’ll also update my IACE page soon and probably post a bit more in the near future.

Thanks for being patient with me, readers. Really.

-E.💕

 

New Year, Same Me: Hello, February.

It’s been two whole months since I’ve actually published anything, and my goodness have those two months gone by fast. Perhaps I should start where I left off.

My last post was December 14th, from the lovely Houston, Texas. It was the day before I turned in my NASA badge. No, this is not going to be my long NASA post, but that will come, eventually. It’s slowly growing in my drafts, and I want to make sure it’s perfect.

December 19th. The day I got back to my apartment after the three day road trip with M. What a long, fun drive filled with country music, migrating birds, and stupid hotel laws (I’m looking at you, Arkansas). Sven (the trusty ’04 Jetta) made it home safe and sound, as did his driver (yes, that’s me).

M left the next day, I drove her to the airport at an ungodly hour in the morning. I spent the next few days unpacking and spending time in my apartment. I bought a desk, and M had bought me a microwave and some other various kitchen supplies as a housewarming gift. I miss her, she was a great friend and person to hang out with.

It didn’t really feel like Christmas this year, mainly because I’d just left Houston- where it was a beautiful minimum of 50 degrees every day (and no snow!). I spent Christmas with my boyfriend, his family, and his grandparents. It was lovely.

Two days later, I flew to The Netherlands to spend New Year’s with my family.

It was so nice to see my mom and brother again- and my bun. George is still a lazy floof, but he’s happy and healthy and turned two on January 21st!

We had our own Christmas; and all my gifts were absolutely NASA themed.

And suddenly, it was 2019.

We went ice skating, ate lots of great food, visited my great grandma, saw the Joker statue up close that we’ve always driven by,  pet Ophelia the cat lots, gave a presentation at my brother’s school on NASA, and well- then I went back home. It was a nice trip and I’m so glad I got to see everyone.

When I got back to the United States, I spent another day with my boyfriend, and then headed home. Of course I had to stop at IKEA to get some furniture for my place… I now have a queen sized bed (and it’s lovely).

Since then, school has started again. It’s a strange semester. Getting back into the swing of classes has been hard. It’s also snowed, a lot. We had this fun “Polar Vortex” come through and cancel classes for two days. I’ve gone back to work at OCDE, and that’s been nice as well. I was selected as Cadet Commander of the 2019 Ohio Wing Encampment, and planning for that has been in full swing.

Of course, FIRST Robotics Competition’s build season began in January (and ends next week!). I’m super excited about this year’s game (Destination: Deep Space), and even more excited about the rookie team a fellow mentor and I started.

I’m so proud of the dedicated kids who have been putting time into this program. We may not have a big team, but those who are involved are awesome.

Life has been pretty quiet around here. Very busy, but quiet. Work, school, homework, robotics, extra stuff for my major (like attending the Ohio Celebration of Women in Computing Conference next week), Civil Air Patrol, exercising, cleaning, getting groceries… Yeah, I’m somehow balancing this. Being an adult is overwhelming sometimes, but honestly, it’s nice. Also, so is living alone. 10/10 would recommend.

So, obviously last year’s writing prompts did not go very well (if I tagged everything correctly, I only actually did 4 months out of the 12… yikes). I’m going to go back to doing goals, like I did in 2017. I set a few goals in January on my lovely Trello board (Trello is my life lately), so let’s move them here and possibly add a few.

2k19 – Goals

  1. Achieve the Carl A. Spaatz Award in the Civil Air Patrol
  2. Obtain my CCW
  3. Get a computer certification (CCNA, CompTIA, etc.)
  4. Obtain a General Class HAM Radio License
  5. Go scuba diving
  6. Save $1,000
  7. Stop apologizing all the time
  8. Read at least one book per month
  9. Stop looking down on myself and gain some confidence
  10. Don’t blame myself for everything

These goals seem pretty achievable. I age out of CAP in October, and I really want to have at least attempted the Spaatz exam before then. My goal right now is May, but I’m extremely nervous and I know I still need to work very hard to get there. The other ones are all pretty self explanatory. Certifications, licenses, yeah! Let’s get this bread (is that still a meme?).

Alright, let’s set some goals for the month now. I missed January due to my lack of blogging, but that’s alright. February: let’s go.

February 2k19 – Goals

  1. Organize my apartment and make everything look nice
  2. Run and walk more
  3. Do dishes immediately after using them
  4. Cook at home for every meal feasible
  5. Sleep routinely
  6. Apply for scholarships
  7. Clean my car
  8. Be the best coach I can be for the robotics students

These are good goals. Hopefully doing this again will encourage me to blog at least once a month. I honestly cannot believe I’ve been blogging for almost three years now; it’s so crazy to read back on some old posts and see how far I’ve come.

So, with that, I will end this post. I will finalize my NASA post soon, because I’m sure some of my followers are just here for NASA. That’s alright.

As always, thanks to my followers and readers. Y’all are awesome.

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Last, thanks for everything, Opportunity.

“My battery is low and it’s getting dark…”

You were a good rover. The best. What started as 90 days became an amazingly long mission that allowed us to learn so much. Thanks, Oppy.

Maybe we’ll see you on Mars one day.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” -Henry Ford

~E.💕

the overwhelming wave

I don’t easily admit my weaknesses. Right now, I just need an outlet. I need this blog for me. I didn’t even know it was possible to cry for three hours straight. I didn’t even know it was possible to cry in your sleep.

I haven’t been okay. My mom and brother left to go back to the Netherlands after a three week visit late last night. My boyfriend spent the night with me last night and him going home is always hard… but this time it hurt so bad.

Goodbyes are never easy. My mom always says that it’s not goodbye; that we’ll see each other again. And I know that. These goodbyes though- they felt like goodbyes. It’s all too weird.

I am excited for my NASA internship. I really am. I’m just so incredibly overwhelmed. All these doubts and thoughts running through my mind of “what if I’m not smart enough?” or “what if I don’t get along with the people?”.

There’s so much still to do. So much to pack. To clean. To read.

It doesn’t help that I got a cold on Sunday.

My stress level is through the roof and I’m not quite sure why I can’t pull myself together. I miss my family. I miss my boyfriend. I miss my friends.

I’ve completely lost my appetite. This cold thing has made me feel weak. Listening to music even has no appeal right now.

This post really has no good content. I just needed to type. I needed my outlet.

I know everything will be okay. I do. I just needed to take a breath and type this.

I’ll be okay… just maybe not today.

~E.

It’s my favorite month!

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Halloween, Fall, black cats, chilly weather, there’s so many things to love about October. And hey! It’s my birthday this month! Last year I was posting countdowns and baby pictures and senior pictures as a countdown to my 18th birthday.

Now, my 19th birthday isn’t such a big deal. Or, it may not seem like it to many people anyway. But it’s kinda special to me. I’m turning 19 on the 19th and 19 is my favorite number. How much better could it get? It’s going to be a great day.

Lately, life has been pretty good. Last night… wow. Andrew and I laid under the stars for a while and it was fantastic. I’d dreamed of a date like that since I was like, 10. I genuinely felt that life was great… something freshman year of high school me wouldn’t even comprehend. I’d say I’ve got myself together decently well.

Speaking of getting myself together, how’s those goals coming along? My goal for September was to get amazing grades, get a good job, and establish myself.  I’d say I met that. School is going great. I got a job! (WOOOO) I’m a student IT assistant. It’s great. And establish myself? I think I did. I’m active in the campus ministries organization- Chi Alpha- and I’ve made a few friends (lookin’ at you, Isabel. You better not skip class for Netflix again).

Do I have goals for October? You bet. I have a few!

  1. Be healthier. Eat less carbs and less dairy. Work out more.
  2. Save money. 
  3. Sleep more.
  4. Find a routine. 

Okay. Well. It’s October and it’s going to be great.

Oooooh, I haven’t measured my yearly goals in a while. Let’s do that real quick.

My Goals for 2017 Were:

  1. Love myself and be happy. Do things because they’ll make me happy.
  2. Go to college and study where and what I want.
  3. Achieve at least C/Lt Col in the Civil Air Patrol
  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!)
  5. Learn something new. Whether this is learning a new language, something about computers, anything.
  6. Make money. Save money. (Already working on the saving money! #AdventureFund)
  7. Stay hydrated. All year.
  8. Read my whole James Patterson series.
  9. Travel.
  10. Write more. (Whether this is blogging, letters, cards, journaling, it’s going to happen!)

How are they going?

  1. I mean, damn. Yeah. I’m happy.
  2. I’m in college, baby.
  3. This one’s physically impossible with dates and time in grade now. But that’s okay- we’re looking at January 2018 now. I achieved Cadet Major and I’m pretty damn proud of that.
  4. I’m…. a work in progress.
  5. I’m learning a lot about leadership these days. I’m learning even more about myself. But am I also learning learning? Yeah. I know binary now. Like, I grasp it so well. So yeah. I’m learning new things.
  6. #AdventureFund is coming along decently. There’s like $100 in there. And I got paid for the first time on Friday- $91.01. It’s lit.
  7. Ensure you are hydrating and drinking water.
  8. Ugh, I’m still on the same book I was on in like, May lmao.
  9. Yeah, that’s a thing. Planning a trip in December as I’m typing this!
  10. I guess so too. (College note-taking is writing, right? ha).

So there we have it. Goals. They’re.. uh… coming along. Yeah.

Well, I’m going to go plan and eat a croissant. It’s a damn good croissant.

Keep your head up and strive for greatness.

~E.

“Can I ask an odd question?”

“Of course- you can ask me anything” I reply back to my boyfriend. He waits a moment and shyly replies “can you write me something tonight? something cute to wake up to?”

Why, of course I can. I can also be really extra with it. For those of you who don’t know, my boyfriend is amazing (I may be biased but???). He’s in Air Force ROTC, CAP, and he’s just like, super smart too. Anywho, Tuesday and Thursday mornings he has PT for ROTC and like, it’s ungodly early morning- not even like decent morning times. I know he’ll kick ass just like he did today (he made weight and I’m super proud of him wow) but I’m still absolutely going to be that girlfriend. Here goes nothing.

Good morning babe♥

I know you’re not looking forward to PT, but I promise you everything will be okay. You’re going to do absolutely amazing. You’re going to get your push-ups done and get your sit-ups done and kick ass on the run. And then just think.. it’s already Tuesday. Something something you’ll see me this weekend? And Linuxfest is a thing? Heyyyy. But yeah. Once you’re done with PT, only one more PT session until you see me. Wow. Time sure flies.

I just also want to take a moment to say how incredible and amazing you are. Thank you for calling me on my drives home from CAP. Thank you for always being there when I need to talk. Thank you for laughing alongside me at memes. Thanks for giving me leadership advice on like, a nightly basis. Thanks for being a pretty damn great guy.

While everything may not always be perfect dandelions and butterflies (or however that weird American saying goes), at the end of the day you’re still here and I’m still here and everything is okay. No matter what.

Let me throw in a quick pun you might appreciate babe: yoda best boyfriend.

Alright. I’ll leave you with this meme thing because I’m super tired. I’m going to get some sleep now, and I hope you’re sleeping well. Enjoy the memes I just texted you.

I’ll talk to you soon.

~E.

“Have you blogged yet this month?”

A question I’ve been asked multiple times. “Why haven’t you blogged?” or “IT’S ALMOST AUGUST”. Well, here we go, July’s post- possibly with minimal effort.

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The last post I made was in June, when I did a May recap… and I promised I’d blog all about Lauren’s trip to the Netherlands. I jokingly said it’d be a week after June 13th, but even that didn’t happen. It’s now a month later… and here are some highlights!

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May 23rd Lauren and I got off the plane (since the last update I gave was us getting on the plane…)

Honestly, I’m going to go into generalizations for now. We slept a lot, and some days we were just lazy. So I’ll talk about the big things.

We went to the market on Saturdays and introduced Lauren to loempias and baopao. I still eat it every Saturday, and I’m about 99% certain she misses the food more than anything. She also tried the Dutch style fries, frikandel, kroket, bitterballen, eirbal, and she really liked the kaassoufle. We took her to the Pancake Ship in Groningen too, and that was an awesome time.

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Lauren modeled for me so I could work on my photography, she went to band practices with me, and also attended my band concert on the island of Schiermonnikoog with my family and I. We walked in the North Sea- until it started raining on us. Even then it was still amazing.

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We hid ducks, went for bike rides, introduced her to my great-grandmother who is 92 years old, and eventually got back onto a plane on June 13th.

 

During all this time, my car once again decided it didn’t want to work; the right rear spring completely breaking in half. Lauren took me down to Columbus to get my uniforms and clothing in preparation for the Cyber Defense Training Academy.

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I saw my bamboo, and got a good night’s sleep in Columbus. In the morning, my boyfriend picked me up and we went to CoSi.

WAIT WAIT WAIT What? Did I just say boyfriend? Yessir, I did. That’s a thing that happened in May, too. (Whoa, he wasn’t even mentioned in the last post? Nope…) His name’s Andrew and he’s pretty cool. He’s a sweetheart.

So, yeah. CoSi was pretty awesome. The planetarium was absolutely my favorite part. *cough* Pluto is a planet *cough*. We saw Kat that day too, because she stopped by to bring me my ABU cover. I missed her so much, oh my goodness.

On June 16-18th, the Thunder over the Valley air show happened. It was my second time helping at the YARS Air Show as a Civil Air Patrol cadet, and it was fantastic.

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I acted as cadet commander: coordinating teams, ensuring everyone is safe and well taken care of, as well as taking photos.

The left photo was taken by me of the Calypso Pass done by the USAF Thunderbirds #5 and #6; Solo and Opposing Solo. On Friday, I had the incredible opportunity to meet the Thunderbirds.

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On the right, USAF Thunderbirds Commander Lt Col Jason Heard (Thunderbird #1) signs a fellow cadet’s pilot logbook.

Thunder Over the Valley was an incredible experience this year, from meeting the Thunderbirds, working directly with USAF Security Forces, and running through a downpour to make sure all cadets were inside, to trying to balance it with Relay for Life of Poland the night before. Yes, I attended Relay for Life and got a solid four hours of sleep. I also absolutely ate three Arby’s roast beef sandwiches. The cravings were real.

I did a photoshoot for a friend, I ate Dunkin, I slept, I went to CAP and CyberPatriot, and that was my week before CDTA. Of course, I have to give Preston Volkswagen a quick shout-out for letting me get Papa John’s Pizza delivered to the dealership as I sat there waiting to hear back about my money pit *ahem* car.

Then… The 2017 Cyber Defense Training Academy, Maryland Campus.

On June 23rd, I finally was able to put a face to the names- and the voices I’d spent countless hours talking to via conference calls. On June 23rd, the best week of my life was about to begin.

In all honesty, I had no idea what to expect. New people. New facility. New location of the CDTA. Everyone was a little unsure- but we all had a common goal: to train an upcoming generation of cyber warriors. We would let nothing get in the way of this goal. We had some mishaps. We had some miscommunication. At the end of the day however, we all came together and laughed. Senior and cadet staff alike.

From June 23rd to July 1st, I had the incredible experience of serving as the Cadet Commander for the Maryland Campus of the Cyber Defense Training Academy, Civil Air Patrol’s #2 most applied to National Cadet Special Activity. At the end of the week, we graduated 51 new Cyberspace Familiarization Course students, and I could not be more proud of them.

I, of course, didn’t do it alone. I had an amazing group of staff; cadet and senior, that supported me every step of the way.

Waking up every morning and seeing the NSA, spending hours among nerds and learning new things, gaining leadership experience, my soap, the Scepter for the Septic, sharks and minnows, ER Flight, spreadsheets, radios, pillows, mopping, beautiful sunsets, Colonel panic, geofilters, cowsay, eating chocolate with the girls on a washing machine, and Cleveland-sized groundhogs were all just a few moments and memories that made the week an amazing one. Here are a few photos!

 

So yeah, CDTA was amazing. Thank you to everyone who made CDTA-MD 2017 an amazing, memorable experience.

After CDTA, I slept. I needed sleep, man. Like. 16 straight hours plus the drive home.

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On July 3rd, I did a photoshoot for a six month birthday. It was a fantastic experience, and I learned so much. Kamry is an absolutely beautiful baby girl, and her family was great to work with.

I designed the basket she’s laying in to the left by myself, and I was so proud of it. The flowers and fabric matched her outfit gorgeously.

I spent the Fourth of July in Conneaut, first with WWII Higgins Boats (I love D-Day Conneaut perhaps a little too much) and then at the beach, swimming and tanning (okay, so I actually took a nap and got a little darker). It was a perfect day. I took a panorama of the beach, and I’ll do the same during D-Day Conneaut this year. I am the Public Affairs Officer in Charge, and I’m so incredibly excited. Kat is Cadet Commander and I can’t wait to see where the activity goes this year. Also, The Fourth of July is my mom’s birthday, so hey hey happy birthday to her!

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July 5th I got on a plane and came back to the Netherlands, where I am now. I’ve done lots of rabbit cuddling, and I even went to Germany with my grandparents on a trip to take photos of FC Groningen’s training camp. I even worked out (and am working out) consistently for the first time in my life. High school track doesn’t count.

It’s been a good month. I’m an SDA and a month away from becoming a Cadet Major in the Civil Air Patrol. I’m a month away from starting college and my major. I’m so excited for all these changes coming up in my life. Leaving my family will suck like heck, but I’m pumped to be the first on my family to go to college, to be the first with a degree.

So hey. Let’s review those goals I set last month. I definitely explored more, and I even had to speak German! I tried new things (like speaking German). Not giving a shit what people think is a work-in-progress, but it’s going better. Photography… yeah, I met that goal. Let’s keep it going! Lastly, be the best person I can be for others. I think I met this goal. I wrote that when I was super tired and in all honesty I’m not sure what I exactly meant with it. How I’m interpreting it now, I met that goal.

New goals? Hmmm.

  1. Blog in a timely manner
  2. Keep working out
  3. Sleep

There we go. Nice and simple. Maybe. Let’s see if I actually blog on August 1st this time. It’d be my first “on-time” post in a month. #Goals.

The rest of July is going to go by so fast, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. But I’m going to have a kick-ass rest of the month, and I hope you do to!

Take every chance, drop every fear.

~E.♥