Two Years as a Lion

Two years ago, this blog was started as an outlet for my ramblings about life and a stuffed animal Simba from The Lion King. I then realized lions are so much more… that I am a lion. In my first post ever I wrote “I like to think of myself like a lion. Strong. Fierce. An over-comer. Yet, gentle. Because, everyone sees some shit in life. But, it gets better. As stereotypical as that may sound. Really… Everyone can find their lion. My inspiration just happened to… actually be a lion.

Before this blog, I actually had a blog that I used for about 4 days in February 2015. “Ramblings of a Teenager” I called it, and it had some of my poetry on it. It doesn’t come up on Google, you’re welcome for saving you the time. Most of that poetry is on here now, anyway.

My point, though, is that I’ve always had a fascination with blogging. That first one didn’t really work out, but I’m still at it blogging here- and I feel like it’s really helped me. Twenty followers and 71 posts are just numbers, but what has really helped me is being able to write. I can clear my mind into my blog posts. I can calm down when I sit and write. It’s such a wonderful outlet.

A lot has changed since I started my blog- and even since I wrote my “One Year” post. I’m still so incredibly thankful to those of you that read my blog, whether from my Snapchat, Instagram bio, or people I don’t even know that follow me… you’re all amazing humans and I appreciate you.

A year ago, I was in The Netherlands not sure of what I was going to do with my life. A year ago, I was single. Over the course of that year, I met an amazing guy that I can share my life with. I lost some friends. I moved back to the United States of America. I made some friends. I started college.

Last year, I was finally starting to find my self-confidence. Now- today- I smile confidently no matter what I do. I can go into a job interview with a smile and truly mean it.

I’m so thankful for all the people in my life, my family, my friends, and everyone else for helping me become who I am now. I’m thankful for those late night conversations, those dinners where we laugh, those times where we cry. Everyone in my life is phenomenal and so fantastic in their own way, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

You’re all probably waiting for the attached photo of how baby Simba is doing these days. Well… he’s in The Netherlands. He did not move to America with me. And you know, that’s okay. Life’s all about moving on, leaving things behind, and looking for the future where even brighter things will greet you.

I will never forget the idea that started this blog, however.

These are my journeys, my thoughts, Simba’s travels, my poetry- well, I really just hope for this to be an inspiration to others. For others to find their lion. Or owl, gazelle, octopus, eagle, stork, anything. For others to keep fighting, to find life’s beauty, to be strong.

While Simba may not travel with me anymore, I surely do. I love to those capture moments in writing, photography, and memory, and I can’t wait to see what life gives me for the rest of forever.

I started out my very first blog post with the quote “smile, you’re amazing“, and still carry on this ending style. Why should today be any different?

Here’s to seeing where I’ll be next year, to growing even more, and loving myself and others…

And smiling… because you’re amazing.

~E.♥

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. 🐉

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.🎃

19 on the 19th

Happy Birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday dear E, happy birthday to me!

Image result for october 19th birthday

Oh hey look, that rhymed. This blog post, I’ll be answering some “writing prompts” about myself. The first day I’m 19. These prompts were really targeted at kids, but hey. That’s all good.

  1. What is something you are good at doing? Anything to do with technology or computers. My job is pretty great. 
  2. What is your favorite color and why? I always say I don’t have a favorite color. Or black. I guess I like black because it goes with anything. I also really like the combination of yellow and purple because it makes my mom happy. They really are happy colors. Red is also pretty cool, because it looks good on me. Recently I’ve been getting more into pink, too. I have this really cute lipstick called “divine wine” and it’s a super cute color pink.
  3. What is the story behind your name? Emanuel, and Queen Esther from the Bible!
  4. Which country do you want to visit and why? All of them. I also really want to go to Paris, France. It just seems beautiful. It’s so romanticized in today’s society, so why not?
  5. What is your favorite cartoon? I don’t really watch TV. Tom and Jerry is pretty cool. The one episode of Rick and Morty I watched was also 10/10.
  6. What do you want to be when you grow up and why? I want to work in a technology field. Tech support, networking, cyber security.
  7. What is your favorite thing about school? My Society, Culture, and the Digital Sciences professor is a great guy. I think the best thing about college so far though is the flexibility and mutual respect that everyone has for everyone, especially my classes with a majority of older students. The other freshmen are kind of annoying and immature, but that’s okay. They will learn. 
  8. What one thing do you want to change about your school? I. HATE. ONLINE. CLASSES. So yeah, no more online classes. And maybe ditch Blackboard for something that actually, I don’t know, functions. 
  9. What is your favorite season and why? FALL. Because it’s just great. Why not? It’s the perfect temperature, the leaves are beautiful, there’s bonfires and coziness and friends and corn mazes and my birthday and fall is just perfect.
  10. What would you like to invent and why? Something better than Blackboard lol (jk, maybe teleportation). 
  11. Where do you want to travel to as a kid? As a teenager? As an adult? As a kid, I always wanted to go to Paris. As a teenager, I still had that Paris dream. I guess I still would like to go to Paris, but I also really want to do a super basic road trip through all the states. Yanno, drive to Hawaii and stuff. 
  12. Where do you want to live as an adult? In a house with no debt.
  13. What is your favorite food? Describe it in detail. My favorite food? In detail? Quite possibly Arby’s Roast Beef sandwich. The classic one. It’s delicious. They have the meat. 
  14. What are you scared of and why? Spiders, because they’re gross. Finding spiders in my shoes, because that’s more gross. NOT finding spiders in my shoe (and them being there), because that’s terrible (these all stem from something someone told me in second grade thanks Mrs.Reyes). Lastly, burning alive. That one’s obvious.
  15. Write about your very best friend. He’s a great guy and the editor of this blog. He’ll probably point out at least three typos in this post alone. He’s pretty smart and has taught me so much about technology and networking and yeah. Hi Alex.
  16. What is the color of your room? Describe the things in it. Beige. There’s an American flag on the wall in between my side and Megan’s. On my side, there’s my bed. My bed has a purple blanket and a giant teddy bear that Andrew bought me (it’s super cute and usually gets kicked off my bed while I’m asleep). 
  17. Write about your pet animal. My pet animal? Megan has a cat named Abby and she’s an asshole sometimes, but a very cute one. She likes to lay on my face when I’m talking to people. There’s also George, my bunny, back in the Netherlands. I miss my floof. 
  18. Write about which pet you want but do not have. I want more buns. And a German Shepard Dog. 
  19. What is your favorite holiday and why? Halloween because Fall.
  20. Describe the night you _______________ and what happened. Wait what? Huh? This must be some kind of secret kid code that I’m too old for. Skip!
  21. Design a tree house for yourself and describe what you will do in it. Networking paradise. It’d be fully enclosed and super cold all the time. I’d run multiple servers and just yeah. A fiber connection to a tree house isn’t too much of a stretch, right? Maybe I’ll just put up a hammock… libra.png
  22. What is your favorite dress/outfit and why? I bought today’s outfit last night at Hot Topic and I’m in love. It’s a dress that has a galaxy/space print (and supposedly glows in the dark). I’m wearing black tights with it and my black boots. My necklace is the Libra star symbol. 
  23. What is your biggest dream for your future? To be successful and have enough money to be able to spend what I want when I want and to have lots of time to do what makes me happy. Oh, and to have a good job that I enjoy, of course.
  24. Ten interesting things about you are… 
    1. Today is my birthday
    2. I was born at 11:12 on a Monday
    3. I’m from the Netherlands
    4. My first car was named Steve. He was a green 1998 Ford Escort. 
    5. There’s a server in my apartment
    6. There’s a (mounted) deer head in the passenger seat of my car, a bunch of networking cables on the floor, and a Christmas tree in the backseat. There’s currently no room for anyone to sit in my car. 
    7. My brother and I share a birthday, and my grandmother and her brother share a birthday.
    8. I broke my ankle and growth plate in 5th grade from playing hide-and-seek. I was in a wheelchair for a while. I then re-injured it at basic encampment for Civil Air Patrol in 2014. They carried me from class to class until I got crutches. I borrowed a staff member’s. They then found a wheelchair for me to use at the Air Force Museum. I got the nickname of “Princess Wheels”. Kat pushed me around the museum and it was great.
    9. I actually *really* like singing. I used to think I was good at it. I was in choir for all of middle school and I wasn’t in high school because of scheduling. I used to practice with the church worship team in high school. I don’t know if I’m actually good, but I like singing. 
    10. The earliest birthday I remember was my bear birthday party, when I think I turned three. I had a bunch of people over and they all got these little bears with long arms and Velcro on the hands so they could hold themselves up. I still have mine. 
  25.  What makes you happy? My birthday! I’ve been in a super great mood all day.
  26. What makes you sad? When other people are upset or sad.

I’m also real quick going to touch on my music taste! I’ll be using YouTube this time though, unlike my post titled “Where Words Fail, Music Speaks” from January.

What song is playing right now? The USC Trojan Marching Band playing “The Kids Aren’t Alright” by the Offspring on the Navy Pier in Chicago.

My YouTube history is all sorts of random at the moment. The USC Trojan Marching Band playing “You’re Gonna Go Far Kid”, The YouTuber Denis’s intro music, “Poke and Destroy” by the Presidents, “The Nights” by Avicii, and “Hopes and Dreams” from the Undertale soundtrack. Obviously there’s more than that, but that about sums it up.

There’s not much else fun to blog about. My last night as an 18-year-old was fun. I raced someone (oops) (I won’t be doing that again) (I lost), went to Chick-Fil-A, and spent too much at Hot Topic.

Today I had Computer Science in the morning, and now I’m at work. Work’s been fun. I updated some computers (yay feature updates that take like 2 hours) and fixed some tech support stuff for a coworker. Tonight, Andrew is coming up and we’ll probably go to Chi Alpha. It’s been a good day. ALSO, THIS DRESS HAS POCKETS AND I LOVE IT.

I’m gonna go do a bit of homework now before work ends. Oh, that reminds me. @ whoever spilled coffee in the conference room on the second floor, I will find you. Mice aren’t supposed to be sticky. 

Alright. Really though. I’m going to go do some homework. I’ll blog again later!

I like to think of myself like a lion. Strong. Fierce. An over-comer. Yet, gentle. Because, everyone sees some shit in life. But, it gets better. As stereotypical as that may sound. Really… Everyone can find their lion. My inspiration just happened to… actually be a lion.

~E. ♥