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. 🐉

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

~E.⭐

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.

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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. ♥