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. 😷

The Bells Were Ringing Out…

For Christmas Day!December_header_snowflakes

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.🎄

“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.♥