Not Going Through the Motions Anymore

I was never very popular in high school. Back then, I was quiet. I went along and got decent grades. I graduated with a decent GPA. It wasn’t the best, but neither was my effort. I spent my time looking for excuses to spend time in the band room with my best friend and the band director. All I wanted was to be around the field I knew I would end up in- music education. I was so passionate about music, and that’s where I was the most social. I wasn’t afraid to get up in front of a group of students while job shadowing a local band director and talk. I wasn’t afraid to mentor my peers on sight reading- or anything altogether. I participated in bands and ensembles outside of my high school and met a bunch of new people, several of them who would be around for quite a while and leave a large impact on my life.

Nevertheless, in high school people didn’t know me. I was that “band girl”- if I was anything to them at all. A few of the more “popular” people knew me because I did track and field. That was it.

I used to look back and wonder what I did wrong- why I never fit in with them. Everyone was friends with everyone in third grade, why didn’t that last?

In high school, I constantly stressed about college. I -hated- math, and I’d be damned if I ever had to take another math class in my life. I didn’t think I was smart. I didn’t think I could do it, in all honesty. In a way, being a music major was my soft landing. I was comfortable there. I knew EVERYONE I would be going to college with. Did I really want that? I thought I did at the time. I was incredibly passionate. I really was.

It was a hard decision, and not an easy one to make. Many blog posts, late night talks, self reflection, a bit of self loathing, and a lot of self love helped me make the decision I did.

Today… it really hit me. I made the right choice. 

I’m in a place I’m happy. I’m doing better than I ever did in high school. My GPA for this semester so far is a 4.0, and I’ll be damned if that goes down. I love college. So many people told me it’d be tough. That it’d be scary. That I wouldn’t meet new people. That it sucks for shy people. Well, they were wrong. This is a whole new world. A whole new place of opportunity. Is it a lot of work? Absolutely. But I love it more than anything. I love where I am today.

Yesterday I helped someone with some ridiculous algebra class’s homework and I HAD FUN WITH IT. I took a moment to reflect on that. Here I was in high school, ready to bash my head against a wall because I hated math so much. Because I thought I was bad at it because I wasn’t the valedictorian. College is so much different, and by god I love it.

I have plenty of friends. I guess you could consider me popular, these days. It’s nice. I still have the few people that I’d trust with my life over anyone else, but it’s nice to have a group to walk to classes with. It’s nice to see smiling faces in most of my classes that will actually enjoy sitting with me. College is so much better than high school, and I’m so glad I chose the path of getting a STEM degree.

I couldn’t be happier.

~E.

You Get There By Realizing You Are Already There

Where am I getting, now? What’s with the weird inspirational quote for a title? All I’m really here for is to read your goals, weird blogging lady.

2017. MMXVII. Twothousandseventeen. 2k17. There were indeed plenty of ways to refer to the year of the rooster. It’s been a long 365 days, and it’s been a long year of goals. The year honestly seemed to fly by. Moving back to America, visiting the Netherlands twice, finishing my first semester of college, advancing my CAP career, developing my hobby of photography, living on my own, and figuring out who I am are all things of 2017 that made this year unique.

In January, I set ten goals for myself to accomplish in the 365 days of 2017. I suppose it’s time to reflect and elaborate on 2017.

My Goals for 2017 Were…

  1. Love myself and be happy. Do things because they’ll make me happy. I think I came a long way on this goal. I’m still not the most in shape, or the skinniest girl, or whatnot. But you know what? I don’t really care. I’m going to work harder in order to do things for myself, to prepare for encampment and possibly even my Spaatz exam one day. But as a whole, I don’t feel guilty for eating anymore. I don’t feel like I have to exercise until I’m dead or else I’m a terrible person. I bought clothes that make me feel pretty and are comfortable. I accepted clothes that didn’t fit anymore. I’m doing good. I’m happy.
  2. Go to college and study where and what I want. Kent State University has been an amazing fit for me so far. The Digital Sciences major is fantastic, allowing me to study towards a Bachelor of Science and do what I love. I’ve learned so much and met some really cool people. 
  3. Achieve at least C/Lt Col in the Civil Air Patrol. Well, this one is impossible this year. I did not have time or money to attend Cadet Officer School or a Region Cadet Leadership School. However, I am not in the least discouraged. I may not be on a “perfect” promotion schedule anymore, but I’m exactly where I need to be. Having been the Cadet Commander of the Maryland Cyber Defense Training Academy in its inaugural year, being a crucial part of planning the Great Lakes Region Conference, overcoming difficulties at the squadron level, and now accepting the position of Deputy Commander for Operations at the 2018 Ohio Wing Encampment have given me the experience, training, and valuable lessons that I am so incredibly grateful for. I will be a Cadet Major until I attend an RCLS, which I will likely be doing in July. Spaatz is attainable in 2018. Spaatz will happen in 2018.
  4. Learn to stay calm and manage emotions, as well as being able to express these to others. (This one may not make sense to you as the reader, but it does to me. I’ve already started working on it!) I still lose my cool sometimes. I still argue unnecessarily sometimes. But, I’m doing okay. I’m doing well, actually. I greatly underestimated how much stress college would put on me, however, I kicked ass. I got through it. I did it.
  5. Learn something new. Whether this is learning a new language, something about computers, anything. I learned a lot this year. I learned about myself, mostly. However, I also learned how to become comfortable with JavaScript. I learned how to use various Adobe softwares. In May, I learned a bit of Russian and a significant amount about cryptography. I learned more about my leadership style. I learned how to read regulations, and I learned to be able to use them efficiently. I became comfortable writing memorandums and official correspondence. I learned some job-specific things, such as using Team Dynamix. I’ve learned a lot and it’s been a great year.
  6. Make money. Save money. (Already working on the saving money! #AdventureFund) I got a job, so there’s that. I love my job, and I love making my own money. I transfer $20 a month to my savings account, and it’s a smart thing to do, I think. So while it is not a whole lot, it’s my money and it feels great. I took some money out of the Adventure Fund to pay for some miscellaneous small stuff, but that’s okay.
  7. Stay hydrated. All year. I think there’s a water bottle around here somewhere… But really. I’ve done terrible and great with this one- depending on the month. 
  8. Read my whole James Patterson series. I got stuck halfway through book 13 in August, and I never picked them back up. I brought book 13 with me to the Netherlands… maybe I can make some more progress before the new year. It won’t be the whole series, but it’ll be okay. I read more than usual. During the last two months of school I also really got into Ernest Hemingway, voluntarily reading “Farewell to Arms” and “Hemingway on War”. For class I read “The Sun Also Rises”, and reread “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was a decent reading year. 
  9. Travel. Throughout the year, I went to the Netherlands twice. I went to Germany. I went to CDTA in Maryland, and visited Dayton a significant amount of times. I went to Erie, PA twice to visit the Lake Shore Railway Museum. I flew through Reykjavik, Iceland flying to the Netherlands (even though we spent all of 15 minutes in the airport because the flight was boarding as we landed). Traveling has been fantastic, and I can’t wait to plan something big next year… I still can’t wait to go see New York City again. 
  10. Write more. (Whether this is blogging, letters, cards, journaling, it’s going to happen!) I mean. Sure. I did blog more; I blogged at least twice every month. I wrote more physically, and I took a lot of notes in my classes. I need to write a few postcards still, but I’ll get caught up soon. 

It’s been such a great year. Family and friends were a big part of it – as was college. Joining Kent’s Chi Alpha (the Campus Ministry/Christian Fellowship), breaking out of my shell and hanging out with people (I went to a party too??), making new friends, attending a Green Day concert, volunteering with FIRST robotics, progressing as a photographer, and Civil Air Patrol activities have been huge highlights.

IMG_0137Getting to drive my car again when I came back to the USA, getting to take trips to Conneaut to see the beach and enjoy the water, watching the United States Air Force Thunderbirds fly, meeting the crew and pilots of the Thunderbirds, planning a conference for over five months (and learning some interesting leadership lessons along the way), organizing Great Lakes Region’s first ever Region Color Guard at the Region Conference, and serving as Cadet Commander at the first ever Maryland Campus of the Cyber Defense Training Academy.

Being voted as Chairman of the Ohio Wing Cadet Advisory Council, taking part in the Wing Commander’s promotion and Change of Command ceremonies, becoming my squadron’s first ever cadet rated to be a Mission Scanner and aircrew member, wearing a skirt, running a 5k, painting a rock, going black Friday shopping for the first time, getting the cutest little bunny rabbit, and even getting groceries on my own.

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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. ♥

blAUG in a timely manner

Someone slap me; that wasn’t even a good pun.august

Well, I was going to blog in a timely manner this month. I suppose August 2nd isn’t the worst I could’ve done. My laptop keeps overheating and being a general pain in the neck, which is rather ironic for a digital sciences major to be honest. 

This past month has been incredible. I had the once in a lifetime experience of releasing rehabilitated seals. I got to drive a boat. I found out some amazing news- my first semester of college is fully paid for by scholarships! I was super excited to learn that. I can’t wait for college. July was pretty freaking amazing, and I know August will be just as good. 

There will absolutely be a post about seal releasing. It was such an amazing day. I can’t even put it into words right now. Super shout-out to the Zeehondencreche in Pieterbuten for that opportunity. I can’t wait to post all about it. 

But let’s see. This year is going ridiculously fast. It’s the eight month of the year and I don’t know how I feel about that. I’m about to be living in an apartment I signed the lease on. I’ll have a roommate, a friend and Spaatz cadet from CAP. We’ll have a cat. I’m about to be an adult. College is starting so soon. I can’t wait, but I’d be lion if I said I wasn’t nervous. I’m going to miss my family like hell, and I’m so thankful that they’ve been nothing but supportive and encouraging me on my journey to be the first to get a degree in my family. The first to even go to college. That feels so incredibly amazing. 

I know I’ll have to work my ass off, but I’m ready. I have the most amazing friends, family, and boyfriend I could ask for. I’m going to make them all proud. I’m going to show everyone that doubted me who I am. I am a lion.  

My July goals were kind of lame, but I kept up with them. I can actually do push-ups now, so hey. There’s a plus. I’m curious to see where I am on my year goals. Let’s review!

  1. Love myself and be happy. Do things because they’ll make me happy.
  2. Go to college and study where and what I want.
  3. Achieve at least C/Lt Col in the Civil Air Patrol
  4. Learn to stay calm and manage emotions, as well as being able to express these to others. (This one may not make sense to you as the reader, but it does to me. I’ve already started working on it!)
  5. Learn something new. Whether this is learning a new language, something about computers, anything.
  6. Make money. Save money. (Already working on the saving money! #AdventureFund)
  7. Stay hydrated. All year.
  8. Read my whole James Patterson series.
  9. Travel.
  10. Write more. (Whether this is blogging, letters, cards, journaling, it’s going to happen!)
  1. Yeah. This one’s going. Most days, I love my body. This one’s going. 
  2. Hell. Yes.
  3. This one might not be realistic due to the requirement of attending Cadet Officer School or a Region Cadet Leadership School, but I’ll be a Cadet Major on the first day of college! I’ll be a major starting my major. Ha. Thanks for that pun, mom.  
  4. This one’s a work-in-progress. 
  5. I know like, three Russian words and more German than I did a month ago? I learned a lot at CDTA? I’m wayyy too familiar with the Public Affairs Regualtions for CAP? 
  6. I mean. Yeah. I saved hella money on college this semester. And there was the $0.81 I made in interest on my savings account! 
  7. I’m working on that. *eyes water bottle*
  8. Still. On. Book. Thirteen. Traveling really killed my vibe. 
  9. Yeah, I’m so sick of that international flight. And Germany is cool. 
  10. Hi, I’m writing (and I mean, I wrote to study for my tests for C/Maj so there’s that).

I guess I’m only going to set one goal for August:

Whatever you do, do it with passion and to the best of your ability. 

This can apply to so much, and I can’t wait to show the world who I am. I won’t give up. I’m not going to be just a nobody. Mark my words. 

Alright y’all. Thank you for reading. You guys are fantastic.

Smile, you’re awesome. Take some time today to think about how far you’ve come and how you’d make your younger self proud. Be someone you would be looked up to as a child.

~E.💕

P.S. I untangled a slinky this past week and that would’ve made younger me so proud. That’s all I wanted to be able to do in life. Little things. It’s the little things. 

“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.♥

Whoa, we’re halfway there.

Yes, I really hope you sang that title out loud. But we all know the real reason I’m blogging. It’s a new month, and I said I’d set goals every month. So, we’re 6/12 of the way through the year- why stop now? Let’s do this.

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First, I’ll give a summary of what I’ve been up to this past month. I had said I had some big travel plans, and never elaborated on that. Well- let’s do that now.

May 13th I traveled to the United States. I flew in to Pittsburgh, and I slept a solid 16 hours after landing. The plane didn’t fall out of the sky or anything, so there’s that. 20170513_121347.jpg

May 14th I didn’t do a whole lot. I slept, and I think I ate Dunkin. I really don’t remember much, actually. OH! And I hung out with Ky almost all day. It was great. We went to the lake and chased seagulls.

May 15th  I had Civil Air Patrol in the evening, and KJ and I participated in an Emergency Services class as the people needing rescue. It’s a recurring theme for me, since I’m not actually active in ES. Afterwards I went to Wendy’s with some CAP friends and got my bamboo from Alex (and I didn’t crash my car this time- ha).

May 16th I had my chiropractor appointment, and it was heavenly. I got my usual Panera after as well, so yeah- it was a great morning.

20170516_120952.jpgI acted as tech support for the family friend I was staying with, took him to Best Buy, got a free replacement computer, and watched Best Buy get robbed. It was an interesting time. Some dude just walked out with a laptop, and got into a getaway car. Lit. (Did I just say “lit”? I did. Gross?). I Screenshot_2017-05-16-19-29-06also went on a date that night- we went fishing and it was super cool. I caught a tiny little baby fish. AND I TOUCHED THE FISH. GUYS, I TOUCHED THE FISH. LOOK AT THE CUTE FISH. Okay, I’m good now. Maybe. FISH.

May 17th I met a friend for coffee, then drove to Columbus. I had to stop at Lodi and pour water over my face because it was so hot, but I made it in one piece. Yay! At night, I attended the Big Table with L and had amazing discussions with members of the community in and around Columbus. Shout-out to Donato’s for hosting the event.

May 18th I spent the morning with L, and did laundry. In the evening, I headed to the Dublin Embassy Suites to assist setting up for the 2017 Great Lakes Region/Ohio Wing Conference, for Civil Air Patrol. I can proudly say I stapled all 350-something banquet pamphlets. I never want to staple anything again in my life. The hotel though, was beautiful. What the cadet exec staff (myself and two other C/Captains) dubbed “the nest” had the best view of all. IMG_0075It was a gazebo-type-thing and it overlooked the lobby and atrium of the hotel. After setting up and endless stapling, I went to eat with two Lieutenants from the planning staff. We went to a chicken place called Raising Cane’s, and honestly, it was great.

May 19th I met L’s granddaughter, and she’s pretty great. She’s only four years younger than me, and so much like me. I showed her Tonight by Seether because she was going through a tough time. I spent the morning with her and L. In the evening, I went to Chick-fil-a with my fellow Cadet Execs and prepared for the conference. Registration opened at 1800 and we welcomed CAP members from all across the Region.

May 20th in the morning, the time had come. Eight months of planning and stress. Last minute phone calls and preparations. C/Capt K.S. was Brigadier General Myrick (the CAP National Vice Commander)’s escort, and it was amazing. The Learning Labs went great. All aspects of the conference within our jurisdiction ran smoothly and honestly, all the stress and planing paid off. In the evening, was the banquet. IMG_0137It was time for my Great Lakes Region Honor Guard to come to life. It was such an honor to coordinate the POW/MIA Ceremony, with one cadet from each Wing in the Region on the Honor Guard. Myself and Col Rosenberg, Region Vice Commander for Support read the script. We remember. Lastly, I was named Ohio Wing Cadet of the Year. It was such an amazing honor.

May 21st was the final day of the conference, with only our Cadet Advisory Council meeting scheduled for OHWG Cadets. Yours truly overslept and was about fifteen minutes late; but hey- they waited for me. Perks of being the Vice Chair? Heh. Overall, it was an incredibly productive and amazing conference. After the CAC meeting, we cleaned up the hotel, and I went to eat at Max & Erma’s with the same LT’s from the planning committee as on the 18th. It was amazing. Man, that burger was great. I then slept… until I had a planning call for the Cyber Defense Training Academy, that is. No, planning never ends. It’s hard to believe it’s less than a month until CDTA Maryland. I’m so stoked to be the Cadet Commander.

May 22nd I drove to Kent from Columbus and met with my advisor at KSU. I was able to schedule my classes for the fall and I AM SO FREAKING EXCITED. Ya girl is a Digital Sciences major, yo. Kent State is a beautiful campus and I couldn’t be more pumped to be a student there. Now to work out the little logistical details… yanno, like where I’m going to live. Hashtag no big deal. From Kent, I drove to my squadron’s weekly CAP meeting. I was recognized as OHWG Cadet of the Year, and I took a bunch of pictures. It was a cool meeting. It was a great day and night.IMG_0293

May 23rd I stopped at my brother’s old school and gave his class photos we took with him and his class before he left, and everyone was so excited to see me. Then, Lauren and I got on a plane. Yep, that’s right. Lauren and I are in the Netherlands right now. That’ll be a separate post, though. So far, it’s pretty great. We’re here until June 13th, so look for a post around then! //or knowing myself, a week later…

So, that was trip number one to the US of A. I’ll be going back in June until 5 July, mainly for the Cyber Defense Training Academy. Oh, and yeah, my car got fixed. 20170517_180255The body work on it is getting done as we speak… I’ll try not to hit black ice again. That wasn’t fun. Nope.

So, after reading this, you can make a few assumptions about my May goals. For instance, goal number 1 (starting the process of getting my Dutch driver’s licence) did NOT happen. But, I’m calm, happy, organized, and exploring.

So yeah, May was awesome. But… June Goals? Let’s think of something. Hmmm…..

  1. EXPLORE MORE
  2. Try new things
  3. Don’t live how others think you should. Explained: don’t give a shit what people think. (I guess this kind of ties into 2017 Goal 1)
  4. Photography!
  5. Be the best person I can be for others.

June is about to be great. Super great. I don’t know how much time I’ll have to blog, but I’ll be sure to come back and tell you all about it.

Follow your heart and make yourself happy.

-E.

England doesn’t have a kidney bank, but it has a Liverpool.

This title’s for you, Alex. Because you sent me it in November 2016 and I never actually used it. This post has a significant lack of mentioning England, kidneys, and Liverpool, but that’s alright.

When I graduated High School, Alex gave me a VWBoxVolkswagen Bus Lego set as a gift.
This one, to be specific. (see the picture!)

It sat in my room for…. 10 months. I mean, if you count it being on a huge moving boat for like, two of those months.

After months of my brother asking if we could FINALLY build the Volkswagen Bus, I gave in on Wednesday (April 12th, for those of you keeping track).

So this thing, it starts out in over 1,000 pieces. 17918690_1468116489896239_239547583_nThere’s two books, and at first when you dump everything out, it’s just a mess of red, white, gray, and black colored pieces. While my brother (who, mind you, is half the minimum recommended age) got building, I started sorting the pieces. My floor was quickly covered in many many piles.

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On Wednesday night when it was my brother’s bed time, this is what my floor looked like. Somehow- by some miracle, neither of us stepped on a Lego.

We picked it back up around 5 pm on Thursday. We started out with it looking like a boat, as pictured here to the right.17965249_1468116499896238_181761979_n

We spent until approximately midnight building, and we finished the first instruction booklet.

At the end of the night, the bus started looking more like, well, a bus. The curtains gave me so much happiness, and so did the very realistic gas pedal and clutch. I’d forgotten how incredibly accurate Lego sets can be.

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The rest of these pictures are actually going to be super good quality; I took them with my new camera. It’s a Nikon D3, and I’m super happy with the badassery it is. I’ll absolutely be taking it on any traveling I do (and I have some big travel news to announce soon!) and posting here. Anywho, back to the Lego Bus.

As soon as my brother woke up today, he came to my room and started working on the bus, even before I was fully awake. We finished the bus around 3 pm, and my brother was super exited. He was able to build most of it, and he was incredibly happy to be able to build the “orange part on the top”. It was adorable. It *almost* made up for the fact that we listened to the song Vivi Nell’aria over and over. (I’m totally kidding).

So without further ado, here are three pictures of the end result!

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This was one of the most fun things I’ve done in a while, and I’m glad I was able to do it with my brother. I think I created a new Volkswagen enthusiast.

Make Lego models, not war.

-E.🌸

My blog is one year old!

A year ago today I posted an 190 word blog post, titled “Why am I a lion?”. My inspiration came from taking a baby Simba lion stuffed animal that my boyfriend at the time got me to Chicago, Illinois. That’s when I realized how freaking amazing lions are. They’re fierce and strong. Exactly like how I wish to live my life. “She Became a Lion”. A quote from that very first blog post- “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.

I ended that post like I’ve ended almost every post on my blog; with a quote or small, uplifting statement. That statement was “smile, you’re amazing“. fiftyLittle did I know that statement would lead to so many more.
Over the course of a year, I posted 50 times. I got this cool little notification from WordPress right after posting my April Goals update. Fifty posts, anywhere from poetry and posts about myself, to Simba traveling and whatever else random I come up with, all these posts make up my blog.

From my fourteen followers, my friends that regularly read my blog whenever I post on Snapchat that I’m “back at it again”, to my fantastic editor and countless drafts that have lived on my account or ages, that’s what SHEBECAMEALIONTWOmy blog is. It’s nothing big, nothing popular. Sure, it’s the link in my bio on all of my social media accounts, but that doesn’t mean anything. I’m super thankful to those of you that read my posts, those of you that express your excitement about reading my posts to me. All of you are so fantastic.

So, that’s where my blog has come in a year. But… what about me? Surely I changed a little. And change, I did.

If you would’ve asked me on April 9th, 2016 where I saw myself in a year, I could never have imagined where I am right now ever being an answer to that. My answer would’ve been somewhere along the lines of “finishing my second semester as a Music Education major in college and with my amazing boyfriend”. Never in my life did I think I’d be in the Netherlands, taking a gap year from school, and single. Not on April 9th, 2016 anyway.

Now, just because I said I never thought I’d be here, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. I may not have my boyfriend anymore, and yeah- it took me incredibly long to figure out how to be okay again- but I did, and I’m better than before. I am so thankful for the memories I was able to share with him, for the part of my life that he was… But it was without him that I learned to truly love myself. I have the best friends anyone could ask for. They go out of their comfort zones to make sure I’m okay… rescuing me from the side of the road when I slid on ice, telling me I’m amazing and encouraging me, and just being the helpful amazing people you are. I couldn’t thank Lauren, Kat, and Alex enough for always being my best friends. I may not be in college, or even in America for that matter, but that doesn’t stop me from realizing that being in the Netherlands can be an amazing experience. I’ve done so much that other people my age would never have been able to, I’ve seen family I haven’t seen since I was a little older than a toddler, I’ve done a bunch of really fun things, and I’ve definitely brushed up on my ability to speak the language.

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Oh, and of course Simba is here as well. He’s the little lion that started all of this, why wouldn’t he be?

In summary, I suppose I do kind of miss the idea of where I thought my life was going. But everything happens for a reason, and sometimes life’s just about riding it out and finding exactly what that reason is. There’s no shame in changing majors, re-thinking your friend group, cutting toxic people out of your life, or even completely changing who you are. Be you, be confident, break out of your shell.

A year ago today, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable going out in public and showing enthusiasm for something no one around me had enthusiasm for. Yesterday, at the Day of Music, I realized I no longer cared. I was happy to be doing improv and singing and being excited about music again, and I didn’t care that everyone around me thought the leaders of the workshop were completely insane for being so energetic. It was an amazing experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I couldn’t be more thankful for the people around me who have helped me realize this, who have pushed me to be the best me I can be. Lastly, I’m thankful for this blog- for being my creative outlet- for being somewhere I can go to write. I’m thankful that it’s helped people and that it makes people happy to read my thoughts. Here’s a little something from that very first blog post again:

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.

Here’s to many more years of happiness, figuring out who I am, and maybe blogging about it along the way!
And don’t forget to smile, because you’re amazing.

~E. ♥

Happiness Is Where You Are

Sometimes it takes not blogging for a month to really find something to blog about.

With that being said… I’ll say Merry Christmas– and then get right into my post.

So, the last time I posted was November 22nd – over a month ago. I showed you my room and talked about Hamilton and other life happenings. This post is going to have a bit of a different spin. I’m going to talk about everything I’ve done in the past month- because heaven knows it’s been… crazy.

On November 27th, my family celebrated Thanksgiving by attending a potluck supper held by other local Americans in Groningen. That was 20161127_190604pretty awesome. The macaroni and cheese was the best. And I never really liked turkey that much- but this turkey was fantastic.  The building pictured is where it was. It was really nice… a great spot for it. It was also decorated beautifully. The lights inside were amazing.

Then… the month turned. December was upon me. It still hasn’t set in that it’s almost 2017, but that’s for a different time to freak out about.

20161203_200144December 3rd I got on an airplane and I flew to Ohio.  It wasn’t spontaneous, I’d had my tickets booked since October. I had been so excited to go back for months… and it finally happened. I didn’t think time would pass that quickly… but it did. So, December 3rd. I landed in Columbus and a family friend, “L”, who was also watching my car, picked me up from the airport. The first thing we did was go to the store and buy Fruit Loops. Man, I’d been wanting Fruit Loops for far too long. The night of December 3rd I spent at L’s house. I took a long shower and slept really well.

December 4th, I woke up and drove to Youngstown where I took part in20161204_144415 Tuba Christmas for the fourth year in a row. It was absolutely worth the 3 or so hour drive. I got to see Ky and a few other friends. I even made new friends! Tuba Christmas took most of the day, but after that I went to Steak and Shake with Ky and my two new friends. It was great. I drove, because man I’d missed my car. Looking back, I’m glad I drove as much as I did. Hmph. But that will be explained later. After Steak and Shake, I drove to where I’d be staying for the remainder of my trip, with a friend named Michelle and her husband and three kids. I got there, took a bath, and fell asleep.

December 5th was relatively normal. I spent time with Michelle, and in the evening I had my first Civil Air Patrol meeting being back. It was PT night. I’d say it went rather well if you overlook me falling because my ankle gave out. Oh well. This is why I carry ankle and knee braces. I got a nice bruise from it, that’s just today finally starting to fade. That’s how you make memories, right?

20161206_122341December 6th was Tuesday. I had a chiropractor appointment for the first time in 4 months, and it was heavenly. After my appointment, I got free Panera by using my saved up rewards and my free birthday pastry. This too was heavenly. I didn’t realize how much I also missed Panera even though I rarely went there.

December 7th. CyberPatriot practice in the evening. Other than that, I spent the day with Michelle. We got really expensive macarons, and they were fantastic.

December 8th. The morning started out with Michelle and I doing one of those black face mask things that supposedly hurt like hell when peeling it off your face. It wasn’t all that bad… definitely not as bad as every video made it look. Michelle and I then got lunch at the Kitchen Post, a really awesome small business that has amazing food. That night, I had aircrew training for Civil Air Patrol. I’m studying to become a mission scanner! I don’t know of many cadets who do it, so I decided I’d give it a chance.

December 9th. I went shopping for the first time being back. I got myself a winter coat. I got a few other Christmas presents. I ate lunch at Chick-fil-A. It was a pretty fantastic morning. In the afternoon, I got my hair dyed again. The same reddish color… 1481338637338but just so the roots didn’t look as horrifying as they had. Ha. That night, I spent the night at my friend’s house. She’s a C/CMSgt in the Civil Air Patrol, and we spent the night partially because we had to meet early the next day for CyberPatriot. We’ll call her KJ. KJ’s mom made me my own pumpkin pie because I’d been so deprived of anything pumpkin here. It was fantastic. However, KJ and I both will confirm that you shouldn’t eat fresh-out-of-the-oven pumpkin pie unless pumpkin stew is what you’re after.

December 10th. CyberPatriot competition, held at Kent State University. It was my first competition as a mentor, and it was interesting. I kept track of some of my favorite quotes from the day. These included:

  • “We put an antivirus on it, right? That’s what CCleaner and Malwarebytes is, right?”
  • “The local security policy is where a lot of stuff is”
  • “That’s not how you spell ‘logging'” “have fun loge-ing on”
  • “No more messing with FTP. We’ve done enough FTP” “But there’s 5 points left! They have to be FTP”
  • “WAIT! Go to Nautilus!” “What is your obsession with Nautilus, child?!” “Well, we haven’t gone through the slash var thing!”
  • “Either this will kill it… or it will kill it and give us points”

If any of my readers know computers, those should have made you chuckle at least a little. I know it was funny in the moment. And it half hurt to not be allowed to say anything. I spent the time by designing a photo book on Shutterfly. It was a good purchase.

img_20161211_132541December 11th. I spent the previous night at KJ’s again. Her sister really liked me. She’s 6. I don’t know what it is with children.  I also cracked my phone screen on December 11th. It wasn’t fun. Oh well. I put my case on afterwards and it’s fine. Didn’t break the digitizer so all is well.

Other than that, the rest of my day was phenomenal. Hi mom, here begin the things you didn’t know about. *hides*.

December 11th, still. Alex, his girlfriend, myself, and one of my friends went to Pittsburgh to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to see the Christmas lights they had there. Let’s just say, the weather wasn’t the greatest. The way down was okay. We stopped and ate Chipotle. Then we drove. The lights were incredible.

The way back, we did like, 20 miles per hour in a 75. We couldn’t see. But hey, we’re alive! Shout-out to Alex for being a pretty awesome person and great driver and getting all of us home safe. Alex and his girlfriend got home at like, 3 am. But was it worth it? Absolutely.

December 12th. I spent time with Michelle during the day, and I had a Civil Air Patrol meeting in the evening. I taught drill for the first time in forever, and it was amazing to be back. I also started to get sick today. Nothing like Ohio!

December 13th. Hi mom, you didn’t know about this one either. I’m safe and alive though! 20161213_180047The Rickenbacker Composite Squadron, Civil Air Patrol, is located near Columbus. That 3 hours or so I had to drive to get from L’s to Michelle. My friend “T” and I decided it would be fun to go down to their Christmas party, since we were invited down by multiple people. So, we went. We watched the weather all day, and when it came time, I drove. We kept a running tally, we passed 9 wrecks or 20161213_194026accidents on the way there.

It really wasn’t bad to drive in, though. Like, people are just idiots I think. We left the worst of the weather behind. As soon as it got bad in NE Ohio, we were out of there. T and I had a fantastic time at the Christmas Party. We saw some people we didn’t think we’d ever see again, and caught up with some old friends. After the party, I drove back to NE Ohio and we didn’t pass a single accident. We really did miss the bad weather. I slept good that night. Especially because of this pillow Michelle had. Ha. It was like, memory foam or something, and honestly my favorite thing on Earth.

December 14th. I slept in. Whoa! Haha. Aside from that, I visited family friends, and had CyberPatriot practice in the evening.

December 15th. I went to the movies with KJ and Lauren and saw “Moana”. I fell in love with Disney all over again. I may or may not have been listening to the Moana soundtrack nonstop since then. I’m absolutely not listening to it as I’m typing this… no… Ha. After Moana, I had aircrew training/staff meeting for Civil Air Patrol. I got my first few tasks signed off. That felt pretty good.

December 16th. I didn’t do a whole lot on the 16th. I spent it with Michelle and her family.

December 17th. This day, this day was kinda perfect. It was after all the reason I came back to visit. It started off pretty cool, I saw Alex and we did Christmas presents. Then I went shopping, to get some final Christmas stuff. Then… why I came. The Squadron Awards 20161217_200935Banquet and Christmas Party. It was… amazing. I was awarded two cyber awards, I was given my Amelia Earhart award for promoting to Cadet Captain, I got a challenge coin, an achievement award, and I was awarded Squadron Cadet of the Year. Everyone also loved the slideshow I made. It was so perfect. It was also amazing to see everyone from CAP I missed so much. The picture shows my view for most of the night. I was in charge of sound and slides. it was really cool. Definitely worth going. I’m so glad I20161218_141522 had the opportunity to.

December 18th. I spent the morning with two friends from CAP, playing Cards Against Humanity and building a gingerbread house. After that, I visited a Santa in my hometown. It was sweet. Then I stayed home with Michelle’s kids so she and her 20161218_173111husband could go out for their six month wedding anniversary. It was my first gingerbread house ever… and yes that is a gingerbread man “chalk” outline.

December 19th. Michelle and I went shopping, and out to lunch at Olive Garden. It was very nice. Then I just hung out with her until my Civil Air Patrol meeting. I left really early so I could drive the route I used to drive since it would be my last CAP meeting for a while. After the meeting I went to Arby’s with two friends, and I had my 15628903_1314648875243002_462252621_ofirst ever roast beef sandwich. And then… at 11:26 pm… when I was driving home… I slid my car off the road. It was the most terrifying moment of my life, probably. Everyone had always told me how ridiculous the 711 was in the winter. The cones by the pole in the picture were there because they had just finished fixing it that morning. I was a doors length away. I was pretty sure I was going to slam into it and die… the pole was right by my door. I called 911… I had to get towed. Something was leaking and I was stuck. Alex came and picked me up… and I got home to Michelle’s at around 3 am. I couldn’t stop shaking. I didn’t know what would happen. I was scared…

December 20th. I woke up early and filed a claim about the accident. I called my insurance. I made sure the mechanics knew my car was there and what had happened. I was still incredibly shaken up. But, it was okay. I went to Walmart with Lauren, got McDonald’s that I was craving, and I got to spend time with another family friend. It was very nice.

December 21st. Alex and his girlfriend picked me up to drive me to Columbus, since I 20161222_001946couldn’t drive myself. I’m so thankful for them. They dropped me off at L’s, and I spent time with her and her son. I repacked all of my luggage. We had dinner at TGI Friday’s. I did some incredibly last minute shopping. But, it was nice. I got everything done. I spent time with her, and I still got to sleep. After making Christmas cookies, that is.

December 22nd. I woke up and took a bath. It was nice. I listened to the Moana soundtrack while using some fancy bubble bath from Bath and Body Works. Then L took me to the airport. There was a delay, so we had a fancy lunch at an airport bar & grill. It was really good. After that, I said goodbye. Or well… not goodbye. See you later.

I took my time going through security, and sat down at the gate. I talked to a 20161222_174736few people going to Fort Worth, Texas. They were pretty cool. When I boarded the plane to Philadelphia, I had an entire row to myself and I slept almost the whole time. I had a really cool flight attendant. Also, Philly is beautiful at night.

When we landed in Philly, I had about three hours to kill at the airport. I spent $40 on books and snacks. Oops. I went to my gate and sat down to play on my computer for the rest of the time.

Then, it was time to board my final plane, from Philly to Amsterdam. I was in a bad mood, and in boarding group 4. I was ticked because someone with a frequent flyer number 20161222_165746shouldn’t be in group 4, but whatever. I got over that really quickly. I got to my seat in row 32, and I was still grumpy. That again though, didn’t last long. Once I started talking to the people by me, I quickly discovered that this would be the best flight ever. To my right there was an 18 year old named Alexander. To my left, was a woman named Susan.

Susan slept the whole time, but Alexander and I talked for about 5 consecutive hours. Then we both napped. And talked more. It was by far my favorite airplane experience. Shout-out to Alexander for making that plane ride bearable.

So… yeah. That was the past month of my life in a word count of under 3,000.

Oh! I almost forgot! I was in charge of moving Michelle’s resident Elf on a Shelf, Snowflake. Here are my favorite few:

Lastly, good luck and thank you to Alex for once again taking bamboomy bamboo in and bamboo-sitting. You’re a great person.

Thank you to everyone who made my trip possible and enjoyable. All of my friends and adoptive family members… I love you. ♥

I’ll leave you with a quote from Moana- I took my post title from it, as well.

“There comes a day
When you’re gonna look around
And realize happiness is
Where you are”

Consider the coconut.

~E.♥

The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect is a scientific theory that states that a single occurrence, no matter how small, can change the course of the universe forever. This isn’t about something changing the universe, but this is about something changing me.

butterfly-6This past weekend from Thursday night to Sunday morning, I had a friend stay here with me. It was honestly the most amazing thing that could’ve happened when it happened. We’ll call the guest “F” for internet and privacy purposes. Before F arrived, I hadn’t had any human interaction with anyone my age in over a month. I met F through Civil Air Patrol; he was in my squadron during my basic encampment. We stayed in contact, and I knew he was studying in Berlin. I asked if he wanted to come visit, and he agreed.

F arrived Thursday night around 1800 by train. The minute I got to speak English to a friend, I knew this would be good for me. We drove around town a bit, showing him around. It was dark of course, but in my opinion still nice. After driving around, we went to a restaurant in town to eat. He tried fries with mayonnaise for the first time. Those darn uncultured Americans :p

After eating dinner, we went to my grandparents’ house and settled in for the weekend.butterfly-7

The next day, we woke up and went to get breakfast at a local bakery. He had a puddingbroodje (a.k.a.”roombroodje”) and I had a Deense krakeling. We went to the park to eat them, and afterwards rode bikes for about 12 miles. I showed him around in the daylight and we saw where they build the big cargo ships,  the street I lived on when I was younger, the house we are going to be living in, my brother’s school, the business district, and a few other things. We also went to a store by a local windmill.

After our bike trip, we ate a typical Dutch lunch. We had soup to start, and multiple types of bread were set up on the table with young and old cheese, Nutella, hageltjes (a Dutch bread topping, it’s very sweet and looks like sprinkles), butter, sausages, and some other toppings. Once we finished lunch, we went to go see the Fraeylemaborg.butterfly-4

The Fraeylemaborg is a small castle, if you will, that used to house the lords of the land in the 18th century. It’s a very cute building with lots of history- and some ridiculously steep stairs… For a house, of course. The main thing we got out of it was the fact that the tower isn’t centered *twitches *and my brother discovered a really awkward pole placement on the back of one of the statues. And of course it was very nicebutterfly-5 to see. There was SILVERWARE. Pardon the blurry picture and the fact that you don’t get the joke. But it was authentic silverware.

butterfly-3After the Fraeylemaborg, we went to a different windmill- one you could actually go inside. F got to move the blades and help the miller with doing windmill stuff, and we went all the way up to the top and saw the big gears and how the mill works, piece by piece. We also saw a bunch of little bugs that still haunt me. After that, we drove around and drove to Zuidlaren to show F where the Zuidlaardermarkt is. the Zuidlaardermarkt is a famous horse market that has existed since 1701 and happens on the third Tuesday every October. After that, we went to an Oliebollenkraam and ate oliebollen, a Dutch New Year’s snack that is essentially fried dough. When we came home, my butterfly-8grandma had made Nasi for dinner; an Indonesian rice dish. After eating, we played a few rounds of sjoelen, a Dutch game with wooden bricks and point values much like a miniature shuffleboard.

Saturday, the last full day F was here, my brother had a soccer game at 0900. They lost, but it was F’s first live soccer game, which was cool! I was honestly surprised that they played on the turf field, since this country is in the middle of a huge turf protest. It’s been though that the rubber pellets used on turf might cause lymphoma or leukemia, since they are essentially ground up tires. But, it hasn’t been scientifically proven.

After my brother’s soccer game, we went to the Markt (open air market) in our town. Here we got Vietnamese food; loempias and bapao, and ate them for lunch. F also got a piece of Dutch cheese for his family.

butterfly-2The days started to really feel productive; we were so active before noon! In the afternoon, we took the rest of the day to tour Groningen. We started by walking around the Markt there, known as the Grote Markt- which translates literally to “big market”. After the Markt, we made our way to the Martini Toren. The tower has a really cool history. Here’s a little snippet from Wikipedia:

The lighting of celebratory fires on the third gallery, after the departure of Spanish and Walloon troops in 1577, caused the tower to partially collapse. However, the remaining portion kept a height of 69 meters. In the 17th century the tower was repaired up to the current 97 metre height. Later the tower was damaged several times by natural violence and several wars. There is a bullet hole in one of the bells, a result of heavy fighting when the Canadian Forces liberated Groningen at the end of World War II.

butterfly

The tower was fun to climb and the views were amazing. F and I got to ring the bell, and the rope will literally pull you off the ground at least five feet. I was hesitant to do it at first, but I’m really glad I did. For me, the worst part about the tower was going back down; there was so much traffic. I guess it’s a good way to meet new people, as my mom put it. I’ve had enough steep stairs for this lifetime. Y’all can keep your spiral staircases, too.

After the tower, we walked around the busy streets of downtown Groningen. There were shops, bars, pubs, food places, hair salons, you name it. After a bit of walking, it was time for the boat tour! We rode a boat all around the canals of Groningen, and got to see many nice sights you wouldn’t really get to see anywhere else. The recording of the tour guide speaking in Dutch, German, and English quickly became very repetitive and annoying, and I was happy when it was quiet for a bit. It was really hard not to fall asleep on the boat, though. It was so calming and you were so close to the water. F and I started dozing off a bit.

After that, we went to Kattencafe Poeslief, which is a cat cafe. They serve coffee and let you play with cats. We arrived pretty close to their closing time, 1700, but they still let us in to play with the cats. It was so awesome. We still had to eat dinner somewhere, so to conclude our unbeleafably* fun day in Groningen, we ate at ‘t Pannekoekschip; the pancake ship. butterfly-9

Upon returning home, we played two games of Mens Erger Je Niet, and F won his first game. My brother won the second.

Some time later, we went out to a bar and afterwards went for a long walk through town. We walked around six miles, probably. One of the places we walked through was the park, where we came across a cat who really needed some attention. It meowed and followed us, so I picked it up and carried it through the park. It was adorable.

This weekend was incredible. I could not have asked for anything better, or anyone better to spend time with. It gave me so much appreciation for what is around me and in town here. It gave me such a will to travel and see the world. There really are no limits.

Go, live, and be happy.

-E. ♥

*Spelling is done on purpose to commemorate a leaf.

Oh right! I almost forgot to mention. The bar we went to was called “De Vlinder”, which translates to “The Butterfly”…

If Anne hath a will, Anne Hathaway.

Sometimes when the house smells like pancakes, it’s not pancakes at all.

Sometimes when life seems to throw flaming lemons at you instead of kindly hand them to you, you feel like you’re being engulfed in flames. But, enough of these poorly written euphemisms.

So, what do you do when life throws approximately 5 curve balls at you? You sit and shake and cry a little, and you listen to the Indians win World Series game 1. What do you do when separation anxiety starts to kick in, and everything back “home” seems to be going wrong? What do you do when you can’t do anything?

Right now, I’m not really sure. I’m sitting back in a time zone 6 hours ahead of my friends, over 4,000 miles away- just waiting and watching things unfold. Sometimes, you can’t be there to fix everything. But if I were there, how much could I really do? There’s really a reason for everything. Right?

Well, I’d feel much more content if I’d hear from my best friend. He crashed his car into a lake yesterday. The news said he was okay. I’m sure he’s okay. Of course he’s okay. But it just sucks, not being there for him. Not knowing. I wish I could be there to comfort Kat when she needs it. I realize we lived 4 hours apart when I was there, but there’s a sense of comfort knowing we’re in the same state.

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  I obviously *had* to throw in a picture of Anne Hathaway.

Yesterday was interesting. Yesterday was weird. However, I am very much looking forward to tomorrow. What is tomorrow, you ask? Well, one of my friends that I met through Civil Air Patrol- at my basic encampment, is studying in Berlin. Berlin just so happens to be about 6 hours from here. And you know, as people both citizens of Ohio, we’d only find it reasonable to hang out in Europe. So that’s really cool- and I’m excited. We’re going to show him all around North Netherlands, including climbing a tower and taking a boat tour of the canals and city. Yay positive things!

But, I won’t feel okay until I here from Ky. He… *sigh*. I also hope his Euphonium is okay. I realized after texting him last night that his phone is likely at the bottom of the lake… or at least very very wet… So yeah. It’s just… I’m likely overreacting. But not being there, not being able to know what’s going on.., It really starts to take a toll on you after a while. Especially this.

But, it’ll all be okay. Right?

Maybe the Indians will win the World Series. That’ll be nice. It just really sucks not being there to watch it or witness it. But, shout-out to Alex for being a fantastic friend and figuring out how to get the radio broadcast of the game working.

Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I’m most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me.

-Anne Hathaway

There are so many unanswered questions in my mind, and so much is going on. It’ll all work out. Right? I sure hope so.

Stay strong, guys.

-E.