To those that doubted me… The Ninth Month.

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Dear __________________,

You didn’t think I could do it, did you? You didn’t believe in my ability to kick ass in school and have a good future. You never believed in me and it shows very clearly now. You were always worried about your own selfish things. You never helped me when I asked for help.

Guess what though? I made it. I just began a new chapter in my life; college.

You may be thinking “okay, that’s not a big deal”– but I’d like to take a moment and tell you that yes: college is a big deal. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 41.89% of people aged 25 and over in the United States have a Bachelor’s Degree, while 88.31% have high school diplomas or a GED.

Anyway, enough statistics. The first week of college was freaking amazing.

My goal for August was “Whatever you do, do it with passion and to the best of your ability”. Heck yes. Just.. yes. School is awesome. I love the buses and the professors and the classes and just… everything about it.

I’m back in the country now, to stay for a while. It’s time to work on my future, to get that degree. And I’m going to kick some ass.

OH AND HEY I’M A CADET MAJOR IN CIVIL AIR PATROL NOW SO THAT’S REALLY COOL. Okay? Okay.

Here’s to an amazing September, an amazing first month as an independent adult (it’s a little scary food costs a ton send help). Do I have a goal? I guess so. No fast food every day.  No.. but really…

My goal for September is to get amazing grades, get a good job, and establish myself. I can do this, and it’s going to be amazing. Sorry it’s a kind of short post this month, and I know I still owe you a seal post- it’ll happen. I promise (my boyfriend is going to make me make it happen).

Have a great month, guys.

Savor the moments, stop to smell the roses.

~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.♥

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.

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. ♥

Sometimes life happens, and goals change.

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I spent March waiting for April… and yes, I mean that giraffe that everyone’s so hype about. I’ve spent over a month watching April, the pregnant giraffe, and her boi Oliver at the Animal Adventure Park via Livestream.  April GiraffeMy brother is convinced she’s just “trolling” us and she’s really just a fat giraffe. One day soon though… hopefully… we’ll get to see a baby giraffe. If you look at the picture on the right, that’s April. The photo was in this article). Those “things” on their heads are called ossicones.

But that can’t be everything I did in March, right? Well, not really. I set some goals and stuff. I achieved some of those goals. I biked more, I accomplished more, and I was a little more organized. I did a lot of laundry, and I ran the sweeper. I’d say March was successful.

I’d also like to introduce the newest member of my georgefamily, George. George was 8 weeks old when we adopted him. He’s a sweet little bunny, that looks like he’s wearing pants, likes to find trouble, and loves to cuddle. We named him George because of the Looney Toons, when the Abominable Snowman has Daffy Duck and squeezes him… and names him George. We found it appropriate because we wanted a cuddly animal. His hobbies include jumping and eating snacks.

Oh, and back to the goals real quick! I’m on Book 8 of the James Patterson series. My 2017 Goals are still dragging along.

As for the April Goals go, well… Sometimes life happens, family emergencies happen, goals don’t get posted, and you don’t have a lot of time. All this aside, I am setting a couple of goals for April (the month, not the giraffe. My goal for that giraffe is for her to finally have that baby).

There’s not a lot, but April Goals:

  1. Advance in the Civil Air Patrol. Whether this is finishing my CyberPatriot Curriculum, PT, Testing, SDAs, Conference Planning, or CDTA, or even something else. Keep going.
  2. Be organized. Take care of stuff. Mail, laundry, the whole nine yards.
  3. Move. Like… physically. Don’t be a potato. I’m not a potato. Potatoes can’t ride bikes.

So like, yeah. Super well structured blog post from me. In February, Wallpaper.pngI closed off my post with the quote “be somebody nobody thought you could be”.  A Reddit user, u/thatniceguy_, designed this for me, to use as my phone background. I love it so much. The road, the sky, everything about it is brilliant. Even the font. The “B” is so… happy. So yeah, r/RandomKindness is an amazing place, and I’m so genuinely happy with this wallpaper. If you have any interest in doing something nice for someone, I’d highly recommend the Subreddit, you really have no idea how much a small gesture, like a wallpaper, could mean to someone.

I’ve had a headache for about a week now, but I’m hanging on. Hopefully I’ll feel better soon, and hopefully April calms down. I’m going to a day of music thing tomorrow, where I get to play music with a bunch of musicians from around the Province. It’ll be nice. I’m kind of excited for it, but also super nervous. I don’t know what to expect, and that always gets to me. I always overthink, but it will be okay. I’m going to have an amazing time.

Keep on being kind to one another.

-E. 

History Has Its Eyes on You

There’s this pile of books that lives on my nightstand. There’s four hardcovers on the bottom and seven paperbacks on top. Let’s look through them.

We start with a paperback book, the texture has always been my favorite. There are marbles on the cover. It’s signed by five people, and has my name scribbled in the top left of the inside cover. There’s a poem by Winifred C. Marshall and a picture of our school buses in the middle of the first page. Turn to page 38. Room 36, Grade 2. I’m the picture on the top right. Everything is black and white, but the stripes on my sweater show that I was wearing something colorful. My eyebrows show I’m happy… but I’m not necessarily smiling. My hair is thin district-clipart-dt67gdnt9and my bangs are parted to the left. I’m in the same row of pictures as my teacher. My teacher is an amazing woman, she taught me to love reading, and to love the English language. She is my favorite teacher. She taught me how to be an American. She taught me the Pledge of Allegiance. She taught me how to walk up to someone and be their friend. She taught me how to spell “friend”, because when you’re a friend, it’s until the end. She had help though, I had a tutor. I wish I remembered her name, I’d love to thank her. The tutor taught me how to read in English. She spent so much time with me, until I not only got it, but loved it. At the end of the year, she would give me a jump rope. I loved that jump rope until it broke 5 years later.

The next book has the same texture. It’s green with paint splatters, this time. If you open it, you’ll notice right away that this one is in color. Turn to page 37. Room 120, 3rd Grade. The fourth picture in the second row is me. I’m smiling and my eyes are sparkling. Red is really my color. This year, my teacher isn’t in the same row of pictures as me. She is wearing a reddish-orange color, though. Red is her color, too. She continued to grow my love for reading. I would sit on the ground in her classroom next to the most bullied kid and read Magic Treehouse books with him. She taught me how to make new friends, since none of my friends from the year before were in my class. She also taught me how to handle being picked on by stupid boys that kick you under the desk.

Book three is the last of the beloved texture. I think it was an Elementary school thing. I always had an appreciation for the first line of the poem in this one. “Children need to learn more than lessons in a book; they need to learn the deeper things that people overlook”. Fourth grade was just that. Honestly, I don’t remember too much about my teacher. She was known for how loud she sneezed, and many people were afraid of her. It was the first year we had lockers and two teachers. My second teacher was pretty cool, and I started loving science because of her. She had really poofy bleach blonde hair, and I loved it. But best of all, fourth grade was when I finally had a class with someone who eventually turned out to be my best friend from school. He still is to this day. I’ve even blogged about him; Ky. The one who drove his car into the lake. The one I saw at Tuba Christmas and went to eat with the day I was back in America. That year, in fourth grade, he’d come over to my house and we’d hang out. One time we made Christmas gifts for his little sister. It was sweet. Turn to page 26. There’s me, next to Ky in the second row. I’m smiling and wearing a pink shirt. He’s looking at the camera, and I’m just impressed there’s a picture of him.

The next book is brightly colored, there’s blue and pink and orange. I have always loved the color combinations. They make me happy. They’re cheerful colors. It’s the first Middle School book. If you open it, you see teachers signed the front cover, along with my best friend at the time. The rest of my friends signed the back cover. I was picky. This was the first year they sorted our pictures by grade and not teacher. I’m the first of two pictures with pink backgrounds on page 31. I thought I was so cool for that. It wasn’t the default gray background. The green just looked weird. And blue was also looked down upon for some reason. I’m wearing a black dress with a red trim, with a red choker necklace. my hair is half up, half down. I can tell it was probably the most effort I put into picture day to that point in time. I’m in a few other pictures- fifth grade chorus, fifth grade band, and Spelling Bee. I joined band and started playing trumpet in fifth grade. I was almost a trombone player, but I’m glad someone changed my mind. My teachers were known as “The O Team”, because both of their names started with the letter “O”. Fifth grade was also my first experience with a male teacher. At first I thought it was super weird, but he quickly turned into one of my favorite teachers, even allowing me to take home our tadpoles after the year ended. There were five of them, and they were named Chubbs, Bob, Splash, and two others that will be edited in to this post as soon as I found where I wrote it down… (I’m sorry tadpoles, I loved you and I failed you). Mr.O taught math and science, and he was a great teacher. I loved math because of him.

The next book has blue paint splatters and signatures of friends everywhere on the inside. There haven’t been poems since Elementary School, since the 8th Graders now did the yearbook. I don’t think the average 8th Grader liked poetry. If you page through the book starting at the back, you’ll see me a few times. Drama Club, Student Council, Spelling Bee, 6th Grade Band, and 6th Grade Chorus. Page forward to page 21, but try to ignore the backgrounds of the pages. They’re pretty bad. In Sixth Grade, I am the only one on my page with a pink background. I felt pretty good about that. I’m wearing a dress, but you couldn’t tell by the picture. My hair is down, and I’m wearing hoop earrings to school for the first time ever. A few of the girls had started wearing makeup, but not me. My teachers were both females, and their names both started with H. There was a clever cheer for our classes they came up with that I wish I could remember. I loved both Mrs.H-s. Literacy and Social Studies were great, doing projects like “Flat Stanley” where I sent a flat paper cutout of myself to the Netherlands for my grandparents to document and making miniature cities for Social Studies. Math and Science were fun too, and my favorite project was dressing up as our favorite scientist and acting as them for a day. We would also give a report. I was Christa McAullife, to express my love for space and the Challenger. Another fond memory is the time our classroom flooded and all our posters got wet. Everyone was overjoyed, because nothing “exciting” ever happened.

My Seventh Grade Yearbook is my favorite Middle School design. It’s white with the year on it in graffiti style. The first thing I notice when I open it is my science teacher’s signature. He did more than sign the book, he wrote a paragraph for me too. He opened with “Mon Ami” instead of my name, like he normally would. We’d have conversations in French. He’s also one of my favorite teachers, right up there with my Second Grade teacher. He gave me my love for weather. He allowed me to take apart an old dionysus_33cell phone for a project. He encouraged me to learn more, to keep doing what interested me. Also in Seventh Grade, I learned about my interest in Greek and Roman Mythology and other mythos from my Literacy teacher. I did a presentation on Dionysus, and he’s been my favorite mythological person since. Everyone else picked Aphrodite or Zeus, nah, not me. I dressed up as Dionysus, wearing a sheet, carrying grapes, acting, the whole nine yards. For picture day I wore my favorite outfit at the time, a black tank top with peace signs and paint splatters, covered by a long sleeved blue blouse type thing. My hair was just above my shoulders, the first time in my life I’d ever cut it short. I had a gray background this year, along with almost everyone else on page 14.

The last paperback yearbook in my collection is Eight Grade. It’s solid blue, with a picture of the school on the front cover. They tore it down after that year. The school that is, not the cover design. I’m right there in page 6, the first one in the second row. I have a blue background this year, but my shirt is pink. My necklace is a treble clef and I’m wearing a black headband. I consider this to be one of my most awkward school pictures. Flipping through pages of the yearbook, I’m in a few. There’s a picture on page 3 that was taken in my Literacy and Social Studies class, that happened to be a joined class. It was a very fun class, and I loved the teacher’s teaching style. It was my first real experience with a more “relaxed” classroom. It was also super fun to make forts out of the manila folders we used to separate ourselves while taking a test. I was in 8th Grade Band, Drama Club, Student Council, Science Fair, Track, and I played Taps for Veterans Day. Then you come to the cover, all the signatures. A bunch of friends saying they’d call me over the summer, the class “fuckboy” saying he’s loved me all this time, and two teachers. One, my math teacher and track coach. The other, my science teacher and student council director. Let’s call her “Mrs.A”. Mrs.A was one of the few people to sign on the inside of the front cover. In fact, it was only her, my health teacher, and two close friends. Mrs.A is another one that’s up there for favorite teacher. I was absolutely what you’d describe as her teacher’s pet. She continued to fuel my love for science, letting me study weather and space whenever I wanted and she could somehow implement it into her lesson plan. She described me as “highly motivated, enthusiastic, and very dependable” in my yearbook. “Stay happy and best wishes to you always. Mrs.A”. She was a fantastic teacher. She retired the next year, along with our Principal who would grill hot dogs for the entire school right outside the cafeteria.

High school yearbooks are a little different. They’re hard cover, and they cost around $70. The designs are also much better, and you can actually read everything on every page. Consider this a little shout-out, High School yearbook staff. Although you never really knew I existed, you guys were pretty cool.

Freshman year, I was the last picture on page 43. I wore a teal colored shirt and a matching choker. I scrunched my hair (I can still smell the mousse) and wore a pink checkered bow in it. It’s a pretty good picture. Freshman year I went through a lot outside of school, which I’m sure I’ll eventually dedicate a post to. Everything at school helped me a lot, though. From my teachers to my extra-curriculars. I lettered in track running the mile and two mile, learned that I love marching band, did really well playing a trumpet solo, acted as a man in drama club, and was an active part of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Ecology Club, and Future Teachers of America. My teachers were nice, I had many different teachers since High School teachers specialize in the subject they teach. A notable one though, was Engineering. I was introduced to Project Lead the Way at the end of 8th Grade, and knew I *had* to take that course. Our teacher had a very unique teaching style. He was very relaxed. In all honesty, we didn’t actually follow the curriculum at all. We made mini weapons of mass destruction. We ate bacon bits. We designed things in CAD/Inventor. He was more of our friend than our teacher. He only ate blue M&Ms. My science teacher stands out, too. Not many people liked him because he was old fashioned, but he taught me how to handle failure. He high-fived me when I got an “F” on one of his tests. Many people hated him for that, but few looked at what the deeper meaning was. He wanted to encourage us to keep learning about that topic, to learn to like it- or at least understand it. He wanted to inspire you to have a happiness about learning whether you got an F or an A. He sure did that. I also want to say thank you to my Algebra teacher, she would talk to me about everything. She listened to me. I’d often miss my bus just because I was talking to her after class. I just wish I remembered the name of the student teacher from health class. She played Fireflight for us, and she was a cool person.

Sophomore year, I was the last girl pictured on page 42. I was wearing a long sleeved purple shirt and my treble clef necklace. My hair was a little below my shoulders, showing how slowly my hair would grow. The thing I notice about this picture though, is that I look confident. I’m smiling brightly and my body looks relaxed. I made it into Wind Ensemble, played another good trumpet solo, lettered in track again, and stayed active in all of the clubs I mentioned before. Sophomore year was a great year, and I think I have my teachers to thank for that, particularly Biology, English, US History, and Engineering. My biology class was very small, it was an honors class of about ten people including myself. In this class, I started feeling confident. I started going by the shortened version of my name. The projects we did were so much fun. The teacher really knew how to reach out to her students and show them how to love what they did. She is now the assistant principal of the Middle School, and she’s doing a great job. My English teacher was really the first teacher that sparked that love for reading in class again, the first since third grade. I felt comfortable in her room. The windows and the temperature and the lighting were just right. I was relaxed in her room. Then, US History. Did I hate the map quizzes and Document Based Questions? Absolutely. I was never too big on that class. Maybe Hamilton should’ve came out sooner. So what’s my point? Just like my biology teacher, he knew how to make you love what you were doing even though you deep down couldn’t find any motivation even if you tried your hardest. Lastly, there was Engineering. We had a different teacher this year. She was, in my eyes, amazing. The rest of the class hated her because she actually taught from the curriculum. Yeah, there were wayyyy too many PowerPoints, but that doesn’t make me hate a teacher. That makes me want to change the way PLTW teaches. The teacher was fantastic. She’d listen to me and encourage me and be my mentor when I needed one. She pushed me to be the best me I could be. I don’t think I can ever thank her enough.

Junior year. I’m the first person in the last row on page 33, the one wearing a white v-neck and a flannel. My hair still barely grew. That’s about the only picture I’m in from that year. I’m in a robotics team picture, since that’s the year we started robotics and I provided all of the pictures. I’m not in any other robotics pictures because I took them all. I’m not in any other pictures otherwise because I spent Junior year at the county career and technical center. I studied Engineering for 2 and a half hours a day. The rest of the day were my academics, which consisted of Algebra 2, Chemistry, and College in High School English. My English teacher was incredible, she inspired me to start writing again. This was written in her class, as well as this and this. One of my fondest High School memories is getting to throw a paper plate of whipped cream in her face. It was pretty great. Another fond memory is when the librarian allowed me to sit in the tent that was really only there for display. You made my day. My Chem teacher deserves a shout-out, too. He always knew how to make anyone love science, and he’d make Chem puns with me all day. The two girls I’d always talk to in that class, Cheyenne and Maggie, they were pretty cool. Cheyenne is now a dog groomer and Maggie is a U.S. Marine. I met some pretty cool people there.

Senior year. I went back to my High School. I’m all over this yearbook; I’m even quoted on the cover. My senior picture is on page 43, I’m the third picture on the page. I look so happy, and so mature compared to all the other pictures of me. I’m wearing Air Force logo earrings. My hair got so much longer. I’m wearing makeup. Under my name, my clubs and activities are listed. “Robotics Captain, Debate, Wind/Jazz/Honors Band, FCA”. That sums up my senior year pretty well. If you want to see baby me, I’m the second to last baby picture on page 50. We skipped a picture, though. I’m quoted, with a picture, on page 45. I was asked what I’d miss most and least about High School. My answer? “I’ll miss the comfort of knowing what’s going to happen the most. I’ll  miss waking up early the least”. That’s such a typical “me” answer. I’m wearing a hoodie and my arms are crossed very sassily in the picture. Keep in mind, hoodies are out of dress code.

I’m pictured a few more times. Coding club, honors band, speech and debate, FCA, English festival, bridge building (I’m featured twice here!), robotics, band (I’m somewhere in the yearbook_quoteScript Ohio), track, my homecoming date (from another school) made it onto page 133 in one picture and we’re both in another, I’m next to a giant inflatable t-rex on page 146, if you look for the poofiest dress on page 152 you’ll see the worst picture of me in my prom dress in existence. I’m pictured again on page 159 among other people in college shirts, in my
CU Boulder hoodie (my dream college that’s still one of my choices since I deferred my admission). My graduation picture is on page 164 and it was taken from the worst angle ever. Nobody liked theirs. My personal favorite though, is the giant spread and quote of mine on pages 120-121.

“As a student, being part of the activities it what really makes memories. Playing in the band, cheering at pep rallies, attending plays, performing concerts, taking field trips, and helping with the STEM festival make us who we are in high school. Singing the Alma Mater ties it all together for me- it’s what keeps us together. Everyone’s your friend when you’re singing it on the bus or arm in arm. Those are some of the best memories.”

It may not be the most flattering picture of anyone, but it’s me and three friends arm in arm, shouting the Alma Mater at the top of our lungs. It’s true, those are the best memories.

I’ve mentioned teachers every year, I can’t forget about senior year! I started off my morning with Physics, which was a fantastic class. We’d have donut parties and we’d bring in coffee. But shhh, no one tell school administration. None of that happened. Mod 1 promises. Second I’d chill in lab 119 for 54 minutes. This was the lab dedicated to Engineering. I’d chill with a third (and also VERY amazing and inspirational) Engineering teacher, and work on my capstone project to still graduate from the tech center. Third, for the first semester I had Holocaust Studies. The class was as sad as it sounds. Second semester I had modern conflicts, and it was an amazing class with an amazing teacher. I learned so much (including that the girl two seats to the left of me was always trying to flirt with the teacher). Periods 4/5 were split and I had Wind Ensemble during that time. Senior year, music was my passion. It still is, but I lived and breathed it then. My band director was my best friend. I spent more hours with him and Ky in the band room than I did anywhere in the school. Mr.Band Director helped me out so much. Deep discussions about life with my feet on his desk were my favorite. Sixth period I had lunch, but I’d often skip and stay in the band room. A few times I’d get food and eat in a practice room or the office, but that didn’t happen often. I do miss the school’s home-made pizza, though. That was good. On the last day I totally bought 4 pieces and brought them home. 7/8 was also split, and I had Calculus with the craziest teacher at my school. I mean this as a compliment. She is incredibly eccentric, and it’s what makes her unique. Everybody, including myself, loved her. She made me a balloon animal dragon at the end of the year. It actually spit fire! The bell rang at 12:34 for this class to end, and I’d always loved that the numbers lined up.

Ninth period I had Honors English, with the same teacher as sophomore year. Needless to say, that class was fantastic. We read a couple of amazing books, including “Alive“, the book about the Andes survivors. Lastly, I finished my day among juniors. I took AP US Gov so I could have all 4 Social Studies credits since the credit system worked differently at the tech center. That class was killer, but the teacher was pretty cool. He always worked with me to be able to submit my work if it was ever late and I totally owe him my grade. Again though, I just wish Hamilton would have been out sooner. I might have actually grasped the miserable two month study we did on Federalist #10.

There’s a few other teachers I quickly want to mention and thank. In Second Grade, Miss C was always there to tell me jokes and to make me smile. She gave me a toy frog at some point in the school year and I loved it. I remember the smell of her classroom like it was yesterday. They tore that building down… many years ago. The second teacher I’ll mention… Mr.S, the woodshop teacher. Thank you for letting me chill in your classroom like it was my own. Thanks for being the totally cool person you are. Oh, and your kids are adorable. The music teacher in Elementary School, thank you for letting me copy “Rockin’ Robin” from the book because I loved it so much. I still have the copy, even though it’s black and white and it’s been hole punched a few too many times. The librarian, also Elementary School. Your love for frogs always stuck with me. You were kind when I needed kindness. The library was a great place to go when you needed some freedom. The technology department, for dealing with me when I’d come to your office with some request from a teacher or when I needed advice. The Middle School Home-Ec teacher, for always giving me an extra pretzel, even if I didn’t win bingo. Also for not laughing (or being mad) that time I spilled water all over myself and my kitchen trying to do dishes. The High School Foods teacher, because you always smiled at me in the hallway. You were the light I sometimes needed to get through the day.

Thank you to my robotics coaches (and mentors) because you guys took so much time and money out of your personal lives for the team, and a lot of the time we didn’t express just how much it meant to us. The band directors I had the pleasure of working with, whether it be local or honors band or something else. Thank you for inspiring young musicians like myself to become the best musician we can be… And that sometimes John Mackey is right. Thank you to Mr.D, the Middle School band student teacher that introduced me to Jazz. You ave me the confidence I didn’t know I needed. I was able to get up on stage and play in front of a crowd, comfortably. And lastly… We’ll call her Miss D. Thanks for being a fantastic student teacher in band (even though wayyyy too many people didn’t like you for who knows what reason) and now a fantastic friend as well. It totally makes me smile when you like my tweets.

There you have it. I summarized 11 years of American public schooling in 4,000 words. I can use less though: “amazing”. All of these teachers contributed to who I am, whether it’s to not kick stupid boys back or to love writing.

To everyone that’s taught me over the years: thank you. All of you are amazing people. Keep fighting, keep teaching, keep changing lives. 

I, on the other hand, should probably do something with my life. I’ve had Chicken on a Raft going the whole time I’ve been working on this post. coar-9425

Aaayo, Chicken on a Raft.

-E.

“Where words fail, music speaks.”

Thanks for that quote, Hans Christian Andersen.

Often times when you first meet someone, you try to find things you have in common with them. One of the first things that pops into my mind is music. Music, in my opinion, is a huge part of what makes us who we are as human beings. In this post, I’ll be talking a little bit about my music taste. Fair warning though, it’s all over the place. There’s no one genre I stick to. Without further ado, let’s begin! Song titles will be in blue.

What song am I listening to right at this moment? I Wouldn’t Mind by He is We.

What are my top ten played songs according to iTunes?

  1. The Schuyler Sisters by the Hamilton Original Broadway Cast
  2. Tonight by Seether
  3. Work from Home by Fifth Harmony
  4. Cruisin’ California by The Offspring
  5. The Nightcore version of Haven’t Had Enough by Mariana’s Trench
  6. Stupid For You by Waterparks (Happy birthday, Awsten!)
  7. Satisfied from the Hamilton Mixtape
  8. Fire Water Burn” by The Bloodhound Gang
  9. You’re Welcome” by Dwayne Johnson, from “Moana”
  10. Team” by Krewella

What is my top skipped song according to iTunes? Turning Into You” by The Offspring.

I found a questionnaire about music online, and I’ll be answering some of the questions from it now. It’s kinda cool, and it made me think.

  1. What do you think music is? I think music is a form of art, through which humans can communicate. Instrumental music, to me, is one of the most basic forms of this communication. I sang a song in choir once and a line stated “music is a universal language, freely spoken by one and all”. That always stuck with me.
  2. How often do you usually listen to music? I listen to music every day, there’s barely a day I don’t. Most nights I have my iPod playing music through the entire night.
  3. When you want to listen to music you use… My iPod Classic! It has 160GB of storage, and it’s about the only piece of Apple technology I tolerate. There’s 1,236 songs on it currently. Other than that, I also use YouTube.
  4. Where do you prefer listening to music? In my room, right now. When I drive, I play music as well. I love listening to music while I drive.
  5. Have you ever been to a concert? Yes! I have seen Courage My Love, All Time Low, A Day To Remember, and Blink-182.
  6. What is your favorite musical instrument? Trumpet or cornet.
  7. Do you play any musical instrument? If yes, which one? Heck yeah. I play trumpet, cornet, euphonium, trombone, tuba, and a little ukulele and flute.
  8. Can you express your feelings with music? If so, how? Absolutely. There’s music for everything. I don’t know why I do it, but when I’m sad I listen to sad music. My go-to sad song isLittle Do You Know by Alex & Sierra. There’s happy music. There’s music to get you energized. There’s honestly music for everything. It’s up to the person to decide what they listen to, when.
  9. Is there a song that’s special to you? There’s a couple. If It Means a Lot To You by A Day To Remember is one of them. It was the first song ever introduced to me by the band, and I used to sing it all the time as a middle school student. Starboy” by the Weeknd is another. This is because when I was in Ohio in December, any time Michelle and I would go somewhere, it was on the radio. We’d send each other messages whenever it came on the radio. It became our song. Chandelier” by Sia is another one I’ll mention. I’ll just leave it at “2015 OHWG Encampment girls’ barracks” as to why it’s special. Lastly, the Christmas song Greensleeves.
  10. Is there a particular song you don’t like? It’s not necessarily… not liking… but the song Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol just upsets me. I can’t listen to it. I used to hate Aerosmith’s Janie’s Got a Gun, but it’s now a song that I like to listen to.
  11. What song would you recommend to someone in a tough situation? I’d recommend Never Too Late by Three Days Grace and Rise Above This by Seether. Possibly Your Guardian Angel by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus depending on the person and situation.

Alright. I think that’s enough for tonight. I should try to sleep. Here’s a quick January goal update: Goal 2; eat healthier, has been achieved. So has Goal 6; keep my email organized. It’s a decent start.

I’ll leave off with another quote-

“Music touches us emotionally, where words alone can’t.” ― Johnny Depp

Peace out, girl scouts. That’s the end of this JAMboree. (Ha?)

~E.