How to Survive a Drive with a Lion

Buckle up and hold on for the ride, because I didn’t even know driving 7 hours and only stopping once was something this girl is capable of. The drive from NE Ohio to Houston, Texas was WILD. To be completely honest, I was pretty sure that my 2004 Volkswagen Jetta would die on the way. Spoiler alert: we made it!

But like.. how?tx1

Well, none of it would have been possible without the help of a phenomenal family friend. He drove the rest of the time, which… 20 hours minus 7 is a whopping 13 hours. He started in Ohio, and drove all the way to Jackson, Tennessee. Tennessee was probably the most boring part of the drive in my opinion. It felt like we were in Tennessee for EVER. Leo and I shared the Chips Ahoy cookies in the backseat next to him in Tennessee, and probably ate a few too many, but that’s okay.

I drove from Jackson to Marshall, Texas. I drove through Memphis, and all the way through Arkansas. The sunset was gorgeous. Driving through Little Rock was an interesting experience. Lots of bends, lots of cars, and lots of lights all at once. Gas prices started going down the farther south we got though, which is something I’m super thankful for. Also, why does Arkansas smash city names with the word “Arkansas”? Like… Is Arkadelphia really necessary? Even auto-correct wants to change that to Philadelphia. Also, why not “Philansas”?

Driving into Texas was crazy. By this time, it was dark. I had my first experience driving on a road with a speed limit of 75 miles per hour. Legally going that fast is pretty cool. I’ve been told there’s a road somewhere in this state (which is unnecessarily large, by the way) where the speed limit is 85. I may have to go find that road.

We made it to Marshall, Texas where we stopped at a Whataburger. I will admit, that was a phenomenal hamburger. Especially at 1 o’clock in the morning (two o’clock to my body, yay central time!). After eating, my friend drove the rest of the way.

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We got to the place I’ll be staying right around 5 o’clock in the morning and met my host. Leo was extremely excited to stretch his paws after such a long drive. The bed was super comfortable. I finally fell asleep around 6 o’clock in the morning.

Somehow, I woke up at noon. I took a shower, organized a bit, and met the family. They’re wonderful people, and I’m so excited. The house is gorgeous. My room is so nice. The daughter is a year older than I am, and she’s super cool. We’ll call her “M”. M and I got Chick Fil A today, after she showed me around the area. There’s a Chick Fil A right across from NASA, and I think self control may be the biggest thing I learn during this internship. I also saw a real palm tree for the first time today!

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Orientation for the internship is on Monday, and I’m so excited. I’m also nervous, though. It’s going to be crazy. I don’t think it’s truly sank in that I’m in Texas, and I’m about to work for NASA.

tx2I’ve jokingly told a few people now that if the Space Force Academy becomes a thing, I’ll be one of the first females to graduate (super relevant, I know). But you know what, you never know where life takes you. Leave your options open.

I just hope next time I leave my options open and go where life leads me, the bugs are a tad smaller. When they say everything is bigger in Texas, they mean it.

So, how do you survive a long drive with a lion?

  1. Lots of Chips Ahoy Chewy cookies
  2. 1 cold Gatorade for every 2 hours of driving
  3. A cool family friend (knowing lots about cars and playing cool music is a bonus)
  4. The ability to admit when you’re tired
  5. The ability to sleep in the passenger seat of your own car (yes, it’s super weird)
  6. Lots and lots of adrenaline. Arkansas was boring, but once we got into Texas…
  7. Clean your windshield every chance you get at gas stations. Dead things leave streaks if you use the wipers.
  8. There’s no shame in going the speed limit, even if cars in Kentucky decide they want to attempt to take off next to you.
  9. Don’t merge too close in front of drivers from Arkansas. They need at least two semi truck-lengths to feel secure.
  10. Have fun!

So, there you go. Enjoy your next road trip. Or don’t, that’s all up to you.

I’ll be back to ramble to you from NASA’s Johnson Space Center next time, right here on my blog! Hopefully maybe my nerves will settle down. That would be cool.

Until then, don’t be afraid to try new things!

~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.

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.♥

Countdown- 2 (the senior one).

TWO DAYS YO

countdown-0-2

It’s Monday. On Wednesday, I’ll be 18. Yippee! (Right?) 

Yes, yes, I know in reality turning 18 *isn’t* such a big deal. A bunch of people have done it without some big fuss- and I feel like that’s why I’m blogging about it. I want it to be a big deal for me, so it’s something to do- something to remember. Over here in what my friend calls “the cave”, turning 18 isn’t some big milestone. You get to drink distilled alcohol and pay your own insurance (among other things). Side note: No wonder you are able to drink distilled alcohol, I might need it having to deal with all of this. Pass me the rum. Or something.countdown-0-3

So- senior year. What was senior year like?

Three words: “Stress“, “Music“, and “Senioritis“.

Stress because, well… High school. Music because dude, music became my life. I played in the Honors Band, Stambaugh Youth Concert Band, Jazz Band, Marching Band, a quintet, Tuba Christmas, my High School’s Wind Ensemble,  did a solo for a competition,  and participated in a Festival of Bands. I was also accepted into the School of Music at one of the leading music schools in the USA (whose admission I deferred, along with CU Boulder and another) and I received the Director’s Award at my Senior Spring Concert. Outside of everything I participated in, I loved going to local concerts. I was a regular at the W.D. Packard Band concerts, and I would occasionally attend community band concerts. My friend and I lived in the band room all school year. The office became our locker, our cafeteria (even though food or drinks weren’t allowed in the band room- district rules), and our place for hanging out. I’d often skip lunch to practice or re-organize things. We’d often pick what we played in class- and often were hated for it. My friend picked out a beautiful arrangement- To Tame The Perilous Skies– and no one could play it. We’d pick out our favorite pieces and bribe our director to play them. I got my Holst pieces, he got his Carnival of Venice solo. Lastly, “senioritis“. Likely, anyone tseniorhat is a high school senior or has been a high school senior can attest to this one. Senioritis is accurately described by this definition from Urban Dictionary, except for perhaps the clothing thanks to the dress code (and absences for me… I couldn’t afford to miss my AP classes).countdown-0-4

What else did I do my Senior year? Oh man, so much. I was the robotics team captain for the second (or third…ish?) year. I was a member of two new clubs at my school- the Speech and Debate team, and coding club. I did Congressional Debate, and I loved it. I wish I could’ve had more time to do it. I did the Bridge Building Competition, the Ohio Attorney General Teen Ambassador Board (which was absolutely amazing and I’d highly recommend to any High School Junior/Senior in Ohio), I was a thrower in Track and Field, throwing Shotput and Discus. That one was new for me, as I had traditionally been a distance runner in track. I was a volunteer at the local Vacation Bible School as well as Fellowship of Christian Athletes group leader. And of course, I was a member of Civil Air Patrol.

All within Civil Air Patrol, I was a Flight Commander and Cadet Commander at my squadron, Bravo Flight Sergeant (and Honor Flight Sergeant) at the 2015 OHWG Encampment, Team Co-Captain at the 2015 Cyber Defense Training Academy, Ohio Wing Conference Cadet Staff, and Cadet Advisory Council Group Primary Representative. I was awarded the Billy Mitchell Award, Squadron Cadet Officer of the Year, OHWG Cadet Officer of the Year, 910th Airlift Wing Armed Forces Day Awardee, and Commander’s Commendation. Upon graduating, I have been the 2016 D-Day Ohio Cadet Commander, Alpha Flight Commander (and Honor Flight Commander) at the 2016 OHWG Encampment, Cyber Defense Training Academy 2016 Staff and a student in the Advanced Course, and I have received the Amelia Earhart Award for promoting to Cadet Captain. I have flown a Cessna and a glider, and have been a member of my squadron’s CyberPatriot team. 

Senior year was pretty amazing. I do miss a few teachers, and I miss the familiarity of knowing what would happen every day (as I had forecasted in the yearbook) , but I absolutely don’t miss High School as a whole. I’m so glad I graduated.

Hang in there, y’all. 

-E. ♥

Captain Phillips references and life

“Look at me, I’m the Captain now!” I show off to all my Civil Air Patrol friends. I send them a meme to go with it…

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Of course I had to post it here, as well. Why not? It’s an accomplishment I can be proud of. It’s something to keep me going. On Wednesday, 5 October 2016, I promoted to the grade of Cadet Captain in the US Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol. The grade of Cadet Captain, or C/Capt, comes with the Amelia Earhart Award. To pass this milestone, you have to take a written test on Aerospace and Leadership, as well as complete Staff Service and pass a PT test. Achieving this milestone places me in the top 5% of cadets statistically speaking, and my award number is 17515, making me the 17,515th cadet to obtain this award since its implementation. So, CAP has managed to give me motivation and happiness once again. I love the Civil Air Patrol so much, and it is such an amazing program for all ages. My squadron made me a poster, too. I framed it yesterday, and now it’s hanging above my bed.

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I love my squadron, and I miss them all the time. They’ve gotten me through so much. Civil Air Patrol has gotten me through so much. So… yeah. I’m alright right now.

Alright guys, fly above and beyond. Stay strong.

-E.

Good, good, great!

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I considered posting happy thoughts. (Side note: I just got distracted trying to find a specific Fetty Wap song that was stuck in my head from sophomore year. I don’t even like rap. I guess I really don’t want to type happy thoughts).

Think happy thoughts.

  1. Soccer. Soccer was cool today. I taught a ten year old, and she was really cool. It was the first human social interaction I’ve had with someone around my age in two weeks. And she was 10.
  2. Food- as much as it hurts my stomach and gives me heartburn, it does taste good and I’d missed a bunch of it.
  3. Healthy. Healthy? Healthy! Bike riding here will help me lose weight or something.
  4. Uh, well, drinking is legal here at my age… I can make fun of 16-year-olds getting smashed. And that’s about the extent of that one.
  5. I’m really excited about the house we’re getting. And my room. I get to do it however I want and that’s really awesome.

Oh man- interruption! Just Skyped with my CyberPatriot team and had a Cadet Advisory Council conference call. Now I’m procrastinating on this post…. Don’t believe me, just watch. Crap… now the numbered list starts over. Oh whale. 15 more.

  1. Family. I love being close to my family.
  2. I can make money here on my year off from school.
  3. I get to play with big boy cameras here. That one’s fun. Shout-out to my grandfather.
  4. I haven’t gotten a mosquito bite here [yet]. That’s a positive.
  5. My brother is enjoying it. He already has a few friends.
  6. I have time to write blog posts!
  7. I get to see things I don’t really remember from when I was 6.
  8. My cat is here! ♥♥
  9. It’s fun to go places, and absolutely no one knows you. It’s weird running in to people who recognize you but you don’t recognize them, though.
  10. This has brought me and some of my friends in the US closer together. I found who my true friends are and who cares about me.
  11. You can drink tap water without wondering what’s in it (chlorine wise.. or chemical wise… or anything). It’s neat.
  12. It feels like things are cheaper here. You can go to the grocery store and buy 2 days worth of food and drinks for about 8 Euros. I could be wrong but it feels cheaper. I don’t know. Let me think it.
  13. I can completely avoid all the asshats in the US here!!
  14. I can get some cool clothes here. And I already got pants!
  15. There’s Cat Cafes here. Like literally; Coffee shops with cats.

And, I mean, I have lots of time to plan my return trip in December. And June. Heh…

Well, that was my effort for today’s blog post. It’s 0350 and my chest hurts. Maybe I should sleep.

Good night guys, and keep finding reasons to smile.

-E.

The one about feelings, anger, and frustration

Everyone deals with it. Anger, sadness,  stress, frustration. Sometimes jealousy. I try not to blog about them, but I’m going to be brutally honest- sometimes ignoring your emotions takes a toll on you. There’s been one other rather upset blog post with lots of feelings; the annoying one about me getting dumped. Normally, I feel horrible posting my feelings online, and as you could see in the post after it, I apologized. This time… I won’t apologize. My feelings are my feelings, and honestly if you’re reading my blog, you sort of care about me anyway (or you’re just amused at my misfortunes; but that’s alright too).

I’m having a really shitty time adjusting to this country and the people in it. I’m trying to do my best, trying to hold on for my mom’s sake. She’s so stressed as well, I feel like whenever she sees me be happy, it makes her happy. So I’m really trying. I love my mom, and I hate seeing her upset- especially now coming to realize that she’s actually a cool parent- and has been, but I just didn’t see it (ouch, did I just say that out loud? Online, for that matter?). I just need to find a way to get my frustration out. This blog is helping, but I’m not sure how much longer. I miss my late night drives, in my car, by myself. I miss seeing my friends, being able to just crash on someone’s couch and maybe wake up in the morning, maybe in the afternoon. I miss being able to do “stupid” stuff like drinking a few too many energy drinks or walking over the train tracks or walking through the woods alone or even driving a little too fast sometimes (heh).

Anyhoo, this country. This country, man. No, it’s not all bad. I really enjoy some of the things, but that’s for happy blog posts. This is not a happy blog post.

  1. UGH I MISS MY HOODIE WEATHER AND PUMPKIN EVERYTHING. It skipped straight to winter coat and where the f*** is the pumpkin in this country?!
  2. If people could stop interrupting and/or ignoring my brother whenever he talks, that would be cool. Just because you don’t see the enthusiasm of the little human doesn’t mean no one else does. Weird.
  3. I want food that doesn’t give me a stomach ache. I mean, yay! All natural whatnot. I mean, damn. Does my body have to reject it? I got less sick from a McDonald’s Buttermilk Crispy Chicken sandwich…
  4. Speaking of stomach… MIDOL. How do females here even survive shark week?! And tampons, dang, I just paid nearly 8 Euros (Which is around $8.40) for a box of like, 15 normal tampons. This is an issue.
  5. “How rude”. People here are legitimately the most rude human beings I have ever seen. You can stand in a store looking at something, and before you know it (without an excuse me) you have a Dutch person all up in your jacket (because it’s -100° or something in stores) looking or grabbing something from in front of you.
  6. Oh my goodness… and the government. They track pretty much everywhere you go. Apparently there’s this whole WhatsApp security crisis that’s got a bunch of people’s panties in a twist. But aside from that, as a seasoned and free American citizen, I find it uber creepy that the government has to know in what house you’re living, and with who, and all the kids, and they have to see you, and it’s just freaking me out. (Oh, and I miss my second amendment).
  7. I can’t carry my knife. It’s apparently frowned upon or illegal or something. I haven’t done too much digging, but from what I’ve seen it’s illegal (please correct me if I’m wrong).
  8. Number 8 has been removed for… reasons.
  9. Hamsters here. Oh my, the poor hamsters here. This will likely turn into a blog post on its own- but for now… the wheels the pet store sells for hamsters are so incredibly bad for them. Please, if you have a rodent of any sort, do NOT get a metal wheel. It will hurt your pet.
  10. Number 10 has also been removed.
  11. Oh man, here comes the stomach ache (just ate dinner oops)
  12. The time zone. Why the time zone?! I miss my friends. I miss talking to people. I miss attending Civil Air Patrol. I’d missed nine meetings in my cadet career (including encampments and NCSAs) and that’s up to 11 now. It pains me a little. And the whole… messaging people. Yeah- I still can- but it’s at weird times. *sigh*.
  13. This entire country is pretty anti-american and pro-american stereotyping. It’s a tad frustrating. I mean, I suppose America is the country with the highest obesity and the most junk food- but so what? That doesn’t really mean you can profit off of making fun of me. Or Americans in general. (I’m still pretty patriotic even for not living in the country. I’d be flying an American flag if it wouldn’t get my house vandalized. You think I’m kidding).
  14. WHY are my clothes losing color?
  15. We still don’t have [working] phones over here. That is a little ridiculous- especially since my brother is in school. What if an emergency happens?
  16. I really want our house. But it isn’t ready until November 1st. Oh man, I’m going nuts.
  17. I WANT MY FACE WASH AND MY CHEAP RITE AID PERFUME. This boat can kindly floor it across the Atlantic.
  18. Number 18 has also been removed.
  19. Hey look, it’s my favorite number. Well, this one is about my birthday. I am turning 18 this year (oh no, I just gave away my age on the interwebs) and I had planned on becoming a legal adult in the US of A. Yanno, buying a lottery ticket legally because I can. Maybe buy some dry-ice, paintballs, pepper spray, and a new knife while I’m at it (hoorah for ridiculous rules). Aside from all of those things, “becoming an adult” seems so much less complicated in a country you’ve witnessed other people do the thing you have to do before you. “Becoming an adult” seems so much simpler when you know the language and grammar (and a couple of curse words) without even having to think. I’d prepared myself to become an adult in America. I was ready for adult life there. How am I even supposed to choose health insurance here? I barely know all the big words for body parts here. How would I even know what doctor to go to? *sigh* I can’t adult.
  20. And the power here. This is more our fault- but I don’t have enough power cables to keep all of my electronics charged. My mom and I share a computer cable, and my laptop dies when it’s not plugged in (thanks, hp battery recalls). This is driving me nuts.

Well, there’s 20 complaints I have. Maybe I’ll post twenty positives soon. It’ll be fun to try and think of in depth arguments for why I like it here. Oh well, I feel better after this long rant. Maybe I’ll go take the Dutch version of ibuprofen and try to sleep.

Stay strong guys, and don’t let others change who you are.

-E.

 

Oh my, the month went by!

Hello, lovely readers!

Some of you have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while… a month exactly. I’m not necessarily about excuses, but, there is a legitimate reason.

I used to reside in the delightful state of construction work and bipolar weather, however, I have since moved to the other side of the world! (And let me tell you, I’m pretty sure this is the country of construction work and well, rain).

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The picture is of the city near my hometown here in the Netherlands. If you look to your right, those boats are actually peoples’ houses. It’s pretty neat. The lights and the sky and the water all look incredible, and honestly, I only noticed that in the picture… not even in person.

The Netherlands is like a whole different world to me. Yes, I lived here until I was 7- but that means very little. I knew as much of the language as any seven-year-old does of their language. I’d picked up enough to get by in years after that, but now I’ve started to realize that the language barrier may be greater than I thought. I shy away from speaking Dutch because I know it likely won’t be grammatically correct. Maybe I’m not using the correct tense of the word. Maybe I’m just creating a word altogether. It’s a little stressful. Everyone back home says “give it a month” or “go make friends”. That’s so much easier said than done. Yes, I may have been incredibly social in America, but that’s different here.

Here, I feel insecure about what I wear. I don’t know the norms here. I never see anyone wearing a simple graphic t-shirt here. I felt awkward going into a store yesterday wearing my Paramore tee, black cargo pants, and Timberland boots. I felt like I stood out. My pants weren’t tight. My shoes weren’t “cute”. Who wears a shirt with writing on it? It’s probably all in my head… but that’s bad enough. Here, I feel awkward even talking. My voice sounds weird to me when I speak a different language.  When I’m with my mom, I let her do the talking and I awkwardly stare. Yes, usually I can follow conversations. I just don’t feel like I have enough words to choose from to be relaxed enough to participate. I’ve wished more people here would speak English to me, but then there’s the accent that bothers the living hell out of me and the reversed language barrier. I guess maybe I’ll learn soon enough. Maybe I should try harder.

My body isn’t used to the time zone yet. I’ve never had an issue with jet lag. Back in America, I had a hard time sleeping. Throw me in a country whose time zone is Eastern Time +6… I’m screwed. I have yet to fall asleep before five o’clock in the morning, and I’ve been here 8 days now. And yes, I have indeed tried putting down all electronics. I have slept through the days, though. Side note: that’s a really good way to avoid humans.

There’s not a whole lot else to blog about- since my days have recently been spent sleeping and avoiding people. I signed up to referee soccer for U11 and U9 leagues. I was the only girl in the room. It was a tad awkward.. especially because the club then posted on their website that they appreciated the “boys and fathers” that came out to the meeting. Well, I’ll show them. I guess female referees are seldom in any sport. I’ll smash the patriarchy in their face before they can even think “why is there a female ref?”.

So, yeah. I’m alive. I’m hanging in there. I’m trying to look at this like an adventure. Most people in the US would kill to spend time in Europe. Even though my situation wasn’t exactly planned… or my choice… I’m trying to be positive. It’s going alright.

-E. ♥