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.♥

Cyber and San Antonio- The Ramblings

The 2016 Cyber Defense Training Academy was a success. It may not have felt like it to me every day, but it absolutely was.

I can honestly say I didn’t know what I was getting myself into signing up for both the Cyberspace Advanced Course and staff. I thought it’d be simple, the cadets the year before made it look easy… right? Well, easy comes far from describing my week. Stressful, perhaps, but also not really. Let me begin with explaining all these pictures- and the stories along with them.

13569814_1133945366646688_1438685109_oThis picture to the left shows Simba sitting on what was my bed for the duration of the activity. To the right slightly below is a view the other way. Centered below is the female bay area, with my bed being the one with the giant red suitcase in the front. It was quite the comfortable place to sleep my approximate 4 hours a night once we got air conditioning.

13616296_1133945299980028_1379939022_o13621477_1133945306646694_1660021039_o

Below this text is a photo of the male barracks. There were more males than females, and this is only half of the beds the males used. There were about 50 beds in the male bay alone, and I know this because I did their bunk assignments. Thanks guys!
13616350_1133945309980027_276892973_o (1)


13616415_1133945353313356_2020798603_o
And finally, this last picture is the lovely “tattoo” I got from a fellow staff member. I guess the friendships were near the top of the “best things of the week” list.

 

Now to continue on with my rambling about the Cyber Defense Training Academy…

Every day, including the staff training days, started off with PT. We would run a mile, or do the CPFT (Cadet Physical Fitness Test), or do some other horrific exercise like duck walks to the point where half of the cadets could barely walk the rest of the week. I may or may not have been included in the half that couldn’t walk… Oh well, what matters (to me, anyway) is that I was able to breathe while running the mile down in Texas (whoa) and I took two minutes off my time. I very much can confirm this map is very accurate in its representation of climates. death

We then would go to breakfast- I’d eat almost the same thing every day. Two hard boiled eggs with a pound of salt each (to feed my sodium deficiency!) and french toast. But, my dietary habits are for another time… or not. It isn’t too interesting. Other than the fact that I ate a corn dog and fries for dinner every day this year and last and I really want a corn dog and fries right now. I need to get my mind off of food… So. After that we’d go to the classroom and learn. The Familiarization Course would go to some secure facility I probably couldn’t name even if I remembered it, and we went to the IPSecure Building on base. The chairs were really comfortable, and we learned about Cisco Networking and encryption all week. The first day we actually got to “play” with the switches, which was really fun. It was stressful though, and my quiz scores weren’t up to my standards. The second day when I got my score back, I actually cried because I did so… not okay… according to myself. With lots of comfort from my friends and fellow staff, I made it. I got a 94% on my final, which was still one of the highest final grades.

I learned. Not just about Cisco, or computers, but about myself. On Day 0, the commandant gave a speech. He said something along the lines of “everybody fails, and you learn from your failures”. Not going to lie, I kind of blew that off. Until about day 4, that is. My scores started improving. I connected with my team. I got more sleep. I realized… without completely crashing and failing those first few days, and trying to push myself past exhaustion… I wouldn’t have found where I should’ve been. Because I failed, I learned and grew. For a long time, I’d been afraid of failure. I was always afraid that I’d be letting someone down, that I’d be letting myself down. Yes, striving for excellence is key, but sometimes it’s okay to fall flat on your face. Because that’s when you learn to get back up and brush it off, to keep smiling, and completely dominate in whatever you’re doing.

So, yeah. The 2016 Cyber Defense Training Academy was a success. It may not have felt like it to me every day, but it absolutely was.

-E. 

Cyber and San Antonio (The Way There)

So, the next ten days I will be without my cell phone or any real way to contact anyone at JBSA Lackland in San Antonio, Texas- attending the Cyberspace Advanced Course and acting as staff for the 2016 Cyber Defense Training Academy. This academy is a Civil Air Patrol National Activity, which I attended last year as well.

This year though, Simba came with me. Here are some pictures from the trip there.

It was 100 degrees when we landed here… Way too hot. I miss Ohio already. On top of missing the weather, though, I miss my family and my boyfriend like crazy. I’m sure these ten days will fly by. Right? I don’t know why I’m so stressed. It’s gonna be fantastic.

Well, babe, I know you’ll read this soon, I love you. Same to my family.

I’m going to continue waiting to be picked up in the USO Lounge now.

Be Brave.

-E.

Civil Air Patrol Wing Conference

Simba CAP.jpg

This weekend was our Wing (state) Conference for the Civil Air Patrol; the United States Air Force Auxiliary. It was a pretty amazing experience.

I got to share a room with my best friend in CAP whom I only see about twice a year- and it was great. We worked out in the pathetic little gym the place had; a treadmill, elliptical, and about three and a half sets of weights, we stayed up until approximately two a.m. playing the game “Heads Up” on my Kindle, and we ironed our uniforms.

The next morning, we woke up late- we were under the impression that registration started an hour later than it actually did; but we got ready in 27 minutes exactly, and if I do say so myself, we looked pretty great. It was a fun-filled day, from teaching a class on Team Leadership with a friend from my squadron, to meeting Major Blaine Jones (former Thunderbird Opposing Solo pilot) and his wife Lieutenant Colonel Carey Jones, to making music puns with the Wing and Region commanders, to being awarded Wing Cadet Officer of the Year at the banquet- which my family attended with me.

And of course, Simba was along for the ride. It was an awesome experience, and an awesome weekend.

-E.

“That Others May Live” (Freewrite)

This was written by me in the February of 2015.

I opened my eyes, and stared around me in disbelief. The old city was completely unrecognizable. There was debris everywhere. Dust covered tents, buildings, shelters. The dreary smile of a sun trying to shine through the clouds of smoke. It wasn’t the same. I looked to my left and saw one of my brothers fallen at my side. I looked to my right, and saw another brother severely injured, holding his leg in pain. I looked down at myself. I realized I’d been hit, there was blood coming from my thigh. Why didn’t I feel it? Was I that numb? Would I feel ever again? I couldn’t cry. I wouldn’t cry. I had to be strong. I moved to my brother beside me, the one holding his leg. He was my wingman, my best friend. I reached for my bag, only to find that it had ripped. Everything was gone. I took my shirt, and tied it tightly around his calf. He winced in pain, and smiled. A genuine smile of thanks. He took his knife and cut the fabric of my pants, and made a tourniquet out of it. I lost all feeling in my leg. I shed a single tear, wiped away by my brother. “These things we do” he whispered in my ear. “That others may live” I whispered back. We helped each other up, leaning our weight on one another. “Let’s go help some people” I chuckled dryly, still limping. I wouldn’t give up. We wouldn’t give up.