The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 46

Be prepared for a long post. I’ll apologise in advance for it. The challenge for this week is to tell the stories behind the tattoos that I have.

I have more than 20, so I will try to be brief.

2 stars on the top of my right foot. Worst 3 1/2 minutes of my life. I was 19 in Las Vegas with my mom and my cousins, and we decided that it would be a good idea to get tattoos. I had seen a photo of a model who had two stars on her foot and I loved the way it looked and knew that it would be easy to cover with shoes when I needed to look ‘professional’.

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3 cherry blossoms down my spine. I got this one in Merced at the same place that I got the hula girl. My mom and brother came to visit me for the weekend, and we all got tattooed together. The artist who did the flowers was this big scary looking guy, and I remember him telling a story about having to wear a pink tux for a wedding. He said that people made fun of him, and I asked if he took people outside and kicked their ass in the parking lot. He laughed and was so sweet to me while he did the flowers.

Hebrew lettering on my back. This was a birthday gift from the wombmate for my 21st birthday. I got this done at a shop that she likes, and I hated the experience. The people were rude, and the artist put the stencil on upside down the first time, and then made me feel like shit when I almost didn’t catch it. What’s even better, is that now that I have had the chance to travel the world, people who actually speak Hebrew have informed me that my name is spelt in a strange way, and now they love to correct me. I love it though, and it has sparked some great conversations.

Scottish pinup girl. This was a birthday present to myself when I turned 26, and it was the first tattoo I got in Scotland. Studio XIII is an amazing place. I saw the tattoo the first time I visited Scotland with my mom, and went back and got the tattoo before I left Scotland after the MSc. The owner of the shop drew the tattoo, and the shop was so happy that someone wanted to get that as a permanent work of art.1010455_594964092085_588174323_n

Vegas Showgirl. I got this tattoo to celebrate my grandmother. She died when I was a kid, and on the 15th anniversary of her death, I got the tattoo on my back to always have a bit of her with me.  I got a Vegas showgirl because my favourite photo of my grandma is one she had taken in Las Vegas. It is one of those funny photos where they take your head and put it on someone else’s body. She looks like a showgirl and she used to tell people that is what she did before she had my mom. I still have the picture. I used to carry it in my wallet, but I am worried that I will destroy it, so now it is in my bedroom where I can see it all the time. This was my second tattoo done by Joe.

Mermaid on the inside of my right ankle. This was a birthday gift for myself when I turned 23. This was the first time I went to Classic Tattoo in Fullerton, the first time I met Joe, and the first time I got a Sailor Jerry Tattoo. The best choice I ever made. This has started a long-standing tradition of visiting Joe and getting tattooed by him. I love mermaids, love rum, and love the idea of having American traditional tattoos. This is one of my favourite tattoos and gets me a lot of attention.

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Sailor Jerry hula girl. Yet another masterpiece done by Joe. This was a birthday present to myself when I turned 24 (I think). I went with 4 of my friends and had a great time. They came to dinner at my house after, and my mom showed them baby pictures and we laughed all night. I love Sailor Jerry and the style of tattoos that Norman Collins did, so this was an extra special treat. The tattoo is on my right shin, and I have a dream of decorating my whole right leg in Sailor Jerry tattoos.

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Martini girl on the back of my right leg. Another Sailor Jerry and another tattoo with Joe. This finishes off the tattoos on my right leg for the moment.

Hula girl on the inside of my left ankle. When I was a kid, Crazy Shirts was a huge deal. They are known for their funny shirt designs, and they had shops everywhere. My parents took us to Hawaii and while we were there, my mom bought me a Crazy Shirt with a hula girl on it. The shirts come with a sticker, and I held on to that sticker for years. When I turned 20, I decided that I wanted it to be with me forever. I got the tattoo in Merced, and I loved showing it off at uni because no one I knew there had tattoos. My mommy and wombmate both have the tattoo as well.

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Bonus, a photo with Joe.

Celtic knot on my right wrist. A very nice Brazilian man tattooed me in Ireland. My mommy and the wombmate also got the tattoo.

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Hamsa. This was the most painful tattoo that I have. It is on the underside of my left arm, and it was sore for almost a month. It really is beautiful though. The Hamsa is a symbol of protection in many cultures.  It translates to the hand of God and wards off evil. I have the tattoo on the inside of my arm because it rests against my heart when my arm is down.

My kitty’s paw prints. I got them right before I moved to Scotland. My baby had to stay in California, so now I can always have a bit of him with me.

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Hot air balloon from Estonia. This was my first watercolour tattoo. The girl that did it was 23 and so nice. I had a great time. It took 4 hours and was a bit painful, but I love it.

Suitcases. My best friends got this tattoo for me as a birthday present. I love it, not only because I love to travel, but because it reminds me of them.

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Heart and anchor. The wombmate and I got these as charity tattoos. Joe did them and the money from the tattoos went to the Children’s Hosptial. Tim Hendricks, a very famous tattoo artist bought Classic Tattoo and saved the shop from having to close down, so it was no hardship to get tattooed and support a good cause. It is on the back of my left arm.

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Mother/Daughter infinity tattoo. I made my mom get this tattoo with me on her last trip to Edinburgh. I had it done at Studio XIII, and love it.

Geometric map of the world. This is one of my favourite tattoos. This is my wanderlust tattoo. It is the one that everyone always asks about, and the one that really shows my love of travel. These two tattoos take up the inside of my left arm.

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My grandmother’s signature. The same artist who did the mother/daughter tattoo put my grammy’s signature on my arm. It is in a place that I can see it every day since I can’t see the showgirl. He was really great about making sure it looks exactly like the paper that I brought him.

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Pineapple. The heterolifemate and I got matching pineapple tattoos while she was living in Scotland. Pineapples are the international symbol of hospitality. Travellers used to put pineapples outside their front door when they returned from their travels to let people know that they could come and hear about the adventures and share an exotic snack.

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Okay, that is not the best photo of the pineapple, but this is an amazing bar in Bosnia and an all-around fantastic shot.

Sister tattoo. I made the wombmate get stick figure sister tattoos with me when I snuck home for a bit last year. I love them. It makes me miss her a little less since I know that she has one too. Joe did mine because he loves me and made time for me.

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Russian nesting doll. I got this for my 30th birthday. I survived my 20s, and went to see Joe when I was in California….because no trip to California would be complete without a visit to Joe. This reminds me of my trip to Budapest for Christmas. That was the first time I ever spent Christmas by myself. It was both tough and exhilarating at the same time.

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Paper aeroplane. I got this tiny tattoo in Athens. We had spent the day seeing all of the history and culture of the city, and then I stumbled upon this amazing shop. The men who worked there were hilarious. They were friendly and told me that they really liked all of my tattoos because they showed that I had a unique soul. It is one of the nicest compliments that I have ever gotten.

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Last, but not least, the newest addition to my art collection is an origami flamingo. I now have a complete sleeve on my left arm, and this flamingo is by far my favourite tattoo. The same artist who did my grandma’s signature, the mother/daughter tattoo and the pineapple did this one. I call him Frank. I like to think that if I was an animal I would be a flamingo, so having one tattooed on me makes me feel less awkward and weird.

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So there you have it, my art collection and the story behind each piece. They are great conversation starters, and I think they make me just a little bit cooler.

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The Scamp and the Writing Challnage: Week 45

The challenge for this week is to write an entire post in the regional dialect of the place you call home.

Ah loove th’ scottish slang! thaur is somethin’ abit it ‘at makes me laugh, an’ makes me soond far mair badass than Ah actually am.

I am going to do my best to complete the post in my best Scottish slang. It is actually a lot harder than it sounds because I still have my expat accent, and vernacular. I’m going to do my best, and my friends can feel free to correct me.

Yesterday Ah maunt tae meit th’ second deadline oan mah checklist tae finish mah phd by julie. Ah hud tae redo mah theory chapter, but mah supervisur gae me a book ‘at he thooght micht help me, an’ tae be honest, it did. Ah hae bin pure woriat abit th’ drafts Ah submit, but noo Ah realize ‘at Ah can turn in jobby wark an’ gie guidence, an’ ‘en hae an easier time wi’ th’ revisin’.

and now for fun, because I hang out with a Geordie (someone from Newcastle and that area), I’ll do the next bit with a Geordie slang.

Ahm hopin that the next section iv the theory chaptor is just as easy tuh write. tuh be honest though, it is ganin tuh be the hardest part, an’ ah hev been draggin me feet on it fo’ twa yeors. ah sorta wish aa’d already been graftin on it, but at least neeo ah hev sum interestin ideas iv ha tuh myek it mare than just a borin aad lit review.

That isn’t that fun, so I think now, in honour of the fact that I am the only American in a school of fantastic Irish teachers, I’ll try my hand at the Irish dialect.

Scon are ‘eadin’ on a wee ‘oliday in cock an’ ‘en days, an’ ‘ope dat wi’ dat as a motivator, oi can git sum serious work done. oi ‘av ter finish data collecshun, whaich ‘ill ‘appen next week, an’ den it ‘ill be time ter work wi’ de results an’ start on two av de meaty chapters av me thesis.

Now, if you can figure out what all that says, I’ll be well impressed with you. I also hope that I haven’t offended anyone with my attempt at using the slang.

 

The Scamp Wants a Superpower

I don’t think I know anyone who has not wished for a superpower at one point or another. The person sitting in traffic wishing they could fly; the child who lives far from home wishing they could teleport; the slightly pervy guy who wishes he had X-ray vision. Kids who want to be like Batman, Superman, Captain America, or one of the X-Men. No matter what the age, I think that most people can agree that it would be really cool to have a superpower. The challenge for this week (week 43 already? Seriously?!) is to write about what super power I would like to have.

If someone had asked me this question last week, I probably would have said I would like to be able to fly or teleport. I’d love to be able to get to California to see my family for dinner, and then back to work in Edinburgh the next day. My life would be so much easier that way. After this week though, I have a new superpower that I wish I could have. I want the ability to understand and speak any language. I usually teach advanced conversation classes for the language school I work for, but this week, I was with students whose levels of English ranged from basic to intermediate. I thought it would be fun to do a Halloween themed activity, and even had Candy Corn that my mom sent me from the US to share with the students. They were all from Spain, and I know that Halloween is not celebrated there, so I figured it would make for good conversation and would be fun to see what the students thought of the candy.

One of the students I was working with had a very basic understanding of English and was finding it quite difficult to keep up with what was going on in class. I understand Spanish, but it is not good enough, and I am not as confident in my ability to explain concepts to someone who doesn’t understand English. The student was not a fan of my class, and I could see him getting increasingly frustrated as the class went on. Two hours is a long time to sit in a room where you don’t really know what is being said….especially since you are paying to be there. If I had the ability to speak and understand any language, I would have been in a better position to help him enjoy the class, lack of appreciation for the Candy Corn be damned.

This is not the first time this has happened to me while working at the school. Several months ago, a woman came to the school to do her initial assessment, and she spoke no English. We tried to muddle through a conversation while I gaged her skill level, and explained what the classes would entail while she was a member of the school. Somewhere in my explanation, the student thought I was telling her that I was not going to be working with her, not because my boss handles the students’ assignments, but because she was Polish and I didn’t like her. I was mortified. I would never want to do anything to jeopardize the reputation of the language school, but I also never want to offend people on purpose (well, some people, but they are jerks and they deserve it). If I had been able to speak Polish, I would have been able to help her, and help her with the start of her English training.

I’m hoping that one day someone will make this little dream a reality. In the meantime, I am going to try my best to not offend any more people, and brush up on my Spanish skills.

 

 

The Scamp Plays a Get to Know You Game

I saw this on another blog, and decided that with the sudden influx of new readers (hello everyone!) that I have, it might be fun (not to mention a good break from my PhD) to answer some questions.
About Writing
How did you start your blog?
I started this little beauty 7 years ago because it was cheaper than therapy. When I got accepted to the University of Edinburgh, I decided that it would be a way to tell my family and friends about what I was doing.
What made you decide to begin blogging?

I liked writing, and knew it would be easier for people to share my time in Scotland with me.
Are there other types of writing you enjoy doing?

I love all types of writing. I am working on my 4th degree, so I’ve gotten very comfortable to academic writing, but storytelling, creative writing, travel narratives, I love them all. 

Why do you write?

Because it is cheaper than therapy. Because it is the way I process what is going on in my life. Because I have a lot to say, and yet spend a majority of time alone. Because my mom told me I’m good at it. 
Personality
Do you see yourself as an optimist, pessimist, or neither?
100% pessimist. 
Leader or follower?
Leader….but only because I am way too impatient with how slow people walk to be a follower
Talker or listener?
I’m a little bit of both, depends on who you ask really. 
Broad-minded or opinionated?
I have really strong opinions, and I always think I am right, but I would like to think that I am open enough to listen to people and what they have to say before I then try to convince you that I am right and I know best. 
Introvert or extrovert?
Introvert. Don’t you dare ask me to dress up for a themed night out, and if you even try to sing happy birthday to me when we are out to dinner, I will kill you with the dessert spoon.
Travel
What’s your next adventure?
I’m headed to Switzerland in November, and then to Denmark in January. I’m sure I will try and fit a few more city breaks in there as well because not travelling makes me antsy.
What’s your favorite place in the world to be?
At the dinner table with all of my family. 
If you could live anywhere in the world for 3-6 months where and why?
Australia or New Zealand
Beach vacation or mountain retreat?
Beach. Give me some sun, sand, clear blue water and a surfboard and I would be a very happy girl.
What is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?
I don’t think that I have ever been anywhere that I haven’t enjoyed in one way or another….well, maybe Albania. I think Riga, Latvia stands out, as well as Sydney. 
Mindfulness and Happiness
What do you do in the evening to ensure you’re in the swing of self-care and feeling super duper mindful?

I don’t. I’m supposed to. For awhile I was really good about doing yoga and mindfulness meditation. I battle crazy depression and anxiety, so it is worth it for me to keep going with it, but when I’m stressed it is hard for me to focus on anything other than eating bad foods and taking extended naps.

How do you inject happiness into those days when you’re not feeling as positive as you’d like to?
Baby animal videos. Photos and videos of my nephews and my cat. Talking to my friends. Hugging strangers’ dogs.
For Fun
What is your favorite time of day?
Anytime that I can sit down and get some writing done. I have a lot of words that need to get on the page right now, so anytime that I can sit down and get some of them from my brain to my Word doc I am a happy girl. 
The world ends in 48 hours and you’ve lost your bucket list. What two things would you like to do?
If the world is going to end then I don’t really care about my bucket list. I just want to get home to my family.
If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
Mark Twain and Harper Lee
What is your dream job?
Trophy wife. professional napper. I’d like to be a travel writer. I’d love to get paid to travel all over the world and tell people about it. I’m also not giving up on my literacy foundation to help people all over the world learn to read (in their native language and then in English or another language should they choose).
Do you have any pets?
In my mind I have a small farm of pets. In reality, I have a cat who lives with my parents. I’m not sure he remembers me. 
What book(s) have made you cry?
Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. The Velveteen Rabbit. The Fall of Freddie the Leaf
What’s your favourite poem?

“Asparagus in a lean in a lean is to hot. This makes it art and it is wet weather wet weather wet”


― Gertrude Stein, Tender Buttons

What is your favourite song?

 

The Scamp Swears like a Sailor

I always knew my penchant for swearing and my love of a well-timed insult would come in handy one day.

I just didn’t know that that day would be in an evening Advanced Conversation Class at Simply English Edinburgh.

I love my job there. I have the chance to help some really lovely and amazing people improve their English skills. One of my favourite people owns the school, and has graciously hired me for to teach some classes, and act as a sub when needed. It puts me back in the classroom (which is something that I miss), and I get to meet really great people.

I have been working with a student who is in Edinburgh for a few months for work, and is at the school to improve their English Language skills while they are here. So far, their time here has been less than ideal. My student works in a horrible department, spends most lunch breaks eating alone, and is dealing with a major setback with work.

By the time my class rolled around, my student was not in the best of moods. Luckily, the other students in the class were not about to let a bad work environment ruin the magic of the city. I gave them the option of what the focus of our class would be, and somehow, we ended up talking about cuss words and insulting people in English. The students took notes on the sayings and insults, and then we looked up the best Scottish insults and I translated them from Scottish slang to English they could understand.

Now, to be clear, this is not something I would normally do. I know that as a teacher, I have a responsibility to be professional, but right at that moment, this is what the student needed. All of the students in my class are in their 30s, and before we started, I made sure that everyone was going to be comfortable with the subject matter. Everyone was laughing and chatting away in English and sharing where they learned some of the more creative insults.

I think I was more embarrassed explaining it to them then they were hearing the insults. This is not going to be an everyday thing, but when I left the class, my student who is struggling was laughing and felt better (they even had a list with all the insults written down to take to work for when the co-workers start to act like jerks again. The hour and a half of laughter was worth it for me. Just in case anyone was wondering, I worked in grammar, new vocabulary, and how to structure the insults in the best way possible, so learning was taking place.  It’s amazing how good a little swearing can make you feel.

In the interest of fairness, here is the article that I used for the Scottish insults. If you are easily offended, please don’t click the link. I’m not going to post the ones that I gave to them, just trust that they were really nice and colourful. Twatscile was one of them (okay, you get one from me).

https://www.buzzfeed.com/hilarywardle/chew-mah-banger?utm_term=.cbe8vGplA#.yv0zXJQ3d

Feel free to share your favourite swear word or insult with me, or just scream it out loud in an empty room when you are having a bad day.

The Scamp’s Autobiographical MixTape

Yesterday I ranted. Today I make a mix-tape….or a playlist for all you young people. This is one of the writing challenges that I did not do when I was saving all my brain and finger power for my thesis (or for writer’s block). The challenge is to make a playlist that would tell a stranger exactly who I am. Should be easy enough. It should also be fun, and I could really use some fun. I’m still not getting much writing done, and really do not want to think about Critical Theory, Social Constructivism, and Pragmatism and how they are used to create a coding system when reading interview transcripts.

If someone would like to write that up for me, I would be really grateful. Just leave a note in the comments section of how I can get in contact with you and just know that you will have my enteral loyalty.

So, in no particular order, here is the Scamp’s Autobiographical Mix-Tape

 

 

 

 

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 40

Although it is week 40, I definitely have not written 40 posts for the challenge. Somewhere along the way I got lazy and then super focused on my thesis. I haven’t been making much progress on that, so the last thing I’ve wanted to do was do any kind of writing, for work or otherwise. I’m currently feeling guilty about sitting on my couch eating bad Chinese food and watching TV, so I thought I would give this the attention that it deserves.

So back to the challenge, or at least a chance to write in a focused way with no right or wrong answer. I’m hoping that a little of free writing will get me back on my game and help me figure out what to do with my literature review and theory chapter.

The challenge for this week is as follows:

Express yourself
Tell us about a time you couldn’t quite get your words or images to express what you wanted to express. What do you think the barrier was? For bonus points, try again.

This is an easy one, and I am hoping that when I explain it here, I can work out some of the issues that I have trying to structure a really important chapter in my thesis. Explaining critical theory is the foundational basis for what I am trying to do with feedback and assessment at the university, and if I cannot explain it in a clear, but academic sounding manner, then I have no hope in moving forward with my PhD. If I cannot make connections between the previous research and what I hope to accomplish with my study, then I am not working hard enough, or smart enough for a PhD.

The problem is, I know where I went wrong. I spent the whole summer obsessed with word counts and the number of pages that I wanted to have written that I went for quantity over quality. My methodology chapter came together pretty nicely, and now it is in its third draft and gets a little better every time. That was a really easy chapter to write, the first draft came together in about three weeks. I thought that if I followed the structure and the guide I was using for that chapter while I was writing the theory chapter, I would be in good shape. I became focused on getting my 500 words a day in, and really did not stick to the outline I made at all. I was so disappointed that I did not make it to 30 thousand words by September 1st that I sent off a really crappy draft that was all fluff and no substance. The feedback I got from my supervisor sucked. It was hard to hear. I have to start over. The part that she did like was the part that was written by the group for the paper that is up for publication. I spent two years on that paper, and at this point, after 17 drafts, there is very little of it that is my words. So, the part that I wrote myself is shit, and the part that my supervisors wrote is great, but still doesn’t quite set out to do what I wanted to do. I have a lot to try to redo, and the outline of how to do it, but when I sit down at my laptop, or at a computer at the uni, I cannot seem to get anything written that ‘sounds like it belongs in a PhD’. I see that as having wasted three months. Three months that I needed.

This brings me to the second problem. My funding ends in July. There is no way I am going to get more from the programme, and when it runs out, if I am not done with my degree,, I am not sure that I will even be able to finish. I cannot take out any more loans, cannot afford to stay in Scotland, and will never be able to finish my PhD. I am so stressed about finding a job, trying to get something done in three years that usually takes people four years, and worried about the fact that I will probably have to leave Scotland in a few months. I am so worried about all the things going on in my life that aren’t related to my PhD that I am too stressed to be able to sit down and focus on the work in front of me.

I’d really like to be able to take my mom’s advice and just write out the chapter in my own words and then go back to make it sounds all fancy and pretentious, but I just don’t have the time to do that. I also hoped to work it out here and demonstrate that I actually understand critical theory, and that I can use it, critical pedagogy, and the Ideal Speech Situation to explain why the research on feedback, while it has done a lot to help students in terms of their learning, does not do enough to help create a dialogue between students and teachers and allow them to use feedback as a learning tool. I thought a lot about being able to just free write here and then hopefully get some feedback from my lovely readers. Then I realized that if I did, I’d probably get popped for plagiarism when I turned in the draft because it is published here before it gets published in my thesis.

Sometimes I really hate the fact that we have to be a slave to Turnitin since it not only claims the rights to your work once you submit something there,  but the people at the university who swear by it, swear that if too many words or phrases are strung together then you might be cheating, or if you do not cite your sources correctly then you are trying to maliciously dupe the university into thinking you are smarter than you are. But that is a rant for another day. I’m also a big believer in collaboration, and posting it here and then discussing it with others means that it would not be my own thoughts and ideas, and that is a big no no in the world of the tortured PhD student.

I’m not sure how it happened, but I started this post thinking that I could work through some writing issues, and ended up feeling grouchy and angry that I am having trouble getting the thoughts in my head onto paper, and that now I am falling further behind in my quest to become a doctor of philosophy. I’m taking yet another day off when I cannot afford to take another day off.

Jogging. I am going to go back to jogging. At least being really tired after a run is a better excuse then I am too afraid to sound stupid.