The Scamp Cooks

With the start of the new semester, and going back to work after a Christmas break of poor sleeping habits, I am finding it difficult to get back into the swing of being an adult. I’ve still yet to complete my list of 22 things I would like to do in 2022, and I have not really been committed to much of anything personal health or hobby related.

One thing that will be on my list, and has been on my list since 2019/2020 is to cook and prepare healthy meals that will help me not only have a more well-balanced diet, but will also give me something fun to do if I ever become social again (dinner party at the Davis Hovel anyone?). One of the things I like about being able to order my groceries online from Tesco is that they have suggested recipes. When you scroll through them, if you find one that you like, you can add all the ingredients to your cart automatically. I’ve found three recipes so far, and tried the first one out last week.

Prep work for homemade salsa

And what do you know? It was a success! Turns out I can follow a recipe and make a very simple meal of fish finger tacos.

Fish finger tacos

Now some of you who know me as more than words on the page know that I love making tacos, but rarely do more than cook the meat and make my own guac. Usually it is more about opening jars and grating cheese, heating things on the stove (and sometimes microwaving instant rice), rather than making things from scratch. I can actually cook and bake a lot of things, but lately have been living off meal deals and microwave meals.

Because of this, I was proper chuffed with myself for making these super delicious tacos, including my own tartare sauce to enjoy for a few days. If you want to recreate this meal, never fear, I have the recipe for your enjoyment.

Ingredients

  • 12 frozen fish fingers
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • ½ red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 50g pickled sliced jalapeños, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g pack crunchy taco shells
  • 1 Little Gem lettuce, shredded

For the tartare sauce

  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped gherkins
  • 2 tsp capers, finely chopped
  • 15g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Method

  1. Cook the fish fingers to pack instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeños (if using), half the lemon juice and the oil in a bowl and season.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, gherkins, capers, parsley and remaining lemon juice.
  4. Fill each taco shell with some shredded lettuce and 1 tbsp of the tomato salsa. Top with a fish finger and a little tartare sauce to serve.

The only thing I skipped was the gherkins.

My next adventure will be a veggie soup, and if I make this again, I will probably skip the fish fingers and try breading and cooking my own fish….you know, just to be fancy.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: January 5th

Call Me Ishmael
Take the first sentence from your favourite book and make it the first sentence of your post.

I was going to use my all-time favourite book, but ‘When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow‘ doesn’t leave me with a lot to go on since I do not tend to post the fiction that I write here. I went to my second favourite book, but ‘Crouched in the closet, he waited for the sounds of her arrival’ wasn’t much better. Third time lucky though.

I feel sometimes, I’ve lived THREE lives. That’s not true….it is probably more like four. There was the first 26 years of my life. That was the Kim who thought she was going to be a lawyer, then a writer then spent over 10 years working in libraries. She had a lot of friends, two significant romantic relationships and was diagnosed with Lupus at the age of 22.

Then there was Scotland Part 1 Kim. She had a wonderful adventure, got accepted to one of the best universities in the world, and got to live out her dream of living overseas. She was happy, she was loved, and she never wanted to go home. This is the Kim who started this blog.

Then there was the transition back to the US Kim. She was depressed, suffering reverse culture shock, and trying to plan a new life that did not include the person she thought she was going to marry. She ended up in a horrible EdD programme and found herself not only being bullied but being kicked out of the university for something so outrageous that it is now hilarious.

Finally, there was Scotland Part 2 Kim. She earned a PhD, made some friends, lost some friends, and although the pandemic is making her hate life a bit, she is doing a job she is good at, has been all over the world, and has a much better understanding of how to use a hair straightener.

I don’t know if this will be my last life, or if I will be like a cat and have 9 of them. Maybe in my next life I will own a rescue farm where I take in all of the animals and let them live out their days in the Scottish countryside. I’m still two years away from being able to get permanent settlement in the UK, and I’m still crossing my fingers that maybe one day it will be Scottish citizenship rather than British citizenship. Maybe I’ll be able to live somewhere warm in the winter months, somewhere with a beach. Maybe I will actually pass the UK driving test….I mean, a girl can dream, right?

The first line is from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

The second line is from Savage Art by Danielle Girard.

The line I ultimately went with is the start of Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

The Scamp Starts Again

2022.

Or, 2020 part 2. It feels like forever ago since I was explaining Post Malone and BTS to my dad as we waited for the ball to drop on 2019 and start 2020. That was the first New Years I’d spent in California since I was 27. Little did I know that would be the last bit of normal that I would have for 2+ years. The pandemic kicked my butt so hard that I stopped writing for fun. I literally shelved the blog for the most part because there was no travelling and no fun in my life.

and there are only so many ways you can say you are depressed and that you hate life. I made a list of the 20 things I wanted to do in 2020, which became the 21 things I wanted to do in 2021, which is now going to become the 22 things I want to in 2022. I’m also bringing back the daily writing prompts as I think being told what to write will help me on the days that I just can’t get my creative juices flowing. I’m still putting together a list of things that I can actually do and not ignore for the year, so while I think about that, I will go with the daily prompt for today.

Although, I am not sure it is really something I wanted to have on the internet, but here goes:

Where were you last night when 2020 turned into 2021? Is that where you’d wanted to be?

I spent last night at home, alone. I watched bad movies and generally just moped about being alone. Everyone I would want to spend the night with are either in another country, isolating, or had to work and didn’t celebrate. If I had my way, I’d be in another country on an adventure. I booked a trip in November to Austria, Czechia and Slovakia, but they went back into lockdown the day before I was due to leave. I’d have loved to be able to do that trip over Christmas/New Years, but alas, the furthest I’ve travelled in two months is the airport to get to the vaccination centre.

If I couldn’t be on an adventure with my travel bestie, then being able to be out in the city centre surrounded by people, judging the bad outfits, drinking all of the rum would be perfect. The last time I did that was 2018. It was fun, I was with people I love and we did a lot of fun. That is what I miss. Having fun. Being around people. The pandemic is lonely. My life before the pandemic was lonely. PhD life is not for the faint of heart.

Now that a new year has started and I am dedicated to trying to be less of a sad sack. The new list will be made, and I tried online dating during the pandemic, so there will forthcoming stories about the disastrous dates that I went on. Hopefully the year has started off as well as can be for everyone and maybe, just maybe, 2022 won’t be part of a horrible Covid trilogy.

The Scamp Celebrates the Return of Spring

I officially survived the winter of my discontent. It no longer gets dark at 3pm, I don’t need to have a heater on 24/7 and this weekend I wore a sundress with no tights (apologies for everyone who was blinded by the glare coming off my very white legs). I enjoyed every minute of the real Mexican food (thanks Taco Libre) and the crime beers (sorry not sorry).

The thing about Spring in Scotland though, is that it usually only lasts a day. It was a good Saturday in this case. Today I ran three miles in the rain and I am pretty sure the rest of the week has rain in the forecast. Only in Scotland.

Spring is supposed to be a time of awakening; a time of rebirth. This Spring is more a zombie crawl to a mound of fresh cut grass. After a year in lockdown, and almost a year and a half since I was able to travel, I’m feeling tired. I want to escape the UK for a warm beach more than I want to pay off my student loans, more than I want to lose the 20 lbs that are still plaguing me and almost more than I want a puppy or a kitty. I saw a news article that Malta will pay people to visit this summer, and if it already wasn’t my favourite countries, it is now. I’m hoping that the UK lists it as one of the countries that you will not need to quarantine for upon return because I have my entire annual leave allotment for the year and a growing disinterest in my job and being nice to people.

I know that I am not the only person who feels like this. Everyone that I know (especially in academia which already had a sucky work/life balance) is feeling tired. Today I was in a meeting at 11 am and a member of staff fell asleep. Camera and mic on in small discussion, straight up pushed their chair back, stretched out their legs and closed their eyes. I started off really annoyed and angry that I was wasting my time in a workshop that people clearly were not interested in, but having had some time to sit with it, I have a feeling that the person is simply just burned out. Everyday academics spend hours in pointless meetings, or teaching, or staring at their computer screens while they mark assignments. We are being told that we need to bend over backwards to meet all of the demands of our students and to create resources that will make life at the university easier. We are doing all of that without anyone doing the same for us. Most of us are also doing it on shitty equipment provided by the Uni, or, as in my case most days, using our own personal equipment. When my tablet dies, the Uni will not be replacing it. They also do not pay my electric or internet bills, and yet both of those cost me a lot each month.

I feel selfish complaining since a lot of people are out of jobs, the economy sucks, and many of the people graduating now will not be as fortunate on the job hunt as I was…..but I find it very hard to be grateful when I am over-worked, underpaid, and sometimes underappreciated.

So, I am hoping that the old adage of April showers bring May flowers is true and that better days are on the horizon. I also hopes it means I have less meetings with Napademics who would rather snooze than listen to all the brilliant things I have to say about assessment and feedback.

The Scamp’s Last Day of her 33rd Year

In two hours I will officially start my 34th year. This is the first quarantine birthday, and to be honest, I am not all that excited about it. Last year I was able to celebrate just before the whole world shutdown. This year I will be lucky to see a couple of friends and be out of my house for a few hours.

I shouldn’t complain though. On the 5th of March I received my first dose of the Covid19 vaccine. I feel like this is a promising start to end of a very difficult year. I got the Oxford AstraZenica dose, and I have to say, I am really disappointed that mine did not contain a Bill Gates’ microchip. I was really hoping that I was about to get a whole lot smarter. By 2am though, I thought that maybe I had been bitten by a radioactive spider and my life was about to change. I developed a fever, chills, a crazy headache and my whole body hurt. My arm is swollen and tender, but now, at 10 pm, the headache, chills and fever are gone, but my body still aches. I’m not sure if all of this is due to the vaccine, or if some of it is because I had to go off my pain meds to be able to get the jab. The achy body could be from that. All in all though, I am glad I was able to get vaccinated, and I am just hoping that the next dose is also on a Friday so I have the weekend to stay in bed and binge watch drag queens.

I’m not really sure why I am not more excited for my birthday. 33 had some good moments. I got my PhD. I got adopted. I got published as a first author, I paid down a nice chunk of my student loan, I reconnected with some old friends and made a few new ones. Those first two were really important to me. Finally being done with the PhD and not having that stress hanging over me has been nice. Having that PhD published as Davis and not Wilder is the ultimate cherry on top of that sundae. I finally got to ditch that name and the horrible people that I am unfortunately related to by blood.

I hope that this year means I finally get a chance to travel, to hug people, to do all the things I thought I was going to be able to do in my 33rd year. Whilst I am not super excited about tomorrow, I am hoping that there will be some good things to come. I have a lot of professional things in the works, some publications, professional development events, and some university wide trainings, and I am hoping that there will be some good personal things happening as well. This is the first time in almost 10 years that I haven’t gotten a tattoo for my birthday, but I remain hopeful that tattoo shops will be opened again and that the waitlist won’t a full year for my favorite artist. I also plan to visit at least three new countries. I will probably have to sneak in like some little gypsy souled ninja, but I am going to make it happen.

and maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally get my UK driving license.

The Scamp Takes a Snow Day

Snow has fallen on the city. It happens, but usually it doesn’t stick. For the last couple of days it has been like living in a snow globe. Snow is still a novelty to me, so I have been braving the lack of double glazing and leaving the curtains open so I can see the snow as it falls. I even bundled up and took a wander through the woods to look for snowmen and try to pet as many pups in sweaters as I could (Unfortunately, I only got to pet one beautiful Doberman, but I did lots of colourful sweaters and lots of snowy paws and noses).

I also went for the walk so I wouldn’t send angry emails to people who are questioning my ability to do my job and my knowledge of the subject material. I don’t have my new visa yet, and I am not looking to get fired right now.

The walk in the fresh air helped…a little. Until I got another email questioning my skills. I was polite, but there was some rage screaming into a pillow that reads ‘I fucking hate people’.

I am tired. We are all tired. A year of the pandemic and the lockdowns, isolation, ever changing rules and inability to hug people really has taken a tole on my mental health. I am grouchy about everything. All the time. I was even annoyed at the fact that dogs were well behaved on their walks so I couldn’t pet them. I hate that people on the path where I walk can’t respect social distancing. I’m grouchy that my masters student is having a hard time with recruiting participants for their research because the pandemic means no paper surveys. I hate that I am questioned on my ability to do my job, and I hate that I have to bite my tongue and be a good little minion even though it goes against good practice.

I have decided that tomorrow I am going to take a snow day. I have one meeting and then I am going to turn off my email and work on some things for me. I have a paper that I want to write based on my PhD, and since scholarship is technically part of my job remit, I am still working. But I am not taking any bullshit. It will be a bullshit free zone after the meeting. I get to pick the structure of the paper, it will be written the way I want, and it is something that is going to advance my career and make me feel better.

I may even go out and build a snowman.

Mental health days are important. Looking after yourself is important. Acknowledging your feelings is important. Not sending angry emails full of cuss words to your boss is important. Putting aside your feelings of what is right to keep the peace over trivial matters is important. Having a good support system is important.

Rage screaming into a pillow will make you feel better. So will a walk in the snow.

The Scamp Crosses One off the List

17 days into the new year and I already get to cross one off the list from last year. This year has already started off a bit bumpy on a personal level, but on the professional level, you are now looking at the newest member of the Assessment and Feedback Working Group for the University of Glasgow. That’s right, after 2 years of begging, your girl is now on an academic committee! This is my chance to really help shape university policy and hopefully do some good on campus. I’ve spent my first week back running sessions for the different colleges to help them with their most pressing assessment and feedback concerns, and if I have learned anything from these sessions, it is that sometimes university policy, student and staff expectations, and reality do not match. I’ve never been more frustrated than when I am sat in a meeting and people are asking for help that I just cannot provide. Being a part of the working group will allow me a chance to have a better understanding of the policies, as well as help people who are way above my pay grade understand the needs of the students.

Then I will take over the world.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to keep a low profile on social media and stay relatively silent about politics and all that is going on in the world. I’ve never been too vocal on social media about my beliefs anyway, although that is more to do with the fact that I like to remain somewhat of a mystery. That being said, something happened at the start of the month that, 1. I never thought I was see, and 2. has pushed me over the breaking point of the things that have been happening in the US. The Wikipedia summary of the events can be read here:

The storming of the United States Capitol was a riot and violent attack against the United States Congress on January 6, 2021, carried out by a mob of supporters of U.S. PresidentDonald Trump in an attempt to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.[2] After attending a Trump rally, thousands[33] of his supporters marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, where a joint session of Congress was beginning the Electoral College vote count. Many of the crowd breached police perimeters and stormed the building in an attempt to prevent the formalization of President-electJoe Biden‘s election victory.[34][35] These rioters occupiedvandalized,[36][37] and looted[38] parts of the building for several hours.[39][40][41] The riot led to the evacuation and lockdown of the Capitol, and five deaths.

Things have been really bad in the US for a long time, but this was a whole new level of bad. I have friends who live in DC and friends who live close enough to DC that I was really worried. To add to the horrendous events, there were people in the mob wearing Camp Auschwitz sweatshirts, or shirts that read: 6MWNE (6 million was not enough). I don’t know how you feel, but personally, I don’t feel like anyone who has that sort of attitude can ‘Make America Great Again’….not to mention that I hardly buy the premise that you have to look to the past to make America great. That is a tangent for another day though. I posted an article about the anti-Semitic rhetoric that was prevalent among the ‘protesters’, and my Trump loving family decided that this was the perfect reason to condemn me for my beliefs. It started innocently enough. A comment by my mother about the people in a lot of the pictures being linked to terrorist or hate groups. My mother and I do not see eye to eye politically, but our exchange was calm, and respectful. A friend of mine also chimed in, and again, her comment was respectful.

Then the Wilders decided they needed to get involved. Long story short, they are right wing ultra conservative Qanon types (or right-sided as my cousin wrote) who don’t know the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, think the election was rigged, and think the FBI is not a valid and trustworthy source of information. While I know I should not have engaged, I did. I schooled my cousin in the difference between fact and fiction, and in doing so, was told that I was sanctimonious, over educated and must be a terrible teacher who will only have discussions with my students when they share (or I can force them to share) my beliefs. I was called an ignorant American as well. I was told to stay in Scotland, and that they were embarrassed for me. All of this on what they thought was my mom’s page, and in fact was about how horrible it is that people still want to kill all the Jews. I was embarrassed, and am still embarrassed that I am related to those people….and even more embarrassed that people saw the exchange and know how little those people actually think of me.

To be fair, I am not the least bit shocked by this. The Wilders used to have a favorite game when I was a kid….who could make Kim cry first. They used to pick on me and gang up on me until I cried….then belittle me for being upset. They once told my mom that my sister and I would spread our legs for any man that crossed our path because my mom chose to divorce an abusive alcoholic who did terrible things to her. This is the family that told me I was an ignorant American when I called out horrendous behavior on a train in Belgium. This is the family that made me want to get adopted out of it since I was seven years old. I know that it shouldn’t bother me what a bunch of people who know nothing about me think of me, but the fact that they attacked me on my own personal social media after not talking to me for years to defend a horrible incident has really left my shackles up.

It also triggered some long repressed feelings of being expelled from a PhD programme because I would not change my beliefs to suit the wants of the director of the programme. I was so completely destroyed at that time in my life that it was hard for me to do anything. My mom had to make up errands for me to run to make sure I got out of bed. I thought my life and career were over before they had even begun. I thought I would never get back to Scotland. Now that a week or so has passed, I’ve really been able to think about the importance of family, and the fact that we get to chose our family. My immediate family is great, and the rest of my family is made up of some incredible people from all over the world. They called, messaged, and made sure that I knew that no one associated me with the people that I am embarrassed by.

This also means that I have the time to reflect on those things they said to me to make sure that I do not become a sanctimonious, overeducated snob who only listens to people who believe the things I believe. I hope that being part of this academic committee and running more of the workshops I am currently running with the colleges and my CPD events for staff and students that I can become a better listener and really not let me beliefs and my degrees get in the way of open dialogue and discussion.

Because let’s face it, the only BS I need in my life right now is beaches and sunscreen.

  1. Visit 3 new countries
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Solo author a paper
  4. Lose the 20lbs I gained in the last year due to bad choices and stress
  5. Do yoga at least twice a week
  6. Write at least one new post a week that has nothing to do with work
  7. Make a dent in my student loan
  8. Finally get my UK driving license
  9. Participate in No Screen Sunday and stay off my phone and all social media on Sundays
  10. Keep the toxic people from returning to my bubble
  11. Ride in a hot air balloon
  12. Go camping
  13. Celebrate passing my viva
  14. Improve my Spanish proficiency
  15. Meal prep to help balance my diet (and to help with number 4)
  16. Get on an academic committee
  17. Officially change my name on all my documents without crying (I have two left, my US driving license and my visa)
  18. Go a full 48 hours without being negative
  19. Don’t cancel plans with friends once I’ve made them (especially not the day of)
  20. Finally get my artwork from California to Scotland (although not through FedEx)

The Scamp Finishes the List

Oops…it is the 3rd of January. I meant to finish the list on the first, but gin happened and then I decided that I needed to purge everything in my closets and hoover under my bed. It is raining/snowing and very icy inside my poorly heated flat, so I am already starting off the year a bit more lazy than I intended….but I’m not mad at it. Whilst thinking about the list, I decided that the first thing on my list for this year was to be nicer to myself. I have been struggling for the last few years with maintaining my motivation and follow-through. The PhD took a lot out of me and 2020 was not actually the year of my rebirth into a beautiful butterfly, but there is a lot of 2021 left.

So, my list for 2021 is as follows:

  1. Try and do the 20 things on the list from 2020. I am not as concerned about being able to cross everything off, but they are things that I would like to do. I especially want to keep paying down my student loan and finally get my UK driving license (an automatic one, because lord knows I do not want to take the test a 4th time!). I want to be able to travel beyond my neighborhood, but if it can be out of the country, that will be a bonus. I already have my eye on a few tropical hideouts and I am hoping the summer will be safe enough to go back to adventures.
  2. Find a form of exercising that I like, and can do easily from my living room if lockdown doesn’t end until after Easter (which is how long I am thinking I will be stuck inside). I am going to really try to stick with yoga because that is really something that I enjoy, but I also need something else to help me expend some energy on the days that I feel cagey and restless. I really want to take up cycling and I recently saw an exercise bike that has a desk which means I could ride miles in my flat and maybe get some work done at the same time….I just don’t want to fork over £400 for one.
  3. I am not going to buy any new clothes or pairs of shoes unless absolutely necessary. I have plenty of clothes and dresses and way more than enough shoes. There is no reason for me to spend money right now on things that I don’t need. This will also help me have some extra money to put towards the driving lessons and the student loans.
  4. In line with number 3, I am going to wear all of my clothes and shoes at least once this year. I’m not really going anywhere, and I don’t usually wear shoes when I am home, but I can put them on for a bit in the morning to get into work mode. The weather means that if I venter outside then I am going to be wearing boots or my running shoes until Spring, but the my white shoes will look nice inside.
  5. Cultivate a new hobby. I am thinking that I need to learn to cook. I am not bad at tacos and making pasta, but I am so out of practice and have been so lazy that I don’t know if I could cook anything else. I didn’t lose any weight last year which depresses me to no end, but if I learned how to cook, then I could make better food choices.
  6. Adopt a pet. Enough said.
  7. Be a better friend. I have been so lonely and depressed about being lonely during the pandemic that I haven’t always checked in with my friends. I used to think that you needed a lot of friends around you to be a good friend, but if this pandemic has taught me anything, it is that all you really need are a few good friends to keep you sane. I’ve also been able to connect with old friends in new ways which makes me happy. I want to be better at checking in with those people when I am feeling down or when I am feeling stuck, because one of them might be feeling the same.
  8. Organize my workday. I have a lot on my plate and have not been spending my time wisely as of late. It is hard to do whilst working from home, but I am about to take over running the GTA trainings for the university, so in order to do that and teach and manage a MEd student, I am going to have to be better about scheduling my time and sticking to that schedule….including adding in exercise into my day so I am not tempted to just brush it off for the couch cushion with my butt imprint and really bad reality TV. I am pretty sure I have watched all the bad reality TV on Netflix and Amazon. That is a lot of time that could have been spent working better and being productive.

This isn’t a list to be crossed off, but something to keep me going this year if I am stuck inside for the rest of the year. I might have to break my rule of no spending money on things I really don’t need to buy self tanner though because I am so pale I look like I have been living underground for a year. The bags under my eyes are way too noticeable. I just got smaller glasses, but I am going to have exchange them for a larger pair to cover them raccoon eyes!

I’m leaving the list from last year here just to remind me of some of things that I would like to do in the next year. It can’t hurt to have things to do when I am wallowing about being stuck inside.

  1. Visit 3 new countries
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Solo author a paper
  4. Lose the 20lbs I gained in the last year due to bad choices and stress
  5. Do yoga at least twice a week
  6. Write at least one new post a week that has nothing to do with work
  7. Make a dent in my student loan
  8. Finally get my UK driving license
  9. Participate in No Screen Sunday and stay off my phone and all social media on Sundays (starting today because I have not done it at all this month)
  10. Keep the toxic people from returning to my bubble
  11. Ride in a hot air balloon
  12. Go camping
  13. Celebrate passing my viva
  14. Improve my Spanish proficiency
  15. Meal prep to help balance my diet (and to help with number 4)
  16. Get on an academic committee
  17. Officially change my name on all my documents without crying
  18. Go a full 48 hours without being negative
  19. Don’t cancel plans with friends once I’ve made them (especially not the day of)
  20. Finally get my artwork from California to Scotland (although not through FedEx)

The Scamp Makes a New List

It’s that time of the year again where we all scramble to pretend that we are still going to meet our New Years Resolutions, and we pretend that we are going to follow the ones we plan to make for the next year. I made one of those lists. This time last year, sat in the downstairs area of my parents’ house and I made a list. I was stressed beyond belief. I was officially no longer a part of the living in the US. I had finally asked my dad to adopt me. I had three months left to finish a complete rewrite of my PhD. I made a lot of plans for what I was going to do in 2020.

This was supposed to be my year! I was going to graduate. I was going to start being social. I was going to travel and go on adventures without having to take work with me. I was going to be slutty. I was going to kiss strange boys in public and go on bad first dates. I wasn’t going to be lonely anymore. I was going to be happy and reduce my stress. So I made a list.

Then March happened. The day after I turned 33 I got adopted and changed my name. I told the world about it and only three people understood. I turned in my thesis edits and the next day the world went into lockdown, and with it, all the things I wanted to do got flushed down the toilet. I did manage to get some of the list crossed off, and to be honest, some of the ones that weren’t crossed off were not crossed off because I lost focus. That list looked like this:

  1. Visit 3 new countries
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Solo author a paper
  4. Lose the 20lbs I gained in the last year due to bad choices and stress
  5. Do yoga at least twice a week
  6. Write at least one new post a week that has nothing to do with work
  7. Make a dent in my student loan
  8. Finally get my UK driving license
  9. Participate in No Screen Sunday and stay off my phone and all social media on Sundays (starting today because I have not done it at all this month)
  10. Keep the toxic people from returning to my bubble
  11. Ride in a hot air balloon
  12. Go camping
  13. Celebrate passing my viva
  14. Improve my Spanish proficiency
  15. Meal prep to help balance my diet (and to help with number 4)
  16. Get on an academic committee
  17. Officially change my name on all my documents without crying
  18. Go a full 48 hours without being negative
  19. Don’t cancel plans with friends once I’ve made them (especially not the day of)
  20. Finally get my artwork from California to Scotland (although not through FedEx)

Being that I make these list so that I can feel accomplished when I cross things off them, I’d say I am less than satisficed with the way the 2020 list turned out. That’s the problem with making lists, when you can’t cross something off, you feel unfulfilled or like you failed. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel like a failure because I didn’t lose any of the weight and that I didn’t manage to stick to simple things like doing yoga twice a week, or making time to write about fun things, random things, anything that is not related to my work. These are things that require focus and discipline, and to be honest, that is not something I much of since I finished the PhD. It is hard for me to stay motivated when I am all alone and stuck in solitary confinement. 45-60 min of outdoor time a day is not enough for me, but it is the best I can do right now. At least with the vaccine out now there is hope for a light at the end of the tunnel. I really hope 2021 finds a new normal that allows me out of the house a bit more…oh and allows me to hug people. I am going to hug the shit out of people when this has all settled into a new normal.

And that brings me to the list for the new year. I’ve thought a lot about what that list should look like, what things should be on it…what I wanted to accomplish. The thing is though, I am starting wonder if making a list like this is just setting me up for failure. What if I don’t lose the weight? What if I fail the driver’s test again (and WHY is it so difficult here?) What if I only kick the toxic people out for a little while and then let them back in? I don’t want to make any promises that I can’t keep.

So there isn’t a list yet. but I still have one more day to think about what will go on it….

The Scamp Cross Another off the List

The last time I wrote something was August. This means by default, I cannot complete this list. Making lists when you know you can’t complete them is stupid. I knew making this list a year ago that I wasn’t going to be able to stick to it. I’m too tired and unmotivated to have any follow through. I’ve been a prisoner to my flat since March, and a prisoner to my burnout for years. None of that is likely to change.

I did get to cross one off the list though. A big one. I legally changed my name in the US without crying. Well, that is not completely true. I cried happy tears when I got my passport and it had my correct name. I got adopted right before the pandemic started, which was also supposed to be the time I was out and about and socializing, making new friends, dating guys who don’t lie to me about having a girlfriend in another country and using me as a secret dirty mistress. It also meant I would be able to introduce myself with my name. Alas, none of that came to pass. On the upside, I have a valid passport, social security number, and birth certificate with my name. My UK insurance number, my bank cards and accounts (and as soon as the university stops being a pain in my ass) my new shiny 2 year visa.

I am really glad that my visa and my HR file will have the correct name, but I massively underestimated how much I was going to hate hyphenating my name and the fact that everyone at work is still calling me by my old surname. That is not my name, and all these months and months of only working has just furthered emphasized that I am not going to ever get rid of a name I don’t want and an identity that isn’t who I am. Plus, it is not the name on my diploma, so it is not factually accurate to use it. But now, thanks to stupid academic publications, I am stuck with a name I don’t want. Thankfully I didn’t put crying when someone uses the old surname on the list.

The next thing on the list that I want to attempt is to spend a full 48 hours without being negative. I almost made it during the summer, but being stuck inside, overworked, massively underappreciated, and deprived of human contact only got me to 26 hours. Looks like I have a lot of work to do on keeping a positive mindset. I think my plan for tackling that to take a sleeping pill and trying to sleep for most of that 48 hours. At this point, that may be the only way that I can make it through two days whilst being positive.

I saved all my annual leave for 2020 thinking I would be able to use it when my family came for graduation and so that I could lay on a beach in Spain, and since all of that got cancelled, I am on annual leave starting December 11th at 4pm. December 12th, I am going to try for a full 48 hours. I just need to figure out some good things to do to keep me occupied.

All suggestions welcome. Except for nonstop Hallmark movie marathons. I cannot handle how dumb some of the women are at the start of the movie with boyfriend who is all wrong for them….I’d never make it through the 48 hours.

  1. Visit 3 new countries
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Solo author a paper
  4. Lose the 20lbs I gained in the last year due to bad choices and stress
  5. Do yoga at least twice a week
  6. Write at least one new post a week that has nothing to do with work
  7. Make a dent in my student loan
  8. Finally get my UK driving license
  9. Participate in No Screen Sunday and stay off my phone and all social media on Sundays (starting today because I have not done it at all this month)
  10. Keep the toxic people from returning to my bubble
  11. Ride in a hot air balloon
  12. Go camping
  13. Celebrate passing my viva
  14. Improve my Spanish proficiency
  15. Meal prep to help balance my diet (and to help with number 4)
  16. Get on an academic committee
  17. Officially change my name on all my documents without crying
  18. Go a full 48 hours without being negative
  19. Don’t cancel plans with friends once I’ve made them (especially not the day of)
  20. Finally get my artwork from California to Scotland (although not through FedEx)