The Scamp Remembers


The woman in these photos is Frances Ann. Today is her 80th birthday.

Or, it would be if she believed in wearing her seatbelt. When I was in the third grade she died when she overcorrected her car on the highway. The car flipped and she went through the windshield. Her best friend was in the car with her and survived. Before the funeral, her friend insisted on telling the story of what happened. I remember the crazy curved couch that everyone was sitting on. She was sitting with her husband, my mom, aunt and grandpa sat and listened.

Sometimes I think it would be better for my mom if she hadn’t heard the story.

I can’t remember what her voice sounds like. I can’t remember the way she felt when I hugged her.

I can remember the way she smelled. Sometimes I go to the cosmetic counter at the shopping centre near my house and spray the sample of Red Door into the air just to trigger a memory.

I can remember where we stood when we spread her ashes in Indian Canyon. I’ve only been there one other time since then, and it was to spread my grandpa there after he died.

I can remember the horrible photo she drew of me when I had to go to the emergency room for an ear infection. The picture was me in a hospital gown with my butt exposed and a doctor with a very very large needle ready to give me a shot. In the butt. I have a few scarves that belonged to her with me now.

They smell like my mom.

When my mom smiles, she looks like my grandma….or at least how I remember my grandma in my head.

It is a smile that involves teeth. I know this because it is the same smile that I have (most people tell me they know I am Amercian because of my smile…all those teeth).

This is a hard day for my mom. She can’t call her mom and wish her a happy birthday. She can’t call her when one of her children (cough the oldest one cough) drives her crazy. It is a hard time for me because I have to think about the day when I won’t have my mom.

and that terrifies me.

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with my great uncle who was in town on holiday. We haven’t seen each other in 10 years or so, but he knew exactly who I was when I met him for brunch. He gave me the best compliment that anyone could ever give me: he told me I look and act exactly like my mother.

2015-06-30 18.52.19 Since my mom sometimes looks and acts like my grammy, and I look and act a lot like my mommy, it must mean that I am a little like my grammy too.

I’d like to think that she would enjoy what I am doing with her smile.


The Scamp’s 30 Thoughts Before She Turns 31

In about an hour I will turn 31 (Let’s be honest, by the time I finish this post because I stop and start a lot when I am writing).  I have no idea where my 30th year went, but turns out it is almost done.

I’ve been in a very reflective mood lately as I start to prepare for the analysis chapter of my thesis (ladies and gentledudes, I have 40 THOUSAND words written so far!!!!!! I’m about 20k or so away from the minimum word count, so I am a happy happy girl) and I realised that I am finally looking at the light at the end of my educational tunnel. I’m a little freaked out by that since I have been a student since I was 18.

So, while my mind wandered, these were the 30 things that I have reflected on while I am waiting for the stroke of midnight.

30. I can survive a snowstorm. The key to surviving a snowstorm in Scotland is making sure I buy a lot of milk and loaves of bread. I survived 5 days of snow by drinking a lot of tea and writing over 8,000 words for my results chapter (and I was wearing my comfy Rudolph the red nosed Reindeer slippers and fleece pjs). That being said…it is almost springtime, so the Siberian weather better chill the fuck down.

29. Birthday cards are better when they sing to you. My mom sent me a birthday card that is a little beach in a bottle and it sings when you pop the cork. It makes me laugh.

28. I am a cranky Yenta in public. I cannot stand rude people, and as I get older, I have a harder time not yelling at people.

27. I need to get serious about my diet. I’m not fat, not even overweight, but I am so used to seeing myself super skinny, that right now I feel a little pudgier and a little less yoga goddess. I want to go back to the yoga goddess.

26. $7.99 press on sticker manicures give me life. Impress are my favourite (—Swept-Away/p/740254)

25. I run like Pheobe


24. 4 jobs are too many.

23. UKVI hates me. Visa nightmares, a million rules, and so many forms to fill out.

22. I can survive Albania.

21. It is okay to let go of friendships that I thought were supposed to last forever. I spent a lot of time being really upset about losing a friend I had since high school. She, on the other hand, never gave it a second thought. Meanwhile, I neglected friendships with people that actually love and care about me (sorry, you know who you are).

20. Slow cookers are not the enemy (okay, this one took me two years to learn….and the heterolifemate was the one that did the cooking)

19. My Spanish is not as good as I thought (and my language students do not let me forget it).

18. Missing the birth of my nephew was a lot harder on me than I thought it would be. I wish I had just accepted the trip home and been there for his birth. It’s been seven months and I still have not gotten to meet him. I worry that he is going to grow up not knowing who I am.

17. Struggling with mental health does not make me a bad person, it just makes me a person.

16. Following that, I think it is time to step back from social media and stop focusing on other peoples’ idea of happiness.

15. Not wanting to have kids does not make me a bad person. It also doesn’t mean I don’t like kids. I love them. I just love that I can give them back at the end of the day.

14. I have to let go of Cal State Fullerton. It happened. It sucked. But it was three years ago. I made a couple of really good friends there, but my life is so much better here in this space.

13. My parents moving out of the house I grew up in doesn’t mean I don’t have a place in their life. My mom is talking about cleaning out my room and selling my furniture, the furniture I bought when I went to uni, and I had a hard time with it. For a while, I looked at that room as my only connection to them, and the only space I had left in their life. But part of my choice to make my life 6,000 miles away from them means that I am a visitor when I am there and not a roommate.

12. It is perfectly acceptable to have my mother mail me American peanut butter.

11. Not wearing shoes that I love because I’m afraid they will get dirty is ridiculous. That being said, I have a pair of Vans with tacos on them that have never been worn. Ditto for a white pair that has flamingos and black slip ons with flamingos.

10. My loans will eventually get paid off….and until then I will make do being skint.

9. Statistics are not scary. I am not in a rush to more research with them, but they are not the terrible beast I thought they were.

8. I would rather follow French bulldogs on IG than real people. I am way more emotionally invested in puppies the lives of puppies I have never met (and never will for that matter) than I am in most people I know (well, their social media profiles anyway).

7.  I like to set unrealistic goals(and then get really mad when I don’t achieve them).

6. My wanderlust list keeps growing.

5. I’m terrified I won’t find a job in the next few months.

4. I don’t think I can actually give up chocolate (I was doing really really well for a bit, but fell off the wagon recently)

3. Drag queens are the cure for what ails me.

2. The mother of all drag queens taught me:

Image result for rupaul if you can't love yourself

  1. I am a flamingo in a flock of pigeons.





The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 9

Remember that time I said I was going to write weekly and be really good about sticking to the challenge?

(Please say no)

I currently have 4 jobs and my thesis to complete, and I am feeling a like a bit of a zombie. I haven’t been doing much other than collecting data and commuting, so finding some time to write, and write for pleasure has been sparse.

I had a rare evening off, so I thought maybe if I wrote about something fun and easy then I would be able to do the academic writing tomorrow. The challenge this week is to write about one of my favourite things: BOOKS! The challenge for this week is to write about the five books that I think everyone should read.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

This work by Brazilian educator and activist Paulo Freire changed my life.  The first time I read this I was 22 and working on my MA. It was the first time I had encountered Critical Theory and the first time that I really found someone who felt the same way as I did about the power of education. Freire calls for a new relationship between teacher, student and society.

In 1962, Paulo Freire created culture circles in Northeastern Brazil to support 300 sugar-cane workers to teach each other how to read the word and their world in 45 days, which enabled them to register to vote. These Culture Circles that began with Sugar Cane workers, catalyzed thousands more. Each with the purpose of not just literacy, but conscientization, or which involves people joining with their peers to name their world by reflecting on their conditions, imagining a better world, and then taking action to create it. This approach, developed as much by Freire as the workers he educated, was so galvanizing that he was jailed and exiled by the Military Government within two years (

Critical Theory, and the idea of giving a voice to those that are traditionally marginalised in education has become a driving force in my writing, my research, and my outlook on the world.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck

This is a self-help book I can get behind. Fuck is one of my favourite words and I believe that this book should be required reading for everyone when they turn 18. Mark Manson is not subtle, although he does give a fuck. Some gems include:

Think positive?

“Fuck positivity,” Manson says. “Let’s be honest; sometimes things are fucked up and we have to live with it.”

Be extraordinary?

“Not everyone can be extraordinary – there are winners and losers in society, and some if it is not fair or your fault,” Manson writes.

Seek happiness?

“The path to happiness is a path full of shit heaps and shame,” he remarks.

The Sound and the Fury

This book is not for the faint of heart. William Faulkner is one of the greatest American writers of all time (in my opinion of course) and the variety of narrative styles and the complexity of this story just make me want to read it over and over again. There is something about the stream of consciousness writing style that I love. There is something about the tragic fucked up family that I understand. There is something about writing a book in the way you want to regardless of whether people understand it that makes me want to keep writing.

“…I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire…I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all of your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.”
― William FaulknerThe Sound and the Fury

To Kill a Mockingbird

This speaks for itself.

God Went to Beauty School

Cynthia Rylant did something really interesting with this book. It is a collection of vignettes about God as a regular ordinary, everyday man.

God Went to Beauty School

Cynthia Rylant

He went there to learn how
to give a good perm
and ended up just crazy 
about nails
so He opened up His own shop.
“Nails by Jim” He called it.
He was afraid to call it
Nails by God.
He was sure people would
think He was being
disrespectful and using
His own name in vain
and nobody would tip.
He got into nails, of course,
because He’d always loved
hands were some of the best things
He’d ever done
and this way He could just
hold one in His
and admire those delicate
bones just above the knuckles,
delicate as birds’ wings, 
and after He’d done that
He could paint all the nails 
any color He wanted,
then say,
and mean it.


Bonus book: Tender Buttons

Gertrude Stein is my favourite poet. Her poems are weird, her life was full of adventure, and she gave zero fucks about convention. As Wikipedia notes: it is a book consisting of three sections titled “Objects”, “Food”, and “Rooms”. While the short book consists of multiple poems covering the everyday mundane, Stein’s experimental use of language renders the poems unorthodox and their subjects unfamiliar.” I first read this book for a poetry class I took in Merced. That was the class that taught me I could be a poet without having to worry about convention, and it is the class that strengthened my bond with some of my favourite people. The book sits on my shelf now….next to The Sound and the Fury.

It is also home to my favourite poem.


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

It is currently snowing quite hard for Scotland, so I think I am going to pull Tender Buttons off the shelf and enjoy the cozy night in.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 6

Or, the Scamp gets a Ticket to Ride.

I currently have four jobs. I never really know what day it is, or how much sleep I’ve gotten, or even which job I need to be at and at what time. For the most part, I am not sure what work I am getting done, what work needs to be done, or if I have been paid for everything that I’ve done.

I’m tired. I want to sleep. I want someone to hug me and tell me I’m doing a good job. I want my kitty.

Speaking of my kitty, he made an emergency trip to the vet this week and unfortunately lost an eye. He was poisoned when he was a youngster and has been blind in that eye for a long time, but it seems that it got infected, or something bad happened, and my mother was worried and took him to the vet. He’s fine, he doesn’t look like a monster, and I know when he gets home, he will be back to rolling in the dirt in no time.  I just wish that I was there to hang out with him and cuddle him and hand feed him turkey and cheese.

But back to my poorly placed reference about a board game. On Thursday nights I teach an English exam prep class. I try and have fun things for them to do that allow them to practice their speaking, read, and write. It does not follow the regular exam class format, but I’d like to think that there are still some good things about it. A couple of weeks ago we watched a video of people playing the board game Ticket to Ride. I wanted the students to have a chance to listen to different accents, and I knew they would have to focus on listening to figure out how the game was played. The students really struggled with it, one because the rules of the game are a bit complex, and because a lot of the jokes went over their heads.

I thought since they had seen the video of the game being played, it might actually be fun to play in real life. I love the game, so I bought a copy and took it to class for game night. I had two new students, and I am not sure that game day was a good class to start with.  It took a few rounds for the students to figure out what was supposed to happen in the game, and then once they did, the new students weren’t that impressed. I know that language was a part of the problem, not letting them speak Spanish while they played was an issue, and the fact that it was not a class that was giving hints and tips for passing the exam (and one of my new students really wants that).

I was sad because I thought the game would be a good chance for the students to speak to each other, and a fun thing to do at the end of the week. I was wrong. I don’t like when my lessons don’t work, and I don’t like feeling like I am not helping my students. I am going to have to go back to the old format of teaching, which I am not super excited about, but at the end of the day, their learning is way more important.

But man, I really wanted them to enjoy the game and have fun with it. If you are curious about the video I showed them, and or if you just love the idea of watching Wil Wheaton play boardgames, here is one of the greatest things on Youtube.

and here is the version of the game that we played.

I now have my own copy of the game, so anyone who wants to play, let me know. It is a really fun game, I like to think I am really fun company, and trains.


The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 5

I can’t remember if I did one for week four, and technically it is the start of week 6, but 5 is my favourite number, so I am going to do week 5 now and week 6 later in the week.

I like the challenge for week 5. I get to spend my time discussing one good thing from last week.

Easy. My visa and passports came back. I am now nice and legal again. The photo on my visa makes me laugh. It is awful. I look dead. But it makes me laugh, and it guarantees that when I have to show it at checkpoints and to the uni, people will think I am that much more attractive. I can live with that. It means I can start planning a quick weekend away somewhere around my birthday since I can’t make it to California this year.

I was also able to keep all of my jobs. Now if one f them could turn into something permanent I’d be even happier.

The rest of this month is going to be a blur of writing up the results of my thesis and conducting interviews for the department research project. I really love the project lead. She asked me first since I am supposed to be based out of the office and is going out of her way to find ways to keep me employed. I’m not sure she will be able to find the funding to keep me around, but the fact that she is willing to do that for me means a lot. I’m excited for the project to begin and I really hope that some good things can come from it. I am fast approaching the end to my 30th year, and while it did not quite go as planned, I am hoping that I can get a lot done this month and start 31 on a sure path to finishing my PhD. July will be here before I know it and I am still about 50,000 words short of where I need/want to be.

Not that I am freaking out about that or anything. No. Not at all.

I sat down with my supervisor today to go over the statistics, and he was really great and showing me what needed to be done and writing up the first part with me, so I think I am all set now to do the first part of my results chapter. The goal is to have this chapter written by the end of February, and with four jobs, I am not sure when it is going to get done…..but it will get done.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 3

I love music related posts. I am about to get fired from a job that could keep in Scotland because my visa got messed up (Apparently it was incorrect from the start, but no one noticed for almost 3 years) and the other 4 jobs I have are keeping me so busy that I have yet to even touch my PhD in awhile.

I’m stressed. Beyond stressed. Every day that I don’t get my results down on paper is another day I am convinced that I am not going to finish my PhD on time.

It is not a good time to be me.

So, having just completed a really relaxing yoga class and cheating on my diet with chocolate, I am more than happy to take on the challenge this week. My task, and I have chosen to accept it, is to put my Ipod on shuffle and write about how the first ten songs make me feel. Now, if my results chapter was as easy to get down on paper as this, I would be done in no time.

First up…

Sheppard: Geronimo

I like this song. I use it as an alarm occasionally so that I can start my day with a little pep in my step.

Second Choice

Matt and Kim: Wires

I could listen to Matt and Kim on repeat. I think they have a funky sound and I got to see them live many many many years ago when they opened for Blink 182. I wished I was that good on the drums.

Coming in third

Sean Hayes: Powerful Stuff

This song actually makes me sad. I think Sean Hayes has a great voice, but I used to dance in my kitchen with David to a Sean Hayes song. It’s been five years since he ripped my heart out and these songs still make me a little sad when I think about the kitchens and Bar exam prep and a future that is now just one of those things that you grow out of.

Four on the door

Kaiser Chiefs: I Predict a Riot

When this started it made me laugh because I saw them play live with David. We hadn’t really been dating that long, and not many people knew, but he invited me to go when a friend of his couldn’t go, and most of his law school friends were there. They called me library girl, tried to get me drunk, and made me dance around like an idiot with them because they said I was far too serious to be at a concert. It was a fantastic show.

Alive with five

Lake Street Drive cover of: Rich Girl

I first heard this song in a Starbucks in Scotland when the lifemate and I were doing uni work together. Now I listen to it on repeat. Constantly. I love this cover. For me, it is better than the original version.

Six in the mix

Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood: Something Bad About to Happen

My life motto.

Seven is heaven

B.B. King: The Thrill is Gone

Soul. Every playlist needs some good soul.

Eight is great

House of Pain: Jump Around

I have a huge love for 90s rap. I know all the words to this song and sing it as loud as I can in my car, in the shower, and in pubs.

Devine Nine

George Baker: Little Green Bag

I only know this song from one of my favourite movies. I think it also happens to have one of the best soundtracks of all time. I like to listen to the soundtrack when I am on my way to the airport for an adventure.

and finally TEN

Rachel Platten: Fight Song

Fitting. When I was really at a low point last year, I downloaded this song after seeing a video of Rachel Platten singing it with a pint sized cancer warrior. I figured if that little girl could be strong then I could try and be strong as well.

Bonus songs:

The Scamp Tries a New Writing Challenge

It is 2018. 2018 is the year that I finish my PhD (hopefully). 2018 is the year that I get a career instead of just a job. 2018 is the year that I finally get to Israel. 2018 is the year that I win $5,000,000 and pay off all of my student loans and buy my sister, brother-in-law and nephews a house, and pay my parents back for all the money they have spent on me the last few years (Ok, that one may be wishful thinking, but I’m putting it out into the world and I hope that it comes true).

Last year I was awful at writing for fun. I spent a lot of time dedicated to my PhD and had some trouble with the dark and twisty. I’ve been doing yoga every day though, and painfully cut all cheese and dairy out of my diet, so I am hoping that the dark and twisty will be a little less noticeable this year.

So, new year, a new challenge. I started a few years ago with a gratitude challenge as part of my therapy. I’d been kicked out of school, accused of racism and bullied. I was miserable living in the US and needed the reminder that there was a lot of good in my life, and a lot of good in me. That was a challenge I did faithfully every week, but last year, well, that didn’t go so well. I am going to try and be really good about it, just like writing my thesis and being finished by July.

So…..the challenge for this week is to write about something funny I heard today.

This one is great…it also makes me sad for the future. I went to campus to print a bunch of articles for teaching this week. I decided that while I was there I should look at the data for my thesis because I really need to get my ass in gear on the analysis. While I was in the library, I sat across from a guy and a girl who looked fairly young. I had my headphones in and originally thought that they were speaking German.  I could not for the life of me understand what they were saying. At one point I got up to get my printing, and when I came back, I didn’t put my headphones back in. Turns out they were speaking English. Most of it still sounded like mumbled gibberish, but out of the blue, the guy says, “I wonder how the throat works? Like, does it go up here (I couldn’t see, but I’m assuming he went up his neck and to his forehead)? The girl answered, “Not that high.” Then they went back to the mumbling language that I am still not convinced is English, and I decided that it was time for me to leave before I gave into the urge to tell them that maybe if they spent more time studying they would know simple things like the way the throat works.

On a less cringy note, the best thing I heard today was a video my sister sent of her oldest running around at the park while her youngest babbled in her lap, almost as if he was narrating the scene. She sends me a lot of baby videos and they never fail to make me feel better about everything.