The Scamp and Confidence

I took an extended break from the Scamp Chronicles.  I didn’t mean to do it, but I have 6 jobs and very little free time so instead of writing for fun, I have been hiding under the covers binge watching bad TV and freaking out about the future.

I am 30 days from turning in another draft of my thesis. At this point, I have done no work on it. I keep putting it off to do other things. People keep coming to visit. I have too many projects on my plate. I cannot sustain this lifestyle, but for now, it is what I have to do to pay the bills (seriously, can someone just hire me already?). I am relieved to finally have a submission date, even if it means that I have to work through Christmas. I am so close to finally finishing my thesis that I should be happy, and writing away, but I am tired, and when I am tired, I doubt myself.

The writing challenge for this week (although, who am I kidding, I haven’t been following that at all) is to write about my confidence in my ability in the workplace. If you asked me two weeks ago I would have said that I have no confidence in the work that I do. I recently applied for a lecturer post in the office that I have been based in during my three years at Napier. The post advertised was an entry-level position doing all the work that I am currently doing. I felt like I had a really good chance, and felt like the office would be stupid not to hire me.

They didn’t even shortlist me for an interview.

It really sucks to be told that you are not good enough for the job that you are currently doing. I have a feeling I am also going to have to give up my desk when they hire someone, which leaves me out in the cold again. It was a tough blow. A really tough blow.

Move forward a week and I have snapped out of my stupidity. I have recently started a major project at the University of Stirling. I spent last week meeting with programme leads and discussing my ideas for improving feedback at the programme level. The work is based on my thesis and based on the last three years slogging through the mess that is Napier. The five people that I met with listened, and by the end of my pitch were more than willing to work with me and help me actually put my thesis into action.

It is more than Napier was ever willing to do.

The fact the Stirling is letting me run this project and giving me carte blanche to do as I please renews my egotistical thoughts that I am good at what I do and that I have chosen the right field. I am really good at developing curriculum for teachers, and really good at teaching new teachers. One day I will actually be known for it. People will follow the Wilder Way of feedback and curriculum design. I will have a single office (with a window that opens and a comfy chair) at a reputable university and co-workers I like. I’ll have a nice steady income and be able to start paying off my student loan.

I’ll be living the dream….and then I will get a puppy….and a car.

But first, time to finish my thesis edits, book chapter, conceptual article, quick guide, project admin work, student meetings, GTA training and feedback initiative.

oh, and job applications. Lots of job applications.

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The Scamp at a Loss

Today I woke up in a world without my Odie. He has been one of the only constants in my life for the last 15 years.

I hate the idea of being in a world where he no longer exists.

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I remember when my brother brought him home. Matt was a pain in the ass 18 year old who is the reason that my mom has grey hair. He left a note on the kitchen counter that just said “Mom don’t be mad”. When she raced up the stairs to his room and threw open the door, she was greeted with a tiny hiss from a little puff of fir in the middle of the bed. Matt had rescued a tiny kitten. He had a lot of names. My brother named him Odin. My sister and I called him Pepe because he was found in a dumpster outside a Mexican restaurant. I called him smooshy because he liked to be smooshed up against you when slept next to you.

He had a head like granite. He had no concept of personal space. He would steal your seat on the couch if you got up for any reason. He had awful kitty breath. He liked to drink from the toilet. He was obsessed with boobs and would often sit with his paws resting on them. He drooled. If you wanted him to come in for the night so you could go to bed, he would escape and evade you like a pro. He would leave out the front door and then magically appear at the top of the stairs. He liked to sleep on his back with his feet in the air.

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He was a pain in the ass. He was a great source of comfort. He was the only man in my life to never disappoint me. He slept on a special blanket on my bed when I moved back to California for a little while. He slept with me every day I was back for a visit.

He used each of his nine lives in the last 15 years. He survived being poisoned. He survived a bee sting.  He survived trying to hump a coyote. He survived me bathing him. The last few years were tough. He slowed down. He had to have his eye removed. Eventually, he developed cancer. Yesterday the vet said that it was better to gently end his life rather than put him through any more treatment.

I wasn’t there. I didn’t get to tell him I loved him one more time. I didn’t get that one final cuddle.  I did not have a chance to prepare myself for this moment that I knew was coming. I’m going to miss the cuddles, the headbutts, the curling up on my work so I had to pay attention to him.

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This little face offered me unconditional love, occasional love bites and constant reminders of how to enjoy the little things in life. I will miss him a little more now, but I know he is headbutting angels and that he is happy.

 

The Scamp Plays a Game

I’ve been tasked from a fellow blogger to play a ‘get-to-know-you’ game. I have to answer 31 questions (because I’m old as shit) from a list of 198. I usually hate these, but it has been a while since I wrote anything that wasn’t thesis related, and I think this might be more fun then another post about how miserable I am in the current thesis phase…because let’s face it, everyone is miserable at this stage.

1. IF SOMEONE NARRATED YOUR LIFE, WHO WOULD YOU WANT TO BE THE NARRATOR? I think it would have to be Anthony Bourdain. There is just something about the way he narrated his own life was quite brilliant. He’d say all the snarky things I was thinking as well which would be nice. 

2. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BOOK YOU’VE EVER READ? God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant

God Went to Beauty School

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--
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
awhile,
He could paint all the nails 
any color He wanted,
then say,
“Beautiful,"
and mean it.

3. IF YOU RECEIVED A SALARY TO FOLLOW WHATEVER PASSION YOU WANTED TO, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? I would start my own literacy foundation and help people learn to read. I’d set it up all over the world. People would learn to read in their native language and depending on the location, another language that would be useful. For California, people would learn English and Spanish or English and Korean. I think raising the literacy rate of the world is important and that it can be done if people are willing to make it happen.

4. WHAT’S THE COOLEST THING YOU’RE WORKING ON RIGHT NOW? I am working on a project that would allow me to use the research from my PhD to actually help a university with their assessment and feedback procedures. I’m really buzzing about this one and hope that I can make it happen. 

5. WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF YOU WEREN’T AT YOUR CURRENT JOB? I want to be a travel writer for Lonely Planet. 

6. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SMELL IN THE WHOLE WORLD? Red Door by Elizabeth Arden 

7. NACHOS. WHAT WOULD YOU PUT ON YOURS? I’m a purist. I want a lot of cheese, really spicy salsa, guac, sour cream and jalapenos.  

8. WHAT IS THE SOUND YOU LOVE THE MOST? My nephews laughing 

9. IF YOU COULD GET AWAY WITH A CRIME, WOULD YOU? IF YES, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I would. I would evade paying my student loans

10. WHAT’S THE OLDEST THING YOU OWN? My very first stuffed rabbit called Bun

11. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY AND WHY? Any holiday that brings my family all together. Usually, that is Christmas Eve, Passover, or if I make it to California to celebrate my birthday. 

12. WHAT’S THE BEST CONCERT YOU’VE EVER BEEN TO? The first time I saw the Mighty Mighty BossTones and getting to see JD McPherson in Glasgow.

13. IF YOU COULD PLAY ONE INSTRUMENT YOU AREN’T ABLE TO NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY? I want to play the trumpet. I don’t know anyone who can play it, and I think that I would enjoy it.

14. WHO WAS YOUR FAVORITE CARTOON CHARACTER AS A CHILD? Velma from Scooby Doo.

15. WHICH FAMOUS PERSON WOULD YOU LIKE TO BEST FRIENDS WITH? Anthony Bourdain.

16. IF YOU COULD LIVE IN A BOOK, TV SHOW, OR MOVIE, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I’d live in the Dresden Files

17. IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE TO LIVE WITHOUT ONE OF YOUR FIVE SENSES, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU GIVE UP? Smell. It would make public transportation more tolerable

18. IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH ANY ONE PERSON, LIVING OR DEAD, WHO WOULD THEY BE AND WHY? My mom. It has been almost a year since we have seen each other and I’m not enjoying it.

19. IF YOU COULD MASTER ONE SKILL YOU DON’T HAVE RIGHT NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I want to have an easier time learning languages.

20. IF YOU COULD ASK THE PRESIDENT ONE QUESTION, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Who does your hair?

21. WHAT SINGLE MESSAGE WOULD YOU SEND TO AN ADVANCED ALIEN SPECIES? Don’t waste your time here.

22. WHAT ANIMAL WOULD BE CUTEST IF SCALED DOWN TO THE SIZE OF A CAT? A giraffe.

23. IF YOU COULD TRAVEL ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, WHERE WOULD IT BE? Brea, California

24. WHEN HAVE YOU FELT YOUR BIGGEST ADRENALINE RUSH? Jumping out of an aeroplane when I turned 28. It was such a rush that I almost puked when I landed. I had to lay on the ground for half an hour

25. WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL IN LIFE? I want to help people in some way.

26. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT THIS CITY? All of the people from all over the world who have chosen to settle here.

27. HOW WOULD YOU SPEND A BILLION DOLLARS? I’d take care of my family first. Pay off debts, set up college accounts for my nephews, get my sister a house. I would then invest a couple million in stocks and keep a couple million for myself. The rest of the money would be divided between charities that help with education, environmental conservation, and making the world a better place.

28. WHAT IS ONE THING YOU MISS ABOUT BEING A KID? Not worrying about money or paying bills.

29. WHERE IS THE MOST RELAXING PLACE YOU’VE EVER BEEN? Any place where there is a beach and a sunset.

30. DESCRIBE ONE EXPERIENCE YOU’VE HAD WHERE YOU TOOK A HUGE LEAP OF FAITH. I moved to Scotland on my own to pursue my PhD.

31. IF YOUR ENTIRE LIFE WAS A MOVIE, WHAT TITLE WOULD BEST FIT? A Series of Unfortunate Events…..wait, that’s already taken. hmmmm. Tales From the Little Black Rain Cloud

The Scamp is Accidentally Funny

Today I finally got an email from a supervisor that I am excited about.

I am a handful of edits away from a complete draft of my theory chapter. Considering the last draft I submitted was ‘confusing’ and ‘unclear,’ I am so chuffed that I am almost done. Of course, I would not have been able to get that far without having sent the draft to my mom as an extra set of eyes. Turns out, I am not as bad a writer as I thought.

I may actually finish this thesis.

That aside, I have been dipping my toe into the festival. I went and saw Ari Shaffir do a set on being Jewish and it was the best thing ever. I laughed the entire time. He’s in the city this month to prepare for a Netflix special, and I cannot wait until the final set is done. It probably won’t be half as funny though when it isn’t done in front of a room full of people who know nothing about Judaism.

Since one of the besties is in theatre, and working during the festival, when she mentioned that she was out and about, I knew I had to detour in her direction. She introduced me to the writer for the show she is working on, and to a casting director and I felt like my job is borning in comparison so I blurted out the most outrageous thing I could think of: I was an accidental Jewish guest at a white supremacist wedding.

The story was a big hit with the crowd, and I think maybe it is time I shared it with the world.

The rest of this is the how the big day unfolded to the best of my recollection. I am going to try and avoid using names, although most of my family and friends from California will have an idea of who this is.

When I was 21 years old, I was dating a very sweet guy who lives in Hollywood. The house he grew up was the house that his dad grew up in, and his dad knows everyone and anyone. He has amazing stories that he likes to tell (often on a loop. I heard the same ones a lot in the two years I dated his son) and was often collecting strays that would live at the house for anywhere from a few days to a few months, to a few years. It was one such stray that had been cared for by the family that asked if he could have his wedding in the giant front yard of the Hollywood house.

It was summertime (I think it was June) and I spent my time going back and forth between my parent’s house in Orange County to the boyfriend’s house in Hollywood. I got to the house in the late afternoon for the rehearsal dinner. The first thing that I noticed was the motorcycles and muscle cars. I have an El Camino and the boyfriend has a classic Mustang (I loved that car), so I was immediately interested in the cars.

Unfortunately, that was the last thing I was interested in for the rest of the weekend. I walked into the house and felt like I had walked into a Klan meeting. The groom was a tall dude covered in tattoos. He was wearing jeans and white undershirt with the sleeves rolled rockabilly style. His tattoos showcased his love of his heritage….including the swastika on his neck. The bride to be was also covered in tattoos and piercings, including the SS lightning bolts. Their friends looked much the same. During the course of the party, the two got more and more hammered and then shared how they met. They had met through MySpace (which tells you how long ago this happened) when they each thought the other was someone else. They talked for a couple of weeks before they realised the mistake that they had made, and after a few laughs (and not a lot of time) they decided that they couldn’t live without each other and decided to get married.

Strong foundations for a good marriage, right?

The next day my boyfriend and his friends helped put out chairs, make sure the front yard was clean and went about helping set up for the BBQ after the ceremony. The best man, my boyfriend and I went to get as much ice as we could for all of the booze that was now sitting in the driveway of the Hollywood house. During this outing, I learned that the best man was married, he liked muscle cars, and he had a habit of lingering a little bit too long when he touched me. I changed into a nice sundress and tried to stay out of the way while everyone got dressed. The wedding party had been drinking since about 9am, and by the time guests started arriving, the wedding party was beyond three sheets to the wind. Even my boyfriend’s dad was drunk….and he was the one in charge of officiating the wedding!

The best guest of the day was the mother of the groom. She showed up with her very fake boobs spilling out of a very tight dress that was better fitted to someone half her age. She was very theatrical and dramatic and did not really act the way that you would expect a mother to act. The wedding was delayed for a couple of hours, although I can’t for the life of me remember why. People showed up in jeans, baseball hats, leather. Their tattoos were crude and slightly offensive, and I decided that it was best if I just made myself scarce. When it was finally time to start, one of the groomsmen had lost his shirt, and his very large tattoo of the word ‘thirsty’ across his stomach was on display. He sported a backwards baseball cap and several beers. The groom could barely stand up straight and the officiant was in shorts and a black shirt with a paper collar to make him look like a priest. He was swaying slightly as well.  The bride walked down the aisle to some hardcore song, but she looked stunning in her white strapless mermaid gown and tiny net veil.

The ceremony was short, the kiss at the end sloppy.

And then the fun began. BBQ and booze flowed. I felt very uncomfortable in a crowd of people that proudly displayed their racist ideology, and even asked my boyfriend at one point if I had been invited to the wedding as a ritual sacrifice. He failed to see the problem, so I hid in his room for an hour or so and text my mom about the ridiculousness of what was going on. When my boyfriend neglected to come to find me, I decided to venture back out. One of his friends was sitting on a couch on the phone arguing with his girlfriend. It was obvious that she was mad at him, and while I started to move out of the bedroom, the mother of the groom came tumbling in dragging the best man by his tie (yeah, he was wearing a tie, go figure). The two of them disappeared into the bathroom together. I looked over at my boyfriend’s friend, and both of us were shocked and confused….so much so that he interrupted his girlfriend and asked if they could pause the fight so that he could tell her what we just saw.

Needless to say that a slutty mother of the groom having sex with the married best man is a good way to end an argument.

They came stumbling out a few minutes later and I went outside to find my boyfriend and tell him what I had just seen. I was waiting for them to cut and serve the cake, but by 11 or so I was tired of waiting and went to bed.

At some point after that, the groom learned that his friend had slept with his mom. They got in a massive fight in the front yard and the best man lost a tooth. The bride and groom then got in a massive screaming match and she threw her wedding ring over the fence and into the middle of a very busy street in front of the Hollywood house (It was never found). They slept separately and were still not speaking the next day.

I learned a valuable lesson that day….always look at the wedding invitation first. If it has a swastika on it, respectfully decline.

As I write this, I wonder if it is as funny as it was when I told it to a shocked audience last night in an effort to make them laugh. They joked that I could have my own fringe show, and said they could not write a better scene. I hadn’t thought about that in years, and now I wonder if those two are still together and whether or not they have started their own little Hitler Youth group.

 

A Scampaversary

Today marks three years of living in Edinburgh fulltime. Today marks three years of my official start date in the PhD programme. Today marks five years since I submitted my MSc. Today marks the first day of Fringe. Today was my original target date for submission.

I’d love to say that I was almost done with my PhD, but I’m not. My mom let me hijack her entire morning to work on my theory chapter. I’m talking about 4 hours of her time to read all 7,586 words and then video chat with me and talk through some edits. To be honest, it is the best I have felt about that chapter since I started it six months ago. She has a background in education but never worked with Critical Theory, and for her to tell me that she now understands the theory, and can see how it can be used in the classroom, and how it is being used in my study is a huge relief.

Maybe I don’t suck at this writing thing after all. I have never had this much trouble getting the words from my brain to the page before. I have been so beaten down by my supervisors that I no longer feel like I know what I am doing.

If only someone would hire me now so the impending deportation looming over my head would go away, I would be a very happy camper.

I’d love to say that after three years working as a PhD student that I had something deep and profound to say, but I am too tired to even think boring and shallow thoughts. I’ve been working on this blog for 8 years now, and sometimes I wonder if any of the posts say something deep and profound.

While I debate the merits of sleeping for the next month and hoping that my thesis magically gets written, I thought it was important to mark this day as a good one for me. I haven’t had too many good days lately, so I really appreciate them when they happen.

The Scamp is an In Debt, Sexually Active, Tattooed, College Educated Rebel

This rant brought to you by Lori Alexander’s post: Men Prefer Debt-Free Virgins without Tattoos Really Offensive Article. The title alone is the exact opposite of me, so I should have just kept scrolling.

But I didn’t.

Actually, the first thing I saw was a response that a fellow blogger wrote in response to the post by Mrs Alexander. The 25-year-old woman responded to the absurdity of thinking that propagates the blog post (Well Written Response). I agree with a lot of what Alyssa says. In 2018, it should be ‘my body, my choice’ and not ‘my body simply created to push out babies and meekly serve a man’.

I am a  Jewish woman (and not the best one at that) and have no battle with the Christian religion or those who follow any religion for that matter. My complaint is not about religion (although, I have a feeling that God wouldn’t have given women free will, a mouth and a brain if He didn’t want them to use it).

But Mrs Alexander, fuck your standards. You clearly do not understand women (Christan or otherwise). It is also extremely doubtful that you understand men. As you write:

There are many more reasons why Christian young women should carefully consider whether or not they go to college, especially if they want to be wives and mothers someday. Secular universities teach against the God of the Bible and His ways. It’s far from what God calls women to be and do: it teaches them to be independent, loud, and immodest instead of having meek and quiet spirits.

So, go to college and you can kiss motherhood goodbye? Really? Have you been out in society at all in the last oh 100 years? Women were not simply created to please men and the fact that you still think this way, and try and indoctrinate young impressionable women into this line of thinking is criminal. I’ve been to four universities, and not one of them taught me to be loud of immodest. They taught me to value education, to value learning experiences and gave me the chance to meet, interact with, and learn from all kinds of people. I am a better person because of the learning and growing that I did whilst attending university.

In 2018, I also fear the notion of having a ‘meek and quiet spirit’. The world isn’t perfect. Women (and men) should be able to disagree with what they see and hear and should be encouraged to have a conversation. They should not be silenced until they conform, and should be encouraged to be individuals. The only way that change can happen, and that some of the chaos of our current society can be calmed is if women (and men) are willing to speak up and work towards change.  I think Alyssa says it best when she writes:

Many of the brightest, most level-headed, youth in this country are girls. These young ladies are going to shape our world and help to make it a nurturing and supportive place to live. They’re going to find the cures to deadly diseases, make progressive changes in political offices, AND be the most badass mothers yet. And you want to deny them (and the world) the chance to do that? For what? So they can find a partner who sees them as “less-than” and good for nothing but giving birth? I don’t think so.

Don’t even get me started on the idea that women only get a job to pay off their debt and to make use of their degree. Not only do I know women who went to university and then decided to become stay at home moms until their kids are in school, but I know many women who busted their asses to become lawyers, doctors, teachers, and engineers and went to work in jobs they love not out of a sense of obligation, and not to pay off their debt, but because they love their work. Two of those women have kids, and one is currently pregnant. Shocking. Even more shocking, they met their husbands during college, or completed their degrees and pursued careers with the full support of their spouse. I even know a stay-at-home dad who loves his time at home with his kids (he also happens to be a Christan, but I promised to keep religion out of this). That being said, not everyone wants to go to college, and if a woman decides that it is not for her, as long as it is her choice, and she is happy with it, I have no problem with it.

Debt. No one (man or woman) wants to enter a marriage in debt. It is ridiculous to think otherwise. That being said, I can’t imagine many women who are excited to marry a man who has a lot of debt. That seems to be missing from Mrs Alexander’s backward and misguided blog post. I also have a problem with college debt being seen as bad debt. I would be more upset if the debt was from frivolous spending or poor money management skills rather than from furthering my education. Having recently paid off a student loan, I hated having the debt but loved the reason (and the university degree) that came with it.

Now let’s talk about sex. A woman who chooses to be sexually active is not a bad person. A sex worker is not a bad person. Women with free will and brains make choices for themselves. Now, I don’t want to slag off a woman who chooses to wait until she is married to have sex. I have some friends who are choosing to wait because it is important to them, and not because a man has told her she needs to. I happen to like sex (sorry mom), but I waited until I was in love (and in my 20s) before I lost my virginity. I don’t regret my choice at all, and any of the choices (minus one creep named Dan) that I have made since then. No one has ever asked me how many people I’ve slept with (and it is no one’s business).

As for the tattoos…..well, all 25 of them tell a story about who I am and where I’ve been so I regret nothing. I happen to think they make me more attractive. This one doesn’t bother me as much either because I know plenty of people, both male and female that aren’t into tattoos, but a majority of the people I have had the pleasure to meet do not have a problem with tattoos in the slightest. Even the good Jewish boy I almost married was okay with the tattoos that I had when we met (although, I probably would not have gotten any more out of respect for his religious preferences in regards to tattoos).

So, in a nutshell, I am Lori Alexander’s worst nightmare. I’m a 31-year-old single woman who does not currently want kids, has $21k of student loan debt to pay off, enjoys sex and collects tattoos the way most people collect art or stamps (or a number of other things that people like to collect). I’m also independent, living on my own and do not need a husband or my father to explain anything to me. I have no doubt that if I changed my mind about marriage one day I will find a really great guy who loves me, quirks and all.

So who are these men? Where are can I find (and avoid) them? Do I have to start wearing a scarlet letter so they can identify me or are my tattoos enough?

 

I cannot wait to read the comments that this post generates from my friends and family.

The Scamp Chooses Quality Over Quantity

The 4th day in Belgium was my chance to present my research. I spent a year and a half working on this paper and waited another year for it to be rejected from a journal so I try and present at every conference that I can to get my idea out there. After the first two days of the conference though, I wasn’t holding out much hope for people enjoying my presentation.

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I wasn’t wrong. The idea of a conceptual paper was almost too much for them. They did not understand why there was no survey and no numbers involved in my formulation of the seven guiding principles to help a programme who wished to move to a programme focused approach to feedback. The questions that I fielded made it clear that they did not understand my paper. Part of me wondered if it was something in my explanation that didn’t translate, or if I really broke their brains with a paper that did not include a survey.

It was not a complete waste though. I met a guy from Germany who is interested in feedback and knows one of my supervisors, so he asked great questions and invited me to be part of a symposium that he is putting together for a conference in April. This was exactly the type of thing that I hoped would happen when I went to the conference. My networking skills suck, so the fact that I could have a chat with someone who is interested in the field and wants to work together makes me happy. I am grateful for the chance to work with people from other countries and differing viewpoints to continue the conversation about feedback and assessment.

This 10 minute conversation about my poster made the conference worth it. I was starting to worry that I had wasted a week that I should have dedicated to writing my discussion chapter.  Hopefully, the symposium is accepted and I can head to Canada in April to continue networking.