The Scamp at 300

Congratulations! You are reading my 300th post. I think that it is very fitting that number 300 comes on my last night as a resident of the United States. This is the day I thought would never come. This is the day I have been trying to get to for two long years. This is the day that makes the emotionally abusive relationship worth it, the bullying, abuse, and eventual expulsion form CSUF worth it, and all of the therapy very very worth it. In the year and some change that it took me to get from 200 to 300, I learned so much about not only myself, but the world around me.

I learned that I no longer fit in in California. That was a hard lesson for me to learn. I spent almost a year trying really really hard to like it here and be happy, when it just isn’t who I am anymore. I have had some times here, and will carry some great memories with me, but this is no longer home. It took me almost another year to come to terms with it, and realize that it is okay that I no longer fit here. I always say that I am a Flamingo in a flock of pigeons. I use to say it to make people laugh, but I always saw it as a bad thing. I thought I should want to be a pigeon. I should want to be just like everyone else.

That is the dumbest thing I have ever admitted to the public (there have been a lot of things I have done, said, or thought that are really dumb, but a girl has to have some secrets). It has taken me a long time, but I am learning to embrace my inner flamingo. When I am in Scotland I can be a flamingo, and since I don’t know of another bird that can do yoga, I am going to rock the shit out of being a flamingo. That includes wearing colorful yoga pants, finishing my sleeve of colorful tattoos, and rocking flowers in my hair.

I learned that sometimes life sucks. I know that I will never see justice for what happened to me at CSUF, but that is how the real world works. Sometimes bad things happen to (mostly) good people. I will have to pay back the $30,000 in loans, and I will have nothing to show for it. My mom told me that everyone has bought a lemon, or invested in something that has failed, and that CSUF is my lemon. Pretty much everyone knows what happened to me now, and it still makes me mad, but I have to trust that there is a lesson in that experience that I will be able to use one day. I’m not 100% certain what that lesson is yet, but I have faith that it will become clear someday. I learned a lot about how to play the political game, how to stand up for myself and what I believe in, and that if you do not stick to your values then they are just hobbies.

I learned the power of therapy. I’m pretty sure therapy saved my life. Had I not had that available to me for the last year, I do not know if I would have survived the CSUF experience. Thursday mornings were my coping. I spent a lot of time trying to work through what was happening to me, and work out ways to cope with how I was feeling. My depression would have gotten a lot worse, had I not made the decision to get some real help. That program broke me. I spent much of this last year crying and hiding under my covers hoping that the storm would crash. My therapist helped me get out of bed, helped me not become an actual racist, and helped me realize that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my character. I used to think that therapy was something that I needed to hide, like it was a dirty little secret, but I have to say, I feel like a much stronger person than I was two years ago, and I think a part of that is because therapy kept me out of the dark and twisty.

I learned that I am willing to fight for the friendships and connections that matter. I’ve kept in touch with most of the people I was in Scotland with, and I am now seeing the long list of people here that are worth the effort to keep in contact with. I also feel like I am about to meet a whole bunch of new people, and those are the people that I will keep around for a long long time. I’m always worried about making friends because I am not really good at being social, but I am no longer worried about that. I know that I will become that obnoxious person who introduces myself to people, and before I know it, I will have sweet-talked my way into a lord’s heart and will get the castle wedding and the title that everyone here wants me to have (ok, I will get a puppy, talk to him, and pretend that is being social).

Most importantly, I learned that sometimes you need a fresh start to really become who you are supposed to be. Scotland is my fresh start. I never would have made it there if I had not gone through all the shit of the last two years. Scotland is my chance to really grow and become the person that I want to be (and the scenery, history, and people don’t hurt either). In three short years I will be Dr. Scamp, and in five short years I will be a permanent resident of the UK.

Most people say that it is bad luck to say “goodbye”, and that you should say “see you later.” They say that “goodbye” is permanent. Well, today, I would like to say goodbye to my life here, and to the person that I was. Tomorrow I start fresh being the badass flamingo that I am.

“I was trying to feel some kind of good-bye. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-bye or a bad good-bye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t you feel even worse.”
J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Adventure here I come.

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The Scamp and a Puzzle

My brother-in-law bought me a 3D crystal castle puzzle from Disneyland. The thing has 106 pieces, that are all clear plastic, and no instructions. The box says it is for children 12+.

Really, what they meant was the puzzle is for anyone who has 12+ years experience with architectural engineering, and can put together IKEA furniture blindfolded. It took me an hour just to figure out what the base pieces looked like and how they fit together.

The idea is was that I take the puzzle with me to Scotland so I have something to remind me home……so far, the only thing it has given me is a headache. I have three college degrees, but this thing might get the best of me.

I only have two days left in the US, and this is not really something that I should be focusing on. I still have some boxes that need to be added to, one that needs to be ready to ship, and a few follow-up emails to send. I’m not ready. I wanted to lose ten pounds before I went, wanted to have every little detail solved, and wanted to feel as excited and nervous, and scared as I felt last time I went. This time I do not feel anything either way. I’m eager to start my vacation, eager to make it to Scotland and meet my supervisors face to face, and I am excited to see how crazy it will be to get all of my boxes to my house and get myself moved in. I think that I will feel different once I get on the plane, but honestly, this vacation has been on the books so long, that I am not sure that I actually believe that it is finally here.

Pirate Rubber Chicken and I are ready for vacation though. We are definitely ready for vacation.

The Scamp and Her First Friend

In the next round of goodbyes, I was able to do a little day drinking with the very first friend I ever made. We met in kindergarten, and went all the way through high school together. Over the years we have had more of a casual contact with each other (thanks adulthood), but when David cheated on me, she was one of the first people to email my mom for my address, and she sent me all kinds of goodies and a really really great card. When I came back, she invited me out with her friends a few times, and although we hadn’t seen each other in a year, she made it a point to see me before I left again. We spent a good three and half hours catching up, and we didn’t have to try and force conversation about people we used to know. We still have quite a bit in common (she liked skydiving too!), and it was a really nice way to spend my last Monday in California. She again reminded me that I spend way too much time worrying about the people that aren’t there for me, and not enough time appreciating the people that are.

I forgot how much I enjoyed hanging out with her until we got together, and then I kicked myself for not being better at getting drinks or dinner, ore staying in contact more.

You can bet I will be better about it now. She’s one of the good ones, and we have 23 years of friendship and counting. I’ve already told her to come visit, and promised to flood her husband with pictures of Scotland so he will see the magic.

And, because I know she is a reader of this, and she will laugh at this as much as I did, here is a throwback circa the 90s when we were Girl Scouts….enjoy

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The Scamp and a Bon Voyage

Yesterday I made the second round of goodbyes. I invited friends and family to come hang out with me at a little brewery by my parent’s house. I honestly thought no one would show up. I’m not sure why, but I have a strong desire to be missed by the people here, and I had a feeling my piss poor attitude for the last two years put a damper on people who would be sad to see me go.

Boy was I wrong. 30 people came to see me off, and those that couldn’t make it called, texted, or made some time to see me in the next four days. I am truly humbled by all the love that I got. I keep telling everyone to come and visit, and I sincerely mean it. I hope they all get a chance at some point to come see me in natural habitat, super happy and thriving. In the meantime, I have all of their addresses, so I can send snarky postcards, hot kilted men with beards, shortbread cookies, and fine wool accessories. There is still time to get on the list, so anyone who wants on it, shoot me a message, and consider it done.

Here are a few snaps from the day. Please ignore my horribly sunburned neck. In an attempt to be the most tan person in Scotland, I got a little crispy.

My "little" cousin. He loves me....sometimes

My “little” cousin. He loves me….sometimes

This is my favorite picture of the day. My meow let me help build a tower.

This is my favorite picture of the day. My meow let me help build a tower.

Meow!

Meow!

I've known the Zavala family for a long time. I was honored that they came to see me off.

I’ve known the Zavala family for a long time. I was honored that they came to see me off.

My cousin Katy made the best card ever for me, and we even got Beans to smile

My cousin Katy made the best card ever for me, and we even got Beans to smile

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Sassy best friend

Sassy best friend

All my college buddies

All my college buddies

Poor Joe.  He has known us since we were 5

Poor Joe. He has known us since we were 5

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Even one of my favorite people from the CSUF program came. I may have squealed in delight when she walked up

Even one of my favorite people from the CSUF program came. I may have squealed in delight when she walked up

The Scamp All Packed

but ready to go?

Today I moved the last of my things that will not be going with me to Scotland. All of my pots, pans, Tupperware, cooking utensils, forks, knives, and a desk that I barely used, but did serve as a secure place for all my bills, pay stubs, and kept all of my notes, textbooks, and school related things while I was working on my MA.

I haven’t actually looked at most of this stuff for the last three years, but when I was moving the box of Tupperware, it broke open and I was flooded with memories of the last ten years with some of those things. It seems so final now that they are gone, most of my clothes and shoes are packed, and the things that I cannot take now are already postmarked to be shipped for a later date. It all seems so permanent now. I am not coming back to live in the United States. By this time next week, I will be in London, about to get on a plane for Madrid for a little bit of time to relax before I make my way to Scotland to start my dream job, in my dream city, and finally reach my goal of completing my PhD. I’ve always wanted adventure, I’ve always been prone to wander, I’ve never been afraid to take a chance, to do things on my  own, or to march to the beat of my own drum.

I’ve had the dream of going back to Scotland for two very long years, and the goal to earn my PhD and work in higher education for the last seven years.

I am three weeks away from reaching all of my major goals….and I am fucking terrified.

See, the thing that nobody tells about reaching all of your goals is that it is the scariest thing in the world (and I’ve jumped out of a plane, I have multiple tattoos, travel by myself, and get in a car with my father). I am so terrified that I am going to wake up tomorrow and it will all be a dream. I will still be miserable at Cal State Fullerton, still not have enough money for real insurance, my own apartment, or my massive student loans, and still be profoundly depressed

To be honest, there is no way I could survive a cruel joke like that. Not to mention that I have already sold my car, and most of my possessions.

I know that this fear is normal, and the finality of the situation is starting to sink in, so I am having a momentary freak-out, but it is still a little bit scary.

I’m doing it though. I’m jumping in with both feet, and going to settle into Scotland, and I am going to be a kick-ass expat.

The Scamp and the Gratitude Challenge: Week 22

Week 22 is something that I use everyday.

There are a lot of things that I use everyday that I am grateful for, but the one thing that I can think of right now is my laptop. Right now, I’m using my laptop to write this post, I’m watching a movie, and pretending to work on some research for my dissertation (I mean, I am working on it, the tabs are open and everything). In a month I will use my laptop to watch TV, listen to music, write, and videochat with my family. It is going to become an important part of my life.

Who am I kidding? It already is an important part of my life. I’m currently on laptop number 4.

Laptop number one was a present from my parents when I graduated high school. It was a Sony Vaio.  It didn’t have a webcam, it had a detachable battery with a two hour lifespan, and it was heavy as shit. I use to sit at my desk in Calaveras Hall and write papers and send my mom endless and endless amounts of email. I watched movies on it, listened to music on it, and put together my senior thesis on Mark Twain, and my applications for grad school. the battery finally gave out after 4 years of constant use, I got an upgraded model as a graduation present.

Number 2 was still heavy, had a pretty crap battery life, but had a webcam for Skyping, had better speakers, and had a wood-grain type finish that made it a little fancier. I wrote my MA thesis on that baby, and took it with me to Scotland. Of course, when I got robbed on Christmas a few years ago, it was taken from me. I lost everything. Pictures, music, papers. I failed a class because of that stolen laptop.

Number 3 was a gift from David to make up for the fact that 2 got stolen. It was a Dell, and I loved it. We had matching laptops. It had Windows 8, a flashy webcam, internal battery, and was super light and easy to carry. I toted that thing all over Scotland, to Estonia, Latvia, and California. I wrote my best piece of academic writing on it, used it for everything, and it helped me survive Cal State Fullerton. I loved it.

Two weeks ago, Number 3 blew up. A fan broke, and it made what the Geek Squad guy called the “Rattle of Death”. So now, I have number 4. It is a bit bigger, lacks a CD drive (apparently I am a dinosaur for still wanting one), but is a touch screen, which makes life interesting. I am doing my research for Scotland on it, I will very shortly write my 300th post on it, and it will house all of my memories of my new life in Scotland.

My grandma, and now my mom always says that things happen for a reason. I believe that Number three blew up so I would not take anything that was connected to my life with David, or Cal State Fullerton with me back to Scotland.

I’m going to take as a sign that my life motto has yet to steer me wrong.

“Breathe in the good shit, breathe out the bad shit”

My laptop is my good shit, and I am extremely grateful for it.