The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 29

Scottish summer came and went this week. It was a good Tuesday. I wore a sundress and flip flops. I sat in the park by my house until 8pm. My nose got sunburned and my legs look a little less white.

Not a bad summer.

The challenge this week is to write about the last person I said I love you to. I say I love you a lot to a lot of people in my life….okay, to be fair, the only people in my life in any real meaningful way are people that I love.

I think the last person though was my BFF. Because of his super secret spy job I am not allowed to post pictures of him on the internet, but we met here in Scotland and have been besties ever since we went to Belfast a few years ago. He supported me through two bad break-ups, exile from the US, and has offered to marry me so I can become a Scottish citizen if they are successful in gaining their independence from the UK. He worries a lot about my depression, so he drags me out of the house and takes me on adventures around Scotland so I don’t sit around and mope.

Last weekend we took the train to Linlithgow and spent the day walking around the birth place of Mary Queen of Scots and soaking in some culture. We pretended that we were hip and watched golf, and laughed our way through the ridiculousness of my love for puppies and my efforts to touch a swan (or a duck, or goose, and any dog that came close to me).

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We’ve made plans for other excursions around Scotland, and even though he is ditching me for Leeds Leeds Leeds and a PhD, we’ve made plans to meet and explore England as well. I’m not exactly sure why he puts up with me, but I love him all the same.

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The Scamp’s 100 Things

The challenge this week is to make a list of 100 things that I am thankful for. Since I have been in the dark and twisty pretty hard core this week, I am going to enjoy making this list and focusing on all of the amazing things in my life that make me grateful. I have been a pain in the ass. I’m anxious, mopey, and have spent too much time by myself to be a good person. I am gearing up for Christmas, and I hoping that some fresh air, time out of Scotland, and time away from all things academic will do me some good. The weather has been crazy warm here lately (55 degrees!) so I am hoping that it is that way in the Emerald Isle as well.

So, I have a glass of wine, I’m wrapped in a blanket, and I am going to try and create a list of 100 things that I am grateful for. Some will be silly, some will strange, and most will be exactly what people expect from me. I do not expect people to read all 100. In fact, this is mostly for me. There is only one challenge left after this one, and to be honest, it doesn’t seem like it has been 52 weeks since I started the challenge. Talk about time flying. I think I am going to find another challenge to work through to make the next year pass just as quickly. I liked that this challenge was focused on reminding me what I have to be grateful for, so I may look for something that is similar to keep the dark and twisty at bay.

 

  1. My family. This should come to no surprise to anyone. My family makes me laugh, stood by me when I was going through some serious shit with CSUF, and has never once made me feel guilty about packing up my life and moving 5,143 miles to start a life. They are by far my favourite people, and while it was extremely difficult to move so far from them, I am lucky enough that we text, Skype, and message each other enough that it doesn’t really feel like we are separated.

 

  1. My friends. Again, no one should be surprised by this. I have some pretty amazing friends. They have sent me presents, jokes, laughs, good vibes, and provided me a lot of comfort when I have been at my lowest. With the exception of lately, I have not been lonely here in Scotland. When I have though, I have people who have dropped everything to help me out, check on me, and distract me from how I am feeling. It is my Irish bestie who offered to take me home for Christmas to be with her family since I am not going back to California until the end of February. I think part of the reason my move back to Scotland was so smooth was because I had a good circle of people who were already here.

 

  1. Scotland saved my life. Literally. The first time I came here in 2012, I knew that I was going to live here. I have felt more at home here than any place I have ever lived. I cannot really explain what it is about this island that makes me feel so at home, but even on my worst day here, and even when the dark and twisty sneaks in, I can go for a walk to the city centre and see the castle, hear the mix of accents, and surround myself with history. When I went back to the US in 2013 I never found a way to readjust to life there. I spent two years feeling like I was a zombie just drifting through my existence. I was in a horrible programme, I did not have much of a social circle, and I barely had enough money to pay my bills. While I am not living like a queen here, I am pretty comfortable for the moment.

 

  1. Travel. If I do not get to travel then I get itchy. Really really itchy. I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world. My mom has funded some of it, I have saved and scrimped for some, and because I have the most amazing friends, I have been offered places to stay and tour guides around their cities. I am the happiest when I am traveling. I love the adventure, and I love the way I feel when I am wandering around a new place.

 

  1. Technology. Being able to stay in touch with everyone through texting, skyping and FB has been amazing. It is a large part of why this move has been so painless.

 

  1. Mark Huxham. He is my supervisor for the PhD. He took a chance on me, and made it possible for me to come back to Scotland. He might have saved my life.

 

  1. Modern medicine. I have Lupus. But, if I did not tell people, I doubt anyone would know. I get checked by doctors regularly, I take my meds, and stick to a good diet. I have been very very very lucky that I have not had any major issues so far.

 

  1. National Insurance. It may not be perfect, and I may get frustrated with it sometimes, but man am I grateful for it. Not paying for medication is a huge stress off my shoulders.

 

  1. Yoga. Enough said.

 

  1. Sunshine. I may be in the land of no sun, but man oh man do I love it when it comes out here. I will also love it when I am in California and Texas and get to enjoy it.

 

  1. Tea. Hug in a cup.

 

  1. American peanut butter.

 

  1. Trail mix. Even when I am not hungry, a handful of that makes me feel better.

 

  1. Solid public transportation. I rarely miss having a car. I also enjoy the view from the top of the double decker bus.

 

  1. Books. When I get sad, I curl up with a book and I can escape a bit.

 

  1. My kitties. I miss them all the time. I wish I could have them here with me.

 

  1. Cat videos. Kinda like the next best thing when I can’t have mine with me.

 

 

  1. Ice Cream. I haven’t had any in a while, but the beast bar (a chocolate bar dipped in chocolate ice cream, covered in chocolate) is the best pound I will ever spend.

 

  1. My Ipod. It makes my commute so much more bearable when I can listen to my favourite songs or a podcast.

 

  1. Loveline. Someone is going to read this and laugh, but man oh man do I love this show. I listen to the old shows with Adam Carolla, and the current day ones. People are crazy, and I always feel a little less crazy listening to the show.

 

  1. Therapy. This really should be higher on the list. The only reason I survived for two years in the States was because of weekly therapy sessions.

 

  1. Flower hair clips. I have a collection of flower hair clips that I wear when I am feeling homesick, or when I want to stand out a little.

 

  1. I love each and every tattoo that I have. There is a good story behind each one, and I feel like they make me a whole heck of a lot more interesting.

 

  1. Strawberries. Possibly the best fruit ever. I love that you can get them all year round here.

 

  1. Tortillas from California. Seriously. Heaven.

 

  1. Easy Mac. The ultimate comfort food.

 

  1. My space heater. It has been cold here, but I have to say, it hasn’t been horrible yet for me thanks to my little portable heater.

 

  1. Yogadownload.This is an amazing collection of yoga classes in all types of styles, lengths, and skill sets. I may be lagging on my practice, but I will never run out of options for classes to take.

 

  1. My camera. I bought it before I moved back to Scotland, and it was totally worth every penny.

 

  1. Pirate Rubber Chicken. It may have started as a joke, but I really love taking chicken places and sending him to my friends to do crazy things. Most people really get into it and have a good time being ridiculous with PRC.

 

  1. Naps. Sometimes it is the only way I get through a day.

 

  1. Inside jokes with the wombmate.

 

  1. Who am I kidding…..the word wombmate. It is so much better than just calling her my sister.

 

  1. Tugboat. The very first car I ever bought. I love that beast.

 

  1. Swimming. I miss being in the water, but I love the peace I get when I have a chance to swim.

 

  1. Student discounts. Sometimes it is nice to save a few pounds on a movie ticket or a meal.

 

  1. Care packages from home. Getting mail always makes my day a little better.

 

  1. Second chances. I have had my fair share of second chances from people and from life, and seriously, sometimes that is all I need to get it right.

 

  1. 2 minute rice meals. I am a lazy cook sometimes. I can pop one of those in the microwave and add some cheese and salsa and have a meal

 

  1. Bagels and cream cheese. Perfect breakfast for the ultimate lazy eater.

 

  1. I may regret this, but I am enjoying the rain as it comes. I’ve been pretty lucky so far though.

 

  1. My job at the tutoring centre. I may grumble about going into work on a Saturday afternoon/evening, but I really like being with the kids. They make me laugh and it is impossible to be in a bad mood when you are with those kids.

 

  1. Warm socks. My feet get cold very easily, but plenty of warm socks have been purchased for my survival.

 

  1. Boots. I can never have enough pairs.

 

  1. Slippers. Because sometimes I don’t want to wear socks.

 

  1. Anti-depressants. One day I hope to get off of them, but for right now, I am glad I have something to help me with the dark and twisty.

 

  1. Oversized jumpers. Am I wearing a bra? Am I just wearing a sports bra? Have I gained 50 lbs when no one was looking? You don’t know when I have the jumper on.

 

  1. My blog. I have a steady following, which is nice, but even more than that, I like that I can write things down and store it in a place that I can come back to. To be honest, I don’t often go back to read past posts, but it is nice that they are there should I ever want to.

 

  1. My hot water bottle. Lamby keeps me warm. He is also big enough to cuddle.

 

  1. Travel posters. The art that I have collected adds colour to my walls, and makes me feel like I am traveling all the time.

 

  1. Surf videos. For the days when I miss the beach.

 

  1. Fiji lotion. The smell reminds me of my mom, but also makes me tropical.

 

55. Hummingbirds.

  1. Yoga pants. Because I hate real pants.

 

  1. I love celebrity gossip, and I love the sass and snark that comes pops up on that site.

 

  1. Having braces when I was 16. I think I have a fantastic smile, so thanks mom and modern dentistry.

 

  1. My neighbours. The poor couple who live opposite me get to sign for the million and a half things that I order off of Amazon. They have been nothing but nice about it. They just got a puppy, and joked that I can babysit whenever I want.

 

  1. Romance novels. Because sometimes I need to read about hot steamy sex and happy endings.

 

  1. My sound machine app. I can’t handle silence, so I can fall asleep to the sound machine and not my racing thoughts.

 

  1. I have not really had much success yet, but I am grateful that I have so many options to try out and keep myself entertained.

 

  1. My mom’s love for taking pictures of everything. I’m going to want those memories one day.

 

  1. Red Door # 5. It reminds me of my grandma.

 

  1. Clementine scented candles.

 

  1. Bubble bath. Best time to read romance novels.

 

  1. The chance to go to college. I’ve been a student my entire life, and I have been incredibly lucky for the chances that I have had because of it. Being as lucky as I have been has made me want to stay in education.

 

  1. The work of Paulo Freire. If I had not found his work, I am not sure if I would have been able to really explain my view on life.

 

  1. The boyfriends that I’ve had. Some of them sucked, but I learned a lot from each of those relationships, and I have become a better person because of having been with them.

 

  1. Reality TV. Toddlers and Tiaras anyone?

 

  1. Horror movies. I love being scared by something fake rather than something in real life. I have the hardest time not talking to the movie as it plays out, even if I have seen the movie 100 times.

 

  1. My passport. I love being lucky enough to have one and to be able to travel and see the world with little to no restrictions.

 

  1. Motivational posts. I love the Berry and their “Don’t worry, be happy” posts. Sometimes I need the little reminders to stay positive and that life is not as bad as the present moment.

 

  1. Online shopping. I can get everything I need while sitting on my moderately comfy couch. My anti-social nature loves this.

 

  1. Adult colouring books. I have been zenned out for the last two weeks thanks to some colouring books and coloured pencils from my feisty Texan.

 

  1. Culture. One of the things I love most about living here is all of the different people that I come in contact with on a daily basis. I get to learn a lot about people and places. A lot more than I would learn if I was still in California.

 

  1. My flat. It may seem like an odd thing to be grateful for, but it is nicely furnished, I can afford it, and it is in a nice little neighbourhood. It is nice to be living on my own, and it was luck of the universe that I was able to find it.

 

  1. Jumping out of an airplane. I’ve never felt freer in my entire life.

 

  1. Matzo ball soup. A hug in a bowl.

 

  1. Lazy Sundays. I like not having to be anywhere on Sundays.

 

  1. Publishing opportunities. My supervising team believes that I can get published, and believes that what I have to say is important. I grateful even for their support.

 

  1. My 6 year visa. Just in case. I cannot be American if Donald Trump wins.

 

  1. People who offer to help me. Sometimes all I need is the offer to make me feel better. Sometimes I need someone to offer because I am not good about asking for help.

 

  1. Baseball games. If I am watching it live it means an afternoon with my mom. If I am watching it on TV it means I am going to get a really good nap in.

 

  1. Walks at sunset. I like closing out my day in the fresh air. Even though the sun sets at 3:30 right now, come summer, I will have more time to wander to the top of Arthur’s Seat to watch the sunset.

 

  1. Google Maps. Because I am hopeless with directions

 

  1. My little black address book. I like being able to send postcards and gifts to people in the States.

 

  1. Libraries. They provided employment since I was 14, and any place with that many books is alright by me.

 

  1. Used bookshops. Edinburgh is full of them. They are all amazing.

 

  1. Puppies that walk off leash. Strangers hate it when you hug their dogs, but when a puppy wanders up to me, it is all but asking for a bit of a cuddle.

 

  1. That I inherited a good sense of humour. I crack myself up, but I am glad that I can laugh as much as I do.

 

  1. Sour gummy worms. Even when they give me nightmares

 

  1. Peach rings.

 

  1. Snuggles. Sometimes I just need a hug while curled up in bed.

 

  1. UC Merced. A lot happened for me there. A lot of the opportunities that I have been lucky enough to have have come from work I either did, or started there.

 

  1. Home cooked meals. When my friends invite me over for a meal I am in heaven.

 

  1. My mom paying my bills. Again, this should be a lot higher up the list. She has been paying my bills since I was 18, and if she wasn’t helping me out, and didn’t co-sign my loan for my first trip to Scotland, I don’t know where I would be.

 

  1. Autocorrect and spellcheck. I cannot spell prerequisite (I spelled it wrong and used spell check to fix it) to save my life. I’m also still learning British spelling, so the helpful hand is making sure I do not look like a complete fool.

 

  1. My persistence. Who knew I had it in me?

 

  1. The EdD programme at CSUF. If I had not gone through everything I went through in that programme, I would not be sitting on my couch in Edinburgh. That makes every tear I shed, every pound I lost, and every dollar I wasted completely worth it.

The Scamp and Vy Higginsen

It is not often that  I make it through an entire newscast. I find most of the news as of late depressing, and usually end up leaving the room or changing the channel. Tonight, I made it through an entire 15 minute segment, and I am really glad I did. Lately I have been searching for inspiration. I’m filling out applications and scholarship forms for the University of Edinburgh and after answering questions about my proposed research topic and why I want to complete my degree, I am afraid that I sound contrite and fake. I’m serious about my research topic, and I am serious about helping students, but for some reason, it just feels flat on a page. I wish I could just submit a video answering all of the questions. At least then the committee could enjoy my funny accent and see my passion for my students and for my research.

Tonight I watched a segment on 60 Minutes called Alive and Kickin’. While this may be considered a fluff for 60 Minutes, I immediately fell in love with the great Vy Higginsen and the work that she is doing.

I was lucky enough to find a link to the segment. It is worth the 15 minutes. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Alive and Kickin’

If Vy’s personality wasn’t enough to win me over, her message through Alive and Kickin’ would be. She believes that it is never too late to start again. That was enough of a reminder that even though I am two years late, applying to PhD programs in Scotland is a good idea.

In addition to Vy, I loved the merry band of seniors that she found for her show. I loved the woman who was so extremely proud of her sons for growing up and going to college. I loved the 75 year old man who not only battled alcoholism, but he went back to school when he was 50 to learn to read and write. He was by far my favorite because of his deep voice and his smile. I loved the married couple, it takes a strong woman to stay with a man who spent 40 years in and out of jail. I loved it when Vy took the seniors to meet her teenagers and teach them the value of gospel music. I wouldn’t mind having Vy Higginsen sitting next to me with her laugh and her positive energy while I suffer through another semester in the grad program. I think I would make it through every Tuesday class just fine if she was next to me.

I’m going to watch this video every time I start to lose focus of what I want to do with my teaching career. She is keeping a valuable tradition alive with today’s youth, and she is giving a voice to some pretty amazing people in Harlem. I hope that I am half as passionate about my work when I put all the yuck of the last year behind me.

The Scamp and Squishy

With only one day left in 2014, I decided to try and end the year on a high note, so I made a new friend.

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World, meet Squishy. Squishy is the son of one of my dear friends from the cohort. She has known my mom for years, but I got to know her while she was my study buddy last year. I was beyond excited when she announced she was pregnant, and even more thrilled when she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Thanks to my own personal hell, it has taken months for me to finally be able to meet him, but let me tell you….it was well worth the wait.

Squishy sleeps like an angel, barely fusses when he wants to be fed, and burps like a well skilled frat boy. He puked on me after I fed him, so I am choosing to see that as a sign of acceptance.

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Squishy was a great distraction from graduate school applications, and the never ending hunt for funding. The good news: there are plenty of options to fund my entire study. The bad news: I may have to start over and do the full three years. At this point though, if it means I get to finish a degree and research that I am passionate about, then I am all for it.

The Scamp at the End of the Year

There are two days left in 2014.  The universe spent most of the this year shitting on my face, and with my possible expulsion from the doctoral program pending review; it does not appear that 2015 is going to get off to a good start.

I have spent almost a year of my life depressed and stressed in a program that literally broke my spirit, I have spent many an hour in my therapist’s office trying to figure out what I should do about my degree. I had big big plans for this degree. It was my ticket to a full time university gig, and my ticket to improving basic skills writing programs at the community college level.

This degree was my ticket out of the United States. With those three fancy letters behind me, I was going to set off on my next grand adventure to the land of Kiwis and beautiful beaches. I wanted to finish off my prison sentence here and then go be a happy healthy adult in a country that feels okay about dual citizenship. I know that it is foolish to say that the degree is the only way to fulfill this dream, but it is almost impossible to get a university teaching post without with a doctorate.

While I love my job at the community college, and feel like I am reasonably good at what I do there, I do not know if I can be happy in this area after all that has happened. While I was in Estonia, I had decided to stay in the program, tough it out, get my degree, and move on. Now with a trumped up charge of academic dishonesty, and the supervisor who processes my time card withholding mine so I do not get paid on time, I am thinking that it is time to move on.

I have decided that I am going to see about transferring back to the University of Edinburgh. I am going to email the lovely woman who supervised my dissertation (she just so happens to be the same person who runs the PhD. program) and see if there are funding options that would allow me to stay loan free, and if some of the work that I have completed here could save me some time on completion there. It is a long shot, but,  that’s what I thought of my chances getting in the first time. Right now, anything would be better than staying in this program, so I am going to try and get 2015 off to a good, or at least, hopeful, start.

Right now, even the thought of being able to go back and finish my degree from a world ranked university rather than a school I am embarrassed to admit that I attend, sounds pretty darn good to me. I spent the last few months trying to salvage my education here and not give up because I thought that it would mean that the horrid people I am forced to be with once a week would win. I thought I would look like a quitter if I admitted defeat and didn’t finish out the program. I thought that I could put my head down and lay low for the next 214 days in hell.

I’m not a quitter, but there is a big difference between getting my soul crushed for a meaningless degree, and walking away to get the education I deserve, and should have had all along. The biggest mistake I have ever made was turning down a chance to stay in Scotland to come home for a boy.

It has taken me two years, and a lot of pain, but it looks like I finally have a chance to correct it.

The Scamp and Christmas

It is not really Christmas at the Wilder-Davis-Rodriguez House of Chaos until someone says fuck at the dinner table. That honor went to me again this year. I’m going on a four year winning streak.

This year’s winning phrase: Bill Fucking Murry.

This photo sums up Christmas for me.  I'm entirely sober and hyperventilating over a joke my brother told

This photo sums up Christmas for me. I’m entirely sober and hyperventilating over a joke my brother told

Happy Christmas from the Wilder-Davis-Rodriguez House of Chaos

Happy Christmas from the Wilder-Davis-Rodriguez House of Chaos

My sister and her husband took a "couples" picture, as did my parents. I took a "couples" picture with the most important male in my life

My sister and her husband took a “couples” picture, as did my parents. I took a “couples” picture with the most important male in my life

15 years of photos like this. Typical Wilder Children

15 years of photos like this. Typical Wilder Children

My Christmas present this year was two tickets to see the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and a plane ticket to Spain. Needless to say, it was a very happy Christmas

My Christmas present this year was two tickets to see the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and a plane ticket to Spain. Needless to say, it was a very happy Christmas

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Happy Christmas everyone. I hope that you are as lucky as I am and get to spend the day surrounded by people that you love.

The Scamp and a Christmas Tree

Christmas is in three days.

This year I was able to buy Christmas presents for everyone without making my credit card cry. That’s huge for me. It has been about four years since I was able to do that.

It feels pretty darn good.

Earlier in the week I got to partake in one of my favorite traditions: decorating the Wilder-Davis House of Chaos Christmas Tree. I do it every year, and it is something that I almost gave up (2013 Christmas Tree). I love decorating the tree. I have a routine: I untangle and string the lights; I find all of my favorite ornaments, and make sure that mine are displayed in the front of the tree, and that there are a good representation of everyone on the tree. This year, my brother and I picked out the tree (because he doesn’t trust me to drive his truck), and I decorated it while watching a Newsroom marathon.

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My 93 year old grandpa enjoying the Davis tree at the annual Davis Family Christmas

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The Wilder-Davis tree. You’ll notice all of the penguins, Dr. Seuss, and cat ornaments on the tree.

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The Grinch tree topper. He used to sing, but the cat tried to eat him one year, so he is now silent.

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This is the best ornament on the tree. It is a little red suitcase that matches the big red suitcase that take on all of my adventures.

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Every year I think about not packing this one in a box and hanging it in my room.

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I love this one. It is a small snapshot of our life in 1995. It was handmade at Knott’s Berry Farm, and has all of our names, plus, my kitty Simon, my rabbit Bun, and Kelly’s cat Socks. This one goes on the tree every year.

The kitties have been drinking out of the tree stand, but so far, the only ornament that has been broken was one that I dropped, and not one that the kitties were playing with. That is a major step up from the four that we lost last year. The one armed Barbie ornament just looks sad now.

This is one of the first times in a long time that I do not have papers to write, presentations to prepare, or papers to graded. I’m excited to have a few days off to watch Christmas movies on Lifetime, cook meals with my brother, and torment my sister about wrapping presents.