The Scamp’s Last Day of Her 27th Year

I’m going to go on record and say 27 has by far been the worst year of my life. I think I cried 300 of the 365 days since my last birthday, and I am not sad that it has come to an end. I spent the day avoiding work and judging a speech and debate tournament at the community college. It was not the most exciting day, but it was not a bad day.

Normally I would list all of the horrible things that happened to me while I was 27, but instead, I am going to choose this moment to do Week 10 of the Gratitude Challenge. It is a much better use of my time. The challenge for this week is to list 5 things that I like about myself. I’m not completely sure I can think of 5 things that go beyond the superficial, but I am going to give it a shot.

1. I like that I have found a way to make my students enjoy grammar. Last semester it was touch and go, but with a little humor (and some cat videos) I have managed to really get the concepts through to my students. They give me the courtesy laugh when my jokes are corny, and a few of them actually ask questions during the lectures.

2. I like that I can read trashy detective novels and watch bad reality TV without actually losing brain cells. I watch a lot of reality TV when I am stressed, and the last year has been extremely stressful. Despite all of that, I still feel like I have a good amount of intelligence left.

3. On the superficial level, I really like my nose. When I was younger, I thought my nose was huge. I thought that it was long and gave me a horrible profile. Turns out, my refusal to pose normally is what gives me a horrible profile.

4. I like my sense of adventure. For the past two years I have been trying to figure out why I wasn’t content to just stay in one place in the same routine. My gypsy soul has taken me to some crazy places, and allowed me to meet so many amazing people. I love traveling, and have been very fortunate lately to go all over the globe. The sense of adventure, and the constant traveling has taught me how to plan, how to be more curious, and how to be a more patient person. I used to get frustrated when I got lost, or when things did not go as planned. I would cry a lot over it. Now, I am a lot more easy going, and a lot more willing to go with the flow if there is traffic, delays, and even if I get lost.

5. I like my fortitude and perseverance. As much as this sucked (thanks to the break-up, getting kicked out of grad school, being bullied), I did not give up. I took the abuse and harassment from the program for almost a year. I was willing to stick it out to get the dumb degree and go back overseas. I tried to fight the good fight, I did not compromise my values for them. I did a lot of yoga, watched a lot of kitty and puppy videos, and shed a lot of tears in the process, but I never quit. Although they ended up winning that battle, I won the war. I am mostly emotionally intact, and I am happy to say that I am moving on to bigger and most certainly better.

I am happy to announce that starting at the end of June, I will officially be an expat again. I secured a position at a university in Edinburgh that will allow me to earn a PhD, and do some very important research. The position is fully funded, and provides a stipend that will help offset living expenses. This position could not be more perfect for me. I’m so glad that the supervisors of the project felt the same way. To them I am not a racist who plagiarized for academic gain, to them I am a capable woman with excellent research and communication skills. To them, I am the perfect member of their team, and someone that is going to help shape their research.

This position is a fresh start. I get to move back to Scotland. This is the happiest that I have felt in a really long time.

Securing this position is a pretty darn good way to end the worst year of my life.

 

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The Scamp and Beantown: Day 4

Three words: Boston Public Library

I’m in love with libraries. Outside of teaching, working in libraries is the only job I have ever had. The Boston Public library is really a thing of beauty. According to their website:

Established in 1848, by an act of the Great and General Court of Massachusetts, the Boston Public Library (BPL) was the first large free municipal library in the United States. The Boston Public Library’s first building of its own was a former schoolhouse located on Mason Street that was opened to the public on March 20, 1854. The library’s collections approximated 16,000 volumes, and it was obvious from the day the doors were first opened that the quarters were inadequate.

In December of that same year the library’s Commissioners were authorized to locate a new building upon a lot on Boylston Street. The present Copley Square location has been home to the library since 1895, when architect Charles Follen McKim completed his “palace for the people.”

In the latter half of the 19th century, the library worked vigorously to develop and expand its branch system. Viewed as a means to extend the library’s presence throughout the city, the branch system evolved from an idea in 1867 to a reality in 1870, when the first branch library in the United States was opened in East Boston. Between 1872 and 1900, 21 more branches began serving communities throughout Boston’s diverse neighborhoods.

In 1972, the library expanded its Copley Square location with the opening of an addition designed by Philip Johnson. Today, the McKim building houses the BPL’s vast research collection and the Johnson building holds the circulating collection of the general library and serves as headquarters for the Boston Public Library’s 24 branch libraries.

The entrance to the library is a grand marble staircase with two lions on guard.

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Sus and I were able to wander around and see the murals and the art that seems to be around every corner, and made it to the rare book room that houses some letters and correspondence from famous authors.

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In addition to the books, the library had some maps on display. I would love to find some prints of them and hang them on my wall.

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The library was not the only place of beauty we ventured into though. We also went into Trinity Church. Recognized as one of the most significant buildings in America, Trinity Church took shape on marshland in Boston’s Back Bay in the 1870’s. It really is beautiful building, and the pictures that I took really do not do it justice.

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Our next destination landed us at the Skywalk Observatory 55 floors above the city. We had a 360 degree view of Boston, and learned some interesting facts about the immigrants that choose to settle in the city.

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We ended the day at the Parish Cafe. They are known for sandwiches made by celebrity chefs. I had a couple of ciders and an amazing chicken sandwich while Sus and I debated education, Obamacare and Israel. We found an H&M (Sus’ Mecca) and shopped some sale items.

This was the first day that the cold and all of the walking really got to me. My joints were stiff and sore, and I was in a little bit of pain. I try not to complain about my Lupus too much, but four days of nonstop walking really got to me.

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I have never been so happy for layers in my life. I ended the day preparing for a very important interview and trying not to be nervous about the future.

The Scamp and Beantown: Day 3

I have a thing for zoos. I love them. Every time I visit a new city, the first thing I look for is whether or not they have zoo. As it turns out, Boston does have a zoo.

As it turns out, I chose to visit Boston during Snowmeggadon, and the thought of visiting a zoo in 8 feet of snow made me want to cry a little (okay, who am I kidding, it made me want to cry a lot). Monday in Boston was a whopping 3 degrees, and that made wanting to be outdoors for an extended amount of time impossible.

Luckily Boston has an alternative to the zoo that is just as good.

According to the website:

The New England Aquarium, which opened in 1969, is a global leader in ocean exploration and marine conservation. The Aquarium is one of the premier visitor attractions in Boston, with over 1.3 million visitors a year, and a major public education resource.

As it happens, the exhibit right now is all about my favorite animal.

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I love penguins. My cousin is a marine biologist, and works for an aquarium, and I am constantly begging him to bring me home a penguin. So far, he is saying no, but I am optimistic that I can change his mind.

The New England Aquarium is on the warf, and on any other day, I would have loved to see the view, but seeing as being outside hurt my face, we only stayed outside long enough to buy tickets and run inside.

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I loved the aquarium. The penguins were adorable, the staff friendly, and fish colorful and exciting. Sus is naturally curious and had me cracking up at all of the questions that she was asking. She was worried about being eaten by a starfish, wanted to know what everything ate, and made the men feeding the penguins laugh at everything she wanted to know. The marine biologist feeding the penguins was mighty cute, so I let her ask as many questions as she wanted.

When we had gotten our fill of fish (and sadly abandoned our plan to bring a penguin or two home with us), we trusted lonely planet and went off to Chinatown for some dumplings. Chinatown was amazing.Having never been to China, I imagine the layout here is very similar to a city in China.

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The Gourmet Dumpling House was easy to find, and before we even sat down, the waiter presented us with a pot of hot tea and some menus. While we were deciding what to eat, we snacked on scallion pancakes that tasted like little bits of heaven.

Thank you Google Images for supplying the photo. I ate all of them before I remembered to take a photo

Thank you Google Images for supplying the photo. I ate all of them before I remembered to take a photo

We ordered chicken wanton soup and vegetable dumplings. The last time I had Chinese food this good was when the lovely Sophia made dinner for us in Edinburgh. The restaurant had more staff than diners when we were there, and there was rapid fire Mandarin being spoken everywhere you turned. The staff was laughing and teasing each other while they sorted and cleaned fresh produce, and wrapped some sort of dumpling (The waitress was nice enough to tell us what it was, but I have since forgotten).

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This was by far the best meal that I have ever had. There were 10 dumplings in the bowl, and I kid you not, I ate seven of them. I’m not sure if it was all the walking, or the fact that it was my first meal of the day, but everything about this meal was amazing. Sus had to roll me back to the hostel. I would go back to Boston just to go back to the Gourmet Dumpling House.

The Scamp and Beantown: Day 2

Sus and I decided that the day needed to be dedicated to all things Harvard. We quickly learned the difference between Harvard Avenue and Harvard Street, and we successfully navigated both the subway and the bus system. The one thing that impressed me about Boston was how easy public transportation was to navigate. We got everywhere we needed to be, and did so with little fuss.

When we made it to Harvard I really wanted to be impressed. On paper, Harvard is an impressive school.

Harvard at a Glance

ESTABLISHED

1636

FACULTY

About 2,400 faculty members and more than 10,400 academic appointments in affiliated teaching hospitals

STUDENTS

Harvard College – About 6,700
Graduate and professional students – About 14,500
Total – About 21,000

SCHOOL COLOR

Crimson Specs

LIVING ALUMNI

More than 323,000, over 271,000 in the U.S., nearly 52,000 in some 201 other countries. See the alumni website for more information.

HONORS

47 Nobel Laureates, 32 heads of state, 48 Pulitzer Prize winners

MOTTO

Veritas (Latin for “truth”)

REAL ESTATE HOLDINGS

5,083 acres

LIBRARY COLLECTION

The Harvard Library—the largest academic library in the world—includes 18.9 million volumes, 174,000 serial titles, an estimated 400 million manuscript items, 10 million photographs, 56 million archived web pages, and 5.4 terabytes of born-digital archives and manuscripts. Access to this rich collection is provided by nearly 1,000 library staff members who operate more than 70 separate library units.

FACULTIES, SCHOOLS, AND AN INSTITUTE

Harvard University is made up of 11 principal academic units – ten faculties and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The ten faculties oversee schools and divisions that offer courses and award academic degrees.

Under 8 feet of snow….it sort of loses its appeal.

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I think another reason that I was underwhelmed was because the University of Edinburgh has ruined me for all other schools. The thing I liked about the campus was everyone was wearing Harvard shirts, people were super friendly, and there were an abundance of international students. Cambridge is a proper college town, and walking around the shops of Harvard Square was a lot of fun. Being that Sus and I both love books, we stopped in a great bookstore on the square.

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When I was a kid, I thought Harvard was the be all, end all of schools. I wanted to go there. While I enjoyed the tour, and thought the campus was beautiful, I am not so sure I would have really enjoyed being a student there. While there is a sense of campus pride, and the people seemed nice, there is also a definite competitive atmosphere that lingers. I would rather have a collaborative learning experience, rather than one based on constantly trying to best my classmates.

We ended the night following the advice of Lonely Planet and visiting Little Italy for some pasta.

Lonely Planet did not let us down.

Carmelinas was truly amazing. The restaurant was small, and beautiful, and the food was great. I highly recommend the Puttenesca should anyone be lucky enough to eat there.

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Behind the restaurant was a little bit of history. Paul Revere House sits quietly and unassuming between apartment buildings. It was closed, dark, and covered in snow, so the picture is not one that I took, but the house was impressive, and the history behind it makes the academic nerd in me giddy.

According to the Paul Revere Memorial Society:

The home was built about 1680 on the site of the former parsonage of the Second Church of Boston. Increase Mather, the Minister of the Second Church, and his family (including his son, Cotton Mather) occupied this parsonage from 1670 until it was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1676. A large and fashionable new home was built at the same location about four years later. Paul Revere owned the home from 1770 to 1800, although he and his family may not have lived here in some periods in the 1780s and 90s. After Revere sold the home in 1800, it soon became a tenement, and the ground floor was remodeled for use as shops, including at various times a candy store, cigar factory, bank and vegetable and fruit business. In 1902, Paul Revere’s great-grandson, John P. Reynolds Jr. purchased the building to ensure that it would not be demolished. Over the next few years, money was raised, and the Paul Revere Memorial Association formed to preserve and renovate the building. In April 1908, the Paul Revere House opened its doors to the public as one of the earliest historic house museums in the U.S. The Association still oversees the preservation and day-to-day operations of this national treasure.

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One day I will have to go back and take a tour of the house.

After all the walking and all day outside, we were back at the hostel and in bed by 9pm. I have not been asleep by 9pm since I was in high school….

The Scamp and Beantown: Day 1

Only this girl would book a trip to Boston during the worst snowstorm the city has ever seen. Eight feet of snow is no joke. I took a red eye, and landed at 8 in the morning, and after an hour subway ride, and a ten minute walk in the ice and snow, I made it to the hostel that would serve as home for a few days. I was so tired by the time I got to Boston that I didn’t even notice the cold.

This was my first hostel experience, and I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. I have a lot of friends who stay in hostels, and very few of them have horror stories, but when I got to the 40Berkeley, I was happy that it was in a safe neighborhood, and was reasonably clean.  The room reminded me of the dorm I lived in in Scotland (well, a less clean version) complete with the shared bathroom and uncomfortable cot bed. I was scared that the extreme cold weather would make the room extremely cold, but when I settled in,, the room was a tropical paradise. I was sweating in five minutes, and when the mysteries of the radiator knobs alluded me, I actually opened a window.

It was snowing….

The neighborhood streets had been plowed, and small paths had been cleared on the sidewalks, but it was still hard to get an idea of what anything looked like.

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By the time Sus arrived, it was late afternoon, and both of us were too tired to any real exploring. I knew that I could be in Boston without going to Cheers, so we walked through the Boston Commons, and had a bite where everybody knows your name.

The Boston Commons may be beautiful, but all I saw was 8 feet of snow.

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Chicken II made his first trip out and about, and he enjoyed Cheers.

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In the dark, with snow flurries and jet lag, I was worried that I would not enjoy my trip. I punctuate my life by the adventures that I take, and I was worried that if I did not enjoy the trip, then my mood would not improve.

Then I remembered the gratitude challenge. The challenge for this week was how I am feeling 9 weeks in. While I was worried I would not have fun, I was grateful to be out of California for a few days, and for the chance to experience the snow and Beantown.

I’m really not sure how I feel yet at this stage of the challenge. There are days when I feel like I am becoming a more grateful person, and that I am being reminded of all of the good I am surrounded by, and then there are the days when I feel like running over everyone I come in contact with. I’m hoping as the weeks go by, I will hold onto the positive feelings and become a more grateful person.

The Gratitude Challenge Week 7 and 8

I’m way behind, and a bit lazy, so I am doing two weeks at once.

Week 7 is all about one friend who I am grateful for while week 8 was all about expressing gratitude to three people.

7 is a no brainer. The woman who I am highlighting this week is Toni. We met while working for the University of San Diego. We bonded over filing and mocking law students, and our friendship is based on snark, sarcasm, and squirrels. When she finally met her soulmate, she allowed me to be the officiant.

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When I need a cute kid fix, she sends me pictures of my meow

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When I was terrified about walking into a meeting at Cal State Fullerton alone, she drove over 100 miles to come to the meeting and act as my council (knowing a lawyer is really handy). When my legal issues reach beyond her expertise, she hunted down a lawyer who was best suited to give me advice. There really are not enough words to express how grateful I am for her friendship.  I’m waiting for the day I can repay her for her kindness.

As for week 8, this was a hard one. I’m not very good at asking for help, and I am even worse at thanking people when they do help me. I have been a bit socially awkward lately in order to avoid having to explain what happened with CSUF, so my attempts to express my gratitude have been almost painful.

The first person I expressed my gratitude to was my therapist. My sessions with her have come to an end. Obamacare does not think that mental health is important, so I have to find low cost options to get help with my depression. The city of Brea offers a service, and I was matched with a great therapist. She really helped me cope with all of the nasty things that went on in the program, and helped me deal with the fallout of being asked to leave. Had it not been for her, the program really would have broken me. Unfortunately, I am only given a certain number of sessions, and now have to hunt for another manageable program.

The second person I expressed my gratitude to was a difficult one. When I visit my doc every few months, I have to give lots of blood and pee in a cup. Having gone through this procedure often enough, I know how much water I need to drink and when to be able to handle that, and I know that the veins in my right arm are better than the ones in my left. I also know which of the nurses has a light touch, and which one can never seem to find the vein. This week, I got Nurse Ratchet. She insisted on using my left arm, and when she jabbed the needle into my arm and missed the vein, I was none too pleased. I was ready to be mean, but instead decided to thank her and tell her how grateful I was that she was able to get my blood drawn quickly. She told I must have a low tolerance for pain, and then told me how to pee in the cup properly, I feel that my gratitude was somewhat wasted on her, but I did appreciate the lesson on how to pee in a cup (turns out I have been doing it wrong for years! Who knew?).

The third person who got a little of my gratitude this week was actually more than one person. My freshman level writing course were really good sports this week. I’m a big believer of technology, and the day I need to show a video and go over some grammar issues, the light in the projector blows up. My students did not complain and settled into hearing me discuss the lectures old school style. They actually took notes, asked questions, and did the writing assignment assigned to them. I don’t know if they are actually good people, or they knew that I did not want to be trifled with, but either way, I told them I was grateful that they kept their thoughts about the class to themselves.

Now that that is out of the way I can focus on my upcoming trip to Boston. It is snowmaggedon there, so it should be an interesting few days. I don’t think I will be seeing as many sites as I thought I would, but I am still going to try and get to Harvard Square and the Boston Commons. I may even go the bar where everybody knows your name.

The Scamp and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Thank you to Dear Kitty for the nomination! I love reading your blog, and I am honored that you have decided to share this award with me.

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The rules of this award are:

1. Show the award on your blog.
2. Thank the person that has nominated you.
3. Share 7 different facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 blogs of your choice.
5. Link your nominees and let them know of your nomination.

Seven fun facts about me….well, this is a tough one. Let me see if I can share some fun things.

1. I have  gypsy soul. I am the happiest if I am traveling and visiting new places. For the last ten years I have yet to live in a place for more than four years. I’ve lived all over California and spent the best year ever working on an MSc in Edinburgh, Scotland. I live my life by the trips that I have planned.

2. I am an identical twin.

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The best part of this is that people ask us all kinds of strange questions. The best question that we have ever been asked is if we look in the mirror and ever forget which one we are. Yes, clueless person, I constantly look in the mirror and wonder if I am Kim, or if I am Kelly. Happens all the time.

3. I collect rubber ducks.

Every time I visit a new place, I buy a rubber duck that looks like the flag, or something fun from the place. I have a Beefeater, a leprechaun, a bagpipe player, a German beer wench, a Tennessee cowboy, the list goes on. I love these little ducks. The collection started when I moved to my first apartment after college. I was given a zebra print devil duck for my bathtub. The collection of ducks has just progressed from there. I’m excited for my upcoming trip to Boston, and my trip this summer to Spain and Portugal to collect some more ducks.

4. I’m obsessed with cats.

I love my cat. He is my favorite. I have cat shoes, cat pajamas, a dress with cats, and I mention cats and cat videos as often as I can. It is only week three of the semester, and I think my students are already sick of me using cat videos on the internet as my example for everything.

5. I collect vintage travel posters.

Old United Airlines posters of Hawaii and Cuba cover my walls. I love vibrant colors and travel, so combining the two is a bonus for me. I am starting to worry about how I am going to get those shipped to the UK should I have the chance to move back. I’d be gutted if something happened to them.

6. I think I am the funniest person on the planet.

I am the only one that laughs at my jokes though.

7. I’m a college professor.

I love my job. I spent a long time working as a librarian, and while I loved the places that I worked, and the people that I worked with, I can now say that I love my job. I feel like that is a rare thing, and I am very happy that I am good at teaching grammar, and that I get to spend my days teaching people how to write. I’m still trying to make grammar cool, and while I do not have high hopes for that catching on, I am going to do my damnedest to make it happen.

I must now nominate 15 of my favorite blogs to pass this award to. They are:

1. Biblioklept

2. Storytime with John

3. The Truth Warrior

4. Katzenworld

5. My Little Life’s Journey

6. Lost Tails

7. Ed Mooney Photography

8.  The Bippity Boppity Beautiful Blog

9. Talin

10. Nathan

11. Chris Martin

12. Poems and People

13. The Duck and the Owl

14. The College Girl’s Guide to Study Abroad

15. Jade

Enjoy! If you do not already read some of these awesome blogs, you should check them out. Totally worth it.