A Scamp and Control

I like to have control. I’m bossy, domineering, and  stubborn. I don’t like it when there are things in my life that I cannot control. While there are many aspects of my life right now that I can’t control, there is one area that I should have control of, but is driving me crazy.

The food here is awful. I have no control over what gets served in the caf here, and no control of my options for dinner. I have to fight the urge to go into the kitchen every night and show them how to cook rice, or pasta, or what chicken should look like. I am tired of looking at over ripe fruit, soggy veggies and salad that is wilted. I miss tortillas and Mexican food, miss being able to try out the recipes I find on the internet, and really miss not feeling hungry. I also miss actually being hungry.

The motto in the caf here is “Love food, hate waste” My motto is, “We wouldn’t waste the food if you knew how to cook it”. Tonight I had two bites of cold under-cooked whole wheat pasta and two bites of an apple crumble that was as hard as a rock. If I could get a refund for the food portion of my housing cost, I would do it in a heartbeat. I would shop and eat out and gain some much needed control. Since that is not possible, I think I will go on a hunger strike.

Okay, that is not possible either, so I will continue to try and live off of breakfast and wilted salad and yogurt. I just have to make it a month and then my parents will be here and a little normal will creep back into my life. I have one month of class left, and three months left in Scotland. While I a extremely ready to come home, I do not want to miss out on what is going on here.

A Scamp and True Love

True love is pulling gum off your mate’s butt in the middle of a crowded dinning hall.

The guy didn’t even laugh as he did it either. I hope that if that ever happens to me, my flip would do the same….Everyone that knows me, and knows him, knows that he would laugh, probably take a photo of it, laugh some more, and then maybe think about getting it off. Lord knows that’s how I would handle it.


A Scamp in the Park

There is a park somewhat close to the dorms that I walk through sometimes to get to campus. Most of the time it is cold, pretty empty, and a tiny bit scary going through alone. I usually go through the park during the week, sometimes at night, so I am pretty sure that accounts for my view of it. Today I cut through the park in the middle of the afternoon because it is quickest route to the public library I like. The park was full of people. Children were playing on all of the equipment while their parents chatted with each other or pushed them on the swings. I could hear giggling and laughing and saw a sea of knit caps, bright colored jackets and mittens everywhere. As I got further along the path in the park, I saw dogs running through the muddy grass and guys playing rugby in small groups. The sun was even out, and I was not freezing, so I am going to take it as a sign for a good day.

I had a birthday card waiting for me when I got home from Belfast. It is really hard for me to not open it now, but I am going to try and hang tough. I was happy to see it, especially since I will be celebrating my birthday without my family for the first time ever. I am sure I will spend the day here surrounded by the people that love me, but besides Kelly, there is just one person I want to spend it with. In my mind I saw a Skype date with cake for me, and a healthy dinner for him at 2 or 3 am my time. Now I am just thinking to pass the day hiding in my room working on my final assignment. I officially only have a month left of classes, and then I can start to get ready to come home. I think that has good as this has been, I am just ready to come home. I think it is time for me to get my research in order, and start thinking about what I need to do to graduate here. I’ll have time to celebrate and have some fun later.

One of these posts will be positive and cheery soon. The sun has been out more and more, so I am hoping that boosts my mood. I am also a little over a month from a visit from my parents. I have a great trip planned for them, and it will be nice to see them here and be able to show them my little home away from home.

A Scamp and Belfast

I needed a break. I’ve been stressed, homesick, and miserable to be around. In the last three weeks I have lost the chance to communicate with two people that I care about, and it is breaking my heart. This week for most of the students at the University of Edinburgh was Innovative Learning Week. Students have the week off from classes, and there are seminars and classes put on by the school on a variety of subjects. Even though I have an assignment due in a couple of weeks, I decided to spend learning week in Ireland. My feisty Texan had some research to do here, and I thought it would be fun to tag along. We got two of the boys to come along, and we’ve made quite the adventure of it. There have been times when I have been scared (driving on the other side of the road can be a bit hard to remember, and America doesn’t do roundabouts, so don’t even get me started on those), for the most part, this adventure has been just what I needed. The gang is keeping my mind off of the all of the horrible things going on in my life right now, and I needed.

I was amazed at how easy the traveling was from Edinburgh to Belfast. We did take two trains, a bus, a ferry and a cab, but everything was on time, relatively nice, and very scenic. I had so much fun figuring out where we needed to be next, and sitting with everyone chatting about nonsensical things. The day we left was sunny, and since it had been awhile since I saw the sun, I was very excited. We spent the first day in Belfast driving to the Ulster American Folk Museum. Jade had research to do, and while she worked, they boys and I walked around the exhibits. The museum was all outdoors. There were houses, schools, churches, a ship, and a trip to America within the walk. Even though the day was cold, the sun was out, the people were friendly, and I had fun trying to pet a goose, walking over ropes, and taking in the history of people who went from Northern Ireland to the Americas. I really enjoyed being outside in the fresh air, and getting to know the boys. When we left the museum we drove down to Dublin, and while I slept through most of that 3 hour journey, the boys got to have their Guinness, and we got to catch up with a lad whom we have become friends with. He took us to a really interesting pub and we shared a good laugh. I came back exhausted, but I was distracted and not sad.

Today was a day of sightseeing. First on the list: Giant’s Causeway. The causeway is made up of cliffs that were supposedly carved out by a giant named Finn. I don’t know the whole story (I wanted to go because it is on the beach), but it was the perfect day to be out in nature. We climbed rocks, picked up shells, enjoyed the deep sea air, and again enjoyed the conversation that can only be had when on roadtrips. We followed that up with a trip to the docks to see where the Titanic was docked, and to be honest, I was less than impressed. This city is obsessed with the Titanic, and the dry dock was huge, and impressive, but I don’t know if I needed to see it in person. We finished early for the day, and my tiredness and my misery caught up with me. Jade was nice enough to comfort me and give me  little kick in the pants that I needed. I got some food in me, but shrugged off walking around the city so that I could stay warm and have some time to think.

I have a lot to think about it. My future is up in the air right now. I have no control over it though. I know what I want, and know where I want to be, but I am not sure that it will happen. I have been thinking a lot about what will make me happy, and what I can do to get those things, and to be honest, most of that is in San Diego. I am enjoying my time here and the places I have been and the people I have met, but I think what this whole adventure has provided me with is a picture of what will make me happy. Right now that is going to where my heart is, and being near my family. I started this journey with the intent to finish the PhD here, but now I know there is no way that I can be away from the people that I love most in the world that long. Suddenly, even finishing the degree in Fullerton no longer seems important. I have a knack for going to school. I have always been a student, don’t know how to really be anything else, and the thought of not being one anymore scares me. My identity has been defined as how I am as a student, what I am studying and where I going to school. I am afraid that if I stop that, I will no longer know who I am. These last few months though have changed that. I think now though I am ready to stop putting off growing up. I want to put down roots somewhere, be with the person who has my heart, and make my future my present. I want to start teaching and get started helping students learn how to write better. I want to settle into a routine with my friends and family. I want to get a dog and take it for walks and take it to the dog beach and let it run around in the waves with other dogs. I want good Mexican food and home cooked meals. I want to feel like an adult. I want to pay my own bills.

Tomorrow we will make the long journey back to Scotland, and I will have to go back to work on my final assignment first thing Saturday. I am hoping that the good feelings of fresh air, sunshine and a change of scenery will follow me home and I can pass the next few weeks quickly. I am going to work my damnedest to make things right with the people I hurt, and try to remember that my misery is the not fault of the people who love me and should not be acted out as such. Tomorrow I look forward to sleeping in my dorm bed and hiding in my room with some light fluffy movies and Harry Potter.

A Scamp and Some Kindness

I’m not sure if it was because the sun was out yesterday, or if it was because it was Friday, but my faith in the human race was temporarily restored.

I’ve had a tough week. I was having problems with the bank, problems with my email for my teaching position, an ever continuing problem with the culture class. I did not have high expectations for the errands I wanted to run before class. My first stop of the day was my favorite stationary store so I could get some envelopes. The place is run by a little old man, and I like feeling like 83 pence purchase is helping keep him in business. Yesterday though, it was his son that was working in the shop.

I feel it is important to note that Edinburgh is a cash city. The shops are not used to people using their card, and often are only cash only. This Scamp is not a cash friendly girl. The problems with the bank left me without access to my funds, so I was relying on my credit card. When I went to pay for my envelopes, the guy told me the card machine was broken, and he was cash only for the day. When I told him I didn’t have the cash and would be right back after hitting the ATM, he told simply told me to take the envelopes and next time I was in the area just to come by and give him the cash. He said he did it all the time, and was happy to help. I told him he was saving the delivery of a very important rubber chicken.

I left the shop feeling really good. I’m not used to people outside of my friends here doing nice things, and I instantly felt better about the afternoon class, and finishing the rest of my errands. He seemed shocked when I went back after class with the money. He laughed and wished me a good weekend. I will definitely go back as often as I can (with cash) while I am here.

I wish that good feeling had been enough to carry me for the weekend though. I’m a little sad and homesick, and have a lot of work to do for my research class. I spent today curled up in bed after dinner instead of reading. I am very much looking forward to having the week off of class and being able to get out of the city. I can’t wait to explore Belfast during the day (I’m going to try and talk the boys into going to the zoo so I can see the California Sea Lions. I could use a bit of home). I’m hoping for a little culture, a little adventure, and a push out of my sad and mopey state.

A Scamp and Loss

“At the temple there is a poem called “Loss” carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read loss, only feel it.”

–Arthur Golden

This week the world lost one of the good ones. I can’t tell you about his childhood, or what his life was like before I was born, but I can tell you that he was the one to drive my mom to the hospital when her water broke, and when I was older, I would see him early in the mornings walking Buster, his black Lab. I think the last time that I saw him was Kelly’s wedding, but I cannot remember if he was there, or if it was a time long before that. The last few years I have been pretty self involved, and even though the Jack and Jan lived less than a mile from us, I did not make it over there nearly as often as I should have.

While I cannot give you a proper biography of Jack Stayton, I cannot tell you when he and Jan moved to California, or when they settled into the house on Juanita, but I can tell you that they were living there when my parents moved in in the late 70s. My brother, knowing full well he was not allowed to cross the street, used to stand at the edge of our driveway and yell for Jack when he got home from work. I know that my sister used to sit on the arm of his easy chair and eat snacks with him. I know that he was good with his hands. He could fix cars, mowers, or anything else that broke, and I remember bird houses and weather vane that he made filling their backyard. When I was 8 or 9 he helped me make a pinewood derby car so that I could race in the big derby challenge that Matt was racing in. He even helped me sand the car and told me that I needed to remember to paint whiskers on it so that it would look like a cat.

I remember the giant Sequence board that Jack built so it would be easier to play. He laid out two complete decks of card on a huge board and then framed it in glass. I remember sitting at the kitchen table playing with him, his daughter Jana, and various people from the neighborhood.

I remember Jack’s dog, Buster. He was a sweet black Lab that thought he was a lap dog and would do anything that Jack wanted. He sat, laid down, and go for walks around the neighborhood carrying his own leash. I remember the little dog, Katie, and how she used to jump up into his chair and sit with him while he watched TV. I remember the big tub of pretzels, trial mix or granola that he kept next to his chair. He was a diabetic, and was always snacking on healthy or sugar free foods.

I remember his voice. He had a southern drawl and sounded like an old cowboy. He used to have a big belly laugh that came all the way up from his toes. He was always telling funny stories or jokes, and when John and Jana had the D-Man, Jack could not be more proud of telling us stories about the smart things he said, or how much his grandson loved big trucks and construction sites. Jack made him all sorts of fun things to play with when he was younger.

I remember thinking that he and Jan had been married forever (turns out he died the day before their 62nd anniversary) and laughing when he would say or do something that annoyed her. She’d always roll her eyes at him and then tell him he was wrong. Their love for each other was an easy one, one that came with the comforts of time and the sharing of a life.

Unfortunately I will not physically be there when he is laid to rest, but I will be there in spirit. I’m sure that my mom will dig up a funny picture of us when we were kids sitting on his lap, or playing in their driveway. I know that my mom will tell everyone that I wish I could be there, but I am in Scotland making everyone proud. I know that if I have a glass of scotch at my favorite pub, Jack will see that as an acceptable alternative.

His daughter said that he was ready to go, that it was his time. While that may have been the case for him, the rest of us were not ready for him to leave. The world is a little dimmer today, and the stars a little brighter.

Rest in peace, Jack. Rest in peace.

Antichrist Scamp

or….a Scamp and intolerance.

I’ve had really horrible heartburn all day. Not only does it feel like something is eating away my esophagus, but it is leaving a bad taste in my mouth (of course, that could also be the combination of Tums and toothpaste)  There is another strong possibility for the bad taste in my mouth though. It could very well be leftover bad feelings about my Language, Culture and Pedagogy class yesterday morning.

I knew the day was not going to be the best when I woke up. I was extremely tired, and even though the morning was clear, it was cold and my bed was warm. When I got to class everyone was grumbling about the homework that was assigned and the incomprehensible reading we were given. When the professor got to class, instead of asking us if we had any questions about the readings, she scolded us like we were five year olds because we did not post a non-homework assignment that is not being graded or used for anything outside of the one class that we discussed it in. She was pissed too. She told us that she knew what was best for us, and that when she asked us to do something, she expected us to do it (I’m pretty sure her tone of voice indicated that she thought that was too much for us to handle). She had given us a homework assignment that required us to go to the pub and observe people, so when it was clear that some of us did not post the non assignment, she asked if we had gotten drunk at the pub and decided not to take her seriously. I was a bit insulted, but since my group didn’t post, I felt like I had earned a little of her wrath. It wasn’t handled very well, and I did not appreciate feeling like I was five and colored on the wall, but I was tired, so I tuned her out and tried (and failed) to stay awake in class. One of the other girls in class spoke up and said she didn’t appreciate being talked to that way since she was doing the assigned reading and assignments. The professor mocked her, and basically ignored the comment in general.

Once we got around to discussing the readings, things got really interesting. One of the concepts that we are focusing on in this class is intercultural competence. We are learning how to be good moderators of culture, and how to best understand all of the students that we will potentially have in our classrooms. One of the concepts involved looking at complex situations in which cultures clashed, and as a group, students are supposed to come to a conclusion of what could be done in these situations so as not to offend any one culture. The two scenarios that were given as examples were very controversial. One involved a westernized woman in the Middle East being scolded quite forcefully because her head and body were not covered. The other scenario involved a Middle Eastern man in a westernized country who gets forcefully scolded for stopping in the middle of the street to pray.

Both of the scenarios are quite serious, and as one of the members of the class put it, “It would be next to impossible to get people to agree on a conclusion of what should be done in these situations. If you have a class that is a mix of western and eastern people, they are not going to agree on how these should be handled.” The professor jumped in and said that part of the theory was about negotiation.

This is where the fun began.

One woman in the class is from Palestine. She is very traditional, she keeps most of her body, including her head covered, and she is clearly very very very pro Palestine. She immediately puts her two sense in, saying that negotiations are pointless, and the only way to get what you want is through the use of weapons. She then went on a tirade about how Israel stole all of Palestine’s land, and how they have all the power, so they have no reason to negotiate for anything. She talked about the 20 years of being killed and abused by Israel, and how all the problems started with Bill Clinton (she looked at me and the other American in the class when she said this). She went on and on about how the people in Palestine were not slaves, or oppressed, but their land was stolen, and Israel was refusing to be reasonable. The Irish girl in the class spoke up and talked about the peace treaty between the Republic and Northern Ireland, and how before negotiations, the two side wanted to kill each other. I mentioned that women in the US had no power when they negotiated with men for the right to vote, but they didn’t kill anyone to get what they wanted.  The Palestinian woman shook her head to all of this and said the only way to get peace was with weapons. She said, “If someone kills you, you should kill them back.” Everyone was uncomfortable at this point, but the prof let the woman continue her tirade. One of the British men in the class pointed out that Gandhi didn’t use force to get what he wanted. but she overlooked that as well. 40 minutes later we had not started the lesson, had a break, or done anything worth while. I was really uncomfortable. I’m a Jew, and American, so to this woman, I am the ultimate enemy….good thing she doesn’t know I am Jewish.

Here is the thing: I’m not upset that she has an opinion that differs from me. I’m upset that she felt the need to stand on her soapbox with a totally brainwashed one sided opinion and then tell the Chinese girls in the class her one sided view of the conflict. I am not saying Israel is perfect, and I am not saying that negotiations are not working because of Palestine, but the middle of a cultural sensitivity class is not the time or place for her views. She is not the least bit culturally informed, or sensitive, and I did not feel comfortable enough to voice my opinion, or even tell the woman she is the reason that the theory of cultural negotiation didn’t work. I resent that I went to class and the professor didn’t think to stop the soapbox and actually teach us. I ended up sleeping through her lecture when she finally got around to it, and then later in the day I was so annoyed by what happened, that I was telling girls who were not in the class about how we were treated like five year olds, only to have the professor walk by and smile at me (and yes, I said her name, and I was talking loud enough for her to hear me).

Here is my dilemma: one of the girls in the class was also really insulted by being talked down to, and then having to listen to the argument for 40 minutes. She plans to go to our program director and tell him the situation and see if he can help us out. I think that maybe we should try to talk to the professor first and voice our concerns, but she has a reputation for being a bitch, and no one wants her wrath directed at them. I’m so tired that part of me just wants to let it go and chalk it up to her not being a good teacher, and know that next week is a new week and she will probably be fine. I can always raise my hand and complain in class if a discussion like this is repeated and nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. Part of the class is about learning how to understand and demonstrate our understanding of various cultures, so I think I am going to try that.

Should I say something though, and if so, to whom? Or, should I just let it go and focus on the homework, writing assignments and my upcoming dissertation? (I’m in favor of the last option)

A Scamp and Her Second Favorite Matt

Sorry Kellom, but my brother will always be my favorite Matt. You come a close second though. I know this will make you sad, since you are my number one fan, but my family loyalty cannot be squashed.

So, what does one write in an ode to you? I could write about all of your misdeeds in Merced. I could write about the crazy detailed schemes and pranks that you and Josh were able to perpetrate against Mango. I giggle every time I think about what you guys did at those apartments by the railroad tracks. I only wish I had witnessed you guys crawling through the vent in the closet.

I could write about how you quietly tolerated living with the crazy girl you dated our senior year. I’m really surprised you didn’t kill her….or harass her a lot more.

I could write about the time that you were being stalked by a girl that shall remain nameless, and how Janelle and I made you blush when we said that if she had showed up that weekend we would have been all over you to make her uncomfortable.

I could write about that very drunken conversation when you tried to convince me the benefits of sporking with you, and how you treated me to dinner (I still owe you for that, so the next time both of us are in California, you best let me take you out for a nice meal).

I could write about your absurd Draw Something pictures, but I don’t think I could ever do those justice.

I could write about how sad and misguided you are for being a Raider fan, but since that is pretty obvious, I wouldn’t even think about wasting my words.

Instead, what I think I will focus on is the fact that although you like to pretend that you are the silent broody type, you are actually a big softy. I love hanging out with you when you are in San Diego because I love watching you with Reilly. I know that in the future you will teach her all sorts of horrible things, but in the meantime,  watching you hold her hand, or hold her while she sits on your lap is always good for a laugh. Awhile ago you made that time lapse video of her, and it was probably the sweetest present ever.

I know that Paulyne probably tells you all the time that you need to move to San Diego when you are done with your PhD., but really, you should consider it….if nothing else but to clear yourself of all things Raider Nation.

It is not quite the poetry and magic that I promised you, but I know how embarrassed you would be if I actually did that, so for now, this will have to suffice as the shout out that you all but begged me for.

Little Red Riding Scamp

Well, not really. We all know that I would be an awful Red Riding Hood. I’m easily led off the path of righteousness, and if my mom wanted me to take goodies to my sick grandma, my first thought would be, “Heck no! I’m not trying to catch a cold.”

Don’t worry, there is a point to this, and there are visuals.

Today I dragged my tired butt to campus for the children’s literature class expecting it to be like the other two classes, but was pleasantly surprised to see the half of the teaching duo that I liked. She has a huge literary boner for fairy tales, so today’s lesson was on genre and intertexuality using fairy tales, specifically, Little Red Riding Hood. In total today, I saw several versions of the story, some funny, some scary, and some just plain creepy. Because I enjoyed it so much, I thought I would share the highlights with my seven readers.

Version 1: The Grimm Brother’s Little Red Riding Hood

In case you haven’t read it, here it is in its entirety.

Grimm’s Little Red Riding Hood

I do not remember the stones and the sausage, and there being more than one wolf, but I was still amused by the tale. We used this one as the base to compare all the other versions that we examined.

Version 2: The Animals: Little Red Riding Hood

This song had me laughing. The baaaaaaing like a sheep at the end really got me giggling. Apparently in one version of the story, the wolf skins a sheep and wears the the sheep skin and walks with LRRH and talks her into going into the forest to get flowers. She has no idea he is a wolf, and that she should be afraid of him. The song launched a very funny conversation about what the guy wanted from the girl. Let me tell you, it is really hard to try and talk about sex without really talking about sex.

Version 3: The Best Poem Ever

Roald Dahl was already a genius in my book, but this poem just cemented his place in my little literary hall of fame. If you don’t click on any of the links, this is the one to click on. The fact that Riding Hood goes hood on the wolf is amazing, and then wearing him as a coat at the end tops it off. The video they made for this version is a bit odd and creepy, but the poem is hilarious.

Version 4: Creepy 80s Video

I don’t have a video of this, but I really don’t want everyone to be as creeped out as I was. It was a bad soap opera with a slutty mom and a slutty Red Riding Hood named Esmeralda. We spent a lot of time talking about all of the soap operas and other things alluded to in the video, and to be honest, most of them went over my head.

Version 5: Politically Correct Little Red Riding Hood.

The funniest version by far.

Politically Correct Little Red Riding Hood

We read this version out loud, and the whole time the lovely Claire was reading, I was giggling like an idiot. We then talked about how offensive this could be to people, but I am not one of those people.

Version 6: Hoodwinked

I would love to see this movie. I remember when it came out, but I really didn’t have too much of an interest in it. After all of the versions today, I think the movie might be fun

Version 7: Chanel No. 5

I fail to see how this relates to Little Red Riding Hood, so if someone want to enlighten me, I am open to comments.

Chanel No. 5

This is how I spent my Friday afternoon. What an exciting life I lead.