The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 33 and 34

So, it is actually week 35, but I am way behind thanks to vacation and I like to fall behind on things, I am playing catch-up and avoiding the work on my thesis and other work related things. I have to say though, I do feel like I have a renewed energy for my work. The sunshine was good, and a visit from an old friend who went to UC Merced with me have left me feeling a lot happier. I got to play tour guide, and got to be around her wonderful energy. She is about to embark on a master’s degree, and her excitement, passion, and overall love for life and all of its adventures made me feel a lot better about life. I even got to meet one of her fellow cohort members who was equally as lovely, and her youth and love for travel and adventure remind me a lot of myself and how I feel when I am in a new place.

Plus, both of them were such great sports about sleeping on my moderately comfy couch and the floor.

And now on to the challenges. Week 33 is dedicated to my favourite books and why I like them. It would be almost impossible for me to list all of my favourites, in fact, I am pretty sure I have never hated a book….well, War and Peace. I’m still trying to read that. I have managed to think of a few books that I can always go back to.

God Went to Beauty School

According to the Amazon Review:

Cynthia Rylant takes teens on an invigorating spiritual journey as she explores what God’s life on Earth might be like. Rylant’s reflective and often humorous verse follows God as he tries out human activities such as getting a dog, writing a fan letter, and making spaghetti.

God Went to Beauty School combines the awesome with the everyday in an accessible, thought–provoking, and intelligent manner.

I love this book. I’m not especially religious, but the idea that God writes a fan letter, that he goes to a hardware store, even that he takes the bus is hilarious to me. The charm in the writing is the bits of cheeky commentary about these everyday activities and what it is like when the ultimate creator tries to navigate them. I first read this book when I was 15. I checked out from the La Habra Public Library. I found it again when I was 20 and taking a creative writing class, and now have my very own copy tucked away in a box at my parent’s house. If I was going to religious, this is how I would like to imagine God.

Tender Buttons

Gertrude Stein is my hero. I love her poetry, love her spirit, and love the fact that she gave zero fucks about what people thought about her. Her innovative writing emphasizes the sounds and rhythms rather than the sense of words. By departing from conventional meaning, grammar and syntax, she attempted to capture “moments of consciousness,” independent of time and memory.

Here is my favourite poem of all time

ASPARAGUS.

Asparagus in a lean in a lean to hot. This makes it art and it is wet wet weather wet weather wet.

I owe my love of this poem to Jared Stanely. He taught me a lot about poetry. He taught me a lot about poetry that didn’t follow the rules, that was a little bit odd, and was a whole lot of my personality.

Savage Art

Death was his art. She would be his masterpiece. They called him Leonardo-a master skilled in the art of murder. One year ago, Cincinnati was his canvas. A scalpel was his tool. And women were his works-in-progress. FBI profiler Casey McKinley was one of them, a victim of Leonardo’s twisted genius. She has the scars-and the nightmares-to prove it. For Casey, a new city means a life far from the one she left behind in Cincinnati. In San Francisco she finally feels safe. Until a series of eerily familiar slayings plunges her back into Leonardo’s game. Now she must catch this clever killer before he can unveil his ultimate masterpiece. Only this time she’ll play by a different set of rules-hers.

I read this book in two hours. I couldn’t put it down. In fact, in thinking about this book, I went on Amazon and bought a copy.

To Kill a Mockingbird

I’m not sure this one needs an explanation. Beautiful writing.

Anything by Mark Twain. 

I’ve read everything he has ever written. I could no sooner choose a favourite star in the heavens.

Wow. Now all I want to do is go home and curl up in my window box in the sun with a book. Not good for the rest of my workday.

Week 34 is dedicated to my best friend

This one is tough for me. If I call someone my friend, then I consider them my best friend. I don’t spend a lot of time maintaining casual friends. I’m not really good at it, so the people in my life are all pretty freaking fantastic.

I’ve also spent a lot of time talking about the people in my life who are important to me and I’d rather go find a book now that will keep me entertained on my hour and a half commute home.

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The Scamp Crosses One Off the List

When you walk through a storm,

 Hold your head up high,
 And don’t be afraid of the dark,
 At the end of a storm, there’s a golden sky,
 And the sweet silver song of a lark.
 Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
 And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
 And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone
Everyone knows that my first sporting love is the UFC. I live in the UK now, and while UFC is popular here, there is one sport that is a way of life: football (soccer for those of us from more civilized parts of the world). Pubs, clubs, flags and scarves, people here are known by which team they support. I never really watched football when I lived in California, and really didn’t watch it all that often when I moved here the first time. My best friend here is a massive Celtic FC fan, and always tries to get me into supporting his team. I joke that I could become a hooligan when my academic career falls through and I am too old to be a stripper….so far he isn’t buying it.
A little background on the team. Wikipedia has summed up Celtic history better than I could:

The Celtic Football Club (/ˈsɛltɪk/) is a professional football club based in Glasgow, Scotland, that plays in the Scottish Premiership. The club was founded in 1887[nb 1] with the purpose of alleviating poverty in the immigrant Irish population in the East End of Glasgow. They played their first match in May 1888, a friendly match against Rangers which Celtic won 5–2. Celtic established itself within Scottish football, winning six successive league titles during the first decade of the 20th century. The club enjoyed their greatest successes during the 1960s and 70s underJock Stein when they won nine consecutive league titles and the European Cup.

Celtic have won the Scottish League Championship on 47 occasions, most recently in the 2015–16 season, the Scottish Cup 36 times and theScottish League Cup 15 times. The club’s greatest season was 1966–67, when Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup, also winning the Scottish League Championship, the Scottish Cup, the Scottish League Cup, and the Glasgow Cup. Celtic also reached the1970 European Cup Final, and the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.

Celtic have a long-standing fierce rivalry with Rangers, and the clubs have become known as the Old Firm. The two clubs have dominated Scottish football, winning 101 league titles between them since the inception of the Scottish League in 1890.

The club’s fanbase was estimated in 2003 as being around nine million worldwide, and there are in excess of 160 Celtic supporters clubs in over 20 countries. An estimated 80,000 fans travelled to Seville for the 2003 UEFA Cup Final.

That is a massive set-up to say that one of the things on my list of things to do before I turned 30 was yell at a football match. The bestie’s love for Celtic, and a match against Astana provided the perfect opportunity for me to do just that. I treked up to Glasgow with the best friend and some of his friends, and thanks to a very tense match, got to yell at the players. I had an amazing time. The atmosphere was electric. The stadium was full of loyal fans chanting, cheering and yelling at the game. It was impossible to not get caught up in the feelings. Celtic won with a penalty shot at the very end of the match.

They also earned a new fan.

 

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 27

The challenge this week is to make my bucket list.

I am currently working my way through my 30 things to do before I am 30, and right now, that is serving as my bucket list. When I complete that I will make a new list of things to do.

Here is my list as it stands now:

  1. Learn how to drive in the UK.
  2. Present at an academic conference
  3. Start a new tradition
  4. Go back to therapy
  5. Visit three new countries
  6. Ride in a hot air balloon
  7. Quit the tutoring centre
  8. Volunteer for a literacy programme
  9. Read a book that has more than 500 pages
  10. Make my bed everyday for at least three months
  11. Have a solid draft of my thesis completed
  12. Master scorpion pose
  13. Attend the symphony
  14. Learn a rap song from start to finish
  15. Host a dinner party
  16. Create a  budget so I can pay down my student loans
  17. Create something original
  18. Create a solid workout regime
  19.  Go on a long hike (6 miles or more)
  20. Learn to dance
  21. Eat an exotic meal
  22. Learn to cook a fancy meal
  23. Yell at a football match
  24. Go horseback riding
  25. Master British spelling and punctuation
  26. Create a good sleep schedule
  27. See my favorite group in concert
  28. Fall in love
  29. Stop holding grudges
  30. Let go of my expectations

I’m working to finish a book that is more than 500 pages, and to create something original. I still have 25 to do and time is getting away from me.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 15

Week 15 is dedicated to my favourite topic: Things that make me laugh. I think everyone who knows me well knows that it is fairly easy to make me laugh. Well timed jokes, locking the car door as someone tries to open it, cat videos….all of these things make me laugh.

And if ever someone needed a laugh right now, it is me.

This week the one thing that has really been making me laugh is inappropriate workplace conversations. The department that I am based out of just recently hired a new research assistant, and while trying to get to know him, we were all talking about ourselves and a little bit of our background. In the course of that conversation, it came up that when I got hired on, the rest of the team who is close to my age Googled me to see what they could learn about me.

Fun fact: if you Google me, the first thing that comes up is a porn illustrator.

Yep. You read that correctly: A PORN ILLUSTRATOR!  The office wondered if my supervisor had lost his marbles, and at one point I got an email from the admin assistant asking me if I liked to draw. I of course had no idea why she would ask me such a thing, and it wasn’t until I had been in the post for several months that they filled me about what happens when you Google my name. I decided to share that story with the new guy….he wasn’t impressed. Everyone in the office had a good chuckle though. I like to think that it lightened the mood.

Professionally, things have been picking up with my data collection. I was really afraid that sending out an online survey would not net me any responses, but I have been pleasantly surprised  about the response rate in the last three days. I may have just figured out this whole PhD student thing.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 8 and 9

I’m currently sitting in my sister and brother-in-law’s living room in California. It is warm. I’m in shorts and a tank top. I have a belly full of Mexican food.

I am now an aunt.

Since I am a bit behind on the writing challenge, I thought now would be the perfect time to catch up. Week 8 is dedicated to a person that I love.

Let me tell you about the new love of my life Brandon Davis Rodriguez. He made his debut on the 26th of February at 2:22pm. He was 7 lbs 7 oz, and absolutely perfect. He held my hand, and I am pretty sure I melted into a puddle of goo.

He is perfect. He looks like his daddy. Because he decided to cook an extra five days, he was born with some fluid in his lungs, so he is being monitored by the NICU just to make sure he didn’t contract an infection. I haven’t gotten to hold him yet, but him holding my hand for a bit is enough to get me through the 17 hours I waited for labour to work it’s magic, and for all the work that I have put off doing for the last week while I have been in California. I wish that I had more time to spend in California to be with him, but for now, I am going to wrap that baby up in a moby and carry him everywhere with me.

Ughhh. I’m hopelessly in love with this little Branmuffin.

Week 9 is dedicated to something that I would like to learn.

There are a lot of things that I would like to learn. I want to learn how to get past my PTSD. I want to learn how to be a master of SPSS and knock my data analysis out of the park. I want to learn how to be a good partner in romantic relationships, and a less selfish person in friendships. I want to learn how to speak Spanish fluently, and be able to use it in conversation comfortably.

Most importantly, I want to be able to really get a handle on my depression and stop feeling like I live day to day not knowing when or if I am going to fall into a funk. People keep telling me that happiness is a choice, that I can just wake up every morning and choose not to be miserable. I wish it was that simple. I mean, duh, if I had the choice, I would much rather wake up happy and carefree. I like getting out of bed, being productive and enjoying life. I hate that not everyone understands the seriousness of my depression. The one thing I do know is that while I cannot necessarily erase my depression, I can learn how to keep the dark and twisty at bay, and learn to find more joy in the everyday. Therapy will be a big part in that, and daily photo updates of the new love of my life will also help. Once I get a handle on this nonsense, you can best believe I am going to tackle the rest of my list.

On the plus side, since I have been in California I have not felt the least bit out of place, the least bit lost, or the least bit upset. I’ve slept better than I have in months, am getting plenty of family time, and am avoiding people and things that might make me feel bad. I’ve also taken the last week off from anything academic related, so I am feeling pretty relaxed. I like the feeling of being here on vacation, but still feeling like I am part of the day to day happenings with my family. This trip definitely came at the perfect time, and will make me feel really really good when I get back to Scotland and can start kicking ass on my research and data collection.

The Scamp and Thanksgiving

Last night was the first time I celebrated Thanksgiving in three years. Usually I spend this time escaping the US and visiting new places. Last year I was in Estonia, and one of my best friends made me a feast of yummy food as well as provided me with a week of fun and adventure. The year before that I was graduating from the University of Edinburgh and enjoying my time in Scotland with my mom and sister. I spent the holiday meant to be all about giving thanks in places and with people that make me feel really thankful.

This year I was lucky enough to have my mom and brother visiting me in Scotland for Thanksgiving. My brother has never been here, so I had an amazing time showing him around all of my favorite places, and going to see things that I had never seen before. I decided that this year I would celebrate Thanksgiving with all of the new friends that I made. Most of them had never celebrated Thanksgiving before, and I had never made a complete dinner by myself, so I decided that it was a good chance for my mom to meet my friends, and to actually use my little kitchen to create a meal.

For my first attempt at a Thanksgiving dinner, it could not have gone any better. I was about two hours later than I thought I would be in terms of serving dinner, but the turkeys looked good, the potatoes, green beans, and stuffing were incredible, and the gravy was able to be saved (thanks Errol), and even though I really did not have a chance to sit and hang out with everyone, given all the laughter I heard, I think that everyone had a good time. I was so glad that my friends got to meet my mom and my brother (I wish the wombmate could have been here) since they are some of my favorite people, and I am glad that my mom got to see that I am surrounded by an amazing group of people.

I know that Thanksgiving is a time for people to think about what they are thankful for, and this is going to sound really strange given that for the last two years I have been writing about how miserable CSUF made me, but I am really thankful for that horrible horrible program. If it was not for that program, I would not have applied for the program here, and would not be back in the one place in the world that I feel at home. If all of that stuff hadn’t have happened, I would be graduating in a few months, but I would be miserable. Being Scotland would not even be on my radar. I’d be depressed, alone, and unhappy for sure. While there are things I miss, okay, really just my family and a few of my friends that I consider family, I wouldn’t trade any of that for where I am now. I’m grateful that the shitshow of a program led me to a program that I love, a job that I enjoy, and people that I love to be around.