The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 5

I can’t remember if I did one for week four, and technically it is the start of week 6, but 5 is my favourite number, so I am going to do week 5 now and week 6 later in the week.

I like the challenge for week 5. I get to spend my time discussing one good thing from last week.

Easy. My visa and passports came back. I am now nice and legal again. The photo on my visa makes me laugh. It is awful. I look dead. But it makes me laugh, and it guarantees that when I have to show it at checkpoints and to the uni, people will think I am that much more attractive. I can live with that. It means I can start planning a quick weekend away somewhere around my birthday since I can’t make it to California this year.

I was also able to keep all of my jobs. Now if one f them could turn into something permanent I’d be even happier.

The rest of this month is going to be a blur of writing up the results of my thesis and conducting interviews for the department research project. I really love the project lead. She asked me first since I am supposed to be based out of the office and is going out of her way to find ways to keep me employed. I’m not sure she will be able to find the funding to keep me around, but the fact that she is willing to do that for me means a lot. I’m excited for the project to begin and I really hope that some good things can come from it. I am fast approaching the end to my 30th year, and while it did not quite go as planned, I am hoping that I can get a lot done this month and start 31 on a sure path to finishing my PhD. July will be here before I know it and I am still about 50,000 words short of where I need/want to be.

Not that I am freaking out about that or anything. No. Not at all.

I sat down with my supervisor today to go over the statistics, and he was really great and showing me what needed to be done and writing up the first part with me, so I think I am all set now to do the first part of my results chapter. The goal is to have this chapter written by the end of February, and with four jobs, I am not sure when it is going to get done…..but it will get done.

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The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 3

I love music related posts. I am about to get fired from a job that could keep in Scotland because my visa got messed up (Apparently it was incorrect from the start, but no one noticed for almost 3 years) and the other 4 jobs I have are keeping me so busy that I have yet to even touch my PhD in awhile.

I’m stressed. Beyond stressed. Every day that I don’t get my results down on paper is another day I am convinced that I am not going to finish my PhD on time.

It is not a good time to be me.

So, having just completed a really relaxing yoga class and cheating on my diet with chocolate, I am more than happy to take on the challenge this week. My task, and I have chosen to accept it, is to put my Ipod on shuffle and write about how the first ten songs make me feel. Now, if my results chapter was as easy to get down on paper as this, I would be done in no time.

First up…

Sheppard: Geronimo

I like this song. I use it as an alarm occasionally so that I can start my day with a little pep in my step.

Second Choice

Matt and Kim: Wires

I could listen to Matt and Kim on repeat. I think they have a funky sound and I got to see them live many many many years ago when they opened for Blink 182. I wished I was that good on the drums.

Coming in third

Sean Hayes: Powerful Stuff

This song actually makes me sad. I think Sean Hayes has a great voice, but I used to dance in my kitchen with David to a Sean Hayes song. It’s been five years since he ripped my heart out and these songs still make me a little sad when I think about the kitchens and Bar exam prep and a future that is now just one of those things that you grow out of.

Four on the door

Kaiser Chiefs: I Predict a Riot

When this started it made me laugh because I saw them play live with David. We hadn’t really been dating that long, and not many people knew, but he invited me to go when a friend of his couldn’t go, and most of his law school friends were there. They called me library girl, tried to get me drunk, and made me dance around like an idiot with them because they said I was far too serious to be at a concert. It was a fantastic show.

Alive with five

Lake Street Drive cover of: Rich Girl

I first heard this song in a Starbucks in Scotland when the lifemate and I were doing uni work together. Now I listen to it on repeat. Constantly. I love this cover. For me, it is better than the original version.

Six in the mix

Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood: Something Bad About to Happen

My life motto.

Seven is heaven

B.B. King: The Thrill is Gone

Soul. Every playlist needs some good soul.

Eight is great

House of Pain: Jump Around

I have a huge love for 90s rap. I know all the words to this song and sing it as loud as I can in my car, in the shower, and in pubs.

Devine Nine

George Baker: Little Green Bag

I only know this song from one of my favourite movies. I think it also happens to have one of the best soundtracks of all time. I like to listen to the soundtrack when I am on my way to the airport for an adventure.

and finally TEN

Rachel Platten: Fight Song

Fitting. When I was really at a low point last year, I downloaded this song after seeing a video of Rachel Platten singing it with a pint sized cancer warrior. I figured if that little girl could be strong then I could try and be strong as well.

Bonus songs:

The Scamp Tries a New Writing Challenge

It is 2018. 2018 is the year that I finish my PhD (hopefully). 2018 is the year that I get a career instead of just a job. 2018 is the year that I finally get to Israel. 2018 is the year that I win $5,000,000 and pay off all of my student loans and buy my sister, brother-in-law and nephews a house, and pay my parents back for all the money they have spent on me the last few years (Ok, that one may be wishful thinking, but I’m putting it out into the world and I hope that it comes true).

Last year I was awful at writing for fun. I spent a lot of time dedicated to my PhD and had some trouble with the dark and twisty. I’ve been doing yoga every day though, and painfully cut all cheese and dairy out of my diet, so I am hoping that the dark and twisty will be a little less noticeable this year.

So, new year, a new challenge. I started a few years ago with a gratitude challenge as part of my therapy. I’d been kicked out of school, accused of racism and bullied. I was miserable living in the US and needed the reminder that there was a lot of good in my life, and a lot of good in me. That was a challenge I did faithfully every week, but last year, well, that didn’t go so well. I am going to try and be really good about it, just like writing my thesis and being finished by July.

So…..the challenge for this week is to write about something funny I heard today.

This one is great…it also makes me sad for the future. I went to campus to print a bunch of articles for teaching this week. I decided that while I was there I should look at the data for my thesis because I really need to get my ass in gear on the analysis. While I was in the library, I sat across from a guy and a girl who looked fairly young. I had my headphones in and originally thought that they were speaking German.  I could not for the life of me understand what they were saying. At one point I got up to get my printing, and when I came back, I didn’t put my headphones back in. Turns out they were speaking English. Most of it still sounded like mumbled gibberish, but out of the blue, the guy says, “I wonder how the throat works? Like, does it go up here (I couldn’t see, but I’m assuming he went up his neck and to his forehead)? The girl answered, “Not that high.” Then they went back to the mumbling language that I am still not convinced is English, and I decided that it was time for me to leave before I gave into the urge to tell them that maybe if they spent more time studying they would know simple things like the way the throat works.

On a less cringy note, the best thing I heard today was a video my sister sent of her oldest running around at the park while her youngest babbled in her lap, almost as if he was narrating the scene. She sends me a lot of baby videos and they never fail to make me feel better about everything.

The Scamp and the Writing Challnege: Week 51

Week 51. I’m not sure how that happened. It seems like just yesterday I was headed to the Amber Rose to meet four women that found themselves like me, in want of low key options for the new year, and a chance to meet some new girls. I was feeling depressed, had just returned from Budapest, and my therapist suggested that a good cure for my loneliness would be to go out and meet some new people, expand my social circle and realise that I didn’t need to dwell on the failure of a shitty relationship.

Turned out, it was a really great idea. Even though I went back to the shitty relationship in hopes that a clean start and compromise would make it better, I did keep and maintain a friendship with the new year’s ladies. We have the best group chat, travel together, have epic nights out, and they are some of my favourite people.

But, as usual, I digress. The challenge for this week is to discuss something that I know well: a source of anxiety.

It is fair to say that it would probably be easier for me to write about things that don’t give me anxiety (which at this moment are baby animal videos and chocolate). The challenge is to not only discuss the source of anxiety, but also the ways in which I am (or trying to) manage it.

I have a feeling this will be the most words I have put on a page in a really long time. The current source of my anxiety is words.  The words I am not writing for my blog. The words I am not writing for my thesis. The words being said to me by friends, family, and co-workers. The words being said to me by strangers. The words that I am not saying to anyone…even myself. All of those words are floating around in my head and driving me crazy. I constantly have music on, podcast, the TV, all of it just to drown out the words in my head.

Most of those words are telling me that I am not good enough. That I am not working hard enough to complete my PhD on time or find a fulltime time job. That my ideas for feedback and assessment practices don’t have merit, and that I am not a strong enough to make good decisions for myself. The voices are constantly telling me something bad is waiting to happen the moment I get too comfortable.

Some days I think it is probably terrifying for anyone to be around me, and that they would be even more freaked out if they saw what was in my head.

Now the part that is not so easy: how I am working through the anxiety. As I mentioned above, I keep myself surrounded by noise. I’m sure the ringing in my ears and my future self who can’t really hear are not thrilled by this, but it has been working so far so I might hold on to it for a little bit longer. I have also made sure that I have kept up with my therapy. Those sessions have helped me become more self-aware, and even though I sometimes hate that I understand what I am doing and why it has gone a long way to help me curb a lot of the negative thoughts. I do a lot of writing out of scenarios, and a lot of thinking about what those voices are saying, and whether or not they are based in reality, or if they are part of my dark and twisty. More often than not, that helps talk me off the ledge.

In addition to that, I have been trying to really get back to doing yoga regularly and practising mindfulness. The other day I did a yoga class that really helped me with a way I can make a change from the dark and twisty to the more light-hearted and grateful. Justin, one of the founders of Outlaw Yoga in Colorado created a space to practice gratitude by composing a challenging class and reminding us that we need to change our thought process from ‘got to’ to ‘get to’. In relation to the class, I get to try to hold a difficult pose, I don’t have to. I get to smile and be happy about not stopping when the sequence challenged me because I could have just turned it off and sat down on the couch to watch TV. The way I am going to try and apply this to my everyday life is stop saying that I have to work on the lit review, but that I am lucky because I get to work on it and try and make a contribution to the field. I don’t have to be lonely and in the dark and twisty because I get to see a therapist to help me through it, I get to go to events that allow me to meet new people, and eventually, I will get to a place emotionally where I am a little less stressed and anxious.

That’s not to say that I am successful at this just yet, but the great thing is, I get to keep practising and learning until my default habit is to think in terms of gratitude rather than negativity and self-doubt.

The Scamp and the Writing Challenge: Week 46

Be prepared for a long post. I’ll apologise in advance for it. The challenge for this week is to tell the stories behind the tattoos that I have.

I have more than 20, so I will try to be brief.

2 stars on the top of my right foot. Worst 3 1/2 minutes of my life. I was 19 in Las Vegas with my mom and my cousins, and we decided that it would be a good idea to get tattoos. I had seen a photo of a model who had two stars on her foot and I loved the way it looked and knew that it would be easy to cover with shoes when I needed to look ‘professional’.

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3 cherry blossoms down my spine. I got this one in Merced at the same place that I got the hula girl. My mom and brother came to visit me for the weekend, and we all got tattooed together. The artist who did the flowers was this big scary looking guy, and I remember him telling a story about having to wear a pink tux for a wedding. He said that people made fun of him, and I asked if he took people outside and kicked their ass in the parking lot. He laughed and was so sweet to me while he did the flowers.

Hebrew lettering on my back. This was a birthday gift from the wombmate for my 21st birthday. I got this done at a shop that she likes, and I hated the experience. The people were rude, and the artist put the stencil on upside down the first time, and then made me feel like shit when I almost didn’t catch it. What’s even better, is that now that I have had the chance to travel the world, people who actually speak Hebrew have informed me that my name is spelt in a strange way, and now they love to correct me. I love it though, and it has sparked some great conversations.

Scottish pinup girl. This was a birthday present to myself when I turned 26, and it was the first tattoo I got in Scotland. Studio XIII is an amazing place. I saw the tattoo the first time I visited Scotland with my mom, and went back and got the tattoo before I left Scotland after the MSc. The owner of the shop drew the tattoo, and the shop was so happy that someone wanted to get that as a permanent work of art.1010455_594964092085_588174323_n

Vegas Showgirl. I got this tattoo to celebrate my grandmother. She died when I was a kid, and on the 15th anniversary of her death, I got the tattoo on my back to always have a bit of her with me.  I got a Vegas showgirl because my favourite photo of my grandma is one she had taken in Las Vegas. It is one of those funny photos where they take your head and put it on someone else’s body. She looks like a showgirl and she used to tell people that is what she did before she had my mom. I still have the picture. I used to carry it in my wallet, but I am worried that I will destroy it, so now it is in my bedroom where I can see it all the time. This was my second tattoo done by Joe.

Mermaid on the inside of my right ankle. This was a birthday gift for myself when I turned 23. This was the first time I went to Classic Tattoo in Fullerton, the first time I met Joe, and the first time I got a Sailor Jerry Tattoo. The best choice I ever made. This has started a long-standing tradition of visiting Joe and getting tattooed by him. I love mermaids, love rum, and love the idea of having American traditional tattoos. This is one of my favourite tattoos and gets me a lot of attention.

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Sailor Jerry hula girl. Yet another masterpiece done by Joe. This was a birthday present to myself when I turned 24 (I think). I went with 4 of my friends and had a great time. They came to dinner at my house after, and my mom showed them baby pictures and we laughed all night. I love Sailor Jerry and the style of tattoos that Norman Collins did, so this was an extra special treat. The tattoo is on my right shin, and I have a dream of decorating my whole right leg in Sailor Jerry tattoos.

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Martini girl on the back of my right leg. Another Sailor Jerry and another tattoo with Joe. This finishes off the tattoos on my right leg for the moment.

Hula girl on the inside of my left ankle. When I was a kid, Crazy Shirts was a huge deal. They are known for their funny shirt designs, and they had shops everywhere. My parents took us to Hawaii and while we were there, my mom bought me a Crazy Shirt with a hula girl on it. The shirts come with a sticker, and I held on to that sticker for years. When I turned 20, I decided that I wanted it to be with me forever. I got the tattoo in Merced, and I loved showing it off at uni because no one I knew there had tattoos. My mommy and wombmate both have the tattoo as well.

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Bonus, a photo with Joe.

Celtic knot on my right wrist. A very nice Brazilian man tattooed me in Ireland. My mommy and the wombmate also got the tattoo.

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Hamsa. This was the most painful tattoo that I have. It is on the underside of my left arm, and it was sore for almost a month. It really is beautiful though. The Hamsa is a symbol of protection in many cultures.  It translates to the hand of God and wards off evil. I have the tattoo on the inside of my arm because it rests against my heart when my arm is down.

My kitty’s paw prints. I got them right before I moved to Scotland. My baby had to stay in California, so now I can always have a bit of him with me.

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Hot air balloon from Estonia. This was my first watercolour tattoo. The girl that did it was 23 and so nice. I had a great time. It took 4 hours and was a bit painful, but I love it.

Suitcases. My best friends got this tattoo for me as a birthday present. I love it, not only because I love to travel, but because it reminds me of them.

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Heart and anchor. The wombmate and I got these as charity tattoos. Joe did them and the money from the tattoos went to the Children’s Hosptial. Tim Hendricks, a very famous tattoo artist bought Classic Tattoo and saved the shop from having to close down, so it was no hardship to get tattooed and support a good cause. It is on the back of my left arm.

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Mother/Daughter infinity tattoo. I made my mom get this tattoo with me on her last trip to Edinburgh. I had it done at Studio XIII, and love it.

Geometric map of the world. This is one of my favourite tattoos. This is my wanderlust tattoo. It is the one that everyone always asks about, and the one that really shows my love of travel. These two tattoos take up the inside of my left arm.

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My grandmother’s signature. The same artist who did the mother/daughter tattoo put my grammy’s signature on my arm. It is in a place that I can see it every day since I can’t see the showgirl. He was really great about making sure it looks exactly like the paper that I brought him.

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Pineapple. The heterolifemate and I got matching pineapple tattoos while she was living in Scotland. Pineapples are the international symbol of hospitality. Travellers used to put pineapples outside their front door when they returned from their travels to let people know that they could come and hear about the adventures and share an exotic snack.

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Okay, that is not the best photo of the pineapple, but this is an amazing bar in Bosnia and an all-around fantastic shot.

Sister tattoo. I made the wombmate get stick figure sister tattoos with me when I snuck home for a bit last year. I love them. It makes me miss her a little less since I know that she has one too. Joe did mine because he loves me and made time for me.

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Russian nesting doll. I got this for my 30th birthday. I survived my 20s, and went to see Joe when I was in California….because no trip to California would be complete without a visit to Joe. This reminds me of my trip to Budapest for Christmas. That was the first time I ever spent Christmas by myself. It was both tough and exhilarating at the same time.

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Paper aeroplane. I got this tiny tattoo in Athens. We had spent the day seeing all of the history and culture of the city, and then I stumbled upon this amazing shop. The men who worked there were hilarious. They were friendly and told me that they really liked all of my tattoos because they showed that I had a unique soul. It is one of the nicest compliments that I have ever gotten.

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Last, but not least, the newest addition to my art collection is an origami flamingo. I now have a complete sleeve on my left arm, and this flamingo is by far my favourite tattoo. The same artist who did my grandma’s signature, the mother/daughter tattoo and the pineapple did this one. I call him Frank. I like to think that if I was an animal I would be a flamingo, so having one tattooed on me makes me feel less awkward and weird.

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So there you have it, my art collection and the story behind each piece. They are great conversation starters, and I think they make me just a little bit cooler.

The Scamp and the Writing Challnage: Week 45

The challenge for this week is to write an entire post in the regional dialect of the place you call home.

Ah loove th’ scottish slang! thaur is somethin’ abit it ‘at makes me laugh, an’ makes me soond far mair badass than Ah actually am.

I am going to do my best to complete the post in my best Scottish slang. It is actually a lot harder than it sounds because I still have my expat accent, and vernacular. I’m going to do my best, and my friends can feel free to correct me.

Yesterday Ah maunt tae meit th’ second deadline oan mah checklist tae finish mah phd by julie. Ah hud tae redo mah theory chapter, but mah supervisur gae me a book ‘at he thooght micht help me, an’ tae be honest, it did. Ah hae bin pure woriat abit th’ drafts Ah submit, but noo Ah realize ‘at Ah can turn in jobby wark an’ gie guidence, an’ ‘en hae an easier time wi’ th’ revisin’.

and now for fun, because I hang out with a Geordie (someone from Newcastle and that area), I’ll do the next bit with a Geordie slang.

Ahm hopin that the next section iv the theory chaptor is just as easy tuh write. tuh be honest though, it is ganin tuh be the hardest part, an’ ah hev been draggin me feet on it fo’ twa yeors. ah sorta wish aa’d already been graftin on it, but at least neeo ah hev sum interestin ideas iv ha tuh myek it mare than just a borin aad lit review.

That isn’t that fun, so I think now, in honour of the fact that I am the only American in a school of fantastic Irish teachers, I’ll try my hand at the Irish dialect.

Scon are ‘eadin’ on a wee ‘oliday in cock an’ ‘en days, an’ ‘ope dat wi’ dat as a motivator, oi can git sum serious work done. oi ‘av ter finish data collecshun, whaich ‘ill ‘appen next week, an’ den it ‘ill be time ter work wi’ de results an’ start on two av de meaty chapters av me thesis.

Now, if you can figure out what all that says, I’ll be well impressed with you. I also hope that I haven’t offended anyone with my attempt at using the slang.

 

The Scamp Wants a Superpower

I don’t think I know anyone who has not wished for a superpower at one point or another. The person sitting in traffic wishing they could fly; the child who lives far from home wishing they could teleport; the slightly pervy guy who wishes he had X-ray vision. Kids who want to be like Batman, Superman, Captain America, or one of the X-Men. No matter what the age, I think that most people can agree that it would be really cool to have a superpower. The challenge for this week (week 43 already? Seriously?!) is to write about what super power I would like to have.

If someone had asked me this question last week, I probably would have said I would like to be able to fly or teleport. I’d love to be able to get to California to see my family for dinner, and then back to work in Edinburgh the next day. My life would be so much easier that way. After this week though, I have a new superpower that I wish I could have. I want the ability to understand and speak any language. I usually teach advanced conversation classes for the language school I work for, but this week, I was with students whose levels of English ranged from basic to intermediate. I thought it would be fun to do a Halloween themed activity, and even had Candy Corn that my mom sent me from the US to share with the students. They were all from Spain, and I know that Halloween is not celebrated there, so I figured it would make for good conversation and would be fun to see what the students thought of the candy.

One of the students I was working with had a very basic understanding of English and was finding it quite difficult to keep up with what was going on in class. I understand Spanish, but it is not good enough, and I am not as confident in my ability to explain concepts to someone who doesn’t understand English. The student was not a fan of my class, and I could see him getting increasingly frustrated as the class went on. Two hours is a long time to sit in a room where you don’t really know what is being said….especially since you are paying to be there. If I had the ability to speak and understand any language, I would have been in a better position to help him enjoy the class, lack of appreciation for the Candy Corn be damned.

This is not the first time this has happened to me while working at the school. Several months ago, a woman came to the school to do her initial assessment, and she spoke no English. We tried to muddle through a conversation while I gaged her skill level, and explained what the classes would entail while she was a member of the school. Somewhere in my explanation, the student thought I was telling her that I was not going to be working with her, not because my boss handles the students’ assignments, but because she was Polish and I didn’t like her. I was mortified. I would never want to do anything to jeopardize the reputation of the language school, but I also never want to offend people on purpose (well, some people, but they are jerks and they deserve it). If I had been able to speak Polish, I would have been able to help her, and help her with the start of her English training.

I’m hoping that one day someone will make this little dream a reality. In the meantime, I am going to try my best to not offend any more people, and brush up on my Spanish skills.